Dion Waiters is not, and man, that sort of stinks.
After all, Waiters is the Cavs’ second-leading scorer, a developing rookie, a guy who scores 20 a game when the Cavs win. OK, that’s only been four (out of 21) times, but still.
The Cavs need Waiters, Waiters needs playing time, and the Lakers are in town. And guess who Waiters would’ve been matched up against? Yeah, that guy. Kobe Bryant. The star who’s in his 17th season, has won five rings, and at 34, is having one of his best individual seasons ever.
(As for the Lakers as a team, well, we know that story of early drama and untapped chemistry. But let’s give a while. Sound good? Great.)
Back to Waiters.
He’s missed four games with a sprained ankle. Well, at least everyone thought it was a sprained ankle. Turns out it was a sprained ankle and a bruise to the ankle bone.
That makes things, oh, just a bit more complicated. Or a lot more.
“I think Dion’s still a little ways away,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said from practice Monday.
That comment went somewhat unnoticed, considering the (justified) city-wide and NBA-wide euphoria over Irving’s return from a broken finger — which is taking place a week earlier than the team projected.
Waiters, on the other hand, seems to be going the other way. His injury is a little more severe than originally thought. A bone bruise is no reason to sound the alarms, but it’s nothing to mess around with, either.
On the bright side, Waiters is not in a walking boot. He’s not hobbling. He even ran some sprints (OK, jogs) alongside a trainer at practice.
“He’s just now starting to do some light running,” Scott said.
Then the coach discussed the seriousness regarding the latest information.
“If it was a regular ankle sprain, he probably would’ve been able to practice (Monday),” Scott said. “The bone bruise makes it a little more difficult. So it’s going to take a little more time.”
So Waiters will miss out on his first opportunity to learn from the NBA’s reigning master at shooting guard. Sadly, moments like these are what rookies live for.
But the Cavs would like to have Dion for as long as the Lakers have had Kobe. It’s best not to put the kid in too early. Irving is back. Waiters can wait.
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
7 p.m. EST
FOX Sports Ohio HD (Cavaliers Live pre-game show begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Cleveland – WTAM-1100 AM (broadcast begins at 6:30 p.m.)
C – Dwight Howard; PF – Antawn Jamison; SF – Metta World Peace; SG – Kobe Bryant; PG – Chris Duhon. Coach: Mike D’Antoni.
C – Anderson Varejao; PF – Tristan Thompson; SF – Alonzo Gee; SG – Daniel Gibson; PG – Kyrie Irving. Coach: Byron Scott.
Lakers starting power forward Pau Gasol is questionable with knee tendinitis. It seems unlikely that he’ll play tonight. … Jamison spent two and a half seasons with the Cavs. He played in all but one game last season, averaging 17.2 points. … This season, however, Jamison is averaging a career-low 8.0 points. … Jamison, 36, has been in the league 15 seasons. The Lakers are his fifth team. … Lakers forward Jordan Hill (back) is probable. … The Lakers lead the all-time series, 59-41. … Scott played 11 seasons and won three championships with the Lakers. … His final season as a player came with the Lakers in 1996-97. Bryant was a rookie on that team. … Bryant averaged an NBA-best 27.0 points in November. … Jan. 29 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Cavs’ 154-153 home win over the Lakers in four overtimes, widely considered one of the NBA’s greatest regular-season games of all time.