NEW YORK (AP) — An official within the league told The Associated Press on Monday the NBA has not threatened to stop a potential reunion between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
The Cavaliers traded their longtime center to Washington last week in the three-team deal that brought Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. The Wizards may decide to buy out Ilgauskas, allowing him to become a free agent.
The Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed source Sunday saying the NBA had told other teams it wouldn't let Ilgauskas go back to the Cavs. However, the official told the AP the league would only step in if there was proof of an agreement before the trade was completed.
The person was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly about the Ilgauskas situation.
A message was left with Ilgauskas' agent seeking comment.
If a buyout is reached with the Wizards, Ilgauskas would be placed on waivers. No team is far enough under the salary cap to absorb his $11.5 million salary for this season, so he would become a free agent eligible to join any team for a pro-rated share of the veteran's minimum.
NBA rules allow a player being traded and then waived to rejoin his old team after 30 days, as long as that wasn't planned before the deal was completed. Last season, Antonio McDyess went back to Detroit after the Pistons dealt him to Denver along with Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, and players such as Brent Barry (San Antonio) and Gary Payton (Boston) have also gone back to clubs that dealt them in recent seasons.
Though he lost his starting job this season after the Cavs traded for Shaquille O'Neal, a return to the Cavs could be attractive for Ilgauskas. He's spent his whole career in Cleveland after he was drafted in 1996, and the Cavaliers are one of the favorites to win the championship this season.