CLEVELAND: Whenever Samardo Samuels has fallen out of the Cavaliers’ lineup previously, it has been his own doing. Whether it was arriving to camp out of shape last season or general ineffectiveness on the court, Samuels has been on a yo-yo his first two years in the league.
This time, it’s different. This time, he did everything asked of him during the summer and in training camp — and he still has started the year behind Luke Walton and out of coach Byron Scott’s rotation. Samuels admits to being discouraged about it. He went home following the shootaround Friday and wondered what else he has to do to get on the court.
Scott’s answer is simple: nothing.
“I told him it was nothing he didn’t do,” Scott said. “It’s just a gut feeling I had and I went with my gut.”
Scott is beginning the year with Walton as his backup power forward because of his experience, passing skills and ability to be a leader on a relatively young second unit. He likes the way Walton can move without the ball and the way he can facilitate for others and be effective without scoring.
But it leaves Samuels in an all-too-familiar place at the end of the bench.
“I just can’t get over that hump,” Samuels said. “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked my whole career. I’m determined to put time and effort into it.”
Samuels was a surprise entrant into the game in the first quarter Friday because Tyler Zeller fell into quick foul trouble, but he isn’t expected to be a regular member of the rotation right now.
Antawn Jamison, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, is still clearly keeping tabs on his former team. He saw Samuels didn’t play in the Cavs’ opener on Tuesday and quickly called him to encourage him. The two spent hours working together during the summer, with Jamison helping to improve his jump shot and court awareness.
“He told me, ‘No matter what, you have to stay professional,’ ” Samuels said. “That kind of gave me a little encouragement for him to take time out of his day. It’s cool he did that.”
Scott keeps reiterating this rotation isn’t permanent. He’s willing to give it a week or so before perhaps making changes. He keeps telling Samuels to stay prepared because his time will come, which was a problem at times in the past.
For now, he has a homework assignment from his mother.
“My mom always tells me when I’m on the bench, I don’t cheer enough,” Samuels said. “I have to work on my cheering so I don’t sit there with that sad face.”
Coast to coast
The Cavaliers left after Friday’s game for their longest road trip of the season. They’ll play six games in 11 nights, beginning with tonight’s game in Milwaukee. Counting Friday’s game against the Bulls, the Cavs will play seven games in 12 nights.
The trip spans more than 6,000 miles and includes a stop in every time zone. It stretches from Los Angeles to Brooklyn.
Scott is interested to see how his team responds, particularly if they lose a few in a row.
“You want to see what they’re made of,” Scott said. “Not hoping we lose three or four in a row, but you want to see what guys are going to do. Everybody is great when guys are going well. When adversity hits is when you really find out the true test of your teams and teammates.”
There is at least one bright spot to the trip. Scott will get to see his 6-month-old granddaughter, Kyla. His daughter still lives in the Los Angeles area.
The Canton Charge selected D’Aundray Brown with their first pick in Friday’s NBA Development League draft. Previously, they protected Micheal Eric, Kevin Jones and Kevin Anderson, giving them all four players from Cavs training camp they wanted to keep for their D-League team.
All four belong to the Charge, but they’re still considered NBA free agents because they’re not on the Cavs’ 15-man roster.
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