Danny Ferry: No Olympics for Ilgauskas

Olympic Rings

We’ve touched on this over the last few months, and we now have confirmation via the Plain Dealer that Zydrunas Ilgauskas will not be allowed to play in the upcoming Olympic games.

Citing that Ilgauskas is an important member of the team, Danny Ferry’s concern of an injury obviously rings louder than the nation of Lithuania who had been petitioning the Cavaliers for consent regarding their center and his admission into the games.

Ferry was obviously between a rock and a hard place on this one, and is resting his larurels on the fact that Ilgauskas’ professionalism will shine through on the decision of whether he would prefer Z to be unhappy versus unhealthy.  Do I agree with this decision?

It’s a tough call.  Sure, the early portion of Ilgauskas’ career had been hampered by injuries.  But the big man has only missed 14 games in the last three years before back injuries forced him to miss two weeks this pasts season.  So, for Ferry to call Ilgauskas a “higher-risk player” may be a little off-base.  But given that he is up there in age and is a key part to the successes of this team, I can understand the basis behind said decision.

If it were not for the injury history, Ilgauskas would not have had the insurance provision within his contract that requests approval for international play.  He’s the exception more than rule – and these are terms he agreed to.  There is no denying the fact that the big guy is pretty much an institution these days.  Heck, we’re already waiting for his name to be hanging from the rafters.  But that doesn’t outweigh the fact that he is under contract with the Cavaliers.  And unless there were some way to insure that Ilgauskas would remain healthy and provide a return on their investment, it actually surprises me that more players do not have these provisions. 

Of course, the fact that Z’s teammate LeBron James will suit up for the United States will not help matters much.  Using the same argument, the injury risk to James and the impact that it would have on the team would be much, much higher than if Ilgauskas were to miss time. 

But in the same, if Danny Ferry had the opportunity to deny LeBron the chance to play overseas, do you think he would?  You would have to count the costs between “what LeBron says, goes” and the chance that a 25-win season with a James injury would cost Ferry his job.  Not to mention all of the investment that Nike has in China, and that LeBron is the basketball face of Nike – oh, and have I mentioned that the Olympics are in China?  That could be a small part of the equation as well.

Expect a lot of mixed emotions over this decision over the course of the next few days.  Like I said, I’m sure Danny Ferry would allow him if there was a way that his player could be properly insured.  But until that happens, it’s Olympics on the DVR for Big Z with likely front row seats for Jay-Z.

Cavs deny Z permission to play in Olympics []