INDEPENDENCE: The future of the Cavaliers’ backcourt played a ‘‘weighting’’ game most of this summer. While Kyrie Irving was trying to bulk up, Dion Waiters was slimming down.
Irving wanted to add a little muscle to his frame to better endure the rigors of an NBA schedule and added about five pounds. Waiters’ weight and fitness became an issue at summer league when he showed up overweight and out of shape, and as a result struggled through a few miserable performances.
As the Cavaliers prepare to open training camp on Tuesday, Waiters said all that has changed. He spent much of his summer in Cleveland working on his game and his conditioning. He dropped about 10 pounds, but if he still looks chunky, well, that’s to be expected.
“I’m just thick,” Waiters said. “I still look big. That’s how my body is.”
Regardless of his waist size, the Cavs are counting on Waiters being an integral piece to this rebuild. He will be competing against C.J. Miles for the starting job at shooting guard, and considering he was selected fourth overall, he should have the inside track to win it. It would be a bit of a change for Waiters, who came off the bench during his two seasons at Syracuse.
“I can’t wait,” Waiters joked. “I haven’t started in two years.”
The addition of Waiters and fellow first-round pick Tyler Zeller, coupled with free agent Miles, gives the Cavaliers a more legitimate NBA roster. The Cavs didn’t always have 15 legitimate NBA players on the roster the past two years, but that is starting to change.
This should be the most competitive camp under coach Byron Scott, who will have a couple difficult decisions to make as camp ends.
“It’s a lot better going into this camp than it has been the last couple of years, there’s no doubt about that,” Scott said. “That’s why I’m excited. But it’s going to be tough. There’s going to be some decisions I have to make that might not be that popular. You have two guys that are pretty equal, every now and then you get it wrong. But I like the fact we have so many guys who will be busting their butts. It’s going to make my job that much harder.”
The Cavs added Justin Holiday to their training camp roster on Monday, giving them a maximum size of 20 players. Holiday played with the Cavs’ summer league team and is the brother of Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday.
“He’s another guy we thought played pretty well toward the end of the summer league the last few games,” General Manager Chris Grant said. “He’s another guy we could bring into camp who will be competitive and we’ll see what happens as we go through camp.”
Holiday played in the Belgium League last season, averaging 7.2 points in 22 minutes.
Kelenna Azubuike said he is healthy and ready following three years of knee problems. Azubuike was a last-second throw-in to the draft night trade that allowed the Cavs to move up and select Zeller with the 17th pick. Azubuike was part of the deal, but the Cavs admittedly didn’t know much about his health. He’s had multiple surgeries to repair a torn tendon in his left knee early in the 2009-10 season and is eager to show he’s fully healthy.
“I feel like I have something to prove,” Azubuike said. “I’m healthy and looking forward to the challenge.”
Daniel Gibson’s reality show Family First debuts next Tuesday on BET. … Miles will wear No. 0. He has worn No. 34 at every level since high school, but it is retired by the Cavs (Austin Carr). … Undrafted rookie Kevin Jones, who was named first-team All-Big East his senior year at West Virginia, attended the Mountaineers’ wild 70-63 victory over Baylor on Saturday. He already has WVU quarterback Geno Smith pegged as his Heisman Trophy winner.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.