Ilgauskas with the Cavaliers
June 5, 1975 |
|Listed height||7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)|
|Listed weight||260 lb (118 kg)|
|NBA Draft||1996 / Round: 1 / Pick: 20th overall|
|Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers|
|1994–1996||Atletas Kaunas (Lithuania)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||10,976 (13.0 ppg)|
|Rebounds||6,191 (7.3 rpg)|
|Blocks||1,327 (1.6 bpg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Žydrūnas Ilgauskas (Lithuanian pronunciation [ʒʲiːˈd̪rûːn̪ɐs̪ ɪɫˈɡɐ̂ˑus̪kɐs̪] ( listen); born June 5, 1975), or "Big Z" (his nickname), is a Lithuanian retired professional basketball center who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. He played for the Cavaliers from 1997 to 2010, and is the team's career leader in several categories, including games played and blocks. In 2012, Ilgauskas became assistant general manager for the Cavaliers under general manager Chris Grant.
Pro career 
Early career 
Cleveland Cavaliers 
In the earliest parts of his career he suffered through a myriad of foot and ankle injuries. He spent the entire 1996–97 season on the injured list due to a broken bone in his right foot. After having missed so much time with his foot injuries it took some time for Zydrunas to get back to where he was prior to it.
Despite being selected to the All-Rookie First Team in 1997–98 and signing a contract extension in 1998 that was worth $70.9 million over 6 years, Ilgauskas played only in 5 games over the next two seasons. On January 26, 2000, he had a surgery on a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.
He remained the starting center for the Cavaliers in 2000–01. He was injured again in December 2000 and was out for the season. The injury dealt a blow to the Cavaliers. After winning 15 out of 23 games with Ilgauskas, they finished with a 30–52 record.
He returned in December 2001 and was mostly used as a backup to Chris Mihm for the rest of the season.
Ilgauskas averaged 17.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in 2002–03. He was selected as an All-Star, but the Cavaliers finished with the third-worst record in team history (17–65) and landed the number one draft pick.
The Cavaliers drafted high school phenomenon and future NBA MVP LeBron James in 2003. James teamed up with Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden to form the core of the team. Ilgauskas only missed 9 games over the next three seasons and was selected as an All-Star again in 2005.
For the next four seasons, Ilgauskas was the starting center for the team, which had turned into a contender. They reached the NBA Finals in 2007 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. In summer 2009, the Cavaliers acquired Shaquille O'Neal. When asked about the trade, Ilgauskas responded: "I was just reading the news. That means I'll probably be coming off the bench." On December 2, 2009, Ilgauskas came off the bench in a game against Phoenix Suns to break the team record for career games played, overtaking General Manager Danny Ferry.
On February 17, 2010, Ilgauskas, along with a 2010 first round pick and the rights to Emir Preldžič, was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Washington Wizards as part of a three-team, six-player trade that sent Antawn Jamison from Washington to Cleveland, Al Thornton from the Los Angeles Clippers to Washington, Drew Gooden from Washington to Los Angeles, and Sebastian Telfair from Los Angeles to Cleveland. On February 25, 2010, the Wizards bought out his contract, making him a free agent. Ilgauskas did not play in any games for the Wizards. It was possible for Ilgauskas to return to the Cavaliers, but only after a thirty-day waiting period policy required for players traded from their former teams after being bought out of their contract by their new team. He was still free to sign with any other team.
On March 23, 2010 Ilgauskas signed a one-year deal for the remainder of the 2009–2010 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made his return a day later in a win over the New Orleans Hornets. In his first home game back with the team, against the Sacramento Kings, Ilgauskas received huge ovations and support from the crowd. Quicken Loans Arena was affectionately renamed "The Z" for the day, in honor of the Lithuanian.
The 2010 NBA Playoffs marked the first time in Ilgauskas' career in which he was not a significant part of the Cavaliers' rotation. Ilgauskas saw only 69 minutes of floor time in the entire postseason, resulting in averages of 1.7 PPG and 1.6 RPG, far below his career playoff production. The Cavs were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Miami Heat 
On July 17, 2010 Ilgauskas signed a 1 year $1,352,181 contract with the Miami Heat. The Heat's signings of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and long-time teammate LeBron James influenced Ilgauskas's decision to join the Heat. On December 2, 2010, the Heat's first game in Cleveland, the fans cheered Ilgauskas in pre-game introductions, while booing the rest of the starters, including James.
National team 
Ilgauskas made his debut with the Lithuania national team in 1994, when the team was qualifying for a spot in the Eurobasket 1995. He averaged 7.7 points and 7 rebounds per game. Ilgauskas later wanted to play for Lithuania national team in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Cavaliers did not permit him to play due to his injury history. Žydrūnas Ilgauskas played only three official matches with the Lithuania national basketball team in his whole career.
Front office work 
On January 11, 2012, Ilgauskas made a return to Cleveland when he was hired by Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant to serve as his assistant, of which part of his duties would be to evaluate amateur and pro talent prospects.
Ilgauskas married his wife, Jennifer, during the summer of 2004. In the summer of 2009, Ilgauskas adopted two Lithuanian brothers (aged five and four at the time) from his hometown of Kaunas. Ilgauskas is an avid reader, of military history in particular, and he often read in the locker room before games.
NBA career statistics 
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Regular season 
See also 
- List of National Basketball Association career blocks leaders
- List of tallest players in National Basketball Association history
- Basketball Wiretap Archives: Heat Sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas. RealGM (2010-07-17). Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
- "Cleveland Cavaliers Career Leaders". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas returns to Cavaliers in front-office role, Boston Herald, January 18, 2012, Retrieved on 2012-1-19.
- Cavs to sign big man to five-year deal
- Cavaliers to announce re-signing of C Ilgauskas on Tuesday
- Cavaliers Acquire 15-Time NBA All-Star and Four-Time NBA Champion Shaquille ONeal
- Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas reacts to the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas knows what it means that Shaquille O'Neal has joined the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Ilgauskas finally has his record day as Cavs rout Suns
- "Wizards Acquire Ilgauskas, Thornton and First-Round Pick In Three-Team Deal". NBA.com. February 17, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Wizards reach buyout deal with Zydrunas Ilgauskas". The Washington Post.
- "Wizards buy out C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, waive him". February 25, 2010.
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas rejoins Cleveland Cavaliers for rest of season – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2010-03-23). Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
- "Cavaliers Sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas". NBA.com. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Miami Heat complete Zydrunas Ilgauskas signing as roster fills – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2010-07-17). Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
- Tom Reed. "Former Cleveland Cavalier Ilgauskas to retire." The Plain Dealer. September 30, 2011. Retrieved on September 30, 2011.
- FIBA Europe. FIBA Europe. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.
- Cavs Deny Zydrunas Ilgauskas a Chance to Play in Olympics
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas returns to Cavs, AP article on ESPN.com, January 18, 2012, Retrieved 2012-1-19.
- Karp, Hannah (February 10, 2010). "The NBA's Locker-Room Nerds". The Wall Street Journal.
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