INDEPENDENCE – In the end, things worked out perfectly for the Cavaliers.
Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the key piece in the Feb. 17 trade that brought power forward Antawn Jamison to Cleveland, re-signed with the Cavaliers on Tuesday.
The deal, worth about $1 million, is for the rest of this season only. Ilgauskas also got a “trade kicker” bonus when he was originally dealt to Washington, so that and the new contract with Cleveland will allow him to recoup all of the reported $1.5 million he left on the table in his buyout with the Wizards.
“I’m obviously very happy to be back here,” Ilgauskas said. “It’s been a long month.”
Ilgauskas did not practice Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts, but accompanied the team to New Orleans later in the day and is expected to play Wednesday night. Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said the 34-year-old will “most likely” come off the bench.
“I had some unfinished business here,” said Ilgauskas, who hopes to be part of the first championship team in Cavaliers history.
The franchise’s all-time leader in games played, rebounds and blocks, Ilgauskas repeatedly thanked the fans for the outpouring of support he received following the trade-deadline deal to Washington.
“That’s one of the main reasons I came back,” he said.
Asked if he had any hard feelings about being traded, Ilgauskas said, “That’s not my personality. The reason I came back is those guys in the locker room. I have a special bond with them.”
Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, a close friend and former teammate of Ilgauskas, called making the trade “a difficult situation.”
“ ‘Z’ has been such an important part of our franchise,” he said. “ ‘Z’ has been a good friend of mine. It’s not something Mike Brown wanted to talk about; it’s not something anyone wanted to talk about.
“Ultimately, making the trade was a positive for us. This is a nice final result.”
To make room for Ilgauskas on the 15-man roster, the Cavaliers waived second-year big man Darnell Jackson.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.