CLEVELAND: Cavaliers coach Byron Scott has no problem bending a rule — especially when it’s his.
He had every intention of sitting forward Marreese Speights and guard Wayne Ellington on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. A night’s rest changed his mind about the two former Memphis Grizzlies players.
“I always had the rule that you had to get a practice in, but that rule has always applied to guys who were injured,” Scott said during the team’s Friday morning shootaround. “They’re not injured. They’re traded.”
No injuries mean that Speights and Ellington, who got a chance to mingle with their new teammates Friday, both played against the Bucks.
Scott entered the game with realistic expectations regarding what they could contribute to the effort.
“I’m not expecting those guys to light the world on fire,” he said. “It’s still going to take those guys some time to get used to what we are doing, so the game is just a reaction and not so much of a thinking part.”
Speights and Ellington acknowledged that fact. They agreed that getting used to new teammates would offer the biggest challenges.
“It should be all right. It’s kind of weird. At the end of the day, it’s all the same,” Speights said. “Just look at film and look at the playbook and it should be all right.”
Speights and Ellington had different reactions to the trade.
Speights said that it didn’t come as a surprise because he knew that something was happening the day before. If anything, a certain degree of relief came with the inevitability of going to another team.
“It was hard because last year I started all year,” he said. “We came back at the beginning of the year and then something just happened. I started playing 10 minutes a game. It was frustrating.”
It didn’t hurt that he was traded to the Cavs because there had been mutual interest. Speights at one point worked out with former Cavs forward J.J. Hickson in Cleveland.
The move caught Ellington off guard.
“I was a little bit surprised. I didn’t know anything about it, but at the same time, I was happy to come to Cleveland and have the opportunity to play with some really good players and really young players,” he said.
With them comes experience.
Speights has a 7.4 points per game career scoring average to go with 4.3 rebounds in a five-year career that began with the Philadelphia 76ers as the 16th choice in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. He gives the Cavs a much-needed big man to make up for the loss of Anderson Varejao. He said coming to the Cavs offers him another opportunity.
“I think I can help out [Tyler] Zeller and [Tristan] Thompson a little,” he said. “It’s my third team. I’ve been with six coaches already, so I expect to help these kids play.”
Ellington, drafted No. 28 in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, will give the Cavs some backcourt depth and the ability to shoot from outside.
Kyrie the all-star
Point guard Kyrie Irving, who was named to his first All-Star Game on Thursday, revealed that he could have learned a day sooner that he’d been selected for the East squad because his father knew.
“He found out and they just played it off the entire day,” he said. “He said he was emotional.”
Irving took steps to ensure he wouldn’t find out.
“I had my agent not tell me on purpose and I sat on my couch and watched it like everybody else,” he said. “It’s a different emotional feel for me.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.