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NBA trying to screw Z, Cavaliers?

You knew it had to happen, right?  Boston has done it with Gary Payton.  Detroit has don it with Antonio McDyess.  Dallas really did it with Jerry Stackhouse.  What is IT?  Take advantage of a loophole that allows teams to trade a player and resign him 30 days later.  

The Cavaliers traded Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Washington Wizards for Antawn Jamison.  IT was widely reported that Z would get a buy-out from the cash-strapped team and return to the Cavaliers.  While it is allowed, a pre-arraigned deal saying as much is NOT ALLOWED.  Dallas had a deal in place involving Stackhouse in which he would return and the NBA nixed the deal because of it.  

Fast-forward to now, where the Wizards are expected to have a buy-out in place for Z by early this week.  That's expected.  What Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting is not - 

The Los Angeles Times reported the NBA has told teams the center won't be allowed to return to the Cavaliers, based on evidence there was a prearranged deal. The Cavs traded Ilgauskas and a No. 1 draft pick for Antawn Jamison(notes) on Thursday, and many in the NBA - including Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers - insisted they believed Ilgauskas was always destined to return to Cleveland.

" ‘Z' does not want to go to Washington and knows that there are plenty of good teams that want to sign him," Rudoy said. "He's going to take his time."

Players have to wait 30 days before re-signing with the team that just traded them.

Rudoy insists the NBA hasn't contacted him about any evidence of a prearranged deal, and vehemently denied anything had been arranged among the Wizards, Cavs and Ilgauskas to get the center back to Cleveland for the playoffs.

"I signed off on the document that there are no other deals in place on this, and I'm not going to put my practice of representing players in jeopardy if that wasn't true," Rudoy said.

Danny Ferry, Ilgauskas and his agent Herb Rudoy have impeccable reputations.  I believe them 100% if they said no deal was in place.  The NBA should too.  It seems, however, that the NBA is trying to close a loophole, in the middle of a CBA, based on what people are speculating is going to happen.  

Could you imagine the NBA stopping the Lakers?  Or the Celtics?  Of course not.  Gary Payton was outspoken about his intention to return to the Celtics.  McDyess, while entertaining offers from the Cavs and others, said early on he felt the Pistons were his best chance at a NBA title and he would return.

Ilgauskas has said nothing.  His agent has said they will do what is best for Z and his family.  They have been as low-key as possible.  What is the NBA reportedly doing to reward them?  Perhaps keeping Z from doing what he is allowed to do via terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by making up some BS violation because Phil Jackson and Doc Ricers don't like the rules that Rivers himself has taken advantage of.

For the record, Brian Windhorst seems to think there is nothing to the report, calling the reputations of those involved "beyond reproach", which just goes to show where the "legitimate media" is fallen to.  He went on to give some insight as well - 

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed source saying the NBA had intentions of blocking Ilgauskas' potential return to the Cavs. The league could only do this if it could prove there was a pre-arranged deal with Ilgauskas before the trade was made. The paper referenced a situation two years ago when the league blocked the Mavericks from trading and then getting Jerry Stackhouse back in a buyout-and-return.

In that instance, Stackhouse was quoted as saying he would take a buyout before the trade took place. The NBA then blocked that trade. The NBA approved the Cavs-Wizards trade with Ilgauskas last week.

Recently, Ilgauskas told the Plain Dealer that the team had never discussed what would happen if he was traded.

"To be honest, I don't even know how a buyout works," Ilgauskas said before he was traded.

Several teams have used the buyout-and-return loophole in recent years. The Detroit Pistons traded Antonio McDyess and then re-signed him last season. The Boston Celtics traded Gary Payton and then re-signed him in 2008. The NBA, which will probably attempt to close the loophole in the next collective bargaining agreement, approved both moves.

"I have a problem with [Ilgauskas returning]," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said told reporters last week. "I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it's a terrible deal."

In short, that is the general feeling in the league. It isn't liked but it is legal and teams have been using the option for years.

Stay tuned!