Report: Ilgauskas to re-sign with the Cavaliers

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Ilgauskas.jpgUPDATE 6:42 PM: 


Looks like the gun may have been jumped just a bit. According to David Aldridge, Ilgauskas’ agent says that the report Ilgauskas has chosen the Cavs is “Absolutely not true!” 

ORIGINAL 6:23 PM: 
According to the twitter account of Brian Windhorst, Michael Reghi of WKNR 850 is reporting that recently traded center Zydrunas Ilgauskas will re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Ilgauskas was traded to the Wizards along with a first-round pick for Antawn Jamison at the trade deadline, but Ilgauskas was bought out before playing a single possession for the Wizards. 
Many assumed that Ilgauskas would re-sign with the Cavaliers despite reports interest in Ilgauskas from other teams. Ilgauskas was drafted by the Cavaliers in 1996, and has never played for another team. Ilgauskas was the starting center for ever Cavalier team in the “LeBron era” until this season, when he was replaced in the starting lineup by Shaquille O’Neal. Ilgauskas is a fan favorite in Cleveland, and his return will come as welcome news to Cavalier fans. Due to a rule that requires teams to wait at least 30 days before re-signing a traded player, the earlies Ilgauskas can return to the Cavalier lineup would be March 22nd. 
Not everybody is thrilled with Ilgauskas returning to his former team. There were rumors of a league investigation of the move if Ilgauskas returned. Those rumors now appear to be untrue, but several coaches have gone on-record against the move. Recently, Phil Jackson was vehement in his disapproval of Ilgauskas’ return, calling it a “sham” as well as a “disrespect for the league.” 
After dealing Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers were in somewhat of a tricky karma situation. On the one hand, effectively getting Jamison for a late first-round pick is a bit shady from a business perspective. On the other hand, letting go of one of the most beloved figures in the history of the franchise before a potential title run would have been awful from a sentimental perspective. 
The Cavs did what they felt was best for their players and their fanbase, but that certainly doesn’t mean everybody has to be happy about the loophole that allowed the Cavaliers to get Ilgauskas back so soon after trading him. 

Paul George: I would have signed with Lakers if Pacers didn’t trade me to Thunder

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Paul George didn’t request a trade from the Pacers. He merely informed them he’d leave in free agency and told people he’d sign with the Lakers, leaving it up to Indiana what to do about it.

The Pacers traded him to Oklahoma City, where George found a long-term home. He re-signed with the Thunder this summer.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Paul George revealed to ESPN’s The Undefeated that he “would have been in a Lakers uniform” if he had never been traded from the Indiana Pacers. But after the Pacers dealt the five-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead last year, he fell in love with his new team and playing with Russell Westbrook before eventually agreeing to a four-year, $137 million contract extension this past offseason.

“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George told The Undefeated. “But it wasn’t overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

Even while with the Thunder, George spoke openly about the appeal of Los Angeles. Despite not meeting with the Lakers in free agency, he still called them tempting. He’s mostly just confirming what we already believed.

Remember, the Lakers could have traded for George last year. Instead, they banked on getting him without surrendering assets, and that gambit failed. Importantly, they still lured LeBron James, but they’re still searching for a second star.

This ought to reopen questions about whether the Lakers erred by not trading for Kawhi Leonard. Leonard reportedly has interest in Los Angeles (though maybe more in the Clippers), but the Lakers watched the Spurs trade him to the Raptors. Will Leonard similarly fall for Toronto and spurn his hometown team?

It’d be a mistake to assume Leonard will follow the path of George, who’s a completely different person. But it’d also be a mistake not to evaluate the precedent set by George and learn from it.

Pistons play recording of Aretha Franklin’s national anthem while spotlighting open microphone at center court (video)

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Pistons legend Isiah Thomas eulogized Aretha Franklin – a proud Detroit native – last summer and concluded with a message to the deceased singer:

I want you to know, I love you. The world loves you. And most importantly, Aretha, Detroit loves you.

Detroit showed its love for Aretha before the Pistons’ opener yesterday. Thomas again spoke kindly of her then asked for a moment of silence. The arena went dark and quiet.

Then, a spotlight shined on an unattended microphone at center court as a recording of Aretha’s national anthem played. While this video shows the powerful rendition of the song, by focusing on the images of Aretha shown on the scoreboard, it doesn’t even capture the full feeling of the moment.

Seeing that open spotlighted microphone throughout the entire anthem was hauntingly beautiful and a great tribute to the Queen of Soul.

NBA’s minor league to offer $125,000 salaries to not-yet-draft-eligible 18-year-olds

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The NBA will lower its age limit to 18, effectively ending the one-and-done era.

Eventually.

In the meantime, the best option for most top players leaving high school is college basketball. But while the NBA takes its time changing a rule (that it never should have implemented in the first place), the NBA’s minor league will offer an alternative route.

G League release:

The NBA G League today announced a Select Contract as part of a comprehensive professional path that will be available, beginning with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the NBA G League but not yet eligible for the NBA.  The contracts, which will include robust programmatic opportunities for development, are for elite players who are at least 18 years old and will pay $125,000 for the five-month season.

NBA G League Select Contracts are designed for year-round professional growth and will include opportunities for basketball development, life skills mentorship and academic scholarship.  These offerings are slated to include basketball workouts during the summer months through existing NBA infrastructure like NBA Summer League and NBA Academies, year-round education programs designed to increase players’ ability to personally and professionally manage their careers, and a scholarship program for athletes who want to pursue higher education after their playing days.  Additionally, the NBA G League will further enhance player experience through existing partner relationships and NBA player development programming.

The $125,000 salary is nice and a sizeable jump from the standard minor-league salary, which these players were already eligible to receive. Select Contract players can also sign endorsements and receive loans from agents while remaining eligible to play, unlike in the NCAA.

But it’s not as if college basketball players aren’t compensated. Though their compensation is limited by the NCAA cartel, players still get tuition, room and board and cost-of-living expenses. And of course many get under-the-table money, too. The value of that compensation – particularly the tuition – varies by person.

Access to NBA infrastructure could swing some players, but that also comes with risk. Older professionals could expose younger, even more talented, players. Experience and physical advancement matter.

So does the stage. Top college-basketball players are nationally recognized stars who appear regular on television and are revered on campus. Minor-league players are relatively anonymous and play in mid-sized cities away from much fanfare.

There’s still plenty to sort out, and the details could affect how many players enter this new program out of high school. But it’s nice they have another option.

It’d be far better if they could just declare for the NBA draft if they feel they’re ready.