Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  57 responses

Lakers, Celtics Dreading Big Z’s Return to Cleveland

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

It’s one of those magical loopholes within the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and one that teams — especially title contenders — take advantage of all the time. And now that the Cavs are seemingly on the verge of re-acquiring Zydrunas Ilguaskas (30 days after “trading” him), their main rivals are up in arms.

Despite overtures from other teams, everyone assumes that Ilgauskas will be back in Cleveland sometime in March. Prior to last night’s wildly entertaining showdown in Hollywood, Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson served as the mouthpieces for their respective franchises, expressing mock outrage and concern about the Cavs’ plans.

Pro Basketball Talk
has the quotes from both coaches:

“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,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what that does for the league.”

It was more ironic to hear Rivers complain about it — the Celtics did the same thing with Gary Payton back in 2005, when the Celtics traded the point guard for Antoine Walker, then got him back after the buyout.

“I have a problem with that,” Rivers said. “I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it’s a terrible deal. I actually do have a problem with that though. We did it, and I’m joking, but I do think (there is a problem). I don’t know what you do. Just not allow them to go back to the same team or whatever. I do think that will be changed eventually, but I do have a problem with it.”

No need to feel sorry for either coach (or team); given the opportunity, they would do exactly the same thing as what the Cavs are planning to do. The rules — crappy as they may seem — are the rules, and it’s up to the creativity of the front-offices around the League to take advantage of them.

Besides, who ever said that life was fair?

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  • Ken

    They need to fix this loophole… its pretty unfair tradewise.

  • http://Slamadamonth.com Mvp23100

    Come home z get that hardware

  • barnabusb

    Why doesn’t Washington just not buy him out to stick it to the Cleve?

  • Ronald

    Washington probably had an under the table deal with the Cavs where they buyout Z for a very low price allowing him to be re-signed by the Cavs. In addition, Was and Cle probably had a deal beforehand, there’s no advantage for Wash to go back on their word and mess up the Cavs. (Backstabbing in this league does come back and haunt you as it prevents future deals)

  • http://www.slamonline.com MooButter

    They save more money if they buy him out and that was what the entire deal was made for, so they can rebuild. Not buying him out would do less to accomplish that.

  • LCD Screen Cleaner

    regardless, this ought to be fixed. just because everybody does it doesn’t mean it’s proper. also, though not mentioned in the article, that whole Jason Williams thing where a player retires then unretires and signs for another team is effed up, dontchathink.

  • Yesse

    I agree with this. I never wanted Z to leave Cleveland, but this is pretty unfair.

  • neaorin

    I asked on the previous Z thread why is offering a contract to an unrestricted FA and him deciding on his own to accept it being considered a loophole. Nobody answered.

    The buyout is happening because the Wizards and Z both WANT it to happen. And if Z accepts the Cavs offer and returns, it’s because that’s what he WANTS to do. If he wants to sign elsewhere for more money or whatever, the Cavs can do exactly jack about it. Similarly if the Wizards decide they’d rather keep Z than buy him out.

  • slawson

    While Doc is complaining about this.. I am sure the C’s and the Knicks have something in the works where Eddie House gets bought out and sent back to Boston. With Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels both up and down with injuries, and two roster spots still open… I’ll bet they are counting on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevinwilson16 Kevin Wilson

    Yeah, Phil Jackson, getting a franchise center for nothing is really unfair. Who did you trade for Pau Gasol again?

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. You do what’s best for your team, not what is fair to all the teams. Rivers is a hypocrite. Jackson is a hypocrite. If the mavs traded najera to the lakers, then the lakers bought him out and he went back to dallas I doubt this would even be a topic!!!

  • spit hot fiyah

    marc gasol

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    Kevin, at the time of that trade I agreed with you but now you gotta consider marc to be one of the best centers in the nba. But yea, lakers and celtics got lucky. They have teams made to win rings. Garnett, allen, peirce = rings no doubt. Kobe+gasol+artest+bynum+odom=rings

  • Jack Knife

    This is another reason why we have too many teams in the NBA. Half the teams quit trying to win by February and just give away players to save money.

  • The D Train

    All is fair in love and war, right? Memphis signs Darius Miles just long enough for him to go back on Portland’s cap, even though he’s next-door to worthless and they do not need him, that’s fine. Memphis, with Jerry West pulling strings, ships Kung Pau to Kobe and the Lakers just months after Kobe pisses and moans about needing help, for 12 cents on the dollar, that’s fine. Cleveland trades a low-level first round pick and Z for Antwan Jamison, who averages 20 ppg and 8 boards, then gets Z back after 30 days, that’s fine. Yeah, all this stuff is legal, but it stinks, and it stinks quite a bit.

