Folk Hero Delly returns to Cleveland, Cavaliers pummel Wizards 116-101
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - A folk hero has returned to Cleveland, and he’s known by a simple nickname — Delly.
The actual name is Matthew Dellavedova, but Cleveland sports fans remember him as the scrappy little point guard that didn’t back down from the NBA’s biggest challenges. Dellavedova started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 and spent three seasons endearing himself to the city and its inhabitants. He spent the last two seasons in Milwaukee as a member of the Bucks, but the Cavs traded for him on Friday and he’s back in a wine and gold uniform.
“Obviously, you don’t expect to kind of pick up and move, but it’s the NBA so it can always happen,” Dellavedova said about his reaction to the trade. “If it was going to be anywhere, definitely glad it’s here where I’m very comfortable, familiar faces, familiar places and a lot of friends here and still some guys on the team that I’ve obviously played with and looking forward to throwing some lobs to T-top (Tristan Thompson).”
On Friday, Cleveland acquired Dellavedova, center John Henson and 2021 first- and second-round draft picks from Milwaukee for point guard George Hill. The trade also included former Cleveland forward Sam Dekker, who Milwaukee parlayed to the Washington Wizards, but the sentimental crux of the trade is Dellavedova returning to Cleveland.
As soon as news broke of Dellavedova’s return on Friday, Cavs fans rejoiced on social media. Sure, Dellavedova had only averaged 1.7 points in eight minutes per game in Milwaukee this season, but wine and gold backers are still appreciative of the tenacity Dellavedova displayed every time he stepped on the court for Cleveland.
“That’s a bit of an awkward question to ask someone to say about themself, but I think I just try to play hard and leave it all out there,” Dellavedova said when asked why he thinks he is so popular in the city. “Everyone here appreciates that, and that’s what I’m going to bring this time as well.”
Dellavedova will certainly get more minutes in Cleveland than he did this season in Milwaukee, as the Cavs don’t have a backup point guard for rookie Collin Sexton. Cavs interim head coach Larry Drew wants Delly on the court as soon as possible.
“As soon as we get word that everything is checked out and everybody’s available, I’m ready to get him in there ASAP, because right now with Collin, he is really the only point guard we really have right now,” Drew said.
Sexton is one of the key pieces of the Cavaliers’ future, and even the 19-year-old has heard of the folklore that follows Dellavedova.
“Everybody said he’s a real good guy, a real good locker-room guy,” Sexton said on Friday after the trade. “We lost George, which was my vet, so I’ll have to talk to Dellavedova and he’ll be able to lead me how George led me. They say he practices hard too, so we’re going to have some battles.”
The stories of Dellavedova and Irving having heated battles in practice during their time in Cleveland are well-known. Dellavedova, however, says those stories may be a little blown out of proportion.
“I think that gets exaggerated a little bit about me and Kyrie at practice,” Dellavedova said. “He’s (Sexton) a really good young player and he’s tough, so I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Dellavedova didn’t suit up for the Cavs in their surprising 116-101 blowout of the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, but he could be available to play on Monday, ironically against the Bucks in Milwaukee. On returning to Milwaukee on Monday, Dellavedova said, “It’ll give me a chance to pack up more stuff. I’ve got a lot of shots up on the rims, so I should be used to them.”
The Milwaukee Bucks have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, and Dellavedova didn’t fit into their future plans. Dellavedova, though, is already looking ahead.
“Obviously, Milwaukee has big goals this season,” Dellavedova said. “I’m just going to come in here and talk to L.D. (Larry Drew) and get a feel for where everything’s at and get ready to go and just help in any way I can.”
With Sexton as the only point guard on the roster, just stepping on the floor will be a big help for the Cavs, which were missing six players on Saturday. Drew, who has been on the Cavs coaching staff since Dellavedova’s first stint in Cleveland, won’t have to adjust his gameplans like he would have to for a player he wasn’t familiar with.
“We know each other,” Drew said of Dellavedova. “He’s familiar with me, I’m familiar with him, I know what he bring to the table. I know plays that we run that he’ll be terrific in as far as making plays, and I know every single night when he steps out on the floor, I’m going to get 110 percent from him.
“He may not shoot it well every night, but I know his effort is going to be there every single night he steps between those lines. I think that’s great to have, and that’s something that can rub off on our young guys.”
Dellavedova’s former teammates in Milwaukee have praised the type of leadership the point guard offered while with the Bucks. Drew thinks Dellavedova can help on and off the court.
“When I first heard that we were getting Delly, I just felt right way, and not taking anything away from George Hill, but the type of person that Delly is and the way he plays, I thought it would be really, really good for Collin. I know Delly is just one of those guys that, he does it by example, the way he competes and the way he plays hard every single night.
“I just think some of that rubbing off on Collin will be just so good for him. Delly’s just one of those guys, when you watch him play, he doesn’t woo you with the way he plays, nothing real sexy about how he plays, but man, he just gets the job done. He gets it done in a different way, and the way he gets it done I think is just terrific for young players to be around to experience it.”
Warm and fuzzy vibes have filled Cleveland since the Cavs traded for Dellavedova, who is appreciative of the embrace.
“It makes me feel great,” Dellavedova said of the positive reaction he’s received since being traded back to Cleveland. “The first time here was obviously really special and loved every minute of it. I really appreciate the love that everyone has shown.
“It just makes me excited to get back out there and play for everyone in this city because it’s a special place and there are very special fans here.”
Meanwhile, Henson has found himself in an expected position now that he’s in Cleveland.
“I’m just gonna be in Delly’s shadow,” Henson said with a laugh. “Don’t forget about me. I’m happy for him too.
“This is a great opportunity for him to play, a great guy. He’s been working so hard in Milwaukee even not playing a lot of minutes, so it’s going to be kind of fun to see him get out there and be able to really play, and I’m excited.”
Henson continued, “He hasn’t told me anything (about the city), but he’s a folk hero. I’ve already kind of gotten a little sense of it around here.”
Delly, the folk hero, has returned..
POSTED 12/08/2018 22:16