Cavs notes: Erden could get larger role

BY foxsports • January 11, 2012

There are changes afoot on the Cavaliers' rotation.

Center Semih Erden has returned from a broken right thumb and will be given every opportunity to win the Cavs' backup center job.

The 7-foot, 240-pound Erden played 17 minutes in the Cavs' 113-105 loss at Utah on Tuesday. He was the first big man off the bench for the Cavs (4-5, 1-3 on their seven-game road trip).

The Cavs are intrigued by Erden's skill set and length. He'll likely take forward-center Samardo Samuels' minutes on the second unit. The 25-year-old Erden has been injured with one ailment after the other since coming to the Cavs in a trade with Boston on Feb. 24, 2011.

Limited to just four games and 64 minutes last season with the Cavs, Erden continued his recent trend by showing up for training camp with a broken thumb. The injury occurred while he was playing in Turkey during the lockout.

In the short period of time he's been on the practice court or in games, Cavs coach Byron Scott likes what he's seen.

"He makes basketball plays when he's out there," Scott said. "Just has a good basketball sense, a good basketball IQ.

"He needs repetition, especially on the offensive end. He needs as much 5-on-5 as he can get right now."

In practice, Erden has shown he has a good post-up game, something that's lacking on the Cavs.

He's getting the bulk of the minutes behind starter Anderson Varejao, who continues to put up good numbers. He's averaging 9.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.88 steals.

Scott also seems to be increasingly tired of the mistakes and lack of production by Samuels. He committed five turnovers in 13 minutes in the loss to Portland. He never got off the bench against the Jazz.

Scott said he's sticking with struggling F Omri Casspi. He's being pushed by F Alonzo Gee, but Scott said he's not ready to make a move with his starting lineup.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Joe Prunty is coach Byron Scott's offensive coordinator, while Jamahl Mosley handles the defense. What about lead assistant Paul Pressey? "Paul is my Mr. Everything," Scott said. "He does a little bit of everything for me. (Newcomer) Nate (Tibbetts) is obviously learning from all those guys. We've got a great staff. Guys work their butts off. Obviously, this summer we had a lot of work to do, especially on defensive end, so me and Jamahl talked about what we needed to do and areas we needed to get better. I just gave Joe a little more responsibility on the offensive end. Instead of me trying to take it all the time and do everything, I wanted him to have his hands in there as much as possible. It's been good and worked out extremely well."

--C Anderson Varejao has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in four consecutive games, the first time that's happened in his career. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds against Utah on Tuesday. He pulled down seven offensive rebounds against the Jazz and is averaging 4.4 per game, third best in the NBA.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The pressure and expectations are inevitable. I'm just keeping my head on straight. (My teammates) are helping me out. They just tell me to play my game. That pressure is going to be there, but I'm not really focused on that. I'm focused on getting my teammates better and getting better personally." -- Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, on the pressure of being the No. 1 pick in the draft.

ROSTER REPORT

PLAYER NOTES:

--G Kyrie Irving scored 20 points, one off his career high, against the Jazz on Tuesday. He's averaging 15.6 points, tops among rookies in the NBA this season. His 5.1 assists per game are second among rookies. He trails Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, who is averaging 7.4.

--F Antawn Jamison pulled down a season-high 11 rebounds against Portland on Sunday. That's his highest total since grabbing 13 against New York on Feb. 25, 2011. Jamison paced the Cavs with 22 points, seven rebounds and two blocks against the Jazz on Tuesday. On the season, his rebounding has been a bit down at 6.0 per game.

--F Tristan Thompson continues to give the Cavs good production in very low minutes. He played 16 minutes on Tuesday and finished with nine points, five rebounds, two steals and one block. Thompson has had at least 10 points and five rebounds in three games this season.

MEDICAL WATCH:

--No significant injuries.

ROTATION:

Starters:

--Point guard Kyrie Irving

--Shooting guard Anthony Parker

--Small forward Omri Casspi

--Power forward Antawn Jamison

--Center Anderson Varejao

Bench:

--Guard Daniel Gibson

--Guard Ramon Sessions

--Forward Alonzo Gee

--Forward Tristan Thompson

--Center Semih Erden


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