Going after Ilgauskas would be right move for Hawks

030642_Cavaliers_Hawks_Bask

The 7-foot-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas would give the Hawks a needed presence in the paint in the playoffs. (AP photo)

We can speculate at length about how Josh Smith and Al Horford are young and Joe Johnson will re-sign after this season and the Hawks likely will be a playoff team for sometime.

But really, we don’t know. Teams sometimes have a limited window to win. That’s why the Hawks are going after former Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas now. Smart move.

According to our Michael Cunningham, the Washington Wizards, who acquired Ilgauskas from Cleveland Wednesday as part of the six-player, three-team trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, are likely to buy out the remainder of the 7-foot-3 center’s contract. (They’re rebuilding and only were interested in his expiring contract.) That would allow Ilgauskas to sign as a free agent with any team, and at least four teams appear to be in the mix: Cleveland (which wants him back and would have to be considered the favorite), the Hawks, Dallas and possibly Denver.

Ilgauskas would need to be released before March 1 to be eligible for the playoffs.

Ilgauskas was a career NBA starter until this season, when the Cavaliers got a guy named Shaquille O’Neal. But he’s averaging just under 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in his career, and he has played in 64 playoff games and two All-Star Games.

Even if Ilgauskas didn’t start for the Hawks, the move would allow them to bring him off the bench in the postseason and shift Al Horford to power forward and Josh Smith to small forward (with Marvin Williams going to the bench), giving them a potent front line. The Cavaliers beefed up for the playoffs Wednesday when it acquired Antawn Jamison from the Wizards.

The Cavaliers and Orlando are clearly the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. But acquiring Ilgauskas would at least strengthen the Hawks’ post-season chances for a second-round upset.

128 comments Add your comment

Gilley

February 18th, 2010
3:35 pm

1st. Not going to happen but wishful thinking

Mountain Man

February 18th, 2010
3:40 pm

Jay-uff, maybe ewe kin straighten this out fer me. Washington traded fer this here feller. Now, they’s a-gonna pay him a bunch o’ money ta go back and play fer Cleveland? Thet don’t make no sense.

ChippersLoveChild

February 18th, 2010
3:41 pm

Why sign with Atlanta only to be eliminated by Cleveland, when you can re-sign with the Cavs and win a ring? I’d say he will pass, especially since that is the only city he has ever known in the NBA and I’m sure has a home there, etc.

Why get Ilgauskas? I vote that the Hawks just go out and sign Arvydas Sabonis, I’m sure he has something left in the tank.

Tale of Woe

February 18th, 2010
3:47 pm

The Hawks don’t strike me as a very strategic team (or one with any more money to spend). No way do we go after the Big Z. He will resign with Cleveland.

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

February 18th, 2010
3:47 pm

Hey, Jeff, can Cleveland really re-sign Z and have him for the playoffs? I think they would have to wait 30 days since they just traded him, right?

Give the man some credit

February 18th, 2010
3:55 pm

[...] Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas if he is released by the Washington Wizards, which is expected. Here’s why it’s a good move.) This is Michelle Damon. And that's all I have to [...]

Truth-Serum

February 18th, 2010
4:01 pm

Jeff I hope this isnt some political posturing from Sund to keep the Hawks fan base appeased. With us thinking that we… he tried, when he actually doesn’t intend to make it happen. Its like you said earlier. You can always make a deal if you want to . I agree 100%

Good reporting, keep us posted Jeff. I feel better already.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:04 pm

Mountain Man — Because Wizards don’t care about Ilgauskas. They’re rebuilding and just wanted the expiring contract. They’d rather buy him out for less, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to play in D.C., either.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:04 pm

ChippersLoveChild — A very good question.

Truth-Serum

February 18th, 2010
4:04 pm

Al would be a better small forward than Josh, Josh is a true power forward and one of the best in the game. We could trade Horford and increase our bench strength.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:04 pm

Fed Up With Wren — Not aware of a 30-day rule.

Mountain Man

February 18th, 2010
4:05 pm

Thankee Jay-uff. You’re a goodun, no matter what JSS sez.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:05 pm

Truth Serum — I think Hawks/Woodson really want him. Whether they get him is another matter. I’d think Cavs would be favorite.

