Mike Brown thought he knew what he was getting in Henry Sims: A gritty defender and rebounder who excelled at the fundamentals. Then Sims revealed a little secret this week during a preseason game. He can shoot, too.
Sims and point guard Matthew Dellavedova survived final cuts on Friday and are expected to open the season on the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster. The Cavs released DeSagana Diop, Jermaine Taylor, Elliot Williams and Kenny Kadji to get their roster to the mandatory 15 well before Sunday’s deadline.
Sims played well this preseason, including a victory Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers, when he made all six of his shots. Included in that were jumpers from 9 feet and 16 feet, and it was the 16-footer that really got Brown’s attention.
“I didn’t know he was a good jump shooter from 15 or 16 feet,” Brown said. “If he’s open, he’s going to make that shot.”
Said Sims: “A lot of people didn’t know how well I could shoot. I’m glad I was able to show Coach. I’m glad he knows now.”
He didn’t makes this roster because of his jumper, however. Given the injury concerns surrounding Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao, plus the appendicitis that has kept Tyler Zeller out for most of October, the Cavs are in need of another center who can rebound and defend. If all of the Cavs’ centers are healthy, Sims will likely spend much of his time with the Canton Charge after earning a spot on the Development League All-Star team last season.
Sims certainly has the right pedigree for the NBA. He played in high school for a highly successful private program in Maryland before moving on to Georgetown. He went undrafted last season, then was cut by the New York Knicks on the final day of the preseason. He played for the New Orleans Pelicans on a 10-day contract, but he otherwise spent the entire season with the D-League’s Erie BayHawks. After the season, he played in the Philippines.
“It just wasn’t my time I guess,” Sims said. “The Lord has a will for everybody, and I guess last year wasn’t my time. The year I had last year was still pretty good, even though I was only in the NBA for 10 days. I traveled the world to places I wouldn’t have seen.”
Sims finished the preseason averaging 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. Brown has spoken highly of him at most points this month, even comparing him to Varejao because he is such a physical defender. He is also a natural center, which helped him beat out Kadji.
Kadji is a 25-year-old rookie who is a natural power forward. Since he hasn’t played in the D-League yet, the Cavs can protect him from that draft once he clears waivers and send him to the Canton Charge (although he’ll remain an NBA free agent). The Cavs cannot put Taylor on the Charge, however, because he finished last season with the Maine Red Claws. That’s where he will return if another NBA team doesn’t pick him up.
Sims said he learned to defend, box out and rebound in high school when he played for a coach who demanded he do the little things, otherwise he wouldn’t play. That should help him this season, because Brown is the same way.
“Last year it didn’t work out with the Knicks and I was in the D-League for a long time,” he said. “I’m still young. The older guys were telling me, ‘You’re young. Just keep working.’ So I stayed in the gym. Whenever I was down, whenever I’d wonder ‘Why?’ I went to the gym and worked. I spent a lot of hours in the gym — a lot of hours. It paid off.”
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.