Updated February 22, 2010
According to reports, the Wizards are negotiating buyouts with Zydrunas Ilguaskas and Mike James. Unless the Wizards clearly and significantly benefit from buying those players out now, I would suggest that the Wizards see just how serious these two players are with having their freedom. If they want to leave, then make them buy their free agency. If they are not willing to leave significant money on the table, then they can sit on the bench, or at home, until the Wizards are willing to buy them out – preferably at the last possible moment. Since the trade deadline has passed, and no team was willing to make a trade for them, why should the Wizards go out of their way to accommodate them and potentially a playoff team. Big Z and Mike James if you want out bad enough, then you will pay up.
Earlier today David Aldridge of NBA.com posted the following about the Ilguaskas trade situation:
Here’s what we do know:
1) The Wizards aren’t going to just roll over and placate Cleveland.
2) This has to get done soon.
After Washington traded little-used forward Dominic McGuire to Sacramento Thursday, the Wizards fell under the $69.9 million luxury tax threshold, and no longer are looking at dollar for dollar payments for being over. The Wizards were initially looking to their expected buyout with Ilgauskas, acquired in the Antawn Jamison trade, to provide the savings to get them under the tax. Now, that’s not needed. It doesn’t mean Washington doesn’t want or expect a buyout to occur, only that the pressure to get it done is no longer on Washington, but on Rudoy and Ilgauskas.
The Wizards, someone in the know says, are “open” to Ilgauskas’ thoughts, but the buyout, the someone says, is not going to be cheap. While sympathetic, the Wiz can now hold out for more savings.
Adding to Washington’s leverage is time. If Ilgauskas is still on Washington’s roster a week from today, March 1, he would not be able to be on anyone else’s roster for the postseason. So he may have to leave some major bucks — maybe the trade kicker that is, as of now, around $591,000 (the prorated amount of the 15 percent trade kicker Ilgauskas is due by Washington after being dealt) — on the table in order to be free by next week. (Ilgauskas doesn’t have to be signed by Cleveland by next week; only not on someone else’s roster.)
While the Wizards may not have had much leverage when they were making trades, they clearly have leverage in these two buyouts. According to Michael Lee’s reporting, it is clear that the Wizards would like to add a big body to the roster and are hoping to use some of these funds to do just that. While JaVale McGee’s wrist is banged up, they can afford to wait out both Ilgauskas and Mike James. The Ilgauskas situation clearly has the potential to become very interesting over the next few days. The anarchist in me almost hopes to see what happens if the parties don’t come to an agreement before March 1.