By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: When Dion Waiters awoke from his nap Tuesday, he had so many texts and voice mails awaiting him he thought he’d been traded. Instead, it was just more rumors he wanted out of Cleveland.
Waiters refuted a Bleacher Report story that he’s asked the Cavaliers to trade him, the second such national report in less than a month. Both sides insist, however, it isn’t true.
“At the end of the day, I know what I said and didn’t say, and that’s one of those things I absolutely never said,” Waiters said. “They can keep talking. I never said it.”
Waiters has played better in recent weeks, scoring 30 points in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks two weeks ago and following it up by averaging 18.5 points during the Cavs’ two-game Florida trip last weekend.
He has never spoken glowingly about his role as a bench player, but he maintains he’s happy in Cleveland. This is the second time Waiters had to address the issue. An ESPN report on Nov. 27 had similar claims.
“I’m asleep and my phone is blowing up,” he said. “The way my phone was going crazy, I thought I got traded already. It is what it is. They come up with these stories that aren’t true. Let them keep writing.”
GlenOak grad C.J. McCollum was busy sorting tickets prior to Monday’s game. A rookie with the Portland Trail Blazers, McCollum received about 20 tickets for friends and family even though he isn’t playing while recovering from a broken foot.
McCollum, however, was quick to clarify that Cleveland isn’t his hometown.
“It’s fun to be back, although it’s not home. I’m from Canton, this is not home,” he said. “But it’s good to be back in my home state. A lot of familiar faces, just unfortunate I’m not able to play.”
McCollum had help rounding up tickets from teammates and even Cavs players. He said Anthony Bennett helped him out, so McCollum only had to pay for two tickets. He was expecting between 45 and 50 people in the stands — and that’s with him being injured.
“I told a lot of people not to come because I wasn’t playing,” he said. “Just watch it on TV.”
McCollum has been out since mid-October with the foot injury. He is back playing three-on-three and is hoping to be cleared to play five-on-five within the next week.
The Blazers are playing terrific basketball right now, but McCollum said he isn’t concerned with how he fits on this team once he’s healthy.
“At the end of the day you work hard to put yourself in position to be successful,” he said. “At some point you’ll get your chance and you have to take advantage of it.”
Kyrie Irving was caught off guard by Nike’s official release of the Zoom HyperRev on Monday, which the shoe giant said was made with Irving in mind.
“I wish Nike would have told me when they were going to release the images,” Irving joked. “But that’s just what the biggest brand in the world does that I’m grateful to be a part of.”
The shoes go on sale to the public Jan. 1. Irving has not worn them in a game yet, but there are pictures circulating on the internet of O.J. Mayo wearing them. Irving wasn’t sure how Mayo got a pair before he did.
“I don’t know if you’ll see him again with them on, but we’ll see what happens,” Irving said.