Sources told The Plain Dealer Ilgauskas was so upset about not playing in the first half that he asked to sit out the second half. Probably not a good move by him, but Mike, you started this.
You got caught up in the flow of the game and how your little lineup was performing. But even when the massive O’Neal played, your team outscored Dallas by five points in his 25 minutes.
You certainly could have found some time in the first half for Ilgauskas.
Mike, you are one of the best coaches when it comes to dealing with the feelings and egos of your players. This is your fifth season with the Cavs, and rarely is there any controversy between you and the players.
That doesn’t happen by accident. You usually are smart about these matters.
So you should not be surprised that there is fallout from Ilgauskas receiving the first DNP-CD (Did Not Play, Coach’s Decision) of his career. Or that your big man would be hurt, especially since this was not a matter of him being disciplined. It was just your call.
Nor should it have been a shock when James stepped up to defend his teammate. Other than his buddies from St. Vincent-St. Mary, no teammate has meant more to James than Ilgauskas.
After Monday’s practice, you said: “[Sitting Ilgauskas] wasn’t planned. Even as the course of the game went on, I didn’t expect to not play him. You can call it a mistake, you can call it a coaching decision.”
I call it both a mistake and a bad coaching decision — and I suggest you say the same to Ilgauskas when you meet privately.
This is not a crisis, it’s not something that divides a team or alienates them from the coaches. But it is a distraction, one that you created and also could have easily avoided.
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. However, it would’ve been nice to honor Z and have him break the franchise mark at home at The Q.
If you’re itching for more Ilgauskas, Smooth over at Cavalier Attitude has a nice collection of Zydrunas YouTube highlights. I suggest you go take a gander.