Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers' beloved center, has finalized a one-year deal worth about $1 million to return to the team. He will be in uniform and available for Wednesday's game in New Orleans.
"I just felt like I had some unfinished business here for this season," Ilgauskas told the media this afternoon. "I felt like I left a lot of good friends, friends that felt like a part of my family. I left a lot of good people behind. It just didn't feel right to go somewhere else.''
To clear a roster spot for Ilgauskas, the Cavs released Darnell Jackson. The second-year forward averaged 0.8 points on .320 shooting and 0.7 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game in 27 games this season. The Cavaliers roster now stands at 15 players.
Not exactly surprised that D-Block was the one let go. He's a nice player, but he's an undersized PF/C, who's not quick enough to guard 3s or big enough to guard 4s.
Going forward, my big question with Z is this: does he start?
On one hand, the Cavs are starting J.J. Hickson out of position at the center spot. Z's a true center and should slide back into his customary role.
But come the playoffs (and especially the later rounds), Z's role will change once Shaq returns. Do the Cavs really want Ilguaskas to be changing roles/duties that late in the season? I dunno.
Personally, after watching Z struggle with his rhythm and timing to start the year, I'd rather them keep him coming off the bench. Facing Orlando and the Lakers will be tough enough without guys switching roles that late in the season.
With the injury to Shaq, Coach Mike kept bringing Anderson Varejao off the bench so his role wouldn't change (love that energy), so maybe he'll keep the current lineup as is.
Things are going to get dicey come playoffs. The Cavs have six legitimate big men who could get minutes in the playoffs: Shaq, Jamison, Z, Varejao, Hickson and Powe. If Brown is going to shorten his rotation (as I assume he will), he's going to have some tough decisions to make.
In the playoffs, teams usually shorten their rotation to seven or eight guys. So who are the Cavs eight? Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, LeBron, Antawn Jamison and Shaq are your starting five and I think we'd all agree that Delonte West and Anderson Varejao are definites off the bench. That's seven.
That leaves one slot (maybe two) to divide between Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, J.J. Hickson, Leon Powe and Z. Yowza. If the Cavs decide to with a nine man rotation, I'd like to see Moon get the other wing slow and then Z get the backup center spot (he and Andy play so well together). J.J. has had a good season and I love his athleticism (he gives the Cavs an extra gear) but I'm not sure Mike Brown trusts him. In fact, I'd be we'd see Powe before J.J., as Hickson still makes too many mental errors to deserve heavy playoff minutes (forgetting to box out, being unsure he wants to shoot, etc).
Rotations aren't exactly Coach Mike's specialty, but he's gonna have to figure this out.... unless you think the Cavs are going ten deep through June.