His agent, Herb Rudoy insisted those reports are “very premature” and said the Hawks are still in contention to sign Ilgauskas.
“I’ve gotten a number of calls about that, and it’s absolutely not true,” Rudoy said today. “Could it happen? Absolutely. But he has not made a decision. That will be at least a few more days from now if not more.”
Rudoy said he wasn’t sure of Ilgausaks’ motivations other than a desire to play for a team with championship aspirations.
“We haven’t gotten past this whole thing of being traded away,” he said. “That was sort of expected but it didn’t make him happy. He’s got a lot of years invested in Cleveland, and that makes it a very complicated decision for him. He wants to win a championship, but I don’t know how (else) he will make a decision. He told me he’s taking his time, and that’s what he will do.”
According to reports, the list of suitors for Ilguaskas had grown to include Boston, Miami and San Antonio as well as the Hawks, Cleveland, Dallas, and Denver. If money is an issue for Ilgauskas, who reportedly gave up $1.5 million to secure a buyout from Washington, then the Hawks, Jazz and Heat can offer him the most salary.
Those three teams have their full mid-level salary cap exceptions available and could offer Ilgauskas 36 percent more in prorated salary than Cleveland, which has only its bi-annual exception available. The Jazz and Heat are near the luxury-tax line while the Hawks are comfortably below.
The Hawks, who also have their bi-annual exception, have appeared reluctant to use either to sign Ilgauskas. Rudoy wouldn’t discuss the specifics of the offers to Ilgauskas but said the Hawks have been “very aggressively pursuing” him.
“Rick Sund calls me at least once a day to talk about how Zyrdunas would be helpful and would have a great opportunity there,” he said. “Joe Smith has called him told him what a great situation it would be for him. I just don’t know what he’s going to do.”
– Over the first 45 games, the Hawks allowed 10 opponents to shoot better than 50 percent and 17 to beat them on the boards. In the last 12 games, six opponents have shot better than 50 percent and eight have collected more rebounds.
No doubt the Hawks have issues on offense, especially late in games. But maybe that wouldn’t matter so much if they defended and rebounded at the level they did for much of the first half of the season.
“(The slippage) has been huge in terms of how we started the season and where we are today,” Woody said. “Somehow we’ve got to get our mojo back in terms of our defensive attitude and rebounding the basketball because we are just barely hanging on in those areas. We are going to need that the rest of the way. You look at the good teams that are winning, they are getting after it defensively and they are rebounding the ball. If we come in with the mindset that we are just going to outscore teams that’s not good enough for me.”
Why the slippage considering Woody’s a defensive guy?
“Our scoring is up,” he said. “I don’t know if guys just feel like we’ll make it up on the offensive end. Sometimes that’s good and you do that. In the past couple years I can count on our guys to get key stops and rebounds and hustle plays. We are not doing enough of that right now, and we’ve got to get back to that.”
And he said all that before the Mavs shot 52.2 percent and had 50 rebounds to 41 for the Hawks. Now here come the Bucks, who’ve won six straight and nine of 11 overall and six straight on the road. They are tied for 14th in the league with a 50.3 percent rebounding rate while the Hawks are tied for 24th at 49.4 percent.
– Late add: The post-game blog will go up late tonight because I’ve got to run and catch the team’s flight to Chicago. You know, in case you care.
– Talk amongst yourselves, Hawks fans.