INDEPENDENCE: There is a leader in the competition for the backup point guard position with the Cavaliers, but coach Byron Scott won’t divulge who it is and he certainly isn’t ready to name a winner in the race between Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo.
With about a week left in training camp, one of the looming decisions is whether to carry two or three point guards. The Cavs must release two more players before the start of the season, but those cuts aren’t expected to come until after Tuesday’s preseason finale.
Scott is willing to carry three point guards, but it’s becoming clear that either Sloan or Pargo will likely be released at the end of training camp.
“I still think that I could [keep all three], but I’m not sure that I will,” Scott said.
Sloan began the competition with an advantage since he ended last season with the Cavs and participated in summer league with the team. He has seven turnovers and eight assists in limited minutes. Pargo has nine turnovers despite averaging a team-high 4.7 assists in the preseason.
“[Sloan] knows the offense a little better and quite frankly he’s done a better job of running the offense when he’s been in there,” Scott said. “Jeremy’s strengths are his communication and toughness and he’s learning how to run the offense.”
The turnovers are concerning, particularly since the backup to Irving will only play about 12 minutes a night and his primary job will be to run the offense and not screw anything up. High turnover rates cannot be tolerated by the backup point guard, but Scott thinks both players are pressing since everyone knows they’re competing for a job.
“Right now you’ve got two guards trying to fight for those minutes,” he said. “Not having a set rotation, not knowing when they’re going to play probably has a little to do with it. Once I decide on that, I think those guys will calm down and start doing the things I need them to do.”
Pargo dismissed his impressive assists totals because of his problems with the turnovers. He has made some bad passes, but has also left his feet at inopportune times and been caught in bad positions.
“Trying to make plays early or not staying within the system [is] me getting out of character a little bit,” Pargo said. “I want to cut down on those [turnovers].”
Sloan has been pleased with his work during the summer and in this camp, displaying a midrange shooting game that he either didn’t show or didn’t have last season. But he certainly isn’t going to declare himself the winner now.
“I really don’t like to be one of the people that believe they’ve done enough already and kind of get content and settled,” he said. “I think I’ve done a good job. Enough? Probably not. We still have a little bit more time. Hopefully by the end of that, I will have done enough to solidify a roster spot.”
Sloan is on a nonguaranteed contract this year and Pargo is guaranteed $1 million. But money has yet to be an issue since Dan Gilbert owned the team and Scott doesn’t believe it will influence any decisions in this camp, either. The Cavs have about $10 million in cap space, so if they have to swallow $1 million on Pargo, no one will really notice.
When Pargo met with reporters on Friday, he made mention of the fact it was the first time he was interviewed in a group setting with the Cavs’ backdrop behind him.
“First time I’ve been on this wall,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not the last.”
He’ll know for sure in about another week.
Waiters staying at two
Rookie Dion Waiters would seem to be an ideal third point guard, since he has so much experience and is so comfortable with the ball in his hands, but Scott reiterated he doesn’t want to overwhelm Waiters and give him any more responsibilities than he already has.
For that reason, Waiters will play strictly shooting guard this season.
“He has enough on his plate,” Scott said.
To the surprise of no one, the Cavaliers exercised their options for the 2013-14 season on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
Irving won the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 18.5 points per game last season and Thompson averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“Kyrie and Tristan exemplify what we want to be as a team and franchise, both as players and as people,” Cavs General Manager Chris Grant said in a news release. “They are dedicated, hard-working, talented individuals and we’re looking forward to their continued growth and success here in Cleveland as Cavaliers.”
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