Phil Jackson is upset. Doc Rivers is upset. There is a report that NBA commissioner David Stern is upset, and certainly the last thing ANYBODY wants is for a New York attorney with a nice leather desk chair and the name “commissioner” on his business card to be upset.
But I’m just wondering: If, as expected, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has his contract bought out by the Washington Wizards and he re-signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers — the team that just traded him — who really has a right to be upset?
Oh that’s right: Nobody.
The NBA reportedly may attempt to block Ilgauskas’s move back to Cleveland, believing it was a pre-arranged deal. The player’s agent denies that. Personally, I dont think it should matter. He’s got the rulebook on his side and if somebody really wants to continue to live in Cleveland when he has the chance to get out, who are we to rescue him?
I realize this could have a pronounced effect on the Hawks, for two reasons: 1) If Ilgauskas doesn’t return to the Cavaliers, there’s a good chance he’ll sign with the Hawks; 2) And if he does go back, the Cavaliers effectively will have acquired Antawn Jamison before the trade deadline for nothing.
But there’s a rule in place here, folks. Stern can stomp his feet all he likes (and he likes). But the NBA rule basically states that Ilgauskas is free to sign with the Cavaliers 30 days after the Wizards release him. If the league doesn’t like the rule, change it. If Ilgauskas prefers to go back to the team that traded him because he has a better chance to win a title, more power to him.
Instead, we have this from former Hawk Doc Rivers, the Boston coach: I have a problem with that. I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton [who was traded to the Hawks, released and then returned to Boston]. But now I think it sucks. I think it’s a terrible deal.”
And this from Jackson: “They’re going to get Ilgauskas back and it’s going to be one of those scenarios that we see in the NBA where you ship a player out, you get another player, then your player retires or they pay him off and then he comes back in 30 days. I don’t know what that does for the league. I think that’s kind of a weird situation.”