Gibson Fills Mentoring Role for Cavaliers
For the first time in his seven-year NBA career, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson finds himself out of the team’s rotation. Gibson has missed time due to illness and a concussion he suffered on December 28, but he’s not sidelined due to an injury this time. He’s simply buried on Cleveland’s depth chart. However, he’s remaining positive and insists that even if he isn’t on the court, he can still provide support for the young Cavaliers team.
“The NBA game is a fast paced game,” Gibson said. “Even if you miss one day you have to get your timing back. Sometimes it takes a couple games to catch up. I just want to help this team any way I can. Whether it’s on the court or just being a positive role model in the locker room.”
While Gibson is only 26 years old, he is the fourth-oldest player on the Cavaliers’ roster, which features nine players who have less than four years of NBA experience. Gibson sees himself as one of the veterans on the team and he embraces the mentor role to players like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
“For me, the most exciting part about being a part of this team is watching the young guys develop,” Gibson said. “Talking to Kyrie after every game, talking to Dion after every game, seeing those guys grow into NBA players. I just try to motivate them and push them to be better people and better players.”
Gibson was selected by the Cavaliers in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft. He provided the Cavaliers with a guard who could knock down the occasional three-point field goal. In his rookie season, he averaged 16.5 minutes and shot 41 percent from three-point range. The Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals that year, getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Although he was a role player, he hit clutch shots and was part of a team that competed for the most prestigious prize in an NBA season.
“I’ve been a part of winning basketball since the Cavaliers drafted me in 2006,” Gibson said. “I know what it takes to win in this league and these guys respect that. I come in every day and practice hard and work hard. They look to me to figure out what it’s going to take for us to get back to that point we were at a couple years ago. Myself and Luke Walton have been there before. Guys are always trying to pick our brains to see what they can get.”
On Tuesday, the Cavaliers put together a five-player trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. One of the key components of the deal for Cleveland was Wayne Ellington, a fourth-year guard whose game resembles Gibson’s. While Gibson acknowledges the threat of a player like Ellington taking his minutes, he embraces the challenge.
“Every day, every game, every opportunity you’re competing with somebody,” Gibson said. “I’ve been competing to get minutes my whole career so this is no different. It’s a great thing to have guys that you’re competing with. When you don’t have guys that you’re competing with, the team’s normally not that good. Bringing in those guys is going to make us that much better.”
Head coach Byron Scott sees the logjam of guards on the Cavaliers’ roster as a positive.
“I love the fact that we have a lot of guys competing for time on the floor,” Scott said. “It makes it much more competitive in practice. These guys are fighting for minutes and I think this will be fun the next couple of months.”
At this point, the Cavaliers are two or three years away from a playoff berth and Gibson will have a tough decision to make this summer. He is in the last year of a five-year deal he signed with the Cavaliers in 2008. Gibson is beloved in Cleveland and he hopes to remain a Cavalier beyond this season.
“You can’t look too far ahead,” Gibson said. “You just have to play basketball and let the chips fall where they may. One thing I know for sure is that I love Cleveland. This is home for me. Whatever happens in the offseason, Cleveland will be my first choice. I hope that the organization feels the same way about me.”
“I think this organization is [building a team] the right way,” Gibson added. “It’s all about finding a group of guys who play well together. You want players that are loyal and that you love. We break our necks for each other every single night. If I have an opportunity to play, there isn’t anything that can keep me off the floor, trying to help these guys win. I believe in this team. There will be highs and lows, but at the end of the day it will mean that much more to us.”