CLEVELAND: Dion Waiters was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in February. Waiters averaged 15.8 points and shot 51 percent in 12 games.
It was his first monthly honor after Kyrie Irving won the award three out of four months last season.
Waiters led all Eastern Conference rookies in scoring and assists (3.1) in February, was second in steals (1.1) and shooting percentage and third in minutes. He scored at least 20 points in each of his past three games in February and the Cavs finished the month by winning four of their last five games.
Before inserting him into a game again, Cavs coach Byron Scott wants to get a look at Kyrie Irving in practice. That’s part of the reason why Scott held him out of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the third consecutive game Irving has missed with a hyperextended right knee.
With practices both today and Sunday, Scott should get the chance to see Irving plant and cut on the knee before playing him again. The Cavs’ next game is Monday at home against the New York Knicks.
“One bad cut, you could still tweak it,” Scott said. “The other thing is how much pain can he take? Right now, I’m not willing to say, ‘You can take the pain? OK, that’s great. I’m going to let you play.’ I’m not going that way.”
Scott said it’s his preference to allow Irving’s knee to heal 100 percent rather than wait until he simply feels better.
Omri Casspi did not have his contract bought out by the team prior to Friday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline, a league source confirmed. Casspi needed to be released by Friday night in order to make him eligible for the postseason with another team.
The Cavs shopped him at the trade deadline, but couldn’t reach a deal.
Ninety minutes before Friday’s game, Chris Paul stopped by Scott’s office in the Cavs locker room for a brief visit. The two remain incredibly close from their days together in New Orleans. Scott is still close with Paul’s parents and they have even vacationed in the Bahamas together at the same time.
“Just an unbelievable guy,” Scott said of Paul. “We’ve just got a great relationship. It’s a unique situation. I know him extremely well off the court, I know him extremely well on the court.”
Leader of the pack
Scott said Paul didn’t really emerge as a leader until his third year in the league and believes Irving is on a similar course.
“Hopefully next year he’ll jump like CP did his third year,” Scott said. “It takes time for players to feel comfortable in that role and it takes time for that role to develop. He’s on that level, on that role as far as being a leader like that.”
With Los Angeles Lakers blood still deep in his veins, Scott conceded it’s hard for him to admit the Clippers are L.A.’s best team these days. But Scott does concede the Clippers are legitimate title contenders.
“It hurts me. As much as I love CP and it’s good there is a rivalry like that in L.A., it hurts me that the purple and gold isn’t No. 1 in Los Angeles record-wise,” Scott said. “I look at them in the West as a team that could win it all. They’re probably one of the deepest teams, if not the deepest, in the NBA. They rebound, defend … they’re definitely a team that could win it.”