Cavs' gala preview a dud

Boozer ready to help turn Cleveland's lousy hoops tradition around

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2002

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Cavaliers at least had pictures of their two new marquee players, Darius Miles and Ricky Davis, available on the cover of their media guide on Monday.

Davis was a no-show and Miles arrived 95 minutes late for a media day that turned embarrassing for a team seeking to overcome the stigma of three consecutive 50-loss seasons.

"It was due to technical difficulties," Miles said of his late arrival. "Um, I overslept."

Coach John Lucas promised that Miles' tardiness would be dealt with when training camp opened Tuesday.

"These are the things you deal with when you have a young team," Lucas said. "I will speak with Darius tomorrow."

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Asked to assess the Cavaliers' chances this season, Lucas thought for a moment and replied: "We have a very good chance to be ... young.

"I understand the challenge. I've got one headache over here, another over there and another on the way. But that's OK because we also have a lot of exciting talent."

Thirteen of the 18 players on Cleveland's roster are age 26 or younger, and only three players have more than five years of experience. There are five rookies on the team - first-round draft pick Dajuan Wagner of Memphis at guard, second-round pick Carlos Boozer Jr. of Duke at power forward, second-round pick Matt Barnes of UCLA at forward, free agent point guard Smush Parker of Fordham and free agent center Ike Nwankwo of Long Beach State.

Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, is hoping to become just the second player to go from an Alaska high school to an NBA career. He follows guard Trajan Langdon, who played for East Anchorage High School, also played at Duke and spent three years with the Cavaliers before signing this season to play for Benetton Treviso of the Italian League.

"I am confident and maybe a little nervous, kind of like when you were 16 and going to get your drivers license," Boozer said of making the move from college basketball to the NBA. "I'm definitely confident and looking forward to it. Coach Lucas wants me to be that low-post presence and play physical, bring energy and run up and down the court. The main thing is to be upbeat and up-tempo. We have some great players who can do that."

Cleveland's woeful history in the NBA earned the team the nickname "Cleveland Cadavers" in the 1980s, but Boozer said he and some of the new players hope to end the Cavaliers' losing ways.

"I bring winning and a lot of these players bring winning," said Boozer, who helped Duke claim the 2001 NCAA Championship. "We have a good mixture of players and some of us are really young. We'll have to get our chemistry together and we'll be exciting to watch. This is going to be a completely different Cleveland Cavaliers team than what you have seen in the past."

In the meantime, there will be a learning curve as Cleveland's young players learn about the responsibilites of the NBA.

Miles, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers along with forward Harold Jamison on July 30 for guard Andre Miller, knows he will be fined for being late.

"Well, that's my first fine as a Cavalier," Miles said. "It's all good, they got my money."

General manager Jim Paxson said he spoke to Davis, who was driving to town from Charlotte and said he didn't know Monday was supposed to be the Cavs' media day.

"It's a little disappointing Ricky is not here because he's an important part of the club," Paxson said.

The Cavs retained Davis in August when they matched a six-year, $34-million offer tendered to the fourth-year guard by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I've got 34 million reasons with Ricky why I have to buy 3,000 packs of Tylenol," Lucas said. "But I love the guy."

Paxson was eager to talk about the influx of 11 new players, including Miles, rookies Wagner at and Boozer and recently acquired point guard Milt Palacio. Added to the mix were rookie center Nwankwo and veteran guards Anthony Johnson and Vonteego Cummings, who were signed Monday.

Paxson also announced that 13-year NBA forward Nick Anderson, 34, would not be in camp.

"We have his rights and see what develops down the road, but we want to get a good look at our younger players right away," Paxson said.

"Our goals are a little different this season. It is unrealistic to think we will win right away, especially with a first-half schedule that includes 27 of 41 games on the road. The key will be the development of young players and implementing solid offensive and defensive schemes that will work. Of course, we do have two solid veterans in Zydrunas Ilgauskas at center and Tyrone Hill at forward that we can rely upon."

"The truth is, we're starting all the way over," Lucas said.

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