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Cavs’ Ilgauskas Won’t Have Surgery

November 11, 1999

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has opted not to have surgery on the left foot he broke last season and continues to sideline him.

Ilgauskas will rest the foot for eight weeks in hopes he can return this season.

``My main goal is to get my foot better so I can contribute to my teammates and get back on the floor,″ Ilgauskas said in a statement released by the Cavaliers. ``There was no guarantee that I would play this season with the surgery. So I’m going to work hard in my rehab program.″

Ilgauskas, whose career has been slowed by injuries to both feet, has been consulting with specialists around the country recently trying to figure out what to do.

He had been advised by a Houston physician, Dr. Thomas Clanton, to rest the foot he fractured five games into last season for eight weeks. He was then told by other doctors that a surgically implanted screw might help his foot heal more completely.

But after talking to his family and his agent, Herb Rudoy, Ilgauskas decided to follow Clanton’s recommendation for further rest.

Ilgauskas, signed to a six-year, $71 million contract last season, had foot problems before the Cavaliers drafted him in the first round in 1996.

He sat out all of 1995 in Lithuania because of a broken right foot, and was sidelined for what would have been his rookie season after having surgery.

When he finally played in the NBA, Ilgauskas averaged 13.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in 1997-8 and was chosen to the league’s All-Rookie team.

The Cavaliers signed him to a long-term deal before last season. But he sustained a stress fracture to his navicular bone five games in, and was on crutches.

He decided against surgery and his foot was placed in a cast. Ilgauskas worked all summer in hopes of returning this season, and was ready when training camp opened.

But almost immediately he began experiencing soreness in the foot, which became infected, possibly because he had altered his running style to favor it. He missed the entire preseason and was put on the injured list.

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