LOS ANGELES — The NBA called Cavs general manager David Griffin to complain about Cleveland sitting its stars out of a nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night.
The Cavs chose not to play LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in a 108-78 loss to the Clippers, even though all three players were healthy.
This is the second consecutive week in which a marquee team rested its stars in the NBA’s Saturday prime-time slot on ABC.
It was Griffin, in conjunction with James’ trainer Mike Mancias and the Cavs’ medical team, who chose to sit James. Neither Love (because of knee surgery) nor Irving (recent knee soreness) were candidates to play on consecutive nights, and playing Sunday against the Lakers rather than Saturday against the Clippers meant an extra day off for both players. They want everyone healthy for the playoffs, and that was Griffin’s message to the league, he told cleveland.com.
James was held out because they weren’t going to play. James was upset about the move, as was coach Tyronn Lue, even though he took ownership of it during his pregame comments to the press. It was James who was ripped mercilessly by fans while sitting on the bench — not by his choice or own personal circumstance. He could’ve played and wanted to.
After the game, Lue was asked if the Cavs could “afford” to take games off like this, given that their lead in the East had dwindled to 1.5 games over Boston.
“We can afford anything,” Lue said. “They still gotta beat us. Teams have to try and beat us, so I’m not worried about that. It happens. They’re in second place, they gotta be us. They understand who we are and we know who we are, so we’re not worried about that.”
” We’re fortunate enough we’ve got a team where we can do that,” Cavs guard J.R. Smith added. “Not to brag or nothin’ but we’ve got a really good team. This is more of a marathon and not a sprint for us.”