Sunday , Jan , 17 , 2010 Oly Sandor

Will trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas influence LeBron James’ decision to re-sign with Cleveland Cavaliers?

After all, the Cleveland Cavaliers have done anything and everything to get LeBron James’ signature on a multi-year contract, which would, of course, prevent him from bolting as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2010. His boys became the team’s adopted boys. Owner Dan Gilbert spent millions on big ticket free agents and even more on luxury tax payments. And GM Danny Ferry pursued several high-risk, high-reward trades …


Will trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas influence LeBron James' decision to re-sign with Cleveland Cavaliers?They’re about pleasing The King –and nothing else. 

After all, the Cleveland Cavaliers have done anything and everything to get LeBron James’ signature on a multi-year contract, which would, of course, prevent him from bolting as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2010. 

His boys became the team’s adopted boys. Owner Dan Gilbert spent millions on big ticket free agents and even more on luxury tax payments. And GM Danny Ferry pursued several high-risk, high-reward trades.

It could all be for not, though -James has refused to sign an extension until, at least, testing the open market. And the Cavaliers risk losing a once-in-a-generation superstar and tumbling from the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

While the focus remains pleasing The King, the club is pursuing a trade to put them over the top in 2010. Like Michael Jackson’s bio flick, this could be it. James could leave, so the Cavaliers have to roll the dice and chase an NBA Title.

They do have a card to play: Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ expiring contract.

Expiring contracts are especially valuable in today’s NBA of have and have-not franchises. Owners in troubled markets are willing to trade top talent for financial flexibility, so Ilgauskas’ $14 million contract is in demand because it expires or disappears from the payroll July 1st.

The rumours are flying. Every few days, a scenario pops-up on-line where the Cavaliers deal their long-time center of twelve years for a stretch power-forward or a blending scorer at off-guard.

It doesn’t matter that Ilgauskas is a former All-Star. It doesn’t matter that he’s a link to the club’s past. And it doesn’t matter that he’s always been a team-first guy, even relinquishing his starting spot to Shaquille O’Neal.

What matters is pleasing The King and winning an NBA championship while James is under the contract. So Ilgauskas could be sacrificed to achieve these ends. 

There is, however, another angle.

James values friendship. He and Ilgauskas are friends. For instance, the superstar publicly backed his teammate when Coach Mike Brown left him on the bench for an entire game, preventing the Euro from breaking the club record for career appearances.

What would James think about an organization that trades a mainstay like Ilgauskas for a one-year fix? What would he think about such poor loyalty?

By pursuing an NBA Title at all costs, they may, in fact, push the player they hope to keep towards the bright lights of New York, the swamps of New Jersey or warm beaches of Miami next summer.

Perhaps, it’s shouldn’t be all about pleasing The King. Hopefully, the Cavaliers recognize this and keep Ilgauskas.

How would an Ilgauskas’ trade impact James? Get at us in the comment box below and follow Oly on HoopsVibe The Blog and Twitter. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons License.