Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert reportedly held “an air-it-out meeting” at the start of training camp.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com reported the news Tuesday, noting the meeting came after Shumpert’s role was reduced in the NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors and “with his name being mentioned in several trade scenarios.”
“It was just that time for me to have a…just a grown-up conversation with him and just let him know, ‘Can we just sort of knock down the coach-player thing right now and can I just sort of talk to you personally about how I feel about how everything finished up last year?’” Shumpert said Tuesday.
According to McMenamin, Shumpert wanted to clarify with Lue he didn’t make a direct trade request during the offseason. McMenamin wrote: “Shumpert’s representative worked with Cleveland management to find potential trade destinations in the offseason, sources told ESPN, with both sides mutually interested in parting ways.”
Between that and his lack of playing time in the Finals, the guard said things “built up” since he didn’t have an exit meeting with his coach after the season. Lue explained players can always approach him, but he doesn’t like having traditional exit interviews.
Despite the clearing of the air, McMenamin stressed Shumpert may still be traded before Cleveland’s season starts Oct. 17 against the Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers have 16 guaranteed contracts and have to get rid of someone via trade or release, and the $10.3 million Shumpert makes as a reserve stands out.
The possibility comes after he played 25.5 minutes per game during the regular season but just 16.2 in the playoffs and 13.4 in the Finals loss to Golden State.
The Cavaliers are coming off three straight trips to the NBA Finals and will likely look to save some wear on their primary playmakers’ legs with deep rotations during the regular season, but it is difficult to envision Shumpert playing a significant role should Cleveland reach the Finals again in June.
The backcourt is loaded with the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, J.R. Smith and even Jose Calderon, and that’s not accounting for LeBron James, who often serves as the primary ball-handler and facilitator in key moments.
Shumpert had the opportunity to share his stance with his head coach, but the depth of Cleveland’s roster could serve as a roadblock to more court time in the playoffs—if he isn’t traded before then.