  • JoeMaMa

    I commented on this in another thread.
    It’s a complete joke. The T-Wolves had the same hush-hush agreement with Joe Smith that got found out and basically screwed the T-Wolves out of what, 5 first round picks? The difference now is that the Cavs are saying, “prove we agreed on a buyout with the Wizards”.
    I hope the countless kids watching the game are picking up on such honourable virtues.
    “Remember son, it’s only cheating if you get caught”.

  • kev

    Why is this unfair? If washington chooses to but out his contract and he is a free agent, then he should be able to sign with whom ever he wants. Don’t blame Cleveland, blame the team thats buying him out for cap space. Every other team in the league has an opportunity to sign him. Im fact they are given 30 day to try and get him before Cleveland. Doc and Phil are just salty because they feel that championship slipping away!

  • The D Train

    @neaorin: We could argue semantics, but I think the reason it is considered a “loophole” is because a team, in this case Cleveland, is trading away an asset to acquire and asset, then receiving the traded away asset back 30 days later with no repercussions. It is legal at this point, but is it competitively fair to the other 28 teams? Shouldn’t we try to have a somewhat level playing field? Certain teams are going to have an advantage because of economics, but allowing them to resign players they just traded away allows the teams with more money just one more competitive advantage. Regarding the player being a free agent, there are levels right now, restricted, unrestricted, etc. Adding a limit on bought out free agents could fall into that same subset of free agent limitations.

  • rav

    how to fix this – if you trade a player you cannot reacquire them for that season after they’ve been bought out. simple as.

  • neaorin

    The Cavs are not “receiving” Z back, they are signing him as a free agent. They do not have any special privilege when talking to him, because they surrendered that right when they dealt him. They did they fair share. JoeMaMa, the Cavs don’t need to have any sort of agreement with the Wizards. They are banking on the Wizards doing what makes the most sense for themselves (buyout), and even the calculated risk of not getting him back still cannot account for the fact that they made a good trade regardless.

  • The D Train

    agree with rav

  • T-Money

    You guys make it seem like there’s a contractual obligation for Z to get back to Cleveland. It’s entirely up to Washington whether they’ll buy him out or not. They’ll act accordingly to the best interest of THEIR OWN ORGANIZATION. After that, Z can do whatever he wants. He will likely choose to go back to the Cavs but he could end up playing a vital role in Denver or Dallas if he wants to. It’s entirely up to him. I mean, if other teams can sign him once he becomes an FA, why couldn’t Cleveland make him an offer?

  • Cam Jones

    If they feel so strongly about it then why don’t the Lakers and the Celtics make Big Z an offer during the 30 day moratorium. OR any team for that matter, toss the big Euro enough dollars until his shit starts making cents

  • The D Train

    Cleveland had Z’s rights, but traded them away for an asset. Should they be able to retain their asset, then obtain the rights to Z again? Aren’t they double-dipping at that point? Is that fair to the other 28 teams in the league? Washington’s role in this dance is completely irrelevant for this discussion. We are debating whether it’s fair for Cleveland (or any team) to trade away a player for an asset, then receive said player back on their roster 30 days later. In that case they are obtaining an asset for nothing, or at least, next-to-nothing.

  • neaorin

    Yes, they should be able to sign and pay Z just like they are able to sign and pay any other guy who’s a free agent right now. The fact that they traded him should be irrelevant as long as he is indeed a free agent when they offer him a contract. They are not double-dipping as they have to pay BOTH Jamison and Z (whatever they sign him for). If you’re worried about “fairness” then why not introduce veto power, fantasy style? Or should they get rid of buyouts so contenders with money to burn can’t get even stronger by signing “assets” for “next to nothing”?

  • LA Huey

    As a LBJ fan, I’m glad Doc and Phil are being salty. If they aint hating, you’re not a threat…Also, there are things I’d rather see changed in the NBA before this one. I don’t like guaranteed contracts. Washington had to have a fire sale on players that weren’t worth their contracts. And with regard to players that get injured, there needs to be something done about that. It’s not the player’s fault (assuming it’s work-related) but also not fair to the fans that follow them.

  • tom

    it might be “unfair” but when laker and celtic teams did it, why shouldn´t others…I am really disappointed to hear that from those great coaches

  • The D Train

    As rav noted earlier, I am in favor of not allowing a traded player to return to the team that traded him for the remainder of that particular season. This would at least ensure that a team thought long and hard about trading away a valuable piece to obtain another valuable piece. The way the CBA is constructed now, Ferry basically knew the odds were in his favor that Z could be traded to Washington, which would then buy him out to save even more money, then he would resign with Cleveland since he’s been there for 500 years. That is not a good-faith deal…the basic premise behind fairness in trading is giving something of value to obtain something of relative value. Also, the double-dipping argument…yes, they have to pay BOTH Jamison and Z, but they had to give up something to earn the right to pay Jamison, correct? And that something included Z.

