By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: Andrew Bynum’s removal from the Cavaliers clears two spots in Mike Brown’s rotation. One will go to Tyler Zeller, the other to Anthony Bennett.
The top pick in the draft has played sparingly to this point, but no longer. The Cavs are committing significant minutes to Bennett moving forward, which is why Mike Brown acknowledged Sunday that he needs to give Bennett time to play through inevitable mistakes.
“I have to continue trying to have patience with him,” Brown said. “This is an opportunity for him to go out and play some minutes and show what he’s capable of doing.”
After saying that, he only played Bennett 11 minutes in the 108-104 overtime loss Sunday to the Golden State Warriors after playing him 19 minutes in the loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. Bennett had five points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal against the Celtics, but he missed all four of his shots Sunday and grabbed two rebounds.
Bennett has looked overwhelmed at times, and Brown said he needs to slow down on offense when he gets the ball. But first the game has to slow down for him, and that hasn’t happened yet.
“I’m still clueless about this whole thing,” Bennett said. “I’m still trying to learn a lot. I can still learn from my teammates, from the coaching staff, watching film. I just feel like this whole league is all about learning, just going out and playing.”
He has played a fraction of the minutes other top picks in last summer’s draft are receiving. The Cavs hope more consistent minutes will mean more production.
Brown has juggled Bennett’s role from power forward to small forward and now back to power forward, which seems to have further confused the rookie. When he switched Bennett back to power forward, Brown said there is still the possibility he could see minutes on the wing. For right now, Brown likes some of the things Bennett is doing away from the ball. He just wants the rookie to slow down and show some composure when he has the ball.
“When he catches, he’s still really anxious with the basketball. You can see him be frantic even before he does anything,” Brown said. “He needs to just catch, take a deep breath, let the defense do what they want to do, let things marinate for a second and then go to work. It doesn’t always have to be fast.”
Bynum’s suspension was lifted Sunday, but he is still excused from all team activities. He was docked one game’s pay (roughly $110,000). The Cavs have until Jan. 7 to trade or release him or they will be responsible for the balance of his $12 million deal.
If they can’t find a deal by Jan. 7, a league source confirmed the team is considering holding onto him anyway. They would have until June 30 to trade or release him before his $12 million deal for next season becomes guaranteed.
Bynum’s locker hadn’t been cleaned out yet at Quicken Loans Arena. Among the items left behind was a pair of headphones. He is also still part of the pregame introduction video. The team did not hand out his Fathead on Sunday, as was previously scheduled. They also did not hand out game-day programs, called “Tipoff Tonight,” because he was featured on the cover.
To make up for the Fathead issue, kids 14 and under received a certificate to redeem for future Fathead packs.
Jarrett Jack hasn’t produced the same numbers he did last season with Golden State, but he still has a huge fan in Warriors coach Mark Jackson. Jack signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Cavs during the summer after helping guide the Warriors to the second round of the playoffs last season.
“He’s an incredible man,” Jackson said. “He was a great leader for us. He was a tremendous voice. He impacted my life not only as a basketball coach but as a man. I’ll forever be grateful. I’m very happy for him. His contract is well deserved. It’s a win for everybody.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.