November 23, 2014

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Cavs’ Waiters: There was no fight during players-only meeting

Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters

INDEPENDENCE — There was no physical altercation in the locker room during the players-only meeting called by Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving following a 124-95 loss in Minnesota on Wednesday.

That was the word from shooting guard Dion Waiters, who returned to practice Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts and said he’d be ready to play Wednesday when the Cavs host Washington at Quicken Loans Arena.

“We talked,” Waiters said. “Everybody talked. Nobody put their hands on nobody. At the end of the day, we’re teammates.

“I’d rather fight someone on the other team than one of my teammates. That’s the way it is. That’s the way I was brought up. If we say we’re a family, then we’re a family. I’m going to look out for you to the best of my abilities. The other stuff is foolishness.”

ESPN.com first reported Saturday that the Cavs had a players-only meeting after the Minnesota game, saying it became quite heated. A local sports radio talk show then put out the rumor Monday that Waiters and Irving had gotten into an altercation.

Waiters played in the Timberwolves game and showed up for practice Thursday in Independence, but was sent to see a doctor because he was ill, the Cavs said. He didn’t play Friday when the Cavs lost at home to Charlotte or Saturday in Washington, when Cleveland got its first road win of the season.

“That’s some people’s job just to think stuff happened that didn’t,” Waiters said. “I knew what happened. I knew what took place.

“It just so happened I got sick at that time. Of course, everybody’s going to think otherwise. Everybody on the team and I know what really happened, so I’m good.”

Waiters, who is in his second season, and third-year pro Irving haven’t always had the greatest chemistry on the court, but Waiters said the emotions that spilled out during the meeting were a product of failing to win games.

Now 4-7, the Cavs were 3-6 following the loss to the Timberwolves.

“It’s frustrating just losing, man, especially knowing you’ve been in games and we could have done one or two things better,” Waiters said. “Just sharing the ball, being unselfish, things like that. It built up. Frustration built up.”

Irving, who was shooting .380 from the field prior to tying his career high with 41 points in an overtime win over the Wizards on Saturday, is the Cleveland player most often mentioned as dominating the basketball.

Waiters did not accuse Irving of that Monday, and whether it was brought up in the meeting is not known.

“People said what they felt,” Waiters said. “I said what I felt. Other guys said what they felt. At the end of the day, we meant it, so we’ve got to get it off our chest. Especially being a players meeting only, we’ve got to say what we feel.

“It’s not good to keep something inside that’s going to keep building and keep building and you don’t say nothing about it. At the end of the day, everybody said something. That’s how it went.”

Cavs coach Mike Brown praised Irving at length Monday for his ability to score 41 points while not dominating the ball. He also said Waiters “looked good” in practice but would not commit to starting him Wednesday.

Asked if he wanted to start, Waiters said, “I can’t control those things. I can only go out there and do my job.”

Waiters has started all nine games in which he’s appeared this season and is averaging 13.2 points on .398 shooting. He’s also putting up 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists a night, but has blown a number of defensive assignments and gotten several quick hooks from Brown.

C.J. Miles started at shooting guard for the Cavs on Friday and Saturday, but undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova got a ton of second-half minutes against the Wizards and did a solid defensive job on Washington shooting guard Bradley Beal, who torched Miles in the first half.

Irving, who Waiters confirmed called the players-only meeting, is averaging a team-best 21.3 points on .395 shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists. He did not talk to the media Monday.

“I think we needed it,” Waiters said of the meeting. “At the end of the day, we’re grown men. We should be able to talk to one another and say what we feel.

“If I go on the court every night, I make sure I’ve got every one of my teammates’ backs, right or wrong, no matter what. It’s vice versa. At the end of the day, we should be able to come to one another and say something.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.