Schultz Do Your Homework

February 18th, 2010
4:06 pm

0% chance Ilgauskas ends up in ATL. Actually -0%. He is re-signing in CLE. He is a good friend of Cavs GM Danny Ferry. Ferry would not trade him with out knowing that Z would be coming back. Plus he has no reason to leave. This has been very carefully orchestrated for months. There is no “mix” of teams. These teams might be delusional, like you, but I assure you its not happening.

Truth-Serum

February 18th, 2010
4:06 pm

Are you agreeing that we cant win a title with Ilgauskas, Schultz?

Truth-Serum

February 18th, 2010
4:11 pm

Hummm, good insight but going back to your previous statement, deals can be made. How much time would he get with Cleveland? Even less now. What would his role be with Jamison and Shaq on the front line? Hed get much more burn here and hed be right in the hunt for the title too. Besides, how much more money can Cleveland spend to keep him happy? I actually think we could make a very good presentation.

BRUCE LEVINSON

February 18th, 2010
4:13 pm

Where the heck have you been?

BRUCE LEVINSON

February 18th, 2010
4:15 pm

Got to get you some ZA ZA Pa trool lee e ah.

Truth-Serum

February 18th, 2010
4:17 pm

* Nate Robinson
* #2
* Guard

E-mail photo | Buy photos

2009-10 Statistics

PPG
13.2
RPG
2.40
APG
3.7
EFF
+ 12.13

Born: May 31, 1984
Height: 5-9 / 1.75
Weight: 180 lbs. / 81.6 kg.
College: Washington
Years Pro: 4

How did this guy get 100 points at the rim against us?

3DawgKnight

February 18th, 2010
4:19 pm

Do the Hawks have a realistic chance of signing ZI and what about that 30 day rule?

Schultz Do Your Homework

February 18th, 2010
4:31 pm

The Hawks do not have a realistic chance of signing Z. And Z needs to sit out 30 days before returning to CLE.

todd grantham

February 18th, 2010
4:31 pm

Jeffrey, welcome back!

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:34 pm

Schultz Do Your Homework: I think 0 percent would be overstating things just a tad.

For others asking about the 30-day rule, here’s my understanding of it after talking to Michael Cunningham: Ilgauskas is eligible for the playoffs as long as he is released by the Wizards by March 1. The Cavaliers would have to wait 30 days to re-sign him from the time he is released. But he would still be eligible for the playoffs. (Example: He’s released on Feb. 28. He is re-signed by Cavs on March 28.) Obviously, no other team would have to wait the 30 days. If we get further clarification of this later, I’ll pass it along.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:35 pm

Truth-Serum — I’m not sure if a title is realistic with or without him. Cavs and Magic still better in the East. But with him improves the Hawks chances.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:35 pm

3DawgKnight: (I like the name.) Realistic? Chances still favor Cavs. 30-day rule answered above.

The Dogfighter Returns

February 18th, 2010
4:36 pm

Dude, what r u talkin about willis?

z is old and slow. the team is fine. just need to reduce turnovers, maximize their posessions and seize the moment.

the time is now hawks.

Art Vandelay

February 18th, 2010
4:36 pm

Ilgauskas’ agent, Herb Rudoy:

“I’m going to try to get them to do a buyout, but I’ve already heard from a few teams — good teams — that are really interested in wanting to talk about Z going to play for them,” Rudoy told the paper. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. I think his heart is in Cleveland, that’s for sure. But we’ll see how this plays out. He’s got 30 days to make a decision if it’s Cleveland. If it’s somebody else, he could make it in a week. His whole decision will be based on what’s best for his career. He’d like to win a championship, that’s for sure. But it’s his call, not mine. I’m just going to give him all the options.”

So, if Z wants a little vacation to rest up for the playoffs, he’s got 30 days to backpack through Europe if he wants to go back to Cleveland. Otherwise, he could be signed by any other team moments after his release from the Wizzers.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:37 pm

Todd Grantham — Thanks.

Art Vandelay

February 18th, 2010
4:37 pm

Ugh. I hate answering a question and feeling useful, only to find that it’s been answered seven times in the three minutes I took to create my post. Devastating.

