The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed free agent center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a contract, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. Per team and league policy, terms of the contract were not released.
Ilgauskas has averages of 7.5 points on .452 shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 20.5 minutes per game in 53 games (six starts) this season with Cleveland. He was traded to Washington, where he did not appear in any games, as part of the three-team trade on Feb. 17th in which the Cavaliers acquired forward Antawn Jamison and guard Sebastian Telfair.
"The entire Cleveland Cavaliers organization from our hard-working part-time game day people to our front office, to the coaching staff, players, ownership and everyone else are thrilled that Zydrunas is coming back home to help us with our upcoming playoffs mission and hopefully, beyond. Things didn't seem quite right around here without the big guy. If there ever was a benchmark to measure what the franchise aspires all of its team members to be, whether they play on the court or off the court, that benchmark would be Zydrunas Ilgauskas. That's why having "Z" back means so much to the Cavs, the city of Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio," said Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert.
The two-time all-star is the Cavaliers' all-time leader in games played (760), rebounds (5,841), blocks (1,259) and minutes played (21,572) while ranking second in points scored (10,540). The native of Lithuania is also the all-time leader in postseason games played (64) and total rebounds (512) while currently placed second in minutes played (1,950) and blocked shots (75). He ranks fifth among all active NBA players in games played with one franchise behind only Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers), Tim Duncan (San Antonio), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) and Paul Pierce (Boston).
"Having the opportunity to bring Zydrunas back to the Cavaliers is very special for the franchise and our fans. We're happy and we feel fortunate that Z wants to be here. We're also very happy for his wife Jennifer and his children too, and we're excited to see him back on the court with his teammates tomorrow," said Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry.
Ilgauskas, 34, was drafted by the Cavaliers with the 20th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft. He missed the entire 1996-97 and 1999-2000 seasons and large portions of the 1998-99 (77 games) and 2000-01 (58 games) seasons due to foot injuries. Since the 2002-03 season, he has played in 587 of a possible 628 regular-season games with Cleveland. He was named an all-star during the 2002-03 and 2004-05 seasons. He has career averages of 13.9 points on .475 shooting, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.7 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game in 760 games (673 starts).
The Cavaliers have also waived forward Darnell Jackson. "Darnell was a good, hard-working teammate for us. We thank him and wish him the best going forward," stated Ferry. The second-year forward averaged 0.8 points on .320 shooting and 0.7 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game in 27 games this season. The Cavaliers roster now stands at 15 players.