INDEPENDENCE — Kyrie Irving could be shut down again if his bothersome right knee continues to give him trouble, coach Byron Scott said Thursday.
Irving said after a victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday that his knee was still hurting despite the team resting him for a week to allow it to heal.
“The only way I would get better is if I sit out for the rest of the season, and I’m not doing that,” Irving said.
That surprised Scott, who learned Irving’s knee is still bothering him by reading the daily press clippings.
“It definitely caught my attention,” Scott said. “I’ll talk to him again about it and talk to (trainer) Max (Benton) and see if there are other things we have to do to get it as close (to 100 percent) as possible. Right now we’re playing every other day, which is one thing you can’t help. The only other way of managing it is to do what we did today, get a lot of shooting in and get some weight work done, just try to keep him off of it as much as possible and not have him do a whole lot of strenuous stuff. That’s not only him, that’s everybody. Just trying to save our legs and the rest of our bodies for games.”
After the Cavs shut Irving down the first time, Scott said he didn’t want his star to return until the knee was 100 percent. Scott said Thursday that he planned to speak with Benton about Irving’s knee this morning before the shootaround and didn’t rule out the possibility of shutting him down again if “I know it’s bothering him enough that he can’t perform the way I know he is capable of.”
A Cavs spokesman said later the team had no intention of shutting down Irving.
Irving said Wednesday night that he didn’t believe playing could worsen the injury unless someone hit him on the knee, “and I pray to God that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Scott said he would take that into consideration when he talked to Benton.
“If there is any way of doing more damage by continuing to play, then I’ll find that out and we’ll go from there,” Scott said. “I want him to be able to go out there and play and be effective for us. I don’t want him to be out there playing at 50 percent.”
Irving was not available because he typically does not speak to reporters on days after games. The Cavs held a light workout Thursday instead of a full practice.
Dion Waiters returned after a stomach flu, and Omri Casspi returned in a limited role for the first time since his appendectomy. Casspi was a limited participant in practice and is still ruled out of game action. Waiters’ status will be re-evaluated Friday before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Irving said Wednesday that he is embracing a new defensive mindset, and Scott has seen some evidence the past couple games. Irving played well at both ends of the court in the fourth quarter Wednesday, including coming up with a key steal in the final minute and poking the ball away from Randy Foye in what led to another turnover.
“I have a little saying: Don’t talk about it, be about it. I can tell by your actions,” Scott said. “I thought the last two games he has been more committed on that end of the floor and I want that to continue to be an emphasis for him. That’s one of the areas he has to continue to grow and I thought the last two games he has played pretty well on the defensive end.”
Scott said the fact Irving has played more than 82 games – “the equivalent of a full NBA season” — and that seeing teams multiple times has helped with his defense.
“Some of these guys he’s starting to see twice, three times, four times, so he’s getting a pretty good feel for what they’re all about,” Scott said. “He knows to be one of the elite point guards in this league, you’ve got to do it at both ends.”
The Cavs host the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, meaning it’s the first time Wayne Ellington and Mo Speights will face their old team since the January trade that brought them to Cleveland. With so much speculation surrounding Rudy Gay’s future with the Grizzlies, Ellington conceded that he was surprised when he was the one traded.
“I knew something was going to happen, but it did surprise me that it was me,” Ellington said. “I had no idea. It kind of caught me off guard and shocked me.”
Ellington has received more consistent playing time with the Cavs and is embracing the role. He is averaging 9.8 points and shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers with the Cavs.
“When you get consistent playing time, you get consistent play,” Ellington said. “That’s been huge for me. That’s something I’ve been looking for for awhile. I’ve been having a great time.”
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Memphis
- WHEN: 7:30
- WHERE: The Q
- TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM (joined in progress), WTAM 1100-AM