After playing 13 seasons in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that he is going to retire. The 36-year old signed a 2-year deal with the Heat last summer and the plan was for him to come off the bench, but things didn't work out that way. Big Z started 51 regular season games for Miami as well as the first 8 in the postseason.
However, one game after losing his starting job in the 2nd round, his role was diminished down to nothing and he did see a single minute of playing time in either the Eastern Conference Finals against Chicago or the NBA Finals against Dallas. As recently as June though it seemed like Ilgauskas was going to play out his 2-year deal because he invoked the 2011-12 option, worth $1.4 million.
But now instead of returning for one more year and pursuing the ever-illusive NBA title, Zydrunas will call it quits and forgo the $1.4 mil that he would have been guaranteed had he stuck around. He didn't seem to have any doubts about his decision, as he said this to the Plain-Dealer in the interview that he announced his retirement:
"Enough is enough. My body is beat up and I'm tired physically. There is no age limit, but everyone knows when it's time. I want to spend more time with my family. I have spent the last 15 years living out of a suitcase."
His one-year with the Heat was a productive one, as he played in 72 games and started 51. He finished averaging 5.0 points on 50.8% shooting, with 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just under 16 minutes per game. The 0.81 blocks was good for 40th in the NBA last season.
Career-wise, Big Z played in 843 games and averaged 27:11 minutes per. He averaged 13.0 points on 47.6% shooting, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 blocks. Over the course of his career he scored 10,976 points and grabbed 6,191 boards while playing 22,965 minutes in the NBA.
Other then last season, he spent every year of his career playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was one of the most popular players in Cavs franchise history. Its no surprise that they plan on retiring his #11 jersey, as they declined the request by their 1st round pick Kyrie Irving earlier this summer to wear it. Ilgauskas would become the 7th player to have his number retired by the franchise.