INDEPENDENCE: Mike Brown is giving himself a couple of more weeks to continue shuffling and experimenting with the Cavaliers’ lineup before he settles on a rotation. The latest spin of the carousel has C.J. Miles in at shooting guard and rookie Anthony Bennett off to the end of the bench.
While Brown cautioned Tuesday that no decisions have been finalized, he sure sounded like a coach content on proceeding with Miles as a starter and Dion Waiters as a reserve when the Cavs host the Washington Wizards tonight. He also conceded Bennett could have a hard time getting on the floor now that he’s using Earl Clark as both the starting small forward and backup power forward.
The Cavs have used five various starting lineups through 11 games, including a different lineup in each of the last four games. While there is no firm timeline on how long this rotation renovation will continue, Brown believes he’s getting closer to the lineup he wants and gave himself a loose deadline of early December before settling on a rotation.
“Right now, it should change,” Brown said. “We haven’t played well enough as a team that we say, ‘This is the group we’re going with,’ and rock ’n’ roll with that group.”
Bennett has struggled terribly since the Cavaliers selected him first overall last summer. He is averaging 1.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and shooting 14 percent in the first nine games of his pro career, but Brown said Bennett strung together his two best practices of the young season the last two days, including ripping off some impressive dunks in traffic on Tuesday, reminding everyone in the building why the Cavaliers liked him so much last June. They just haven’t seen much evidence yet in games.
“We have some guys that can come in and play for him, and he can continue to gain his confidence slowly, without it being force-fed,” Brown said. “But with social media today, everybody from inside to outside wants things to happen yesterday. It’s no different for A.B. He was the No. 1 pick, everyone expects he should be averaging 20 and 15, right now. But there’s a patience factor that we’re gonna have, that I’m able to have with him. In time you guys will be able to see how good he is.”
As for Miles, Brown likes the way he can stretch the floor with Andrew Bynum playing inside and conceded, “I may leave [Miles] in the starting lineup.”
Waiters has been the source of plenty of speculation in recent days, stemming from a players-only meeting last week and an illness that kept him out of a pair of games. Now he’s coming off the bench again, just as he did in college and for three weeks last season when former coach Byron Scott made him a reserve for the bulk of January.
Brown made it clear Tuesday that Waiters will remain as strictly a shooting guard with the second unit, playing alongside Jarrett Jack, who will handle the point guard duties.
Miles pushed his way into the starting lineup with a hot start to the season both offensively and defensively. He is fourth on the team in scoring (10.9 points) and his 19 3-pointers are one behind Kyrie Irving for the team lead.
Both Brown and Miles agree he won’t be able to play as aggressively as a starter — he’s now no higher than the third offensive option behind Irving and Bynum. As a reserve, Miles could fire at leisure.
“Once we get a little bit more rhythm, I think it will be even easier for me because I’ll see a lot of open shots,” Miles said. “It’s just getting used to how to be effective and not be in the way because I’m the new guy in the group now.”
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