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Mike Brown forced to use rookies a lot more than expected with Cavaliers

By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer

CLEVELAND: This was supposed to be about the time guys like Sergey Karasev, Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix and Henry Sims started shuffling back and forth to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League.

If everything had gone according to plan, the Cavs weren’t supposed to need any of the rookies (or in Sims’ case, a second-year player who barely appeared in the NBA last season). Of course, nothing about the Cavs’ early season has gone according to plan.

Mike Brown joked during the preseason, when the Cavs played a game at the Canton Civic Center, that those four young guys should get acquainted with the area because they would be back sooner rather than later. Except now, just a month into the season, Brown has been forced to rely on them just to survive.

“I think they’re pretty good players and they’ve shown it throughout the course of training camp and even when we’ve thrown them in the game,” Brown said. “They’ve shown flashes of what they can do. It doesn’t surprise me, but hopefully sooner than later you get to a rotation you feel pretty comfortable with.”

It’s no secret Brown would like to ultimately settle on a rotation that doesn’t include any of those guys. He took a step closer to that this weekend when C.J. Miles returned after missing four games with a strained calf.

Dellavedova started three games in Miles’ absence and Karasev started the fourth. Brown praises Delly as a gritty defender and a guy who keeps the ball moving offensively, but neither provided much of a scoring punch during their minutes.

Delly scored 14 points in his three starts — all in the 30-point blowout against the San Antonio Spurs. He went scoreless against the New Orleans Pelicans (one shot) and against the Miami Heat (two shots).

Karasev wasn’t any better against the Boston Celtics. He scored just one point (and took just one shot). Karasev was expecting to start in the 97-93 victory Saturday against the Chicago Bulls, but Miles received late clearance to return. Rather than start, Karasev didn’t play at all.

“Those games when Coach put me on the court, I did a good job and showed him I can play tough and play hard in practice,” Karasev said. “Now he’s starting to trust me so he puts me on the court. Now I can’t be stupid.”

Karasev said slowing ball movement and trying to create scoring plays for himself offensively would qualify as stupid.

With Miles healthy again, it’s unclear how Karasev and Dellavedova fit. The same goes for Felix and Sims. So maybe those calls to the D-League are coming soon after all.

But if the rotation continues to sputter, Brown has warned he’ll continue to make changes.

“Until we get to a point where we’re winning games and I think we’re competitive and the feel is right, then I’m going to keep searching,” he said. “Where we’re sitting record-wise, I think I have the right to change my starting lineup every game if I feel the need. Obviously you want to let the guys settle in a little bit and play through some losses or wins, but until we start winning a couple games or feeling like we’re getting a consistent level of play from the guys on the floor, I feel I can change the lineup.

“I think our guys understand that. Whether everyone likes it or not I don’t know. But it’s a thing I know I feel like if I need to do, I’ll do it.”

Jason Lloyd can be reached at Read the Cavs blog at Follow him on Twitter Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at


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