AUBURN HILLS, MICH.: The Cavaliers made a little history by placing four players in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend. No other team has ever sent four representatives to the rookie/sophomore game and had one of them also play in the All-Star Game.
The Cavs, thanks to Kyrie Irving, are the first. Seven teams have previously sent three players to the rookie/sophomore game, but none of those ever had an actual All-Star participant, either. (The Cavs had four representatives to the rookie game in 1998, but Derek Anderson was hurt and did not play).
“To me it really shows we’re on the right track,” coach Byron Scott said. “We’ve got some good young talent. They’re still learning to play together and learning to win. Some are still learning how to be professionals on this level. I’m very proud of all those guys and it’s one of those things that makes us feel better about what we’re trying to do here.”
There was some debate whether Irving would play after his All-Star nomination, but he said Friday he will play in both games. Blake Griffin played in both last season, setting the precedent — and the $25,000 check for the winning team is incentive, too. Irving made $75,000 last year for his performance, $25,000 for winning the game and $50,000 for winning the Most Valuable Player.
Irving and Tristan Thompson were locks, as was Dion Waiters. The wild card was Tyler Zeller, who likely made it because of his work as a starter after replacing Anderson Varejao.
Zeller is averaging 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds He has produced games of 14, 10 and 12 rebounds in his past five games.
“I knew I had a good chance, but at the same time it’s always an honor to be selected,” Zeller said. “It’s really cool. It shows we’re a young team that’s building and it’s kind of exciting to see what we have here and how much better we’ve gotten. It’s going to be a lot of fun the next few years.”
Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will draft the two teams and Waiters expects Irving to be the No. 1 pick. He also knows about Irving’s eight 3-pointers in the game last year.
“I’m going for nine,” Waiters said.
The Cavs flew to Detroit early Thursday morning to take part in the league-mandated business of basketball seminar. They elected to hold it at Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit and owner Dan Gilbert spoke to the players about finances.
“I don’t know one owner since I’ve been in this league that has had his players in and talked to them as candidly as he did about finances,” Scott said. “He does not want one Cleveland Cavalier player to ever be in bankruptcy or anything like that.”
Scott said Gilbert offered his services if any player ever needed financial advice — both now and in the future.
“I don’t know many owners like that,” Scott said. “My only dream for these guys is they take advantage of it. You’ve got a guy whose company is worth billions, so obviously he understands how to make money. I hope these guys, even if they have somebody presenting a deal to them, have Dan’s people look at it. I wish I would’ve had somebody like that when I was playing to give you that type of advice.”
Kevin Jones has been assigned to and recalled from the Canton Charge twice in the past two weeks. One of the big reasons why the Cavs purchased their own Development League team and moved it to Canton was to shuffle guys at the bottom of the roster between the two teams.
Jones participates in Cavs practices, then can go play for the Charge and be recalled the next day. It gets him playing time while keeping him around the NBA team as well. The team typically provides a driver to take him, but Jones said he can make it from his apartment in downtown Cleveland to the Canton Civic Center in about 35 minutes.
“I definitely enjoy being able to play,” Jones said. “It’s not that hard of a transition.”
The league’s rules have changed to allow teams to assign a guy to the D-League an infinite amount of times throughout the season.
Luke Walton has left the team because of a death in the family. … Daniel Gibson (toe) missed Friday’s game and isn’t expected to play tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. 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.