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Cavs passing on deal with Rockets, but could address small forward position before trade deadline

By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer

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INDEPENDENCE: Eventually the Cavaliers will likely have to address their small forward position, but it doesn’t appear as if today will be that day. As Omer Asik prepares to leave Houston in a trade today, the Cavs’ interest has been limited to a three-team deal.

The Rockets were previously negotiating with the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, which could’ve created a match for the Cavs since they have varying degrees of interest in both Evan Turner and Jeff Green to fill their needs on the wing. But by Wednesday afternoon, league sources indicated the Cavs weren’t close to a deal for either player and by Wednesday night, Yahoo! Sports reported the Cavs had faded significantly in any deal involving Asik and the Rockets.

That’s not to say the Cavs can’t revisit the market at another point prior to the trade deadline, but the Rockets have set a deadline for today, according to national reports, to move Asik.

The Cavs were never interested in Asik for themselves and seemed hesitant to move Anderson Varejao in any deal. They have a plethora of future draft picks, which the Rockets wanted in exchange for Asik, but national reports indicated Wednesday evening that the Rockets and Celtics had advanced on a deal without the Cavs.

The small forward position has been in flux all season, and more accurately for the last three years. The transition of Anthony Bennett to the position is going slowly because it’s his first time there and he’s playing less than 10 minutes a night.

Alonzo Gee provides the defense coach Mike Brown demands, but is averaging 3.9 points to rank 39th among qualifying small forwards in the NBA.

“Alonzo is playing that starting small forward spot the correct way for us,” Brown said Wednesday. “He’s playing his role for us to a ‘T’.”

Brown’s expectations for Gee are fairly simple: Rebound, defend, space the floor properly, shoot corner 3-pointers and drive to the rim if defenders close out too hard on him around the 3-point line.

He doesn’t want Gee trying to create his own shots in pick-and-roll situations or in isolation, which Gee usually avoids. The rest of the time, Brown wants him defending.

The lack of productivity out of the ‘3’ spot has forced Brown to use a three-guard lineup more than he expected while Gee plays less than 20 minutes a night. Still, even with a glaring hole in the offense from one of the most offensive-minded positions in the league, the Cavs have improved dramatically in recent weeks, averaging 110 points in their past four games and going 4-3 thus far in December after a dreadful November.

“I just want to be a little bit better this month than what we were last month and continue taking steps forward,” Brown said. “And if our guys understand that and buy into that, which I feel like they’re doing even through the tough times they’ve kind of stayed the course and blindly listened to us, then when it really counts, we’re going to be really good. Just trust me on that one.”

Jason Lloyd can be reached at jlloyd@thebeaconjournal.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.


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