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:38 pm

Dogfighter: So you don’t think having a 7-3 guy coming off the bench helps a team?

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
4:39 pm

Art Vandelay — Yes, but you do all of those things that don’t show up in the boxscore.

todd grantham

February 18th, 2010
4:39 pm

I think the Hawks’ bench is their achillies heel. anybody would probably help.

Tucker T

February 18th, 2010
4:41 pm

It seems pretty shady that a team can trade a player to another team for a player in return and then turn around and get that same player back. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

Ted Striker

February 18th, 2010
4:41 pm

Jeff — Your explanation on the 30-day rule wasn’t that confusing but I had a 7 martini lunch and couldn’t finish the sentence. I will complete the reading assignment after I re-proofread the S.I. Swimsuit Edition for the 77th time.

Art Vandelay

February 18th, 2010
4:47 pm

Tucker T — the NBA was built on a foundation of shady. Doesn’t seem fair that one player can get to the free throw line more than the entire opposing team, but that happens on a regular basis too. “Fair” has no place in professional sports, unfortunately. For additional reference, see: Yankees, New York.

Steve Holman

February 18th, 2010
4:48 pm

but i cant pronounce the guy’s name!

The Dogfighter Returns

February 18th, 2010
4:54 pm

the hawks are fine. barring injury and a brain fart by the coach they should have a cucessful season.

the guy is a guard in a big man’s body. his best days are behind him.

sign him so that he can talk to pachulia. :) :) they can both exchange stories about communism in the old country.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 18th, 2010
4:56 pm

never going to happen because it would help so there you go .

Eddie

February 18th, 2010
4:57 pm

This would be great if the hawks did get Z. We have been missing a true center for a long time. Just think if Al H. was playing Power Forward his true position the potential would be great. Especially if he made the all star game at Center he could be the best power forward in the game. Point Blank! I would even start Z and have Smoove coming off the bench. We would definitely be one of the deepest teams in the league.

Mountain Man

February 18th, 2010
4:58 pm

How you say thet feller’s name anyhow?

tyger

February 18th, 2010
5:07 pm

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
5:22 pm

Assuming that Z returns to the place that has provided him with a commercial puppet, will the AJC challenge Rick Sund to consider other viable options to help this team? Instead of focusing on a specific name, how about focusing on the missing skill sets that can be addressed by other players less rooted in a contending team.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
5:26 pm

There will be other “bought out” players who can help this team (and guys who may not be tied to the leading contender for a championship). But first, Sund and the ASG need to agree to add a 14th player to the roster. What are you all doing to challenge Sund to think beyond the current 13-man roster (and Z as a distant, distant, distant long shot)?

Asheville Dawg

February 18th, 2010
5:26 pm

Always go after 7 foot three inch guys. Also go after guys with names like you mentioned just to see how many ways there are to pronounce it! Name me the last good/great center on the Hawks? Walt Bellamy?

Barrington

February 18th, 2010
5:29 pm

The Hawks could definitely use Ilgauskus but I’m not sure why Sund isn’t making a move for anyone. The Hawks are a good team, however, they desperately need some help in the front court, especially at center. I think Sund’s hands are tied as he must try to resign Joe. If he could do it over again, he probably wouldn’t have resigned Bibby and/or Marvin, both have regressed this year. Additionally, fire Woodson!

matt r

February 18th, 2010
5:29 pm

Not sure how he fits in considering we just made commitments to Marvin and Zaza

Steve Holman

February 18th, 2010
5:30 pm

do you pronounce his name like julio iglasius?

Jeff Schultz

February 18th, 2010
5:38 pm

Ted Striker — You need to do well on this 30-day Rule Test. You’re pulling a 68 in the class right now.

RA

February 18th, 2010
5:39 pm

So, Chipperslovechild. Which one were you again? Nevermind, maybe the Hawks losing to Cleveland isn’t a forgone conclusion. Maybe if they get a guy like Ilguaskas, they could move Al over to power foward, Smoove over to the Small, and put all 7′3 of him in the starting lineup as the center. Would it be enough to be Cleveland, I don’t know, but it would definately give them something to think about.