Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.
I just LOVE debating topics of fairness.
Most people evaluate fairness through a one-way mirror. Their opinions and perceptions are skewed by the information they see, and are primarily concerned simply with how a situation affects them. They fail to recognize (or simply ignore) that they may not know or understand the “whole story.” When a situation occurs that impacts them negatively, it is deemed unfair. Yet they would have no problem with the situation if it were benefitting them in some way.
Think about that the next time you are watching a basketball game. Every time the ref blows the whistle half of the fans agree with the call while half disagree with it. They will scream for a charge every time one of their players is knocked to the ground while on defense, but will turn around ten seconds later and cry for a blocking foul when it is their team driving the lane. The difference is perception. Nothing has changed except the beneficiary of the call. When you are on the losing end, it SEEMS unfair.
There is a big difference, though, between something SEEMING unfair and something BEING unfair.
This situation with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have re-signed center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, is a perfect example of where one-sided perception makes something SEEM unfair. That perception is understandable until you look at ALL the facts.
On the surface, the Cavaliers SEEM to be getting something for nothing. In a trade which took place one month ago, the Cavs dealt away Ilgauskas and a first-round draft pick for Sebastian Telfair and Antawn Jamison. Now they are going to bring Ilgauskas back into the organization during the exact same season when they traded him away… it SEEMS unfair.
However, when you look at how the whole process played out, a different picture is painted. Stop me when this ACTUALLY becomes unfair:
- The Cavs traded Ilgauskas away in a completely fair way. The Cavs were willing to part ways with him knowing full well that he would become a player for the Washington Wizards.
- The Washington Wizards bought out Ilgauskas’ contract in a completely fair way. The Wizards had the opportunity to keep him on their roster, but decided they would rather “gain financial flexibility” and buy his contract out early)
- Ilgauskas became an unsigned free agent with the restriction that he could not sign with Cleveland for at least 30 days in a completely fair way. The Cavs traded him away and Washington did not want him. He is now eligible to sign with any other team in the league.
- No other team was able to make Ilgauskas an offer he was willing to accept. Thirty days passed, and now the Cavaliers can enter the bidding for Ilgauskas in a completely fair way. Every other team had 30 full days to sign Ilgauskas, but they failed to do so.
Nowhere in that process is there a guarantee that Ilgauskas was going to re-sign with Cleveland. When they traded him away at the trade deadline in February, they did so with the knowledge that he may never don a Cavaliers uniform again. The Cavaliers did not force Washington to buy out his contract and they did not force Ilgauskas to re-sign with them. They simply entered the bidding, just like every other team out there.
In contrast, the only truly UNFAIR thing to do in this process would be to prohibit Cleveland from re-signing Ilgauskas. As an unemployed, unrestricted free agent, Ilgauskas has the right to sign on with any team that makes him an offer. Preventing him from signing with Cleveland is restricting an opportunity for him to find employment. What if he had received no other offers? Is it fair for the NBA to force a player to remain unemployed simply because the only team that will have him is one that traded him away?
Likewise, because Ilgauskas is an available player who is not under contract anywhere in the league, the Cavaliers deserve the right to pursue him whether he played previously with the team or not. The only players who are “off-limits” to a team are those who are CURRENTLY UNDER CONTRACT elsewhere. The Wizards bought out Ilgauskas’ contract, making it null and void.
The Cavaliers organization should not be penalized simply because the system worked in their favor. At any point during the last 30 days EVERY SINGLE team in the NBA had the opportunity to meet with Ilgauskas and attempt to sign him. For whatever reason, those teams failed to do so. It is not the Cavaliers’ fault that Ilgauskas either chose not to (or was not invited to) play with those other franchises.
After 30 days, if the Cavaliers want him and no one else will (or can) take him, then he has every right to return to the team that traded him away. In a completely fair way.