The Cavaliers are embracing the high expectations that came with the Donovan Mitchell trade and they’re having a great time while preparing for the new season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Newcomer Robin Lopez raves about the team’s culture, comparing it to his time with the Bucks, and Darius Garland cites “immaculate vibes around the gym.” Veteran forward Kevin Love agrees, saying he enjoys being around his teammates.
“I think it’s just the temperament of this group,” Love said. “It’s one thing to say and it’s one thing to actually see it live here. More than anything, guys have a willingness to just listen, able to really communicate at a very high level. I think that all starts with (coach J.B. Bickerstaff) but trickles down through the coaching staff. I think we just have very, very high character people, let alone players, out here with us. I think we’ve gotten better every practice so far.”
The addition of Mitchell has added to the optimism that was built as the Cavs reached the play-in tournament last season, and he has been “rejuvenated” by his new surroundings after leaving a veteran team in Utah, Fedor states. Caris LeVert adds that he felt welcome right away after being traded to Cleveland in February.
“It’s a unique group in the sense that everyone celebrates each other and we celebrate the wins,” LeVert said. “We’re always looking out for each other. That’s super unique, especially in the NBA with a lot of different mentalities around the league. I think here it’s all about team, it’s all about family.”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- With Mike Budenholzer still recovering from ankle surgery, associate head coach Charles Lee led the Bucks in their preseason opener Saturday night, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. He was matched up against a close friend in Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins, who believes Lee will eventually get a head coaching opportunity. “It’s going to be a no-brainer very soon that he’s going to be a head coach in this league,” Jenkins said. “He’s got the care factor. He’s got the personality. He’s got the resolve. He’s got the intellect. He’s got everything.”
- The Bucks held out several players Saturday night, so first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp logged 27 minutes in his first NBA game, Nehm adds. “It didn’t feel real, stepping on the court first time, getting the welcoming from the fans and stuff. It was a blessing — everything I dreamed of,” Beauchamp said. “I had a little bit of jitters, you know? I feel like I got some great looks, but it just didn’t go in. Just gotta keep trusting, because I put in the work. I just gotta keep going.”
- The Bulls are focused on making their offense less predictable and less reliant on Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports Chicago.