Larry Nance Jr. and other new Cleveland Cavaliers ready for home debuts
Tom Withers | The Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Larry Nance Jr. has run into an unexpected snag since joining the Cavaliers.
“Trying to convince my mom that I’m not living at home,” he said, smiling. “We’re out looking for rental properties and stuff like that and she’s like, ‘Oh, our basement is pretty nice.’ That’s probably been the toughest thing.”
Nance’s Ohio homecoming will become even more special Thursday when the former Lakers forward plays his first at Quicken Loans Arena with the Cavs, the same team his dad starred with from 1987-94
Life has been a whirlwind of late for Nance, who was obtained by Cleveland shortly before the Feb. 8 trading deadline along with guards Jordan Clarkson and George Hill and forward Rodney Hill – four players the Cavs feel can get them back to the NBA Finals.
Nance competed in last weekend’s Verizon All-Star dunk contest, an event he turned into an unforgettable family affair by wearing his dad’s Phoenix jersey and replicating the same dunk Larry Nance Sr. did while winning the inaugural dunk contest in 1984.
The younger Nance finished second to Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, but that diminish memories he’ll forever cherish.
“The dunk contest was a blast,” Nance said. “If anybody had to win, Don did awesome so I’m happy for him. At the same time those are moments that I don’t know if any father and son has ever had. That’s the coolest part of it all and I’m already having several pictures blown up to be framed and stuff like that.”
On Wednesday, Nance and the other new Cavs took part in their first practice at the team’s facility since the trades. And while there was a lot for the foursome to cram in – photo sessions, media interviews – before Thursday’s game against Washington, it was also a chance for a refresher course on what they learned before the All-Star break.
“Just like how I suspected, they forgot the plays,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said with a laugh. “So, we grabbed them early, tried it, and then we’re going to grab them again after the shooting and just continue to keep going through the plays and a couple defensive coverages.”
There’s a lot for the new Cavs to digest and it’s vital they pick things up quickly.
Cleveland is 2-0 with its recent additions, getting impressive road wins at Boston and Oklahoma City. The Cavs played with a renewed energy and purpose in those two games with the performances giving the team a much needed jolt following weeks of turmoil.
Currently third in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are heading into a brutal stretch of 17 games in 32 days, which will require Lue and his staff to do all they can to get the new players ready for the postseason.
“We’ll have to use shootarounds as practice time to teach and for guys to get better,” he said. “Not a lot of off days now. When we play every other day, we take off, we’re not going to be able to do that now, especially the new guys. Just got to be smart about it so guys get their rest, but also make sure we’re teaching and letting guys come in so they’ll be able to pick up what we’re trying to do.”
In the meantime, Nance was looking forward to taking the court in Cleveland, where his father’s retired No. 22 hangs from the rafters. There has been speculation that he might ask the Cavs to let him wear the number, but that’s been put on hold.
“I’m 24 right now,” he said. “We will revisit it in the summer, but with everything that happened so fast I wasn’t about to go to Cavs management say, ‘Hey what would you think about taking 22 down?’ But I don’t want to see it come down. If there is some way where I could even drop the ‘Jr.’ off my jersey and wear the ‘Nance’ No. 22 I’d love to keep it up there. I’d also love to wear 22, but I just don’t want to see it come down.”