August 27, 2014

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Cavaliers notes: New guys get chance to show what they can do

CLEVELAND — Cavaliers coach Byron Scott found a loophole in his own rule.

Scott normally requires players to go through a full practice before they see game action, but because Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington were trade acquisitions and not coming off injuries, he worked around his own stipulation.

That’s why Speights and Ellington, acquired from Memphis on Tuesday along with current NBA Development League point guard Josh Selby and a first-round pick, were in uniform and available to play Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena.

Neither practiced Wednesday or Thursday because the NBA had not yet formally approved the trade, but they took part in the team’s shootaround Friday morning at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence.

Scott, who a day earlier said they would not play until Tuesday, reconsidered and suited up Speights and Ellington against the Bucks.

“I’m not expecting those guys to light the world on fire,” Scott said. “It’s still going to take some time to get acclimated to what we’re doing.”

The key player in the deal was the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Speights, who can play power forward and center. With Anderson Varejao out for the season, he will see significant action behind starters Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson.

“Just his size can help us,” Scott said. “That’s the obvious. Then the fact he’s a guy who can make shots from the outside. That’s what he’s been known for.”

A fifth-year pro originally drafted No. 16 out of Florida by Philadelphia, Speights waived his Bird rights to allow the trade to go through, meaning the Cavs can’t go over the salary cap to re-sign him when his current contract expires.

Speights is making $4.2 million this season and has a player option for $4.5 million next season. Should Cleveland want to re-sign him, the cap really won’t be an issue because the Cavs have a lot of flexibility when it comes to expiring contracts and creating more space.

“Cleveland’s always been a team I wanted to come to and they wanted me to come to,” Speights said. “I’m excited to be here. Knowing this team is young and needs another big man with Andy out, it’s a good opportunity.”

The 25-year-old worked out for Cleveland prior to the 2008 draft and looks at joining the Cavs as an opportunity to jump-start his career.

“This organization is probably the best in the league,” he said. “I’m happy to be here.”

Stuck behind All-Star power forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol in Memphis, Speights was averaging 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 14.5 minutes a game this season. The season before, he averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 boards in 22.4 minutes.

“If I play 20 minutes, I’m expected to go out and get 10 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” he said. “I put that expectation on myself.”

Ellington, a 6-4, 200-pound shooting guard out of North Carolina, where he played with Zeller, is considered a good perimeter shooter and intelligent player.

The fourth-year pro was averaging 5.5 points and 1.1 assists with the Grizzlies. More importantly, he was shooting .423 from beyond the arc this season and is a .385 shooter from deep for his career.

“I have a winning mindset,” Ellington said. “I think I can help.”

Minutes may be a bit hard to come by, as the Cavs already have C.J. Miles and Dion Waiters at shooting guard, plus veteran Daniel Gibson. Miles, who is recovering from a virus, could see more time at small forward to help alleviate the logjam.

“There’s a lot of great young talent here,” Ellington said. “I’m just looking forward to helping put it together.”

Wheelchair Cavs

The third-ranked Wheelchair Cavs will host the Wheelchair Basketball Invitational today at the Cleveland State University Recreation Center and Sunday at The Q. Admission to all games is free.

Teams from Seattle, Detroit, Connecticut, Rochester, Dayton, Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne will also compete. For a schedule of games, visit cavswc.com.

Good news

Though some people close to him knew, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving asked not to be told if he had made the All-Star team so he could find out Thursday night by watching the official announcement on TNT.

“If you had asked me at the beginning of the year if this was a goal, I would have said no,” he said. “In the back of my mind, it was absolutely there.”

Scott, who previously coached All-Star point guards Jason Kidd and Chris Paul, took no credit for Irving’s accomplishment.

“All I can do as a coach is try to put them in a position to succeed,” he said. “What they do with it is up to them. He’s able to do a lot with it.”

Tip-ins

The Cavs brought a two-game home winning streak into the Milwaukee game. The last time they had won three in a row at The Q was from Nov. 16-27, 2010.
• Speights had 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds when Memphis played in Milwaukee earlier this season. He had 10 points and six boards when the teams met in Memphis.
• Jim Boylan, who took over for Scott Skiles on Jan. 8, entered Friday with a 6-2 record as Milwaukee’s head coach. Boylan worked as a video coordinator and advance scout for the Cavs from 1992-97 under Lenny Wilkens and Mike Fratello.
• The Cleveland at Orlando game on Feb. 23 will no longer be shown by NBA TV.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.