Cavs notebook

INDEPENDENCE — Cavaliers guard David Nwaba is betting on himself.

Free agency was not kind to Nwaba, who saw a qualifying offer rescinded by the Chicago Bulls. The 25-year-old had a few other options, but settled on a one-year, $1.5 million veteran’s minimum deal with the Cavs on Sept. 8 after what he called “tough” negotiations.

“[The Cavs] wanted me long term, three or four years, but just not guaranteed, so I thought I should prove myself before taking any offer long term,” Nwaba said Thursday after practice at the Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I chose the one year and bet on myself.”

As for why he picked the Cavs, Nwaba said: “There weren’t many offers out there. Indiana wanted me for two years, but Cleveland seemed like a better fit. Young guys as well as veterans … [I] knew I was going to get my opportunity here.”

Nwaba admitted he was disappointed that he didn’t return to Chicago.

“It was a stressful time. Thought I was going to stay there for years to come, but it’s a business,” he said. “It all worked out, ended up still living the dream of playing in the NBA. Think this is a good opportunity and just moved past it.”

Standing 6-foot-4 with a 7-foot wingspan, Nwaba is a defense-first player who could take over J.R. Smith’s task of guarding the opponents’ best scorer. On offense, Nwaba thrives on drives to the basket, taking only 19 3-pointers in 90 games with the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers the past two seasons. Nwaba averaged 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 23.5 minutes of 70 games with the Bulls. In 20 games with the Lakers, where he played with the Cavs’ Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, Nwaba averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19.9 minutes.

“He’s another guy who can guard 1 through 4,” Tristan Thompson said of Nwaba. “Athletic, very underrated. He’s a guy who can do a little bit of everything, which is good to have on your team. At the end of the day, you want guys who may not be the most talented, but are going to play hard, punch the clock and give a full effort.”

Nwaba is one of five children and his sister Barbara, 29, competed for the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in heptathlon, finishing 12th. A graduate of UC-Santa Barbara, she won national championships in the event in 2015 and 2016.

“She’s going to give it one more go-around for the Olympics,” Nwaba said. “She just came back from a knee injury and is back to running, so best of luck.”

Coach Lue admits to fear of dogs

Coach Tyronn Lue was trying to settle on a fair description of the Cavs' offense this season when it was suggested he might be afraid of something written by the press.

“Who me? The only thing I’m scared of in this life is dogs,” Lue said.

Asked about it later, Lue added, “Why? I don’t know. I used to be scared of little dogs, too. Now it’s just big dogs.”

Lue said the phobia wasn’t caused by being bitten.

“Nope, because I stayed away,” he said, laughing.

Cavs working hard on making passes

With the departure of LeBron James, who averaged 9.1 assists last season and 7.2 for his career, the Cavs are working on passing every day.

“LeBron with his passing ability and the way he saw the floor, I’ve never seen nothin’ like it,” Lue said. “Now we’ve got guys who we work every day, working on different pocket passes, over-the-top passes, reverse-pivot passing. The way we want to play, everyone has to be able to make plays and make passes. They’re all getting better with that. “

Guard Korver happy with faster pace

Lue said point guards Collin Sexton and George Hill were the standouts of Wednesday night’s scrimmage. But Lue added that shooting guard Kyle Korver is thrilled with the Cavs’ faster-paced offense.

“He loves all the movement and running around. He’s in heaven right now,” Lue said of Korver.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.