INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue shrugged off any lasting impact from Rodney Hood declining to enter the fourth quarter of Cleveland’s Game 4 win over the Toronto Raptors and said the team has accepted Hood’s apology.
“I’ve been a part of so much stuff, that wasn’t nothing, really,” Lue said after practice Thursday. “He apologized. It’s over. Now our focus is on the [Boston] Celtics.”
With the Cavs up by 30 points with 7:38 remaining in Monday’s series-clinching win, Hood’s number was called — and he suggested that veteran guard Jose Calderon play in his place.
“It was end of game, it’s seven minutes to go, and I saw we had bodies. You know, Jose wanted to go in, and I told them, ‘Just let Jose play,'” Hood explained Thursday. “But I should have just went in and it would have been no confusion. And obviously, I should have known it was going to be [a story] because I didn’t play throughout the duration of the game; it was going to look bad.
“But it wasn’t [as bad] as people was trying to make it. But next time I’m definitely going to go in. I apologized to T-Lue for any confusion and stuff like that, but that’s all it was.”
The Athletic, which first reported on Hood’s refusal, also cited several of Hood’s teammates as being “angered” by his decision.
Hood initially apologized to Cavs general manager Koby Altman, the front office and Lue the day after Game 4. He extended the same apology to the rest of the team Thursday and was not met by a hostile crowd.
“They were laughing at me when I apologized to my teammates and they were like, ‘Hood, that’s not really a distraction’ because of everything that they’ve been through this year,” he said. “So they all took light of it, they understand. So it wasn’t anything, really.”
Kevin Love was particularly empathetic. He found himself in a similar situation, apologizing to teammates for leaving the arena early after exiting with an illness during an embarrassing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in January.
“I was that guy before,” Love said. “Listen: Not even that it’s a second chance, but things like that happen in the course of a season. I mean, I’ve only known Rodney for a short period of time, but I know he’s a great guy. I know he’s here to win.
“Was that a great decision? Maybe not. But he came in today, said he’s all-in, and we believe him. That’s why we were able to laugh it off, and he came in and had a great practice today.”
After he was acquired by the Cavs in a midseason trade, Hood averaged 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 21 regular-season games.
Hood was Cleveland’s starting 2-guard to open the playoffs, but lost that assignment after the Indiana Pacers crushed the Cavs 98-80 in Game 1. He ended up averaging 6.3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 18.9 minutes per game against Indiana.
His role diminished even further against Toronto, as he averaged just 0.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 13.0 minutes per game. By Game 4 of the Raptors series, Lue made the decision to play the rookie Cedi Osman over Hood in his rotation.
When asked if Osman still was above Hood in his pecking order heading into the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, Lue said, “We’ll see.”
One of Hood’s brightest moments since joining Cleveland came in Boston on Feb. 11, just days after the trade, when he had 15 points in 19 minutes in a 121-99 blowout win for the Cavs.
“If you watch the last time we played them, he had a good game,” Lue said. “Really played well scoring the basketball. [He needs to] just get back to being aggressive looking to score the basketball.”
Hood vowed to fit in, no matter what his role is moving forward.
“I’m a selfless guy even though this don’t look well, but I’m a selfless guy,” Hood said. “And regardless of how many minutes I play — starting, coming off the bench or not playing or whatever — I’m trying to win. I’m trying to win a ring and that’s what it’s about.”
Lue said he wants the same thing.
“He’s a good guy,” Lue said. “He didn’t mean nothing malicious by it. That’s not who he is. We understand and know that. We just moved on. But hopefully he does play well.”