While everyone expects the Washington Wizards to complete a buyout of center Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the next 48 hours, allowing him to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers in time to be eligible for their postseason roster, Ilgauskas will likely have to leave more on the table in exchange for his freedom than he had hoped.
A league source indicated Tuesday that the Wizards want savings far in excess of the approximately $590,000 "trade kicker" Ilgauskas is due after being traded last week from Cleveland to Washington as part of a three-team deal that sent Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers. While no specific dollar amounts have been disclosed, the source indicated Washington was going to be firm in holding out for the most money possible -- likely $1 million or more -- from Ilgauskas.
The Wizards no longer are under the pressure of having to work out a buyout with Ilgauskas in order to get under the $69.9 million luxury tax threshhold. Washington got under by trading forward Dominic McGuire to Sacramento last Thursday for a second-round pick.
By contrast, Ilgauskas is under the gun to get something done by next Monday, March 1. Players that are on a team's roster on March 1 are not eligible to be on any other team's postseason roster, meaning if Ilgauskas is still a Wizard he would not be able to play for Cleveland in the playoffs, although he could re-sign with the Cavs for the rest of the regular season. Once Ilgauskas is a free agent he can sign with any team and be eligible for the playoffs.
I'm not totally shocked that Washington is driving a hard bargain with Zydrunas. He wants out and they don't have to grant him that wish. It think it's kinda poor form that they're quibbling over about five hundred grand (when dealing Jamison saved them a little more than $30 million) but whatever. Z has made a ton of money playing in the NBA, I'm sure this will be worth it.
An official within the league told The Associated Press on Monday the NBA has not threatened to stop a potential reunion between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
The Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed source Sunday saying the NBA had told other teams it wouldn't let Ilgauskas go back to the Cavs. However, the official told the AP the league would only step in if there was proof of an agreement before the trade was completed.
This is certainly good news. After only having one All-Star, no participants in the Three Point Shoot-out and J.J.'s snub from the Rookie/Sophomore Game, if the NBA would've chosen this situation step in, I'd have been extremely pissed. Never mind the fact the Knicks and Nets are practically courting LeBron openly.
I know Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers aren't happy about it, but fuck them. If they're bitching, that means they're worried. Good.
Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer makes an, um, interesting analogy:
I tend to wretch at things that - while completely legal under whatever governing body we're talking about - still come off as tacky and skeevy and skirting societal norms. But for some reason, trading a guy like Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Washington Wizards, watching him give back money to help further put the team under the salary cap (Washington's dealing of Dominic McGuire already put the team under the threshold last week), and letting him walk back to the Cavaliers a month later just doesn't raise my ire.
I'm trying to figure out who it hurts. It appears as if Z's happy, the Wizards are happy and the Cavaliers are happy. I'm not usually one to get too lascivious in these pages, but if a happily married couple were to involve a third party without strings in a moment of heightened intimacy, and each came away happy and without regret, is this something to be tsk-tsk'd?
It's certainly gross and skeevy and icky, but it's not hurting any of us. Just because the neighbors down the block (let's call them, say, "the Boston Celtics") don't like it, it doesn't mean it's wrong, and it's not illegal. And, let's face it, "the Boston Celtics" would do it if they could.
Finally, someone compared the Zydrunas-Jamison deal to a threesome. I love the internet. Dwyer continues:
If I'm a Cavaliers fan, I want Antawn Jamison. I really want to keep Big Z, but I understand that Antawn Jamison helps, perhaps more than Big Z would. To get Jamison, and eventually get Ilgauskas back? That's heaven.
If I'm a Wizards fan, I want nothing to do with Big Z. Like him, respect him, but want nothing to do with him taking minutes away from the development of Javale McGee or Andray Blatche. That's where I'm at right now. I know what counts for my team's future, and it ain't Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
If I'm a follower of Big Z, I want him heading back to Cleveland. Where he's always been. And the best chance for him to win a championship. I might like the idea that he can make more money as an Atlanta Hawk, but I want to see him with a ring on his finger, playing a role.
All three of these fans get what they want. The players and teams get what they want. So what if the Celtics or Magic piss and moan about Cleveland getting Antawn Jamison for the last pick in the first round. Haven't the Celtics, with Gary Payton, done this before? Don't the Magic take advantage of rebuilding teams (signing away Rashard Lewis for little compensation, acquiring Vince Carter for expiring deals) themselves?
The best part of all of this is the fact that we never had to see Z wearing another uniform. How great is that? It would've killed me seeing him lumbering around in a Washing Wizards uni. It wouldn't have been right.
Can't wait to see Mike Brown deal with these rotations once Z returns. That'll be fun.