INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- After a summer that started with an NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors in which he saw his role drastically reduced and continued with his name being mentioned in several trade scenarios, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had an air-it-out meeting before the start of training camp last month.
"It was just that time for me to have a, just a grown-up conversation with him and just let him know, 'Can we just sort of knock down the coach-player thing right now and can I just sort of talk to you personally about how I feel about how everything finished up last year?'" Shumpert said after practice Tuesday.
Shumpert said things got "built up" over the summer after he did not have an opportunity for an exit meeting with Lue after the Cavs' 4-1 loss to the Warriors.
"That was different for me," Shumpert said. "I'm used to an exit interview, so, I felt like that's the time you're able to be honest and be outside of talking team."
Lue and Shumpert huddled before the Cavs' minicamp in Santa Barbara, California, in mid-September. Lue told Shumpert that he didn't prefer to conduct exit interviews as a coach but that his door is always open.
"He gave me the chance to be honest," Shumpert said, "and he let me know that if at any time during the year I just want to come in the office and sit down with him and kick everybody out, he said if I just want to yell and be crazy, I can do that, so that definitely made me feel a lot better."
Shumpert wanted to address his limited role in the Finals and an ESPN report that he had requested a trade from the Cavs. Shumpert's representative worked with Cleveland management to find potential trade destinations in the offseason, sources told ESPN, with both sides mutually interested in parting ways. However, Shumpert did not like the characterization that it was a direct trade request from himself, similar to the way Kyrie Irving asked out of town.
"As far as coming back, with all the rumors that came out and nobody on the organization side coming out to say, like, 'Iman didn't say that,' I let him know," Shumpert said. "I felt like I was in the dark about everything and I was like, I don't really know. All I can think about is where am I going to be next season? That was my concern. So I was just, like ... finally able to be honest with him and let him know everything that was going on, and it was a one-on-one conversation and nobody got into ... there was no he say, she say. It was directly from me, directly from him. So it was a good conversation."
Cleveland was close to trading Shumpert in July -- Houston and Minnesota both expressed interest -- but no deal was completed. The Cavs tried to re-engage trade talks around Shumpert again in September and spoke to New Orleans and New York about potential deals, sources told ESPN; however, the seven-year veteran remains on the roster.
Even with the Cavs' glut of guards on the roster, Lue carved out a space in his rotation for Shumpert with the second unit through the first week of training camp. Shumpert has been sharing the backcourt with Dwyane Wade during practice, alternating ballhandling duties.
"It's always been, being that great defender, we need him to be guarding 1s, 2s and 3s," Lue said when asked what his expectations are for Shumpert this season. "He's taking his open shots. He's going to be able to run more pick-and-roll this season. He's been working on it all summer. We'll just kind of give him free rein to do that and see how he feels until he gets comfortable. For the most part, his role hasn't changed."
Shumpert's role did change in the Finals, however, and that upset him. After averaging 25.5 minutes per game in the regular season, he played just 13.4 minutes per game in the Finals overall (and only 9.3 minutes apiece in Games 3-5).
"I felt like, during the Finals, I wanted to play more," Shumpert said. "I felt like the game I played more -- I believe Game 2 -- I felt like I was effective, and I wanted to be more a part of the game. I felt like I could change the game in different ways. I may not change it the way another guy did, but I felt like the way we did when I was in the game, it helped us. So that was my concern."
Shumpert had 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in Game 2, playing 22 minutes -- his most in any game in the series. He shot 1-for-6 from the field and had a plus/minus of minus-5. Cleveland lost by 19.
He is hopeful that Lue will use the depth on the Cavs' roster so that there is less of a burden placed on Cleveland's starters. Shumpert believes Lue's rotations hurt the Cavs' chances against Golden State.
"It's such an advantage for us, and I don't think anybody will be running out of energy in the middle of the game anymore," he said. "That was another concern we had, just gassing our main guys early on in the Finals, and this should be able to preserve bodies better with this team."
Shumpert could still be traded before the season. Cleveland has 16 guaranteed contracts and needs to either cut a player or unload a player in a deal before the regular season starts. Shumpert's $10.3 million salary is a lot to pay for a backup -- particularly given the Cavs' luxury tax situation. Regardless, Lue was optimistic about what the freshly coiffed Shumpert can bring this season, should he stick around.
"He's in a good place," Lue said. "Cut his hair, which I like. Nice, new look. But he's in a good place, and we had a good talk and good conversation and just go from there."