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.