Mavs may take a crack at Ilgauskas if buyout is arranged


Update 11:50 pm: The Mavericks are not alone, it turns out. The Atlanta Hawks would like to talk to Ilgauskas, too, if (when, really) Washington buys him out. His agent, Herb Rudoy, said the Hawks are a team Big Z would consider. He’ll probably end up back with the Cavs, but he can milk them for more of the exception money they left.

11:37 am: The deal for the Cavs was pretty simple. “Here, Washington, we’ll give you this guy’s big expiring contract  and our draft pick in return for your best player who is not suspended for the rest of the season for doing something unimaginably stupid. Then you can buy out that player, and save yourself some money! Then we’ll re-sign him, and everyone’s happy!”

But if ESPN Dallas is correct, the Cavaliers may have to fend off some other title contenders if they want to get Zydrunas Ilgauskas back in the fold.

With center Erick
out for an extended period, a source said the Dallas Mavericks
plan to pursue Zydrunas
if he receives a buyout from the Washington

Losing Z would be a monster hit for the Cavs, who will need a true backup center against the Eastern Conference elite’s big men, including Dwight Howard. But the Mavericks would only be able to offer Ilgauskas a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum, which Cleveland would of course be able to match. With Ilgauskas’ long history in Cleveland, his family and home there, it’s hard to imagine Ilgauskas not returning to the Cavs.

But the question has to be asked how much Z would want to go back “home,” after Coach Mike Brown denied Ilgauskas the opportunity to break the record for most games played by a Cav in front of friends and family he’d invited. This is on top of the fact that he’s been squeezed to the fringes of the rotation with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal. Ilgauskas’ return may be a foregone conclusion, but it’s still a development that warrants watching.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.