Part of Danny Ferry was elated. Part of him was choking back tears.
Such is life as an NBA general manager.
The Cavaliers’ front office leader was thrilled to have landed power forward Antawn Jamison, the “stretch four” Cleveland has always lacked, but the first thing he addressed at a press conference on Thursday was having to part with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the franchise’s all-time leader in games played.
“The guy is a world-class person and a world-class player,” an emotional Ferry said. “He’s been incredible for this organization and this city. But, in order to add a player, you need to make some tough decisions.”
There’s a decent chance the center-heavy Wizards will buy out the remainder of Ilgauskas’ expiring contract, which would allow him to re-sign with the Cavaliers in 30 days, but there are no guarantees. Washington, in fact, reportedly tried to trade Ilgauskas again prior to the 3 p.m. deadline Thursday.
If he is bought out, Dallas is one of several teams already said to be interested in signing Ilgauskas, Ferry’s friend and former teammate in Cleveland, so the next month will be filled with rumors about the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian’s future.
Ferry knew as much when he called Ilgauskas on Wednesday night to inform him of the trade.
“It was not a fun conversation,” the GM said, “but he was very professional, like you’d expect.”