CLEVELAND: Earl Clark is returning as the Cavs’ small forward Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks, replacing Alonzo Gee in the starting lineup.
Gee is averaging 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds, but went scoreless in four starts this season and only once has cracked double figures.
Clark began the season as the starting small forward, but produced little in nine starts and was moved to the bench. He later switched positions with Anthony Bennett, taking over backup power forward duties while Bennett played exclusively at small forward. It’s unclear how Clark’s transition back to small forward will impact Bennett’s already limited minutes.
Clark averaged 6.1 points as a bench player and shot 43 percent, including 41 percent on 3-pointers. He averaged similar numbers as a starter, but didn’t seem to like the switch to the wing after spending most of his career in the post. Clark often talked about how difficult it was knowing when to crash for rebounds and when to get back, how to space the floor and where to be on the wing. He conceded a couple of times he’s more comfortable in the post, but he’s now back on the wing.
The Cavs enter Thursday 1-1 with this starting lineup.
Also on Thursday, Dion Waiters was cleared to return after missing three games with tendonitis in his right wrist. Waiters will play with a protective support on the wrist, but joked he may take it off if he starts missing shots. The Cavs went 1-2 without Waiters.