Larry Nance Jr.: mood of Cavs post LeBron is “excitement” and they can “shock a lot of people”

Young talent, experienced veterans give Nance Jr. reason for optimism

Daryl Ruiter
July 09, 2018 - 6:46 pm
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) dunks the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the second quarter in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals

Kyle Terada/pool photo-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The last time LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, the franchise was devastated and left in shambles.

Considering the current salary cap situation and the lack of significant draft assets moving forward, an argument could be made that history has repeated itself, but Larry Nance Jr. disagrees.

Appearing on ESPN 2’s broadcast of the Cavs-Pacers summer league game in Las Vegas Monday afternoon, the Akron native was asked about the mood of the franchise since it was announced on July 1 James had agreed to a 4-year contract with the Lakers.

“It’s excitement,” Nance Jr. said. “Obviously, you hate to lose the best player in the game but at the same time we have really promising young talent out here (in Las Vegas) on display. We’ve got Cedi Osman out there. Collin Sexton is playing really well. We just signed Billy Preston to a two-way (contract). Ante (Zizic) is sitting out now but he’s had a heck of a summer league so far. We also have some proven vets. Kevin Love is a perennial All-Star. G. Hill’s pretty good, Jordan Clarkson, and hopefully we get to bring Rodney Hood back.

“We’re really excited about what we have going forward, and I think we can shock a lot of people with what we can do."

It took the return of James in 2014 to resurrect the Cavs after Cleveland went an NBA worst 97-215 from the 2010-11 season to the 2013-14 campaign.

At least luck was on the Cavs’ side with them winning the NBA draft lottery 3 times in 4 years.

Nance, who was among 4 players acquired at the trade deadline during a flurry of trades that saw 6 players sent out, doesn’t believe the Cavs are in dire straits without James, and he’s also appreciative that he got the opportunity to play alongside James in the playoffs and NBA Finals.

“It was awesome,” Nance Jr. said. “Growing up in Akron, Ohio, what more could I ask for than getting to play with LeBron in the NBA Finals. I’m super thankful for the front office for brining me here and getting a chance to participate in The Finals with the greatest (player).”

Osman, who scored 25 points in 31 minutes in the 93-88 win over the Pacers Monday afternoon, told ESPN 2 after the game he intends to take a more prominent role this coming season with James now in LA.

“This year especially, I will try and take more responsibility,” Osman said. “I will give my best (to make sure we) play with high energy.”

Sexton finished with 21 points to go with 4 assists, but he also turned it over 4 times and shot 9 of 17 from the field against Indiana.

"Like coach (Tyronn) Lue said, when I'm out there, do whatever it takes to help the team win the game," Sexton, who is averaging 16.6 points and shooting 19 of 44 from the field in 3 games, told ESPN 2 after the game. "Whatever the team needs, I'm going to do it."

Billy Preston made 4 of 10 shots and scored 12 points off the bench. Preston also had 4 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals and a block.