Can the NBA stop Big Z from returning to Cleveland?


Ilgauskas.jpgUPDATE 5:02 pm According to a high-level NBA official reached by Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the NBA is not going to get in the way of Big Z returning to the Cavaliers, if that is what he wants. There is no evidence of this deal already being in place before the first trade was made, the official said.

That means Mark Heisler’s sources were wrong. If you lived in LA, that probably wouldn’t surprise you.

9:49 am Everybody just expects that Zydrunas Ilgauskas is going to get bought out by the Washington Wizards in the next couple days, spend a few weeks flirting with Marc Cuban and the other boys at the party, then sign again with Cleveland to make the rich even richer.

But not so fast, according to the LA Times Mark Heisler on his twitter account.

HOLD THAT HOMECOMING. Source says NBA has told other teams it won’t let Z go back to Cavs. May be woofing with no rule against it, maybe not

HOMECOMING II: Wizards haven’t even bought out Zydrunas Ilgauskas yet but everyone knows it’s coming and NBA officials read papers

You want to see the league and players union get in fight, then wait to see what happens if the league tries to stop this deal.

The league has the legal right to step in if there is a pre-arranged deal, which is why these things are handled like mafia members talking business on the phone — all code words, winks and nods. (Well, mafia members probably don’t wink at each other all that much). Everyone knows this is the plan, and some coaches hate it, but good luck proving there was any deal in place.

Ilgauskas is in the 12th year of an NBA career that has been all in Cleveland. He was just voted the fifth greatest player in Cavs history. He is tied to the community. Is it a shock he’d want to go home? What kind of deal needs to be in place for that?

Good luck proving anything, NBA.

The Wizards buyout of Ilgauskas is taking a little time because with the Wizards under the luxury tax they don’t actually have to buy him out. The Wizards have a little leverage, so they will want the buyout amount lowered. Big Z will give in some if he wants to play again this year. And other teams including Atlanta and Dallas, have said they may come after him.

Who knows who is feeding Heisler his information. I’m sure there are plenty of people around the league that would like to stop this deal (and similar ones before it) and the owners may take up the rule change in the off-season.

But good luck proving a deal was in place and stopping Ilgauskas from being a Cav again for the playoffs. Not going to happen.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.