  • neaorin

    Except Ferry didn’t do it in bad faith, he just took a calculated risk. Seriously, if Z is a player of value, an “asset” as you put it, he should receive asset-level offers on the open market. In fact I’d be surprised if at least one team out there doesn’t come out with a two year offer. At that point Z has a decision to make, a decision the Cavs can do NOTHING to influence except offering a competitive deal themselves. Yep, the Cavs gave up Z. They did their fair share. If (when) he does become a free agent again that means they are no more or less entitled to sign him than any other team. Sounds good to me. Yes I am a Cavs fan but I had no problems with it when McDyess chose to go back to Detroit after the Billups deal, even though I wanted him on the Cavs, and they offered the most money out of all the bidders.

  • neaorin

    By the way, I don’t believe a buyout from the Wizards is a done deal either. It depends on how much the Wiz are looking to save by buying him out.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    Well, all the deals mentioned followed league rules, so I don’t see how any of them were unfair. From a fans perspective the onlything that feels unfair to me is when I buy season tickets to see my team and then they trade my guys away. If I was a Wizards season ticket holder I’d be pissed now that my core guys are gone. You can argue that you buy tickets to see the team, not individual players – but I don’t think that’s necessarily a reality. I know people are diehard Lakers fans if Kobe is there or not, however I bet Cleveland fans would disappear if LeBron is in NYC next year. Just saying, all these deals are perfectly fine from a league perspective, but can suck from a fans point of view.

  • TyMo

    All I know is that at least one of the Cavs’ big men is gonna get a serious reduction in playing time. Shaq, Z, Andy, Hickson, and now Twan? And doesn’t Bron play the 4 sometimes? Well, they’ll at least have plenty of fouls to dish out to Dwight.

  • LA Huey

    @TyMo, if your concern is discontent, everyone of those players you mentioned (including Shaq) can be good soldiers on winning teams. If your concern is how rotations are going to affect their play, I’m very worried since Mike Brown is still the coach…

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com ClutchPerformer

    the real crime besides this, i dont like how washinton is basically alowing cleveland a run at a title, who says they have to buy them out. but the real crime here is how washington is giving everyone on there team away, they have no star players left, Arenas,to suspension, and caron and jamison to trades, i feel bad for the remaining players cuz its gonna be a bumpy ride, expect a lot of losses and compete with the nets for worst in the league. they basically said we give up and wait for the lottery and wasnt there a rumor they tried to get rid of mike miller too?

  • rav

    tbh i reckon ferry and ilguaskas already talked about coming back if he was bought out (and ferry probably talked to grunfeld about whether he’d buy out ilgauskas and how much they could save by buying him out)

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    This is no surprise. For those shocked by this, do follow:
    - LeBron loves Z
    - Cleveland loves LeBron
    - Ergo, Z isn’t getting shipped from CLE to the freaking Wizards and not coming back.

  • Rob

    It doesn’t matter. The Cavs will always suck. If the dream team represented Cleveland, they’d lose. Face it, Cleveland will never achieve anything. Let them try.

  • ClevelandCollector

    The Cavs will always suck? I take it you’re a disgruntled Knicks fan wha can’t come to grips with the fact that LeBron isn’t leaving…Z or no Z.

  • http://staticseth.blogspot.com Seth

    As a Celtics fan I’m not worried about Z’s game. I’m worried that I won’t see the Big Z/LeBron puppet commercial again.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    phil cant cry, he jerry west(via chris wallace) gifted pau gasol to him.

  • thype

    I have no sympathy for either of these franchises. Lakers have the Pau deal to talk about before they complain about an old man coming back to Cleveland.

    And Doc Rivers, man, shut your whiny mouth. I swear nobody complains like that guy.

    Oh well, I’m not a fan of any of these teams and my team isn’t going to win anything this year, but it is what it is, so to speak.

  • JOE!

    Z may not resign with Cleveland, remember the “deal” with Carlos!

  • kevin

    Z is one of the best players in cavs history he deserves the ring and will get it Bron+Antawn+Mo+Z+Shaq+Parker/Delonte+Hickson+Jamario Moon+Boobie=TITLE

  • Ronald

    Anyone here care to explain the rules regarding buyouts?

