Cavs welcome pair, miss Waiters

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Thursday, January 8, 2015

CLEVELAND -- Shawn Marion was one of several players, along with Dwight Howard and Greg Monroe, to have his sneaker untied by J.R. Smith during a game last season.

Smith was fined $50,000 for the shoelace stunt, but Marion, now teammates with Smith after the Cleveland Cavaliers' three-team trade with the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, said Smith's high jinks never bothered him.

"That was irrelevant," Marion said Wednesday. "You all blew it out of proportion. He was joking on the floor, and that's all it was. You all tried to make something out of nothing, and it's kind of messed up. He got labeled. You all made it into a big negative, and it was just a horseplay thing. That's kind of messed up."

The Cavs themselves have been messed up lately, losers of seven of their past nine games and without LeBron James for their past six games as he nurses strains to his lower back and left knee.

Amid the turmoil, they made the trade that sent Dion Waiters to the Thunder and resulted in Cleveland welcoming a couple of new faces to shootaround Wednesday as both Smith and Iman Shumpert watched from the sideline.

Smith was 0-for-5 from the field in 18 minutes during the Cavs' 105-93 loss Wednesday night to the Houston Rockets. He was available to playafter Waiters was cleared by the Oklahoma City medical staff, making the trade official. Shumpert, recovering from a dislocated left shoulder, is expected to miss about three more weeks before making his Cavs debut, a league source told

Several Cavaliers players reflected on Waiters' time with the team before talking about their new teammates.

"We have two new guys, and Dion, I still haven't gotten a chance to talk to him, but it's a letdown for me in terms of not being able to say goodbye the last day that we were together," said Kyrie Irving, who returned to the starting lineup against the Rockets after missing Monday's loss to Philadelphia because of his back. "We've had a growth period, both of us, maturation-wise, experience-wise, getting better on the floor, working together this summer, and to see one of my brothers go like that, it's heartfelt. I'll talk to him over the next few days, send him out a text and just talk to him, just wish him the best. He's truly a talent, truly a tremendous teammate, and I'm just happy he's in a situation that he can thrive on. It's just part of the business at this point. It's out of our control. But I'm just happy he's happy, and I hope he does well in OKC."

Kevin Loveplayed with Waiters for only about three months, compared to the three years that Irving teamed with him, but he, too, shared positive thoughts about the former No. 4 pick by the Cavs in the 2012 draft.

"I was a fan of Dion," Love said. "I sat next to him on the plane. Good laughs. I enjoyed having him as a teammate, but Shump and J.R. coming in, I think they'll give us some different looks on both sides of the ball. So, we're excited about them."

He said that Shumpert, who will wear No. 4 for the Cavs, brings defense, while Smith, who will wear No. 5, brings offense.

"Shump, I think when he gets healthy, he can give us a different dynamic, especially on the defensive end," Love said. "He's a guy that has size, and we can match him up against several different players out there on the perimeter. J.R., he can put up points in a hurry. He's a guy that can be supplemented into the lineup, whether it's the starting lineup or coming in off the bench and just gives us tremendous firepower and something that we need. So we kind of have the best of both worlds with those guys."

Although the Cavs got Smith in the lineup against Houston, they still are waiting on James. The four-time MVP was re-evaluated Wednesday, marking the one-week point since the team decided to rest him for two weeks so his knee and back could recover. James said he's on schedule to get back to game action in one more week.

"We're just trying to get everybody back healthy, that's the biggest point," Marion said. "Getting everybody healthy and out here and strong so we can do something."

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