In a move that very few people found surprising, Zydrunas Ilgauskas officially signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week and played for them against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night. Ilgauskas has never played an NBA game for a team other than the Cavaliers. He was traded at the deadline for forward Antawn Jamison, but was promptly bought out by the Wizards and re-signed with the Cavaliers as soon as he was eligible. Ilgauskas did have other teams that were interested in signing him, but he ultimately chose to return to the team that originally drafted him out of Lithuania.
In an interview with ESPN 850 WKNR’s Michael Reghi, Ilgauskas explained why he returned to Cleveland:
“I just felt like I had unfinished business here in Cleveland. I felt like I was leaving, not only a lot friends, but a lot of guys that I consider like a family to me. Everything happened so sudden and when everything settled down, I had a chance to look at my options and think about it and I really couldn’t pull myself away. If I wasn’t going to come back and this team would win a championship, I don’t think I would forgive myself for not being there. That was the biggest thing. I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Although he’s never been a superstar in the NBA, Ilgauskas is a beloved figure in Cleveland who will likely have his number retired after he retires. He owns several important Cavalier records, has spent as much time with one team as almost any player in a major sport, and has strong ties to the Cleveland community. About all that Ilgauskas has left to accomplish in Cleveland is win a championship, and he knows it. Now he just has to do what he can to help his team try to actually win it.
Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)
Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.
This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.
The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.
Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.