INDEPENDENCE: Donald Sloan was signed by the Cavaliers on Friday to fill the roster spot vacated by Ramon Sessions, but the Cavs and Sloan are no strangers.
Sloan competed on the U.S. team that won the bronze medal in last year’s Pan American Games. That team was coached by Cavs assistant Nate Tibbetts.
When Kyrie Irving was a senior in high school, Sloan was the host for Irving’s official visit to Texas A&M.
The Cavs have been high on Sloan all along. When they signed Ben Uzoh out of the Development League earlier this season, coach Byron Scott called him “the best point guard in the D-League.” He said Friday that’s because Sloan had just been picked up by the New Orleans Hornets.
“Even when we brought in Ben, the consensus was that he [Sloan] was the best one,” Scott said. “He’s been on the radar for a little while. [Scouts] thought he was a point guard who would fit into what we do, really can penetrate and get into the lanes, can find guys, very good defender. They thought he would be perfect for us.”
Sloan was most recently with the Erie BayHawks of the D-League, where he was averaging 22.8 points and 7.4 assists. He appeared in eight games combined for the Hawks and Hornets and averaged just 7.4 minutes, 2.3 points and 1.6 assists.
“He does a really good job on pick-and-roll, and obviously, so did Ramon,” Tibbetts said. “He’s extremely competitive, he’s a physical specimen. He can change the game with the way he guards.”
The Cavs could’ve signed him to a 10-day contract, but instead elected to sign him for the rest of the season. They’ll use the final 25 games to evaluate him and decide if he’s worth bringing back next season.
Daniel Gibson will be the primary backup point guard in the interim until Sloan is acclimated to the system, but Scott didn’t rule out Sloan playing at least a few minutes Sunday against the Hawks — his former team.
“I’ve always known Coach Scott to be a player’s coach,” Sloan said. “It isn’t easy for a guy like me coming into the situation like this so late in the year and expect too much. He knows I’m going to try my best.”
Sloan’s addition brings the Cavs roster back to a maximum size of 15, but the Cavs are expected to release Jason Kapono today and re-sign Manny Harris.
The Cavs already signed Harris to a pair of 10-day contracts and will have to keep him for the remainder of the season under NBA rules.
Antawn Jamison survived another trade deadline, proving he was correct in training camp when he predicted he would be with the Cavs the entire season. The Cavs could still buy out his contract, but Scott said Friday that wasn’t likely to happen.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, Scott said the team’s goal is still to reach the playoffs.
“Even though [Jamison] is a veteran guy who has been in this league a long time now, you can put all that stuff to bed and you can just concentrate on playing the rest of the season and trying to put ourselves in the best position to try to get one of these spots,” Scott said. “That hasn’t changed. Just because we made the trade, our goal is still to win basketball games and we’re still only a game back [in the loss column] of that eighth spot. Our objective is the same.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.