ONE of the biggest questions facing the Cleveland Cavaliers for the upcoming season is ‘who will pick up the slack?’. With LeBron fleeing town more than one guy is going to have to step up to help the Cavs remain relevant. One player under the microscope is Rodney Hood, who, until Sunday, was a free agent playing the waiting game. How big a role Hood will play this season you ask? That’s up to him.
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BEFORE Rodney Hood touched down in Cleveland he had forged out a name for himself as an up and coming scorer in Utah. The former Duke guard became a member of the Jazz when they drafted him 23rd overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He split time between starting and coming off the bench in year one, with Hood taking a leap in year two, starting 79 games and averaging close 15 PPG. Last season he showed flashes of becoming a No. 1 scoring option with Gordon Hayward gone. However, ankle/leg ailments and the arrival of Donovan Mitchell via the draft changed that quickly. The rookie phenom overtook Hood in the pecking order, quickly becoming a Jazz fan favourite and something had to give.
WITH a lack of minutes in Utah’s frontcourt the Jazz shipped Hood to Cleveland via a three-team deal at the trade deadline. He seemed like a great get for the Cavs and was going to help LeBron shoulder some of the workload with his ability to create his own shot. Instead, Hood struggled to find his feet and became nothing more than a glorified spot up shooter as he struggled to adapt to life without the ball in his hands. Funnily enough Hood actually shot the best field goal percentage of his career in 21 regular season games as a Cav, but the playoffs were a very different story.
LAST postseason Hood managed a measly 5.4 points and fell out of favour quickly with head coach Tyron Lue. Hood did manage to have an impact in the last few games of the NBA Finals, but the damage had already been done. Looking like a shell of himself, there were well and truly questions and concerns over Hood’s future long-term in Cleveland.
A restricted free agent this offseason, Hood had been fishing for offers from other teams, but until this week, nothing had eventuated. He was apparently chasing an offer around the $10mil a year mark, but no team was willing to go that high. Instead of changing teams again, Hood opted to sign his $3.4mil qualifying offer making him a restricted free agent next summer. This means Cleveland can match any offer made for Hood, but he may not be a required player by then.
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WITH LeBron’s exit earlier this summer, the Cavs responded with a swift offseason by signing Kevin Love to a BIG extension, drafting future floor general Collin Sexton and then adding role players like Channing Frye, David Nwaba, Sam Dekker and Isaiah Taylor. With Cedi Osman, Kyle Korver, Jordan Clarkson and J.R. Smith likely demanding minutes in the Cavs wing rotation, it’s uncertain how many minutes Hood should be given. Training camp will determine a lot, with all eyes glued on Hood to see if he can refind his mojo. If given the chance.
BY all reports the Cavs guard is aiming to take the most of his first full season in ‘The Land’ having spent the entire summer in the gym. Time will tell if Hood’s workouts will pay dividends and there will be plenty of attention and playing time up for grabs with the King in LA. There is a scenario where Hood does return to his Utah Jazz scoring days and nudges close to 20 PPG demanding the Cavs to put the ball in his hands. There’s also a scenario where things go pear-shaped and Hood finds himself benched/traded. At the time everyone thought Hood was the best part of Cleveland deadline day flurry of moves. Time for him to prove us all right.
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