CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s the first edition of Hey, Chris!
Do you have a Cavs question that you’d like to have answered in Hey, Chris? Submit it here or tweet @ChrisFedor.
How long until Sexton passes up George hill for starting PG?
— Adam Arman (@TheArman1) October 5, 2018
Hey, @TheArman1: The literal answer is Saturday night, as the Cavs are resting George Hill in the second preseason game, giving Collin Sexton the chance to run with most of the starters.
That’s probably not the answer you were looking for, huh? Alright.
Things can change, of course. But all signs point to Hill starting at point guard on Opening Night, with Sexton coming off the bench and anchoring the second unit.
The Cavaliers want to do this right with Sexton, who, they hope, is the organizational centerpiece for years to come. While impressive in camp and in his NBA debut Tuesday against Boston, he still has plenty to learn and much to work on.
On Friday, head coach Tyronn Lue said it’s important for Sexton to get a feel for playing with Kyle Korver and Jordan Clarkson, to build chemistry with the same group of players heading into the season. Korver and Clarkson are both reserves and that points to Sexton staying on the bench — for now.
Lue also said this:
“I like Collin with any unit. But it’s going to take some time for him to grow, understand the game and what we are looking for in different situations.”
Hill has that knowledge already. He’s played in a variety of systems, against countless defenses. He gives the Cavs a reliable option, someone who can keep the seat warm and prevent the organization from putting too much on Sexton’s plate too soon. Plus, each time Lue has been asked about specific standouts during camp, he quickly mentions Hill.
With Sexton coming off the bench, he can still run the offense, but with much less pressure. Using him this way also allows him to go against backups, getting his feet wet early, before the Cavs feel he is ready for a bigger responsibility.
#HeyChris Zizic is going to get a good run of minutes this season right?
— Tiell (@oglethor) October 5, 2018
Hey, @oglethor: It sure doesn’t seem that way. But it all depends on how many players Lue wants to use in his rotation. In past years, he has always been most comfortable with a nine- or 10-man group.
Early on, Lue’s centers will be Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson. In this NBA era, there’s not much room for another big — unless a specific matchup calls for it or foul trouble occurs.
Zizic impressed the coaching staff at the end of the regular season and will continue to work with assistant coach and player development aid Dan Geriot behind the scenes. But unless Lue expands his rotation or alters his decree of playing incredibly fast — not ideal for Zizic — it will be tough for him to get consistent playing time.
These kinds of lineup decisions are good problems to have, especially for a team with playoff aspirations.
#HeyChris Nwaba has to be in the rotation and if he is then who comes out
— Dana Tassone (@dana_tassone) October 5, 2018
Hey, @dana-tessone: I’m sure glad you phrased the question this way because too often people fail to view it in the same lens.
So let’s make you Lue, shall we?
The players in a spot where David Nwaba can plug in are, in no particular order: Hill, Sexton, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Korver and Clarkson. And, keep in mind, I didn’t even include JR Smith, whose role is dubious.
Hill is the starting point guard. Sexton is the leader of the bench bunch (this unit will probably need a clever nickname). Hood has been labeled as the most likely second scoring option. Osman appears penciled in as the starting small forward, ready to pounce on this bigger opportunity. Korver’s 3-point shooting and gravity are both vital. Each time Korver is on the court, he demands the defense’s attention, which helps free up his teammates. Clarkson worked with Lue three or four times during the summer on passing, reads, ball-handling and setting up defenders out of the pick and roll so he can take better, in-the-flow-of-the-offense shots or get looks for his teammates on the roll. He’s motivated to atone for a dreadful postseason appearance. The Cavs will also need his scoring punch off the bench.
So who gets bumped for Nwaba? You tell me. That question isn’t easy to answer.
All seven guys deserve playing time and there’s an argument for each. The Cavs want to play Nwaba. He was one of the standouts of the preseason opener. They have been surprised with his shooting ability in camp. Over the summer, Lue had conversations with Lakers coaches Luke Walton and Brian Shaw, who were with Nwaba briefly in Los Angeles, and they both raved about his attitude, toughness and defense-first mentality.
