By Michael Cunningham
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Hawks believe Zydrunas Ilgauskas eventually will re-sign with Cleveland when he’s eligible to do so.
But the Hawks, unlike some other suitors for Ilgauskas, are not giving up hope. If Ilgauskas decides to play for another team, the Hawks feel they have the best shot at landing him, a person familiar with situation said on Monday.
The person said Ilgauskas is “leaning towards” re-signing with the Cavaliers after they traded him and then the Wizards subsequently released him. Ilgauskas officially cleared waivers on Monday.
Ilgauskas’ agent, Herb Rudoy, has said Ilgauskas wasn’t happy with the trade but his emotional ties to the Cavaliers make it a “very complicated decision” for the 7-foot-3 center. But Rudoy told the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday that a thumb injury suffered by Cleveland center Shaquille O’Neal would impact Ilgauskas’ decision “based on his loyalty and affection for his teammates.”
O’Neal is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Ilgauskas is eligible to re-sign with Cleveland on March 21.
A person familiar with the Hawks’ plans said if they don’t sign Ilgauskas, they would not pursue any other free agents for the 14th roster spot, barring an injury. Veterans waived on Monday (the final day for them to retain playoff eligibility) included Mark Blount, Michael Finley, Mike James and Travis Diener.