LAS VEGAS: Anthony Bennett arrived at summer league with a new mindset, a new approach and, most importantly, a new body.
Bennett said he’s lost between 15 and 20 pounds since the end of last season and is back down around 240. He began last season overweight and out of shape after missing all of summer league, but he’s trying to make up for it now.
“This is my playing weight, this is where I’ve been through high school and college,” Bennett said. “It feels good being back at my playing weight. But I just have to stay healthy. It’s a good feeling not coming off surgery. I’m excited about that.”
Bennett had 15 points and seven rebounds in Friday’s summer league victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He shot 6-for-16 and made just 1-of-5 3-pointers, but new Cavs coach David Blatt was happy with how Bennett appeared.
Most importantly, Blatt is trying to give Bennett a fresh start after he endured one of the worst seasons for a top overall pick in history.
“I’m coming in here and he’s coming in here with a clean slate,” Blatt said. “I was happy to see his confidence level high [Friday] and I was really happy to see his energy and ability to run the floor and stay in it for extended periods of time, which he had trouble with. With his approach and improved condition, he’s going to get better and better.”
In a historically bad draft, Bennett appeared in 52 games, averaging 4.2 points and three rebounds last season.
“I’m not trying to forget about it because it was a hard season for me, I soaked up everything and learned as much as I can,” Bennett said. “It was just a real learning experience for me. I made a commitment to stay in the gym and just get right.”
Now that LeBron James has signed his two-year, $42 million deal, the Cavs have about $1.5 million left in cap space and a $2.7 million room exception to use to fill out the rest of the roster.
They’re searching primarily for more shooting and another big to replace Tyler Zeller.
The trade with the Charlotte Hornets became official Saturday. The Cavs shipped Scotty Hopson away in exchange for second-round pick Dwight Powell and veteran center Brendan Haywood.
Haywood is set to earn $2.2 million this season, but the most appealing part is his $10.5 million nonguaranteed contract for next season. That unique deal will create plenty of opportunities at the trade deadline next season, particularly since the Cavs will likely not have any cap space available.
Haywood missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his foot, but the Cavs hope he’ll be able to contribute something at some point this season. His unique contract, however, is his best selling point.
Blatt has spent a fair amount of time studying film from last season in an effort to learn his players, but the acquisition of James changes even that. James is such an overall talent, he’ll change the roles of everyone else on the team.
“I saw good bit of film, but the team is changing,” Blatt said. “I’m moving ahead of that because I’m beginning to see the shape of the team and the type of roster we’re going to have.”
With more players yet to come, Blatt might be back in the film room soon.
“Maybe I’ll have to use some film from other teams and different players,” he said.
The Cavs’ next summer league game is at 4 p.m. today against the San Antonio Spurs. … Bennett was wearing a pair of Kobe Bryant’s Nike sneakers, but he ripped them during Friday’s win. “Gotta go with the LeBrons now,” he joked. … Blatt said the coaching staff is still under review and more additions are likely coming. Jim Boylan, Bret Brielmaier, Phil Handy and Vitaly Potapenko were retained from Mike Brown’s staff, while James Posey has been added from the Canton Charge staff.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.