But numbers can get tricky.
Then again, Lue declared Nwaba part of his rotation and said, “you’ll see” how he gets used following Friday’s practice so it’s time to find a place.
The most logical scenario is that Lue expands his rotation to fit the 25-year-old swingman or Nwaba cuts into Korver’s minutes from time to time, especially in matchups against faster, more athletic teams where Korver has struggled in the past. It appears the three-guard look will be prominent this season.
The other option is this: Perhaps the Cavs truly feel Nwaba can match up against opposing 4’s, where Sam Dekker is the only true option there besides Kevin Love.
Will Billy Preston make the Cavs roster out of training camp or will he be spending the year driving back and forth from Canton? #HeyChris
— Parker’s Dad (@RCR_HemricFan21) October 5, 2018
Hey@RCR_HemricFan21: Preston, on a two-way deal, is bound for Canton. While he’s a tantalizing talent, he’s also incredibly raw and needs to season his game in an abundance of areas before he is ready for the NBA.
Keep in mind, Preston is just 20 years old and played three games before leaving Bosnia and the ABA League with a shoulder injury. He admitted to being nervous ahead of his debut at the TD Garden.
Perhaps in another year, the Cavs would toss him out on the floor and have him learn that way. But they are trying to compete. They believe playoffs are possible, if not likely. The G League is the perfect place for him to learn while also getting consistent minutes, which is what’s best.
With a few weeks before the regular season starts, it looks like the 15th spot will come down to Isaiah Taylor or Kobi Simmons.
— Kevin Robert Kruse (@ClevelandKev13) October 5, 2018
Hey, @ClevelandKev13: It’s hard to see them going this direction — even if they are competitive. While it’s true they could probably upgrade Dekker’s backup power forward spot, the Cavs don’t have many assets. If they become a “buyer” at the deadline they would most likely need to give up a draft pick or two or a young up-and-coming player on a team-friendly deal. That’s what opposing general managers selling help-now pieces tend to want.
The Cavs, given they could lose their 2019 first-round pick to Atlanta already, aren’t in position to start emptying the cupboard even more. Quite the opposite actually. They need to acquire more selections for the long-term health of the organization and to position themselves for a possible splashy move.
That’s why any current talk of a Jimmy Butler trade is incredibly complicated. The Cavs don’t have the assets. And they wouldn’t trade Sexton for one guaranteed year of Butler. Nor should they.
The most likely deadline move is Korver being sent to a shooter-needy, championship-contending team for a future pick. This type of deal would also help clear up some of the backcourt logjam.
If not Korver then Hill would make plenty of sense as a trade candidate. The Cavs could allow Hill to mentor Sexton for part of the season, just as Hill did with De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento, before putting the offense in Sexton’s hands. Hill having only $1 million guaranteed on his contract next season could make him appealing. Same with Smith, who has just 3.8 million fully guaranteed for the 2019-20 season.
None of these decisions need to happen now.
#HeyChris who has better handles, TT or Timo Mozgov?
— Danny Cunningham (@RealDCunningham) October 5, 2018
Hey, @RealDCunningham: I will go with Thompson on this one. Did you see the Instagram videos of him working out this summer? We must take those seriously, right? Right?
#HeyChris Do you agree the direction the Cavaliers are going?
Or do you think they should tank.
— SEUxT0N (@moe_ratty) October 5, 2018
Hey, @moe_ratty: Yes I do. I am working on a large piece for the site about this. Without giving too much away, the Cavs don’t have to make the compete/tank call right now. They can let it play out for a few months, see where they stand and re-evaluate their stance.
Initially, it makes more sense to take advantage of the culture LeBron James helped build over the last few years and let their core youngsters grow in an environment where winning and competing matters — unlike the previous post-LeBron era.
The worst-case scenario is they fight for the playoffs, miss out and lose their first rounder. They know this. I don’t believe they will let this happen. The picture should come into focus by January.