With cuts approaching, Cavs have tough calls to make
CLEVELAND -- Somebody good is gonna get cut. And that somebody is probably an NBA-quality basketball player.
That was one of the lessons learned from the Cavaliers’ 96-84 preseason win over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday at The Q.
Like everyone in the NBA, the Cavs are allowed to carry 15 players. We pretty much know 13 of them. In fact, it’s not even pretty much. We know 13 of them, period.
These guys will be on the roster when the season starts: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles, Tyler Zeller, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett , Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix.
That leaves two openings.
Based on practice and preseason games, it appears four guys are the main candidates: Center Henry Sims, power forward Kenny Kadji, shooting guard Jermaine Taylor and point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
Based on basketball logic, Cavs coach Mike Brown is likely to select one big man (either Sims or Kadji) and one guard (either Taylor or Dellavedova).
Granted, we’re talking about end-of-the-bench guys. We’re talking about guys who are likely to spend a lot of time in Canton, honing their game with the Cavs’ affiliate in the NBA Development League.
But as we saw in Thursday’s game -- when people like Taylor, Sims and Kadji outplayed the Pistons regulars in the fourth quarter – deep reserves are important. They count for a lot by pushing their teammates in practice, they count for a lot when the unavoidable injuries occur.
So, let’s start with Taylor, because the man was simply magnificent on this night.
He came off the bench to tie Kyrie Irving with a team-high 15 points, going 6-of-10 from the floor in 20 minutes. More importantly than the numbers, Taylor did it in a style that his coach loves. Taylor battled defensively, then ran the floor, filled the lane and finished, usually via a smooth finger roll at the rim.
“Jermaine was terrific,” Brown said. “Once we controlled the loose ball or rebound, he just got out and ran the floor. He got easy baskets and put pressure on our opponents.”
OK, on to Sims.
As he did with Taylor, Brown mentioned Sims by name after the game -- the coach speaking highly about Sims grabbing 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. Sims also went 4-of-5 shooting and compiled four steals.
Or how about Dellavadova in the backcourt? He played gritty defense, ran the team and passed for eight assists.
Meanwhile, Kadji only played six minutes, but has shown brilliant flashes in practice and earlier in the preseason.
Everyone has their favorites. The fans, the media, and maybe even people who work for the Cavs.
But ultimately, Brown and general manager Chris Grant will have to make the call. They know, even if we’re talking about guys who may never play, it won’t be easy.
“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Brown said. “Everybody’s showing their worth.”
• Karasev started at shooting guard in place of Waiters, who was out with a sore hip. The rookie from Russia earned praise from Brown. “He has a confidence about him that most guys his age (19 years old) don’t have,” Brown said. “You got to respect it and you got to pay attention to it.”
• Irving on Karasev: “He does it in practice every day. He shoots the crap out of the ball and just defends.”
• Varejao rested and did not play Tuesday, but grabbed 11 rebounds (including eight in the first quarter) vs. the Pistons. “I felt great; I felt fresh,” he said. “I had a couple days off. I was in the weight room and it was good for me.”
• The Cavs return to The Q Saturday for the final time of the preseason to face the Indiana Pacers. They then take their preseason show on the road, making a couple stops in Ohio next week -- Monday in Columbus and Wednesday in Cincinnati.