HOUSTON: Thirteen thoughts following a 106-92 loss to the Houston Rockets…
1. I’ve been slowly hearing more and more things about the Cavs’ locker room over the past few weeks, and some of that information escalated following my column on Kyrie Irving last Sunday. Other players, who before would only roll their eyes and shake their head when his name was mentioned, began opening up a little more.
2. When you’re sitting on a story like this, involving the best player on the team, complaints about teammates, coaches, etc… you don’t run right out and fire blindly.
3. The Dion Waiters/practice incident thing got by me. I missed it. It happens. The details surrounding it remain sketchy. It’s not entirely accurate to say he was kicked out of practice, I’ve been told, but something involving Waiters definitely occurred. The details will probably eventually spill out. They usually do.
4. Now for a little background on my sitdown Friday with Kyrie Irving. It was after practice and some guys remained on the court scrimmaging with the support staff and Irving was sitting by himself. So I went over and started talking to him.
5. There was some stuff we both needed to say after last week’s story. We said it and that will remain private. Then I turned the recorder on. The formal interview portion lasted 4 minutes, 55 seconds. Then the guys were leaving the court and headed to the bus, so he had to go. That was the end of it. There were plenty of things I didn’t get to ask him, but that’s life.
6. The Luol Deng portion of the New York Daily News story blindsided me. I was going to write a different story on Deng for Sunday, but the Daily News report made me speed up the timeline on the other stuff.
7. Deng after the game seemed genuinely upset by the Daily News report. Here’s what he said verbatim:
8. “I’m disappointed that there’s an article like that. It doesn’t make sense to me saying, ‘close friends.’ Just name whoever told you that if you do have somebody, but I feel like people are always looking for something to write about. I’m new here, so obviously writing an article like that fits right in saying that’s how I feel. I’ve said it many times. I’m excited for the opportunity. I’m happy to be here. This is a young group of guys, but it’s guys I like and I get along well. I’ve been in that situation where I’m a young player and I had vets talk to me. You’re going to make mistakes, but the way it was written is just to put down everything that’s going on here. We know we’re struggling, we know we’ve got to get better as a team. But writing an article like that is just giving a writer who wants everyone to read whatever he’s writing. I’m really disappointed and it hurt me a little bit because I do care about the guys in the locker room and I’ve never in my career had something like that written about me. I’m disappointed.”
9. When asked if he was frustrated with this team, Deng said “Obviously we’re losing, I’m not happy. But to go as far as to say I’m frustrated with the guys, that to me doesn’t make sense. I do have the jersey on and I play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m coming from a different organization so people want to compare. That’s behind me. I said I’m looking forward to the position I’m in now. I’ve never backed down from anything and there’s going to be ups and downs. I’m looking forward to taking the challenge and doing whatever I can whether it’s being a good leader or just being out there playing as hard as I can. I’ve never been in a situation where I start talking and turn my back on what’s in front of me. It’s not me, it’s not who I am. I’m really upset that’s written about me and I just hope guys within the team understand that. It’s something we don’t need right now.”
10. Waiters sort of shrugged when I told him he was back in the news. “There’s always a report, that ain’t nothing new,” Waiters said, then he denied getting kicked out of practice. Technically, he wasn’t lying. “Dion is always in something,” he said.
11. Hey there was a game tonight, too! Mike Brown said he moved Jarrett Jack into the starting lineup for better ball movement, communication and execution. And he thought he got it.
12. I asked if starting Jack, and moving Irving off the ball a little bit, was a message to him to stop trying to take on entire defenses. "That's something that I'm working with him on anyway," Brown said. "I wasn't trying to send a message by starting Jack."
13. People who think we as journalists enjoy this stuff are crazy. At least I don’t. See you in Dallas.