Damon Jones marched out of Monday's practice and loudly proclaimed that he was ready, at long last, to talk to the media.
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[highlight]Jones talks, but has little to say[/highlight]
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Plain Dealer Reporter
Damon Jones marched out of Monday's practice and loudly proclaimed that he was ready, at long last, to talk.
The typically loquacious Cavaliers point guard said it's been difficult to keep silent for three weeks during his self-imposed media boycott.
But when the question of why he had turned quiet in the first place arose, whether it had anything to do with his role coming off the bench instead of starting, Jones turned silent, once more.
"Next question," he retorted, the remnants of a faint grin still plastered on his face.
Two more times, in varying ways, Jones was asked whether he was upset Eric Snow was starting at the point instead.
Twice more, he gave the same response: "Next question."
The Cavaliers are riding a seven-game winning streak heading into tonight's home game against Boston and have bolted to an 8-2 start that ranks second in franchise history. But Jones' verbal silence marked the first glimpse of discord among a team that has proclaimed a fondness for one another.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he has talked with Jones about the point guard's unhappiness coming off the bench, and doesn't view Jones as a distraction. Typically a jovial player with a fondness for making teammates laugh, Jones has remained unchanged through the first 10 games of the season.
"He's a big-time person, first, and he's a big-time player, second," Brown said. "I don't have a problem with Damon, at all. I know if I was a player, I'd want to start, too. Especially if you started the year before. . . . The reality of it is that not everyone can."
Besides, the Cavaliers have fared just fine with a rotation that includes Jones and forward Donyell Marshall providing punch off the bench. Jones and Marshall combine to average 21 points per game. Marshall chips in an average of eight rebounds each game, with Jones contributing 2.7 assists.
Even if Jones hasn't had the chance to build on last season when he started 66 games for Miami , he has still made an impact off the bench.
With the Cavaliers' early success, Jones decided to stay quiet.
"It was a situation where I didn't want to create a distraction for my team," Jones said. "Some of the questions I would have had to answer, it was not in my best interest to answer. I let the dust settle for a while."
The toughest part for Jones might have been the media boycott, itself.
"I like to talk," Jones said, smiling broadly. "That fact that I wasn't able to talk really hurt me. I didn't get to sleep some nights."
Ricky Davis, LeBron James' sidekick when he began his career with the Cavaliers, is back in town just in time to see how successful the pairing of James and Larry Hughes has become. Just 10 games into the season, Hughes and James have found a chemistry unlike any other pairing the Cavaliers have tried. In Saturday's victory over Philadelphia, when James scored 36 points and Hughes netted 37, it marked the first time in franchise history that two players scored more than 35 points in the same game.
Though Davis has performed well as Paul Pierce's running mate with the Celtics - averaging 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists - no one is looking back on what might have been in Cleveland.
"I can't look at the past," James said. "It was time for us both to move on."
James was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his performance last week, when the guard averaged 29.7 points, on 54.7 percent shooting, nine rebounds and six steals. Against Philadelphia on Saturday, James recorded his fifth career triple double. The weekly honor marks the fourth time in his three-year career that James has won the award. He is the only player in Cavaliers history to be named player of the week more than twice.