Post-game Reactions

The Washington Wizards are about to buy out Zydrunas Ilgauskas by paying him a portion of what remains of his $11.5 million salary for this season, according to Ric Bucher at ESPN.com and David Aldridge at NBA.com. The move wipes Z-man off the Wiz’ salary cap bill for this season, but, more importantly, it means Ilgauskas is free to sign with whatever team he chooses. If he does so by March 1, he’ll be eligible for the playoffs.

This means that the Cavaliers can reacquire the only NBA player they traded to the Wizards in exchange for a power forward averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds per game. Which means the Cavs will have acquired said forward for a total package of: A player named Emir Preldzic, whom Cleveland drafted at the end of the second round last year, and their first-round draft pick this year.

Sounds fair! And in no way was this prearranged, by the way. Not a chance. If it were, the NBA would take some action against the Cavs, Bucher says.

In any case, the same cap rules apply to Z-man as they would to any free agent, meaning teams over the cap (such as Cleveland and other teams reportedly interested in Z—Dallas, Denver, Atlanta and Utah, according to Bucher) could only sign Z using a cap exception.

Update: A bit of clarification:

The rule works like this: Ilgauskas must negotiate a buyout from Washington before March 1. If he is still a Wizard on that date, he can only play in the playoffs for Washington. As long as he is not a member of the Wizards after March 1, he is free to sign with a team after that date and be eligible for the playoffs.

Z cannot sign with the Cavaliers before March 21, 30 days after the Cavs-Wiz-Clips trade was totally done (i.e. everyone passed physicals), according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. But all he has to do by March 1 to be eligible for the Cavs playoff roster is negotiate a buyout with Washington, which he has apparently done.

The 30-day waiting period applies only to Cleveland, and is meant to discourage teams from dealing players in hopes of acquiring them immediately after a buyout. The rule is supposed to work as incentive against such an arrangement by giving the league’s other 29 teams (some of whom have pieces of their mid-level exception available) first crack at Z-man and forcing him to sit around for 30 days if he really wants to sign with Cleveland.

So that’s the rule. And as I say in the comments, I don’t begrudge the Cavs for using it to their advantage. It’s legal—provided the league can’t prove collusion between parties before the trade—and the Cavs should do anything within the rules to win.

But I also think it’s silly to pretend there isn’t some sort of unofficial, wink-wink understanding in place when this stuff happens. It may not be provable or rise to the level of “collusion,” but if we all knew how this would likely play out, so did the parties involved.

Now watch Z sign with Utah.

The following two tabs change content below.

Zach Lowe

Latest posts by Zach Lowe (see all)

Share →
  • Phil

    Right, and Grey Payton’s trade a few years ago was totally legit too.

  • jack

    I hate how people talk about how Boston stole Kevin Garnett for nothing (which is completely not true), and you have teams like cleveland who get Antawn Jamison for nothing (if Z resigns with them). Not to mention last year when they got Mo Williams for nothing, when Joe smith was bought out and then re-signed with them. …

  • PJ

    Yeah, I’m with Phil — and I’m a Celtics fan. Them’s the rules — and this is a rather convenient time for a C’s fan to complain about them.

  • But he can’t sign with the Cavs for 30 Days per League rules, which must mean the March 1st rule does not apply to the Cavs? Confusing to say the least.

  • rob

    This just shows you how messed up the NBA is right now, financially. Simmons wrote up the situation nicely yesterday. We’re heading for a lockout, and the union is about to get absolutely, positively crushed.

    As for the Cs, too bad they spent dollars on Rasheed that could have gone a lot farther with teams dumping quality for absolutely nothing.

  • PJ

    You know, the real problem with this trade is just that Washington didn’t bother to get anything more for Jamison — or Butler and Jamison. They made terrible, one-sided trades, under the PR cover provided by Arenas and Crittenton (no one was going to complain about them cleaning house). The Z thing just exemplifies how little they got — but is otherwise unremarkable.

  • Phil

    The March 1 rule says you can’t be on a team on March 1, then go to another team and be in the playoffs. So if a week before the playoffs, KG thinks Wally World would revitalize him, I believe he could sign with the Celtics and be playoff eligible since he’s currently not on a team. Also, sorry for butchering GARY Payton’s name.

  • @spacks: I think he can sign but can’t play for 30 days. The other teams could sign him now and play him now, according to Bucher.

  • And I don’t begrudge the Cavs or Z at all. This is a smart move, a legal move and one they should do. It’s just silly for the league to pretend no two parties discussed this when the trade was made.

  • dslack

    Rob: The Celtics were over the salary cap last summer. They only signed Sheed through a cap exception. They couldn’t have absorbed another team’s dumped contract without Sheed anymore than they could with him. They just would also be lacking a backup center if they didn’t have him….

  • GranTur

    Sheed was a good signing. They should have signed him for one less year, but it’s ok.

    As far as it goes with Z…it is what it is and the rules are what they are. It’s not like they changed recently.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    for all the oddities in the CBA, this is the worst. it only exists because the league benefits; it makes the star attractions more likely to go deep and therefore boosts ratings. thats my issue with it, the league could easily use their discretion to stop this (like they do with other grey areas in the CBA), but they choose not to…..I wonder if the grizzlies tried this if stern would step in and squash it?

    no ill will towards the cavs. but hope they close this loophole during the upcoming lockout *cough cough* negotiations.

  • GranTur

    The union is about to get reamed by the owners. They can do whatever they want.

    There won’t be a lock out because the players know the owners will wait until the end of time to get what they want, so the players won’t even mess with a lock out. They’ll just get screwed and get it over with.

  • Zack

    I agree those are the rules and they suck when they aren’t helping your team and suck even worse when they are helping the Cavs (at least it wasn’t the Lakers). I would have loved to see a situation play out like this for the Celtics. If you are going to blame any one blame the Wizards; They got rid of everyone and obviously didn’t want a lot (if anything) back.
    Also isn’t Areanas still on the team? How can they have a fire sale like that and not dump him.
    @jack don’t forget Pau was traded for Kwame Brown and some magic beans, and he is entering his prime not limping out of it like KG is.

  • Pingback: Wolf Tracks 2/25 | Howlin' T-Wolf()

  • DRJ1

    So which old, slow center-that-prefers-shooting-3s-to-working-the-post would you prefer to have on the Cs? Sheed, or Z?

  • sj

    @drj1 sheed he is like kg with yelling on defencee big Z barely speaks english

  • john robles

    After tonite’s loss Doc know crap about coaching ….

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid
  • The Cavs are not getting around a ‘loop-hole’ it’s just what the rules say. Everyone new the Wiz were trying to save money and reload for next year (just like the Suns if they dealt Amare). So ofcourse the Cavs would make a trade to a team who would most likely do a buy-out if possible to save money and/or cap space. To me this was an expected deal based on what everyone knows the Wiz are trying to do – not some kind of secret agreement that the two teams made up-front. Even without the trade, I expected that either the Cavs or Magic would win the East this year, let’s face it – the C’s are past prime.

  • Mo


    Marc Gasol is a magic bean? He’s averaging 15, 10, 2 and 2 on a playoff team as a second year player for $3 M a year. Not too shabby.