Rookie shooting guard cleared to play, giving Cavs a full roster for first time since mid-November.
By SAM AMICO FS Ohio
Cavaliers are slowly starting to come together -- health-wise, anyway.
The latest addition: Rookie shooting guard
Dion Waiters, who practiced Monday and will play in Tuesday’s home game against the Toronto Raptors (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio HD).
Waiters missed the previous eight games with a sprain and bone bruise in his left ankle. Before that, he was the starting shooting guard and averaging 15.2 points per game. The Cavs went 4-0 in games he scored at least 16 (and are 5-20 overall).
He practiced Monday after receiving clearance from doctors over the weekend.
Perhaps the best news of all is the fact Tuesday will mark the first time the Cavs will have their entire roster since Nov. 18. Of course, three of them --
Kyrie Irving, Tyler Zeller and
Tristan Thompson -- are wearing protective masks, but hey, at least they’re on the floor.
"It's almost like starting over again," said Cavs coach Byron Scott. "They know a little bit about each other, obviously. But you want to get these guys on the court as much as possible.”
Waiters averaged 20.5 points in the four games the Cavs won with him in the lineup, and was often at his best when taking the ball to the basket.
He said he knows that, and plans to do it more often upon returning.
“I found myself shooting a lot of jump shots," Waiters said. "That's not really part of my game. I can shoot, but I'm better attacking and finding the open guys and creating plays. That's (the) most important thing --just focusing on getting to the rim.”
C.J. Miles started in place of Waiters during the previous four games and averaged 22.5 points in that span. Scott did not indicate whether Miles or Waiters will start Tuesday.
• San Antonio contacted the Cavs about
Anderson Varejao’s availability, according to
Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld. However, Kyler reported that talks didn’t go anywhere. Varejao is averaging 13.8 points and a league-leading 14.6 rebounds as the Cavs’ starting center.
• Varejao’s age (30) and career season are making him a hot topic on the rumor mill, and while the Cavs are open to trading him, they’re more than willing to keep him. He’s a true pro who plays hard at all times, a fan favorite, and while not real vocal, a leader-by-example that this young team desperately needs.
Oklahoma City is repeatedly mentioned by fans as a possible destination for Varejao, but according to one NBA team executive, the
Thunder “have no plans to make a trade at this time.” In fact, according to the exec, the Thunder are “about the last team you should bother calling with a proposal. They’re very happy with where they are and don’t want to mess with things.”
• Another opposing general manager predicts the talk involving Varejao "will really heat up closer to the trading deadline (in late February)." The GM added "it's probably too soon to be making major deals right now, and anything involving (Varejao) would be a major deal."
• Tuesday marks the first meeting involving Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson and Raptors rookie center Jonas Valanciunas. Thompson was selected with the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2011, and Valanciunas went one selection later (then played overseas last season). Thompson is averaging 8.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. Valanciunas is at 8.0 and 5.4, respectively.