The Cleveland Cavaliers start their season Wednesday night on the road against the Toronto Raptors. Cavs star LeBron James may be gone, but another Northeast Ohio native has committed to staying with the Cavs long-term. WKSU’s Mark Arehart talked with sports commentator Terry Pluto about Larry Nance Jr. and the deal he signed this week.
Cavaliers great Larry Nance Sr. has his number retired in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena. But after the Cavaliers traded for his son in February, Nance Jr. has been sporting the number 22 jersey and suprising a lot of fans with his bouncy, hard-nosed style of play.
Getting the Deal Done
This week, the Cavaliers commited long-term to Nance Jr. by agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth $44.8 million.
"The Cavs wanted to get this done," Pluto said.
"This is who you want if you're rebuilding your team after LeBron."
Pluto said the Cavs had until 6:00 p.m. Tuesday to finalize the extension.That's because of league rules saying a player can't renogotiate his contract if he's in the last year of his deal during the NBA season.
"And Larry Nance Jr. and his family, who still live in Bath, said, 'Hey, let's make a deal to stay here.'"
Revere High School
According to Pluto, unlike LeBron James, Nance Jr. wasn't seen as a potential NBA player straight out of high school.
"I first wrote about Larry Nance Jr. when he was a junior at Revere High School. At that point nobody knew he was any good."
Just the year before as a sophomore he was playing for Revere's junior varsity team. But after a growth spurt and treatment for Crohn's disease that had been previously undiagnosed, Pluto said Nance Jr. started to make a name for himself on the basketball court. He got a scholarship to play at the University of Wyoming.
"And it took a little while for him to get going, but by Larry's senior year he leads them to the NCAA tournament."
Making an Impact
The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Nance Jr. in the late-first round of the 2015 NBA draft. He continued to earn playing time off the bench until he was eventually traded to the Cavs in February.
Pluto says having Nance Jr. signed to the contract extension will really help a team that is starting fresh without superstar LeBron James.
"Let's see how the Cavaliers are this year," he said. "I've got them at 36 wins and kind of on the edge of the playoffs."
He said the Cavs ownership and management would love to make the playoffs to prove they could do it without LeBron James.
"I would say good luck with that. That's going to be really hard because a lot of times it was all Lebron," Pluto said.
"But as a basketball junkie, I'm just really curious to see how this all plays out."