  • LOQuent

    Both teams benefited from this deal because the Wizards were able to free up cap space by buying him out and the Cavs got Jamison. The Wizards don’t want to pay a 34-35 year old vet his worth right now when they’re rebuilding and they aren’t going to the playoffs so it’s pointless to hang on to him. The Cavs are only blocked from signing Z the FREE AGENT after 30 days but their gamble (technically) is that other serious contenders could show interest and end up driving up the price they’re willing to pay which would cause them to lose him.

    The major point this article leaves out is that other teams will respect that the Cavs want to resign him because they want to be able to do the same thing when it helps them. It’s how it works, that’s it.

    I think the best solution is for them to have a “resigning bonus” in situations like this based off the market value of that player. At the end of the day if you had a percentage based “resigning surcharge” tacked on to teams that recently let a player go in a trade they’d have to really be careful about important parts of the team. Since most teams wouldn’t want to drive the price up for fear it would happen to them it probably would work out to a decent enough amount of money that fit the current system.

    Either way the Cavs have no issue with money being that they would like to retain the best asset in the league, period.

  • A l a n

    the rules are a joke. Stern can be happy though, this may very well end in a Kobe-LBJ explosion in June…

  • WTF

    Why do people keep mentioning the Gasol trade and comparing it to this one. The Lakers gave up three players, two first round picks, and the rights to Marc Gasol. In fact the Lakers lost their pick in this year’s upcoming draft for Gasol. The Cavs gave up Z and a first round pick and got Jamison and Telfair. Even more one-sided than that trade. Anyway, I don’t agree with being able to buy bought out players in the same year and then being able to sign back with the team that traded you. Its a pure conflict of interest and if it was discussed during the trade talks it IS illegal according to the rules. The Lakers got Fisher not because they traded him but because he could get the best treatment in LA for his daughter so he asked for a buyout to sign with them again. Big Z already said he wants them to buy him out so he can go back “home” so there he knows who he’s going to sign with and Cleveland knew it when they traded him. Thats why the Suns didn’t do the trade cuz it would’ve been the equivalent of handing Amare Stoudemire over for Hickson, which as Steve Kerr said he wouldn’t have been able to justify with the Suns fanbase and would’ve hurt end-of-season ticket sales.

  • RedRum

    I am not sure if this is the case, but as I understand the rule, if the player is bought out, he is a free agent. Hence, he can go to any team he wishes. It is his choice to go to the Cavs, he could go to the Lakers, Celtics etc if he wished.

  • don

    if Z no longer wants to go back to CLE then NO ONE can do anything about it.

  • Teddy-the-Bear


  • http://twitter.com/PDXGayBBall dma

    I don’t think ANYBODY should be able to return to the NBA in the same season they get bought out/retire. If you’re traded to a team, and have a contract, you should have an obligation to that organization, and that organization’s fans, to fulfill said contract. There shouldn’t be some buyout clause they can revoke, and essentially be getting paid from two different teams at the same time.

  • dp

    hey guys just wondering if anyone caught the NY vs thunder game… NY lost the game but look at the trades… wow… walsh is a genius NY with lebron james > cleveland with lebron james… say what you must about the cavs defense but take lebron out of that team and they’re barely gonna make the playoffs, but with the young players and new players NY have + lebron, i’m thinking a younger celtics… and can NY still go after 2 max players or have they lost that opportunity after taking TMAC?

    lee danilo chandler harrington duhon rodriguez house TMAC + lebron… also D’Antoni.

  • http://fjkld.com Jukai

    dp: it’s very unlikely that David Lee will stay with the Knicks.

  • MikeC.

    Another idea to reduce teams re-signing bought out guys they just traded away: double the luxury tax bill for that particular contract. Since they’d then be paying for that contract 3 times over, it would make the team re-signing the traded away player think long and hard about taking on that financial commitment.

  • dp

    jukai: unlikely yes, if lebron does not come over, but if lebron signs i’m pretty sure he’ll stay.

  • therighttoremainsalient

    I mean this isn’t really Clevelands fault – The Wizards were the ones that signed off on the deal. If they don’t actually want to get A PLAYER in a trade and just go through the red tape for cap relief and money for next season then thats their perogative isn’t it? It really doesn’t impact the Celts and the Lakeshow as much as Doc “I hate this trade scenario but I’ve done it too” Rivers makes out. And officially Phil Jackson can’t speak on these matters for as long as Pau is in the wine and gold colours…
    oh by the way Jamison dropped an EGG in his first game – O-12 fgs!

  • http://alimartin07@yahoo.com Ali

    Jamison is not the answer to the Cavs winning a championship. I said it when the trade went down and I’ll keep saying it. Adding Shaq and Jamison, will aide to them in winning more games but in the playoffs team cohesivness is the key, unloading and gaining players mid season is always a bad move. Z coming back aint gonna help the Cavs either, his minutes are gone!