On 13th July, 2010 Zydrunas Ilgauskas signed a two-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Heat, the biggest hole in a lineup that will feature Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. It’s a bittersweet departure for Cavaliers fans as Zydrunas Ilgauaskas is well known as Big Z in Cleveland, is also the Cavaliers’ all-time leader in blocks and rebounds and one of the most popular players in franchise history.
Together with the Cavaliers organization, Ilgauskas spent 14 years, playing on a front line that once included Danny Ferry and playing during Ferry’s five-year reign as the team’s general manager. Ilgauskas was waived by the Wizards and decided to return to the Cavaliers after the mandatory waiting period so, Ferry traded Ilgauskas’ expiring contract to Washington last February as the Cavaliers acquired Antawn Jamison.
Now he chooses to leave his home for the last 14-years in order to pursue the dream that all players have, to win a championship. Said Z:
“It was very tough. I love Cleveland. At end the day, Miami is best place for me to win a ring”
To the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “I’ve been a loyal soldier for 14 years. It’s time for me to go and chase my dream of winning a ring.”
After completing his new contract with the Celtics, Allen said on Tuesday, “So much is being pointed to what we did here“. He also added, “But the question is whether they’re ready to sacrifice — make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s not about numbers. It’s not about accolades. When we did this in ’07, that’s what we all knew and what we all said: It (personal glory) didn’t matter.”
Ilgauskas is the Cavs’ career leader in games played, blocked shots and rebounds. The 7-foot-3 Lithuanian was drafted by the club in 1996 and overcame serious foot injuries that nearly ended his career. He’s just the latest name to join what shapes up as a serious title contender in Miami, joining not only James but Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, who agreed to a deal late last week that remains unsigned.
Howard’s natural position is power forward, but he saw extended minutes at center last season after injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla. Agent David Falk told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday, “Juwan wants to get a ring and he has great respect for Coach Riley“, “We’ve talked to the Heat. There’s a mutual interest. That’s all I feel comfortable saying at this point.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the 7-3 center who has spent his 12-year career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, has agreed to join James and the Heat. “It was very tough,” said Ilgauskas, a former first-round draft pick from Lithuania. “I love Cleveland. At the end of the day, I decided that Miami is the best place for me to win a ring.”
On Tuesday, Zydrunas told Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant the news. James played a role in luring Ilgauskas to Miami, and other teams were interested as well. Zydrunas was immensely popular in Cleveland, and expects to keep a home in the city. ”It’s hard,” Rudoy said. ”It’s been 14 years. It was very hard for him. I know that. When he called Chris Grant and Dan Gilbert today, it was definitely a hard decision at this stage of his career. But he wants to win a championship. That’s how he made this decision.”
The Heat had no immediate comment. They had talks about acquiring Ilgauskas when he was available this past season after being dealt in a three-team trade to Washington. The Wizards subsequently bought out his contract and made him a free agent. Ilgauskas averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds last season, playing as a reserve for the first time. Ilgauskas has averaged 13.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, plus has played in two All-Star games for his career.
Video of Zydrunas Ilguaskas is joining LeBron James in Miami from YouTube: