INDEPENDENCE: The preseason games have ended, but the competition for the final couple of roster spots is ongoing. Cavaliers coach Byron Scott continues to insist he hasn’t decided who has made the team and who hasn’t, meaning guys such as Luke Harangody, Micheal Eric and Kevin Jones will spend the next couple of days fighting for one or perhaps two roster spots.
All three played sparingly in the preseason. Scott used the games as opportunities to set his lineup and rotations, while using primarily practice time to evaluate the trio just trying to make the team. The winner, or winners, will most likely spend some time this season in the Development League.
Scott is debating whether to carry one or two backup point guards. He slipped last week and said Jones, Harangody and Eric were competing for one roster spot, perhaps tipping his hand that he is leaning toward keeping both point guards Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo — even though Sloan appears to have a decided edge in that competition.
“I’d like to keep three [point guards], but I’m not sure that I will,” Scott said.
This camp was the Cavs’ first real look at Jones. Harangody spent all of last season with the team, and Eric was part of the Cavs’ summer league roster, but an injury prevented Jones from playing in Las Vegas.
He received a three-year contract from the Cavs, but it means little since only $50,000 of it is guaranteed. At 6-foot-7, Jones is an undersized forward who still finds a way to rebound. He grabbed five rebounds in less than 13 minutes in a game against the Orlando Magic, his most extensive playing time of the preseason.
“It’s tough knowing the odds are always against you at this point,” Jones said. “I’m glad just to make it to this point. They must have seen something in me to keep me around all this time even though I haven’t been on the court. They see something in practice they like about me.”
Jones was a heavy favorite to win the Big East’s Player of the Year award after leading the conference in scoring and rebounding for West Virginia, but he lost to Marquette’s Jae Crowder. Jones was a walking double-double his senior year but went undrafted primarily because he’s undersized.
“If he had another 2 or 3 inches on him, he’d probably be a first-round pick,” Scott said. “At 6-7, there’s not many power forwards in our league that size who are great players. He’s at a disadvantage on the defensive end guarding some of those guys.”
Scott and Jones agree he’s at his best on the outside shooting jumpers from 17 or 18 feet. He shot 40 percent on 3-pointers as a sophomore — 4 percent better than Dion Waiters’ 3-point percentage as a sophomore — but Jones’ shooting numbers slipped each of the next two years. He bottomed out at 27 percent his senior year.
Jones’ offensive game will have to come from the outside, however, since Scott was critical of his post moves.
“Samardo is better in the post,” Scott said. “[Jones] doesn’t have a real good inside game from what I’ve seen.”
If Jones sticks with the Cavs, it will be primarily for his rebounding and hustle. Scouts across the league live by the belief the one stat that translates from college to the NBA is rebounding, something Jones knows full well. It’s why he believes he’ll eventually find a place in this league, whether with the Cavs or elsewhere.
“It’s not easy rebounding out here, but it’s easier than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s one of the things that may allow me to keep playing with this team. It’s what got me to this point in training camp. I know my chances are good wherever I end up, whether it’s here or some other team. I’ve just got to keep on working.”
Cavs pick up Scott’s option
The Cavs picked up the option on Scott’s contract for next season, an NBA source said. Scott initially signed a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth season.
Scott is 40-108 in two seasons with the Cavs, but it has long been expected they would pick up the option. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he signed an extension. The Cavs have been pleased with Scott’s work developing a young roster, while Scott professed his love for the organization over the summer.
“I love where I am. I love the situation I’m in and I’ve got the right people around me,” Scott told the Beacon Journal in July. “Just like any other coach, I want to win now and I want all the pieces to be there. Sometimes patience is the best thing you can do and understanding the whole situation. I understand completely where we are and what we have to do.”
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.