LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off an Eastern Conference semifinals sweep of the Toronto Raptors without much resistance on Monday night, but it apparently did not happen without a bit of drama.
According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Cavs swingman Rodney Hood “refused” to go into the game when summoned by coach Ty Lue in the fourth quarter. Cleveland, with a 30-point lead, already had the game in hand, so Lue emptied the bench in the game’s final minutes. But Hood, who had not seen any action to that point in the game, had other ideas.
That did not sit well with his teammates and some in the organization, Lloyd reported.
Rodney Hood refused to enter the game when summoned in the fourth quarter Monday, angering a number of teammates, according to multiple sources. It was the only blemish on an otherwise impressive series sweep for the Cavs. Final Thoughts from the Qhttps://t.co/wcMQ8q0L58
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydNBA) May 8, 2018
Why was Hood angry?
Hood, a trade deadline acquisition from the Utah Jazz, has not played well in the postseason. He started Game 1 of Cleveland’s opening round series against the Indiana Pacers, but was replaced in the starting lineup for Game 2 and beyond by J.R. Smith.
Hood’s playing time has varied since then and dipped all the way to seven minutes in the team’s Game 7 win over Indiana. Hood averaged 13 minutes through the first three games of the Toronto series but scored a total of just two points, bringing his postseason scoring average down to a measly 4.6 points per game — down from 10.8 for Cleveland during the regular season. Even worse, Hood, a career 36.9 percent 3-point shooter, has connected on just 2-of-15 long distance attempts this postseason.
The lack of production prompted Lue to play rookie Cedi Osman — who totaled three minutes over the first three games of the series — ahead of Hood during Game 4, putting him out of the rotation.
What does this mean for Cleveland’s playoff run?
With Philadelphia avoiding a sweep and extending its series with Boston, Cleveland has some time to rest — and potentially iron out out any lingering problems with Hood — before the Eastern Conference finals. Hood, at 6-foot-8, is a very useful player when he’s engaged, but the decreased role in Cleveland compared to his presence in Utah has proven to be a difficult adjustment at times. He provides more of a scoring punch than Osman any day of the week, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be given another chance as Cleveland continues its postseason run.
Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Hood met with Cavs GM Koby Altman and Hood was very apologetic. From ESPN:
Hood “feels awful,” according to the source, and he plans to apologize to his teammates and coaching staff in person as soon as they get back together after a couple of days off following a 4-0 sweep of the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
ESPN and the Associated Press reported that Hood will not be disciplined by the team.
What could this mean for Hood’s future?
Hood, 25, was Utah’s first-round pick in 2014 and proved to be a capable scorer for the Jazz. He was averaging 16.8 points per game in Utah before he was acquired by Cleveland in a three-team deal that also yielded point guard George Hill from the Sacramento Kings. He missed some time nursing a back injury, but started 11 of the 21 regular season games he played for the Cavs, averaging 10.8 points on 44.2 percent shooting (35.2 from 3) in the process.
Hood will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, meaning Cleveland will have the chance to match any contract offers he receives from other teams. As a player hoping for a payday coming off his rookie deal, Monday night’s incident could prove to be a hindrance for his future earnings.
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