CLEVELAND — When Nik Stauskas was a teenager growing up in Toronto, his Christmas present became a family drive to Cleveland to watch LeBron James play for the Cavaliers.

Stauskas vividly remembers the last trip in 2009, when he was 16. James scored 48 points on his 25th birthday and Anderson Varejao scored the game-winning 3-pointer to beat the Atlanta Hawks.

“At that age it was more of he’s like a superhero to you,” Stauskas said of James. “You don’t necessarily even look at him as like a human being. It’s almost more of like a god.

“Just seeing the athleticism, the playmaking, the finishing around the rim, just everything, I was just a huge fan of his. Still to this day it’s an honor to be in this league and get a chance to compete against him. For guys of my era, that’s kind of like our Michael Jordan.”

Although the Cavs and James’ Los Angeles Lakers have wrapped up their two-game series, Stauskas got a chance to extend his career when the Cavs signed the 25-year-old guard for the rest of the season Monday.

Stauskas was technically a member of four teams in six days, but said after shootaround that he never left Cleveland after flying in on Feb. 4, acquired along with Wade Baldwin in the Feb. 3 trade with the Portland Trail Blazers for Rodney Hood. Stauskas practiced once with the Cavs and was on the bench for the Feb. 5 home game against the Boston Celtics.

Then things got crazy. Stauskas and Baldwin were traded to Houston Wednesday night in a pre-deadline deal with the Rockets and Kings that sent the Cavs’ Alec Burks to Sacramento and brought in the Rockets’ Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. On Thursday, the Rockets dealt Stauskas and Baldwin to the Indiana Pacers, who waived both players on Friday.

“I was bummed when I got traded to Houston initially because I wanted to be here, I thought it would be a good opportunity," Stauskas said. "When [Cavs General Manager] Koby [Altman] called me and told me he was going to work to bring me back, I was super excited. I’m glad he made that decision.”

Stauskas has played for the Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Trail Blazers since 2014, when the Kings made him the eighth overall pick out of Michigan. Cavs coach Larry Drew said he had a talk with Stauskas after the Hood trade, and knows what has transpired since will push Stauskas.

"If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will," Drew said before Monday's home game against the New York Knicks. "Certainly, with my conversation with him, he’s driven. Certainly anybody that’s gone through what he has the last couple of weeks, not only that but since he’s been in the league he’s kind of bounced around. Every player that goes through that wants to show that they belong. Once they find a home they feel this is the place they belong, they want to prove it. Certainly he’ll have that opportunity here."

For his career, Stauskas has posted averages of 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, shooting .390 from the field and .349 from long range. Stauskas has played in 311 career games with 63 starts, all with the 76ers.

Signing Stauskas could be beneficial to both sides since the Cavs don't have a stable of reliable 3-point shooters.

"One of our Achilles heels has been at the 3-point line," Drew said. "We had Kyle Korver … We dealt Kyle. I wouldn’t say Nik is Kyle Korver, but certainly with him out on the floor, he’s always a threat. So we’re really excited to have him."

Stauskas said he knows he can make his mark from long range.

“Whether it’s scoring, playmaking, rebounding, defending, I look at myself as a complete basketball player, not just a shooter," he said.

“The team is not in a playoff position, they’re in a stage of developing guys. It’s not like you look at the roster and have a bunch of All-Star talent. I was coming from Portland, where I was playing behind guys like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. You look at the roster here and you don’t necessarily have that. I look at it as an opportunity to help this team win some games and maybe show what I can do as well.”

Stauskas also brings one of the best nicknames in the league in “Sauce Castillo,” which stems from a closed-captioning mistake when Stauskas was with the Kings. But he said he won’t demand his new teammates call him that.

“No, I don’t. It seems to just follow me everywhere I go. Not everyone knows how I got the nickname, but once they hear it everyone starts calling me ‘Sauce.’ If that’s what they want to call me, I’m cool with it,” he said.

Stauskas said he would like to remain with the Cavs for more than just two months.

“I haven’t found that spot where I’ve felt fully comfortable,” Stauskas said. “When you’re moving teams there’s a lot of adjusting, you haven’t really got set and comfortable too much with one team. It’s something I’m working on.

“Hopefully this is home for me. Hopefully it’s something where I can be here for more than just one season. Only time will tell.”

Tristan update

With Tristan Thompson missing his 12th consecutive game with left foot soreness after sitting out 10 in December with a left foot sprain, he likely won't return until after the All-Star break, which would be Feb. 21 at the earliest.

"That has not been completely confirmed with me. But right now I would anticipate ... not playing tonight and then one game left before the break, I would say the likelihood of that happening is pretty high," Drew said.

 

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.