Can the NBA stop Big Z from returning to Cleveland?

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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.
 

Watch the top 60 clutch shots from last NBA season

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It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.

Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.

The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert: Pacers ‘could have done better’ on Paul George trade

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Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.

But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.

This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.

For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.

Report: Kings meet with former Magic GM Otis Smith about front-office job

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The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.

Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.

Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.

That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.

Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.

Lakers sign Tyler Ennis to minimum contract

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Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.

The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.

Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.

The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.