Originally written December 15, 2011 on Fox Sports Ohio:
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cavaliers now belong to Kyrie Irving. Well, almost. "I think he's ready," Cavs coach Byron Scott said of his rookie point guard and the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. "He can definitely play." Scott was speaking one day after the team announced it had waived veteran Baron Davis via the league's new amnesty clause. Since Davis is a point guard, too, it's only natural to think Irving will immediately be given the ball and be told to go, go, go. Of course, that's rarely how it works in the world of professional sports. Rookies typically need some time to grow -- especially when playing a position that has them directing an entire offense. That's why Scott said he wasn't yet sure if Irving will start in the first of two preseason games Friday at Detroit (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). Irving has been "great" in practice, Scott said, but "I'll make a decision on who I'm gonna start tomorrow." The alternative is Ramon Sessions, another young player who fared reasonably well behind Davis at the end of last season. Just like everyone, Irving's preference is to be on the floor when the first jump ball is tossed. But if not, hey, no biggie. "I really don't have this attitude where I need to start," he said. "I think my play will continue to dictate that as we continue to go through training camp. Hopefully, I'll be a starter, but if not, I'll bring energy off the bench. So we'll see how it goes." As for Davis' departure, Irving said he has "mixed emotions" -- as the rookie had hoped to learn a trick or two (or 10) from the former All-Star. "Either way I would have to earn my position here,'' Irving said. "That's kind of the mentality I was coming in with, to earn my spot and prove to coach Scott and my teammates I can actually play on this level." And don't try telling Irving to relax, or that this is just the preseason. For him, it's more than that. "As a rookie, I feel like this is a regular game for me," he said. "It's gonna be the same amount of nerves I'll have for my first (regular-season) game. So these two preseason games are really important for me. They'll give me a feel for the pace of the game, where I need to be and reading different defenses. It will set the standard going forward." Davis is gone. Irving is here. The Cavs are in new hands. Just about, anyway. Heartfelt Goodbye Scott and Davis became close in Cleveland after struggling through a coach-player association in New Orleans earlier this decade. So Scott also had mixed feelings about Davis' exit. "It's tough anytime you form a relationship with guys," Scott said. "It makes it that much harder. But we felt it was the best thing for the organization. It gives us a ton of cap space and it obviously makes the future of the team look brighter. We've got two young guys at that position that we feel very good about." Scott had not yet spoken to Davis Thursday afternoon. But Scott planned to reach out and thank Davis for his time with the Cavs. "From a personal standpoint, it was great that Baron and I got back together and were able to mend some fences," Scott said. "He was extremely professional here and did a heck of a job in helping lead this team last season. I was very appreciative of that. We'll have a friendship for the rest of our lives." Cavs Notes Scott said Anderson Varejao will start at center in Detroit, with Antawn Jamison at power forward and Anthony Parker at shooting guard. The coach said the other two starters will be determined Friday. Small forward Omri Casspi practiced Thursday for the first time since bruising his knee in practice last weekend. He is not likely to play in the preseason opener. Casspi was obtained in the J.J. Hickson trade with Sacramento in June. Guard Daniel Gibson may also be out for the Cavs. He has missed the past two days of practice after having a tooth pulled. The Cavs will treat their two preseason games like the first two preseason games of any year, Scott said. He indicated no one will receive more than 24 minutes in either game. "I want to see a lot of bodies out there, a lot of different combinations," he said.
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