It was first mentioned as an after thought last week, but it is true Denver may be interested in Zydrunas Ilgauskas after the Wizards buy him out. And as soon as it happens, Big Z will have until March 1 (next Monday) to find a playoff team to play for and the Nuggets are hoping they are his next home.
For starters he is huge and a veteran. And he has range on his shot. For his career the Big Z has averaged 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Finding a player that his 7-foot-3 is tough, but one that is coordinated is even tougher. Big Z may not be the most coordinated player in the NBA (I saw him fall during warmups when the Cavs were here in January) but he makes up for it with his veteran knowledge.
And as Benjamin Hochman mentioned in his article at the Denver Post, the Nuggets vice president Mark Warkentien has been pretty persistent in letting Ilgauskas’s agent know Denver is interested.
“There hasn’t been a day go by that I haven’t heard from Mark (Warkentien, the Nuggets vice president of basketball operations),” said Herb Rudoy, Ilgauskas’ agent. “He had a great relationship with ‘Z’ (back in Cleveland). Mark has been very aggressive to convince me to convince ‘Z’.”
However it isn’t that easy to get Big Z, because there are a number of squads interested in his services. Atlanta, Cleveland Dallas, and Utah are also very interested in his services. And to start with:
CLEVELAND is the obvious front runner, which is the only team that he has ever played for and a major championship contender. But with the addition of Jamison, Zydrunas’s minutes may be cut – which could be a good or bad thing for the 35-year old.
ATLANTA may not look as good on paper as Cleveland, but they are another championship contending team. Not to mention they probably need Ilgauskas’s services more than anybody. They don’t have anybody taller than 6-foot-11 on their roster.
DALLAS remember Shawn Bradley? Yeah, there is no doubt Mark Cuban would have no issue signing another giant to man the paint. And my personal preference is definitely not for him to join the Mavericks.
UTAH the Jazz have been hit with injuries with Mehmet Okur heading out and the Big Z is a bigger version of Okur.
One thing Denver has as an advantage as Hochman stated is their biannual exception that pays a player $1.99 million. And not to mention Ilgauskas is the ideal big for Denver. Nuggets need a big man to extend the defense and Ilgauskas is the ideal player for that. Not to mention his size will help when the Nugs face the Lakers and Nene can be moved to Power Forward.
However, if he was to land in Dallas or Utah, it will make life even tougher for the Nuggets. Other options if Denver doesn’t add Big Z, are Mikki Moore, Brian Cook, Drew Gooden (if he is bought out), Bobby Simmons (if bought out) and Tony Battie (if bought out).