I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday in time to catch the Cleveland Cavaliers engage the New Orleans Pelicans in a low-scoring summer league slugfest.
The Cavaliers ended up losing by four after two game-clinching drives by Austin Rivers. Just prior to that, however, Carrick Felix knocked down a critical basket to tie things up at 60.
Around that same time, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett came through the arena and was signing autographs for fans near the Cavs bench.
Later in the afternoon, I spoke with multiple people who are close to the UNLV basketball program that told me the Cavaliers had a representative at every one of Bennett's game last season. Home and away.
The Cavs had somebody there watching Bennett and learning everything they could about him all year long. They were, according to what I was told, the only NBA team who attended that many games.
Pretty thorough way to go about drafting somebody it seems. Also, thanks to my buddy Josh for texting me over the picture above.
Catching up with Dion Waiters
I caught up with Dion Waiters for a few minutes postgame and asked him about his second run through Vegas Summer League.
"It feels a lot different than last year," Waiters told me. "I know a lot more about what to expect out here. Right now though, I'm just trying to get my legs back under me and work on my game each time out."
As far as the moves the Cavaliers made this summer in acquiring Bennett along with Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum?
"We really got a nice group of guys coming in, it's exciting man," Waiters added. "If everybody stays healthy we can really do some big things this year."
Carrick Felix on earning a role as a defender
Besides Bennett and No. 19 overall pick Sergey Karasev, the Cavs also spent the No. 33 pick on Carrick Felix. While demonstrating the potential to earn a role as a defender and board-crashing rebounder from the small forward position, Felix has been impressive thus far.
Besides that one critical basket I mentioned earlier, he only scored two other points on Monday to be fair. But his money and roster spot will be earned in this league on the defensive end and he knows it.
Below is a conversation I had with Felix about all that.
We started the interview and then he stopped it initially after the National Anthem came on. Great kid and great American, obviously. Shamefully, I didn't even notice but am glad he did.
It was really loud while we were talking and probably not the ideal time to record a video interview. So in case you missed it, he said he's trying to develop a role for himself in this league similar to Jimmy Butler with the Bulls, Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs or a young Shane Battier back in the day.
At this point, I certainly think he'll have a shot. He also sounded genuinely enthusiasic about all the postive things he's heard about Cleveland fans.
Samardo's back in the house too
Anonther guy who has a shot to find a role for himself in this league is our old friend Samardo Samuels.
He's been impressing some people within the Los Angeles Clippers organization and the buzz around Vegas is that Samuels will make the Clippers team this season.
He said he'll always enjoy his time in Cleveland when we talked for a few minutes and really loved the fans. He also told me that Cleveland's going to like what they see from fellow Lousiville Cardinal Earl Clark.
"You guys are going to love him," Samuels said of Clark. "That's my dude, but I'm telling you he's going to be good for the Cavs. He'll come in and put the work in from day one and I know he's excited to be there."
Coach James Posey helping out with the Cavs however they need him
James Posey, Twinsburg native, has been with the Cavaliers in Vegas in a coaching capacity of some sort. I knew that from earlier reports, but wanted to ask Posey about the work he's been doing.
"The Cavs asked me to be a part of their summer league and I'm just trying to help out anyway I can with the guys and with the practices. It's been great so far too; really enjoy working with these guys."
Be back with more later this week from Vegas.
Dion Waiters Photo Credit: Jeremy Rincon / @JermCon