Cavaliers swingman Caris LeVert knows he has to play strong defense to win the starting small forward job, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert isn’t known as a strong defender, but it will be required of him due to the team’s defensive identity.
“That’ll definitely be something I’m gonna have to lock in on. I have been locked in on it for the past couple of weeks, just knowing that I’m gonna have a big assignment every night on that end of the floor,” LeVert said following practice on Thursday afternoon. “It’s something I look forward to and it’s something I like doing.”
LeVert started Cleveland’s first preseason game, posting seven points (3-of-5 shooting) and three assists in 14 minutes against Philadelphia. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff says he likes what he saw out of the 28-year-old, Fedor notes.
“I think he’s a threat,” Bickerstaff said. “You watch the way that teams play him, and people respect him because of his ability to score. He didn’t get a lot of looks early, but that didn’t stop him from making unselfish moves and unselfish plays. I think he finished with like three assists and could have like five or six if guys would have made the shot. I think from that standpoint, offensively, he did a really good job of fitting in, and still we’re learning where he can find his moments to attack. Then defensively I thought he did a great job. I thought he was active. He was in the right spots. He put pressure on the offense.”
LeVert’s $18.8MM contract will expire at the end of the 2022/23 season, so he’ll be a free agent next summer unless he signs an extension.
Here’s more from the Central:
- Even though he struggled in his first NBA foray after a long and very successful career in Europe, Kevin Pangos has nothing but good things to say about his time with the Cavaliers in ’21/22, writes Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. “It was awesome, I really enjoyed it. I loved my time in Cleveland, the organization was great, and the team and players were awesome. I learned a ton. I’m happy to be here now this year and play for Milan,” Pangos said. The 29-year-old appeared in 24 games with Cleveland last season, averaging just 6.9 minutes per contest. He signed a two-year contract with Italian club Olimpia Milano as a free agent this offseason.
- Bulls head coach Billy Donovan says he hasn’t noticed a change in Zach LaVine‘s behavior after he signed a five-year, $215MM contract as a free agent this summer, calling him “a really grounded guy,” according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. However, Donovan says LaVine’s knee injury limited him on defense last season, and says “there’s another level he needs to get to” on that end of the court, per Cowley.
- Donovan likes Dalen Terry‘s energy and competitiveness, but he’s not sure if he’ll have a spot in the Bulls‘ rotation, Cowley adds in the same piece. Donovan didn’t hesitate to play rookie second-rounder Ayo Dosunmu last season, so he seems to be quite fair about allotting minutes based on merit rather using a prescribed rotation, so Terry, Chicago’s first-round pick this year, could have a chance at playing time if he performs well.
- The Bucks‘ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, recently acquired the returning player rights to Jordan Bone from the Delaware Blue Coats in exchange for the rights to Rayjon Tucker. Our JD Shaw was the first to break the news (via Twitter). The 57th pick of the 2019 draft, Bone played 24 NBA games on two-way deals with the Pistons and Magic from 2019-21. He spent last season in Spain and Turkey.