Much to the annoyance of his teammates, Cleveland Cavaliers wing Rodney Hood refused to enter Game 4 when coach Tyronn Lue tapped him for mop-up duty midway through the fourth quarter of a blowout and closeout win over the visiting Toronto Raptors, according to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd.
Why didn’t Hood want to play?
After seeing his minutes dwindle from 25 per game during the regular season to an average of 15 over the previous seven games, Hood fell out of the rotation on Monday, losing his spot to rookie Cedi Osman. “Rodney, he could be better,” Lue said before Game 4, according to Lloyd. “He knows that.”
So, when Lue pegged him for garbage time with 7:38 remaining and the Cavaliers leading 110-80, Hood reportedly refused to fill that role, and the Cavaliers turned to veteran Jose Calderon to close it out.
Lue had good reason to sit Hood, who entered the game averaging 4.6 points on 40 percent shooting. He’s 2-for-15 from 3-point range in the postseason and a team-worst minus-67 in 170 playoff minutes. Maybe he could have used the garbage time to work out those kinks, but he was apparently stewing.
How do his teammates feel about it?
On the broadcast, J.R. Smith could be seen talking to Hood outside the huddle, and Smith is shown talking to LeBron James on the bench soon afterwards. After the game, multiple sources told Lloyd that both players and team personnel were upset with Hood, who quickly departed the locker room.
“This is the playoffs. We’re trying to win a championship,” one anonymous Cavaliers player told Lloyd. “This isn’t about you.”
Obviously, this doesn’t bode well going forward for Hood’s relationship with his teammates, all of whom he’s only been playing with since joining the team in a trade deadline deal this past February.
What now for Hood?
In the short-term, Hood faces a fine or suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, Lloyd posited, but at the very least you would expect him to remain out of the rotation for the foreseeable future.
In the long-term, Hood will become a restricted free agent this summer. The Cavaliers can match any offer he receives on the open market, but you wonder how many teams will be willing to pay up for a player who has underperformed in the playoffs for two years running and is now refusing to play. Even at an affordable rate, you also have to wonder if the Cavs will want to keep him around after this.
Still, Hood is a 25-year-old who was once thought to be in line for a hefty raise when he emerged as a scoring threat on a 50-win Utah Jazz team last season, and the Cavaliers gave up a significant piece — the two-plus years remaining on Jae Crowder’s team-friendly contract — to get him in Cleveland.
Is there any other possible explanation?
Hood missed games multiple times down the stretch with a lower back strain and a sore left Achilles, but Lloyd reported that “according to multiple people who witnessed the exchange, this had nothing to do with stiffness and everything to do with a young player pouting.” Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman will reportedly meet with Hood in an attempt to get Hood’s perspective on the matter.
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