When Cedi Osman checked in during the second quarter of last night’s close-out of the Toronto Raptors, the message being sent was clear as day. The move appeared to be coach Tyronn Lue‘s way of saying Rodney Hood was officially out of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ rotation.
If this wasn’t the case last night, it was certainly hammered home this morning when reports of Hood’s refusal to take the court near the end of last night’s blow-out win began to surface.
Though he apparently apologized about this today, it’s likely too late. Thanks to Hood complementing his terrible playoff performance with blatant pouting, his time with the Cavs likely won’t last longer than this postseason.
Such a result is a shame, especially considering Hood was one of the key acquisitions during Cleveland’s trade deadline craziness in February. He was in the middle of a strong season with the Utah Jazz and, unlike the also-acquired Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., he had some playoff experience. The hope was he could be a key postseason contributor for the Cavs, as indicated by his starting Game 1 of the previous series against the Indiana Pacers.
He hasn’t started since, and for good reason.
In ten games, Hood has only notched double-digit points once. He’s rarely looked engaged, albeit for a couple short bursts here and there. Entering the series with Toronto, Hood’s leash continued to get shorter, as his minutes decreased in each of the first three games.
Then came last night, when he refused to check in during the fourth quarter with the Cavs up 30.
Do I understand his frustration with getting removed from the rotation, only getting playing time during the waning minutes of a blowout victory? Sure.
However, it doesn’t make this stunt any less immature and pathetic.
Of all the people on Cleveland’s roster, you could argue Hood has the least reason to be offended about a relegation to garbage time. For the Raptors series, he averaged as many turnovers as he did PPG (0.7). He boasted a field goal percentage of .111, and hasn’t hit a three-pointer since April 18. His defense has been a mess, while it was frighteningly obvious how often he’d mentally check out of games.
Are these things Lue is supposed to ignore while the rest of the Cavs fight for their playoff lives? Is he supposed to understand why Hood would be so cranky about only playing well after the contest has been decided?
What makes this even more frustrating is the fact Hood isn’t the only player who’s seen his minutes cut this postseason.
After averaging 19.7 minutes of playing time in the previous series, Nance didn’t touch the court in two of the first three games against Toronto. He still had no issue having his number called only during the final frame of Game 4. Meanwhile, despite Osman becoming a key piece for Cleveland this year, last night marked the only significant playing time he’s logged this postseason.
Hell, Tristan Thompson was completely ignored until the seventh game of the opening series, and he won a championship with this team two years ago.
But no, Rodney Hood, please tell us why you of all people should be so offended about the audacity of only getting to play in meaningless minutes.
Even before last night’s stunt, Hood seemed to be on thin ice in Cleveland. Now? Barring an incredibly and inexplicably bulletproof excuse, how can you bring him back next year? What could he possibly say to win back the favor of teammates he reportedly angered last night?
Despite his aforementioned apology, it’s difficult to believe Hood gets significant playing time from here on out, if he gets any minutes at all. And, after being a liability on the court and following it up with a bratty refusal to play, it’s also difficult to see his career in Cleveland lasting much longer.
With Hood showing last night how uninterested he is in helping the Cavs win a title, the team shouldn’t be too interested in anything but showing him the door at season’s end.