There are about three major prospects on the Cavalier roster that can legitimately be called out for trade talk, but I'm gonna focus in on one critical one. Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
I keep on hearing a lot on these boards about how it would be a shame to trade Z and how the only way Ferry should trade him is if he is guaranteed to return via a buyout. That's one way to look at it, but there is more to it than the emotional aspect. Most of us love Z. He's been here for his entire career. He could have taken the easy way out and walked away from it all a millionaire. Instead, he had massive surgery on his foot so he could play again. And since then he's done so much for us.
Having said that, it is the job of the General Manager to make the team as strong as possible. With an owner like Dan Gilbert who has essentially provided Ferry with an open check book, I feel that balking at a trade offer that involves Z without the buyout would be doing this franchise a huge disservice.
I have 2 major concerns about the idea of not trading Z:
- This is really it: Z's expiring contract is the last opportunity to improve the team before the 2011-2012 season. Going into next season, the Cavs have about 50.5 million on the books. That money does not include Z or Shaq's contracts. While the Cavs do have Bird Rights on both of those guys, do we really want to move forward into THE summer of 2010 with (at best) a front line rotation of Z, Shaq, JJ and Andy? There is little in way of salary cap space or expiring contracts until after next season
- It is Ferry's job to improve the team: Like I said, this is really the last big opportunity to imrove the Cavs before the summer of 2010. Z's contract (which is 75% paid plus a 2 million dollar trade kicker) is a very attractive asset to many rebuilding teams. We all appreciate what Z has done for the Cavs, but he is not getting any younger. Being loyal to Z in 2010 won't do much for me or the fan base if the Cavs fail to reach the finals again. That trade asset will be long gone.
- What to do next? Knowing the lack of cap space and tradeable assets, how do you propose Danny Ferry improve the Cavs this summer when they are going to try and convince LeBron that Cleveland is the best place for him to be if he wants to win championships
- The Cavs will need bigs: The Cavs will either retain Z and Shaq this summer because of their Bird Rights. Even if they do so, is that really what the bigs rotation that we want moving forward?
I also want to throw in there that I firmly believe that, as constructed, this Cavs team has what it takes to win it all this year. In light of that my concern is not this year. My concern is the short-term and long-term future of this franchise.