A day after the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off a four-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors in their first-round playoff series, the biggest story around the team is not their sudden revival after a sluggish first-round series nor their chances against (probably) Boston in the upcoming conference finals. Instead, it’s the antics of swingman Rodney Hood, who will reportedly apologize to his teammates after refusing to enter the game during the the final minutes of the Cavs’ Game 4 victory Monday night.
Per Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Hood caused a fuss on the Cavs’ bench when Lue attempted to insert him for LeBron James with 7:38 to play. The 25-year-old swingman had not previously played in the Cleveland victory after being replaced in the Cavs’ rotation by rookie Cedi Osman. Via The Athletic:
When the Cavs called a timeout with a 30-point lead and 7:38 left Monday, Lue tried inserting Hood for James. It was a great opportunity for a struggling youngster to try to find his rhythm without any pressure before the next series. Instead, Hood refused to go in, multiple sources confirmed. A number of veterans huddled around him during the timeout and tried talking sense into him, but Hood still refused to go, so Jose Calderon subbed into the game instead. Hood dressed quickly and was one of the first players out of the locker room after the game.
There was some thought that Hood could be suspended for the incident, but multiple reports have said he will not be punished. However, ESPN reports that he has already apologized to Cleveland general manager Koby Altman and plans to say sorry to his teammates as well.
Hood “feels awful,” according to the source, and he plans to apologize to his teammates and coaching staff in person as soon as they get back together after a couple days off following a 4-0 sweep of the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Hood explained to Altman, according to a team source, that he said something to the effect of, “I’m good, I’m fine, play the other guys,” when asked to go in Monday. The Cavs are not viewing Hood’s decision as an “act of defiance,” the team source told ESPN, and Lue did not take it as a personal slight.
The Cavs will return to the court soon to face either the Sixers or, most likely, the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Hood, who is averaging 4.6 points on 39.6 percent shooting in the postseason probably won’t play big minutes, but you can probably expect him to enter the game when called upon.