Training camp is the dreaded experience that works (most) players back into shape, but it’s also an opportunity for the overlooked to make a team or for journeymen, possibly on the way out, to redeem themselves with a spot back in the league. This time before the season starts, too, is the moment hopes and dreams are in peak demand due to hyperbolic comments made at Media Day.
The Cleveland Cavaliers training camp has reportedly gone splendidly, aside from center Jarrett Allen hurting his left ankle. Still, an observation of note is that coach J.B. Bickerstaff defended his players’ reputations when probed on their absence of physicality in the spirit-crushing first-round loss to the New York Knicks.
“Our guys are physically and mentally tough,” said Bickerstaff. “Sometimes you run into people who are stronger than you. That’s the nature of this business…”
As practices have begun, word has spread that Ty Jerome, one of the traveling guards signed by the Cavs this summer, is turning heads. Bickerstaff says he makes the game easier for everyone else. He is the new recipient of a two-year, $5 million deal. Cleveland has two years to figure out how to work him into the rotation, and if this isn’t pre-preseason smoke, he’ll provide major assistance because the group is without the experience and leadership of Rick Rubio.
Others’ spots are not so secure. This year, in camp, former Cav Tristan Thompson, Sam Merrill, Sharife Cooper, Zaire Smith, Justin Powell, and Pete Nance, son of Cleveland legend Larry Nance, are competing for the last lockers.
We’ll begin with Thompson, Smith and Nance.