October 25, 2014

Medina
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Kyrie Irving making a big impression

One point guard went elsewhere and another became available, while the playmaker who matters most to the Cavaliers continued to draw raves and make waves.

Irving

Reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, practicing with the Select Team in Las Vegas to help Team USA prepare for the upcoming London Olympics, is wowing players, coaches and officials with his performances in workouts and scrimmages.

The 20-year-old has played so well — he had 11 points as the Select Team defeated Team USA 14-11 in a five-minute scrimmage that was open to the media on the first day of camp — and conducted himself in such a professional manner that some already consider the 6-foot-3, 191-pounder a lock for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo couldn’t say enough good things about Irving in a story on sheridanhoops.com, going so far as to suggest the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft could be playing for the United States Olympic team right now.

“Kyrie Irving is a player that literally you could move from one court to the other court,” Colangelo said, referring to shooting drills that have the Olympic team and the Select Team on adjacent courts. “He’s that far advanced in terms of his talent, it appears.

“He’s made a good showing here. He had a terrific rookie season in the NBA and certainly he will be one of the leading candidates going forward.”

Irving, who averaged 18.5 points while shooting .469 from the field and .872 at the line for the Cavs as a rookie, will also play for Cleveland’s entry in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

It is that kind of drive and dedication — whether he’s competing against Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and LeBron James or a group of undrafted free agents — that has the Cavs convinced Irving is going to be a special player.

Less certain is who will back him up in 2012-13, as Donald Sloan, who has a non-guaranteed contract, is the only other true point guard currently on the roster.

One guy the Cavs were interested in, Russia’s Alexey Shved, has reportedly agreed to terms with Minnesota.

Tall and long at 6-5 but extremely thin at just 161 pounds, Shved, who might also be able to play some shooting guard, will likely back up another international player with the Timberwolves in Spain’s Ricky Rubio.

The 23-year-old is considered to be extremely athletic and a great passer, but his work ethic and mental approach were not always the greatest while playing for Russian power CSKA Moscow.

While Shved is no longer available, C.J. Watson is. The veteran point guard was waived by Chicago, which drafted Kentucky’s Marquis Teague and brought back veteran Kirk Hinrich.

Watson can now be claimed by teams under the salary cap, which the Cavs are. If unclaimed, he will become an unrestricted free agent when he clears waivers.

The 6-2, 175-pound Watson, 28, has played five NBA seasons, having spent three years with Golden State before joining the Bulls. He averaged 9.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season, when he got extended playing time due to Derrick Rose’s injury woes.

Elsewhere, free agent point guards Jonny Flynn and Derek Fisher are believed to be on the Cavs’ radar.

Tip-ins

  • The Cavs announced the signing of veteran forward Luke Harangody, who accepted the team’s one-year, $1.1 million qualifying offer. Harangody, 24, averaged 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 21 games for the Cavs last season. In his one start, he had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Washington. The 6-8 forward also appeared in 16 games (all starts) for the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League last season, averaging 19.4 points and 12.6 rebounds in 36.0 minutes.
  • The Cavs will play an Oct. 9 exhibition game against Milwaukee in Canton, home of their D-League affiliate. The 7 p.m. game at the Canton Memorial Civic Center will be the Cavs’ first visit to Canton after the lockout wiped out a preseason game there last season. The game is included in Charge season-ticket plans, which start at $125. For more information, call (866) 444-1944. The rest of the Cavs’ preseason schedule will be announced at a later date.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.