Heat stack roster with size, sign Ilgauskas
It's been all about big men since.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas became the third center to sign with the Heat in less than 24 hours on Saturday, completing a deal he agreed in principle to about five days earlier. On Friday, the Heat completed contracts with returning Miami veteran Joel Anthony and rookie draft pick Dexter Pittman. And Miami's next move is expected to be the re-signing of another 7-footer, Jamaal Magloire.
That's roughly 28 feet of centers in all, with the 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas standing taller than everyone else on Miami's now-bursting depth chart at center. The Lithuanian - who was drafted by Cleveland in 1996 and has never suited up for any other NBA club - is 12th among all active players with 1,269 blocks, and 21st among current players in rebounds with 5,904.
Ilgauskas averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds last season for Cleveland, playing as a backup behind Shaquille O'Neal. He was part of a three-way midseason trade and ended up in Washington, which bought out his deal without Ilgauskas ever playing a second for the Wizards. After the NBA's mandated 30-day waiting period, Ilgauskas returned to Cleveland.
But when James announced his decision to join Miami, it seemed almost certain that Ilgauskas would follow. To him, it made sense for three reasons: His wife Jennifer has plenty of family in South Florida, James wanted him to join the rebuilt and suddenly loaded Heat roster, and Ilgauskas is still chasing his first championship ring.
''LeBron gets a lot of the credit for this one,'' Wade said.