C.J. Miles did what was asked of him for seven years with the Utah Jazz, which often meant playing a secondary role behind stars such as Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. Part of the reason he chose the Cavaliers in free agency this summer was the opportunity to expand his game.
“I just thought he has so much left in him basketball-wise and it’s really untapped,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said Tuesday at the team’s charity golf outing at Firestone Country Club. “There are so many things he can do on a basketball court. I thought he’d be a great fit for us.”
Scott said he was just being honest, but it was the coach’s sales pitch that instantly won over Miles, who signed for two years and $4 million in free agency. Miles is not a golfer, but attended the charity event Tuesday because it was his first opportunity to really make a public appearance as a member of the Cavs.
“My thing coming into the summer wasn’t about money, it was about the best basketball situation,” he said. “I think a lot of people feel like I am who I’m going to be, which I don’t believe is true and obviously the organization feels the same way.”
Miles contends he wasn’t able to display his entire skill set with the Jazz because he was simply playing the role asked of him behind more established stars. But that doesn’t explain his slip in production last season, when the Jazz revamped their roster following the recent departures of Boozer and Williams.
Miles’ numbers slipped to 9.1 points and 2.1 rebounds last season and he shot 38 percent, his lowest shooting percentage since his second year in the league. Miles was shut out of the first wave of free-agent signings, but when most of the elite players found homes, the Cavs found a player still in his prime who fills a huge need at a relatively cheap price.
The team began the summer with the clear goal of upgrading the wing position. By drafting Dion Waiters and signing Miles, they believe that has been accomplished. Miles has the ability to play shooting guard in bigger lineups, but will likely find the bulk of his minutes at small forward given the presence of Kyrie Irving and Waiters on the roster.
General Manager Chris Grant said the organization didn’t believe the batch of wing players available was very deep, but Miles stood out because of his age and potential.
“He’s so excited to be here,” Grant said. “He’s in a good place. A big piece about being a good player is being comfortable with who you are and where you’re going.”
Miles has spent the majority of the past few weeks around members of the organization while Alonzo Gee, a restricted free agent, continues to wait for a long-term contract with the club. Scott said Miles’ signing was not a reaction to the ongoing contract negotiations with Gee, which have stalled at times and taken longer than either party expected.
“It had nothing to do with Alonzo whatsoever,” Scott said. “We felt all along going into this season our perimeter guys had to improve.”
Irving’s fractured right wrist continues to heal as expected, and Scott said he is expected to return to Cleveland within a few weeks. Irving indicated he wanted to get on the court and practice with his teammates, but that doesn’t seem likely. Irving is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, however. … Scott’s son Thomas, who is an assistant coach on the Canton Charge, was married last weekend in Los Angeles. The couple is honeymooning in Bora Bora. … Waiters has been working out in Los Angeles lately, and Scott said he is in much better physical shape after watching him play. “I had a lot of guys who were up there playing come up to me and make comments about how good they thought he looked,” Scott said. “He’s on his way. He told me he’s in good shape, but I told him, ‘You’re not ready yet.’ ”
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