October 25, 2014

Elyria
Partly sunny with showers
70°F
test

Cavaliers’ Hughes taking troubles as they come

INDEPENDENCE — Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes always has something going on in his life.
It might not always be something good, but there’s always something going on.
This summer, the news ranged from the brain aneurysm his wife survived to the death of an aunt to the shooting pointers he got from former Cavalier Mark Price.
Through good and bad, Hughes has remained professional, cooperative and positive since signing with Cleveland in the summer of 2005, talking about the unfortunate occurrences in his life only when asked and never using them as an excuse for anything that happens on the basketball court.
“I’m not the only person going through some things like this,” he said recently at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I’m not the only one suffering injuries or a family loss. I’m not the only guy.
“I don’t throw myself a pity party. I just try to keep moving on and try to help other people with their situation.”
Last season, at least by Hughes’ standards, was fairly quiet. Nothing monumental happened in his personal life and a brief ankle sprain was his only significant injury on the court, allowing him to play in 70 games.
On the floor, however, Hughes continued to struggle to fit in with the Cavaliers. He averaged 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 37 minutes a game, but shot just 40 percent from the floor, took too many jumpers and often seemed to be operating outside the offense.
For a brief period after moving to point guard, the
6-foot-5, 184-pounder showed signs of being the player who averaged 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.89 steals for the Washington Wizards in 2004-05, but Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has yet to figure out how to get the most out of Hughes on a consistent basis.
“I definitely want to get back to the things I’m normally accustomed to doing,” Hughes said. “That’s putting the ball in the basket, getting up and down the floor and making more free throws. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to playing my style of basketball.”
There are a number of reasons why Hughes has never totally done that with the Cavaliers, beginning with the fact injuries have sidelined him for 58 games over the past two regular seasons.
When Hughes has played, he’s rarely been 100 percent, causing him to settle for a lot of jump shots because he has not been able to withstand the pounding that comes with aggressively attacking the hoop.
That negative is compounded by the fact Hughes is not nearly as good a shooter as he thinks he is. Over his eight NBA seasons, the 28-year-old has shot .413 from the field in the regular season and a woeful .358 in 45 postseason games.
That led to the St. Louis native’s shooting sessions this summer with Price, who tried to correct a hitch that had sneaked  into Hughes’ jumper.
The work wasn’t evident Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage, as Hughes went 1-of-13 from the field, but he remains upbeat heading into Cleveland’s exhibition opener vs. Washington tonight at 7 at Quicken Loans Arena.
“It was helpful,” Hughes said of working with Price. “Any time you can get insight to make your game better, any time someone is willing to help you, you try to take advantage of it and put those things to work for you.”
With Hughes as healthy as he’s been since signing a five-year, $60 million contract —he’ll earn $12 million this season — the Cavaliers are optimistic his game will go up a level or two.
“Larry’s a guy that can put the ball in the basket,” Brown said. “Not only that, he can do a lot of other things. He just has a great feel for the game of basketball at both ends of the floor. Hopefully, he’ll feel more involved (in the offense).”
Hughes is also due for some good fortune off the court.
His wife, Carrie, had a brain aneurysm on July 13.
“She’s doing well now,” Hughes said. “It was just another real-life situation you try to move on from.”
His aunt died shortly before training camp started.
Hughes’ younger brother, Justin, who had battled serious health issues his entire life, died during the 2006 postseason.
 That same season, Hughes also endured a number of injuries on the court, the most serious being a fractured finger on his right hand.
“It’s been a whirlwind the last two, three years — basketball and real life,” Hughes said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just have to be patient and live as best you can. That’s what I plan on doing.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.