CLEVELAND— This painful season isn’t subsiding for the Cavaliers. If anything, it’s getting worse.
Cleveland, which already has the worst record in the NBA at 1-10, will be without yet another starter on Saturday night in Chicago after forward Cedi Osman was ruled out with back spasms.
He’s the latest Cavs player to join an injury list that includes All-Star forward Kevin Love, point guard George Hill and Sam Dekker, who began the season as a reserve but moved into the starting lineup because of all the injuries.
Throw in a coaching change, some off-court drama and this Cleveland season is sinking fast.
Osman was forced to leave Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City in the first quarter, and the Cavs were hoping rest would allow him to face the Bulls. However, coach Larry Drew said Osman will sit out against the Bulls “and we’ll see how he is after the game tomorrow.”
The rash of injuries has put even greater stress on Drew, who took over after Tyronn Lue was fired following a 0-6 start. Drew asked the team to restructure his contract for the remainder of the season, knowing this rebuilding season would be a challenge.
He never imagined this challenging.
“I don’t know about snake bit,” he said when asked about Cleveland’s run of bad medical luck. “Injuries are part of the NBA. When you lose players, other people have to step up. With our situation with K. Love out and then Dekker, now George Hill and Cedi, we’re looking at four starters that are out. That’s just what it is. But we’re not going to hang our heads.”
Drew’s had to adjust his starting lineup and rotation several times already this season, and now he’s going to have to do it again.
Drew is running out of options and he’s particularly limited up front with three forwards on the shelf. Drew has been resistant to use forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson together, but may no longer have a choice.
He got good minutes from center Ante Zizic, who scored 10 points and added nine rebounds while playing a season-high 17 minutes against the Thunder.
“With two big guys out there, it does give us a little flexibility as far as some of the things we can do on both ends of the floor,” Drew said. “Z played well the other night, so I think between the three of those guys, moving forward we could see a combination of either because they do give me flexibility.”
Drew sees potential in the 6-foot-11 Zizic, who came to Cleveland from Boston in the blockbuster 2017 trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.
“He’s got great hands,” Drew said. “If you throw the ball anywhere around his vicinity, chances are he’s going to get it. He does some very, very intriguing things when he’s on the floor. I’m going to do everything in my power to get him those playing minutes because when he’s in the game, good things happen for us and it’s very obvious.”
With healthy bodies dwindling, the Cavs signed guard Andrew Harrison to a two-way contract.
The 6-foot-6 Harrison made 64 starts over the past two seasons for Memphis. The Grizzlies waived him after one game this season, and he’s found a new home with a Cleveland team that needs him.
“We really needed to add another ball handler,” said Drew, adding Harrison will likely play Saturday. “I’m really excited about him because at that point guard spot he gives us some size. That was one of the intriguing things about him. I remember just playing against him, how he’s played well against us. I’m real excited to have him.”
Per league rules, Harrison can spend only 45 days with the Cavs before they must sign him to an NBA contract.