This debate was especially difficult to judge for yours truly because, as frequent TSD readers know, I am a firm believer that life isn’t fair, and neither are sports. Yet for this debate I was assigned as an arbiter of fairness.
After reading both arguments, my gut reaction was to declare Bleacher Fan the winner. Looking at the situation legally, it appears as though Zydrunas Ilgauskas was acquired following all the right procedures. It appears that Cleveland’s legal advisors made sure the Cavaliers dotted all their “i”s and crossed all their “t”s. All empirical evidence indicates that the Cavs were well within their rights to reacquire Ilgauskas.
Then I re-examined the introduction to this debate and discovered that the premise of today’s debate was not whether the Cavaliers acted legally to reacquire Ilgauskas, but whether or not the action was fair.
Then I considered the point that Loyal Homer kept hammering home – that the trade made an already great team even better for virtually no compensation. He is correct. What did the Cavaliers really give up to get Antawn Jamison and Sebastian Telfair? Basically one first round pick. This is even less valuable than it appears since NBA draft picks are basically nominal after the lottery. When you look at the situation through this prism Loyal Homer is correct – Cleveland got something for virtually nothing. I can see how that would not sit well with his sense of fairness.
Both Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan make convincing arguments. Loyal Homer points out that the series of events that transpired seem to more than stack the deck in the favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also makes a strong case that there is enough evidence for a reasonable person to suspect some covert and suspicious activity. Bleacher Fan did exactly as I predicted in the introduction and provided a thorough examination of every step of the deals which brought Big Z to Washington, and then back to Cleveland. He pointed out how the Cavaliers complied with NBA regulations every step of the way.
Ultimately the debate was decided by the answer to one central question – was Ilgauskas’ acquisition unfair. In a word – no. As Bleacher Fan pointed, out every team had an opportunity to sign Big Z and only the Cavaliers were able to. That is not an unfair advantage. Even if Ilgauskas’ acquisition even gave the Cavaliers that great an advantage, wouldn’t it stand to reason that another team would attempt to sign him so that Cleveland did not end up with him? Both the Yankees and Red Sox are notorious for this tactic. But Ilgauskas did not garner enough competitive suitors besides Cleveland, therefore no team stepped up with an offer compelling enough to block the move and force Z to reconsider his options. This is in no way an unfair advantage. That’s why this debate victory is awarded to Bleacher Fan.