INDEPENDENCE: When the Cavaliers begin to whittle their roster toward the end of this training camp, coach Byron Scott will finally have some difficult decisions to make. One of those revolves around the backup point guard slot behind Kyrie Irving.
Scott’s preference is to keep three point guards, meaning both Donald Sloan and newly acquired Jeremy Pargo would make the team. But Scott conceded Friday that getting the roster down to 15 might prevent both Pargo and Sloan from surviving, meaning the competition between the two is intensifying as the Cavs prepare for their annual Wine and Gold scrimmage tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.
A healthy Irving will likely play between 34 and 36 minutes a game, Scott said, meaning there aren’t a lot of minutes left for the backups. Keeping two natural point guards to handle fewer than 14 minutes a game seems like overkill, but Scott likes having that third guard around in case of injury.
“If Kyrie does happen to go down, God forbid, one of those guys has to move up to that starting point guard and then you still have another backup,” he said. “You still have somebody that is familiar with your system who can come in and you don’t miss a beat.”
Given the amount of games Irving has missed his past two seasons, it’s easy to understand that thinking. Dion Waiters is also capable of handling the ball, but Scott doesn’t want to put that added pressure on him during his rookie season. For now, Scott wants Waiters to worry about shooting guard.
“It’d be different if Dion had been here for a couple years and you could say we could just move Dion there in a pinch, but to ask him to do that this year, I don’t think it’s impossible to do it, but I don’t think it’s wise to give him more than he can handle,” Scott said. “I just want him to stick with one spot right now.”
The Cavs know all about Sloan after signing him March 16. He appeared in 25 games and started 11 in place of Irving, averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 assists. He set a career high with 14 assists in a game late in the season at the New Jersey Nets.
An adequate defender with a boxer’s background, Sloan believes he showed the Cavs through the summer and early in this camp he can run the offense and make open shots when given the chance.
“I definitely think I’ve proven to them I’m an NBA point guard,” he said. “Playing in summer league, I definitely think a lot of teams were looking and liked what they saw. Worst-case scenario if it doesn’t work out here, hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m with another team. But I want to be here.”
Pargo was acquired in late July from the Memphis Grizzlies after they signed Jerryd Bayless to back up Mike Conley and drafted Tony Wroten. Rather than release Pargo, who is guaranteed $1 million this season, the Grizzlies traded him and a second-round pick to the Cavs in exchange for D.J. Kennedy.
Since Kennedy was on a nonguaranteed deal for this season, the Grizzlies quickly waived him, meaning the Grizzlies essentially gave the Cavs a second-round pick rather than eat $1 million.
Pargo is a fast talker with a fast motor. He has a quick sense of humor and has impressed Scott with his ability to push the offense.
“The thing I love about him the most is the way he talks on the floor,” Scott said. “He brings a different energy here that we haven’t had the last few years. He brings a positive energy. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy, but he’s always talking to his teammates, always trying to get them in the right direction.”
Pargo played at Gonzaga and went undrafted in 2009. He spent time overseas before latching on with the Grizzlies last season. He averaged 2.9 points and 1.3 assists in 44 games and his brother, Jannero, is in camp with the Washington Wizards.
“It’s a long road, and the road is not even close to finished,” Pargo said. “I feel a little more comfortable here. When you can come in and get a smile out of everybody on the team, and feel like you’re part of the team, that’s always a good thing. I keep looking for that niche and [am] still hoping to find a spot on the team.”
The roster will be divided into two teams tonight, but Scott said there won’t be any significance to how the roster is divided because it’s too early in camp. However, Irving and Waiters will not be on the same team.
Scott will conduct a regular practice on the arena floor at 3 p.m. and the gates open at 4, so fans arriving early can also catch a glimpse of practice. Sodas and hot dogs are available for $1 and admission is free.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.