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Dan Gilbert likes to make a splash and the Cleveland Cavaliers want to keep LeBron James happy and playing his home games in town.
So why not think about Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the team’s next general manager?
Everyone knows how much Ilgauskas is adored by the franchise, the fans, and James.
Remember, Ilgauskas stood by and joined James when James made his decision to bolt for the Miami Heat in 2010. And who can forget James coming back as a member of the Heat when the Cavs retired Ilgauskas’ No. 11?
That happened before a game in the spring of 2014. A few months later, LeBron returned to Cleveland.
So there is no doubting the bond between LeBron and Big Z.
It gets better for Gilbert.
Unlike Chauncey Billups, who turned down the Cavs’ offer to become top basketball executive last week, Ilgauskas actually has some experience in the front office.
It’s true, as Ilgauskas worked as a scout and adviser under former GM Chris Grant during the 2013-14 season.
When Grant was fired, Ilgauskas quietly walked away. Not because of any discord with the organization, but just because that’s the way Ilgauskas has always handled things — professionally, and with little fuss.
So let’s recap:
Ilgauskas is adored by Cavs fans. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (771), rebounds (5,904) and blocked shots (1,269). He still follows the game closely. He is admired by LeBron.
Ilgauskas is also sharp, focused, reserved and a man’s man. He keeps a cool head. He is respected by the majority of the players, some of whom played with or against him.
He has everything you would want in a person who represents your franchise.
So hey, what’s not to like?
TIME TO GET WILD
Ready to take it up a notch? OK, how about this — talk to Ilgauskas about becoming the team’s next president of basketball operations, and tell him Anderson Varejao can come along, too.
Maybe make Varejao the director of player personnel. Current assistant GM Koby Altman could become the full-time GM, as Altman deserves a promotion for calmly handling the team during this transitional phase.
Think all of that might sit well with LeBron?
Ilgauskas and Varejao in the front office, in the locker room, and coming to games? Ilgauksas and Varejao working with the owner and star player in building the roster?
I bet James would love it. No, I know he would.
WORTH A SHOT
Now, there’s a chance Ilgauskas may not be interested. He’s always been a devoted family man — and he’s made it pretty clear he enjoys retirement simply because of all the extra time with his wife and kids.
And Varejao reportedly still wants to play. But he’ll be 35 years old when the season starts, and NBA interest is low. Varejao also still wants to suit up for Brazil in the Olympics, but hey, that’s OK. No rule against front office guys playing in the Olympics. He could even train with the Cavs.
Does all of this sound too good to be true?
Maybe it is. Maybe after the Billups ordeal, Gilbert and the Cavs have moved on from the idea of handing the franchise keys to a former player.
Maybe Ilgauskas wants to just keep kicking back at home and playing catch with the kids. Maybe Varejao has plans to sign with the Beijing Ducks, or some other far off team.
But maybe not. And the Cavs should at least try to find out.
It’s all about finding the right fit — and everyone already knows Ilgauskas has always been the perfect fit in Cleveland. He can be again.