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Sir’Dominic Pointer is on the bus ride from the hotel to the arena before a Cleveland Cavaliers summer league game in Las Vegas.
This one is against Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers, and Pointer doesn’t know it yet, but it will be his final chance to win something with the Cavs this summer. Soon enough, the Lakers will eliminate his team from the winner’s bracket at the Vegas league.
On this night, Pointer’s jersey indicates he plays for Cleveland. But it still must feel quite a ways away from the actual Cavaliers.
“Day by day,” he says from his seat on the bus, describing how he approaches his professional basketball career. “Day by day.”
Pointer has been affiliated with the Cavs for two years, and they really are the only NBA team to which he has been linked. Still, he has yet to play an NBA minute.
Instead, his three-year pro career has taken him to the Canton Charge of the D-League (now G-League), to Israel, and back to Israel again.
Where the game will take him next, not even he pretends to know.
The Cavs originally drafted Pointer out of St. John’s back in 2015. He was selected late in the second round, with the No. 53 pick overall.
They liked how he could defend, how he played with great determination — how he always wanted to guard the opponent’s best player and seemed to chase loose balls as if they were worth a million bucks.
Interestingly, Pointer played with what appeared to be great passion, despite not really feeling all that passionate about it.
“Back in college, for about two years there, I didn’t enjoy the game,” he says.
He just sort of went through the motions, getting by on talent alone. And it worked.
Then the Cavs drafted him, and everything changed. It helped rekindle Pointer’s basketball flame. It’s continued to burn.
“Now, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it again,” he says. “I just love to play.”
HIS BEST SHOT
Pointer, 25, is a native of Detroit and typically returns there during the offseason to conduct his workouts and conditioning.
He is 6-foot-6 and more small forward than shooting guard. Actually, it was that “shooting” portion of the game that has always been the knock against him.
“I’m a 3-and-D guy,” Pointer says, breaking out a phrase used to describe players who can really defend while capably knocking down 3-pointers.
After shooting a rim-rattling 19 percent on threes during his four years at St. John’s, Pointer made it his mission to extend his range. He spent hours upon hours getting up extra jumpers in the gym, beginning with his time in Canton, all the way to Israel, and continuing to today.
“I always make sure to get in a lot reps,” he says. “I can knock down the open shot.”
He’s hardly lethal, but opponents at least now must be aware of him on the perimeter.
“He’s been working with a purpose,” says former Charge coach and current Denver Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez, “and it’s been showing up.”
CHASE ROLLS ON
Pointer averaged 8.7 points in 14 minutes through the first three summer games. He shot a sizzling 65 percent from the floor and collected 4.3 rebounds.
His best night was the 13-pointer (on 6-of-8 shooting) vs. the Golden State Warriors’ summer squad.
But he is well aware the Cavs are a veteran team, a team has made three straight trips to the NBA Finals. He is aware the Cavs currently have but one roster spot available.
He is also aware they tend to fill those spots with men who have played in the league for some time — and that those who haven’t played in the league at all tend to be considered long shots.
But he is also aware the Cavs keep inviting him back, and that he is enjoying the game as if he is a kid again.
He will, it is evident today, be happy with wherever it takes him next.
“I’m grateful for the opportunities,” he says, as his basketball bus ride rolls on. “I’d love to stay (with the Cavs) of course. But I always keep all options open. I have to. So yeah, it’s day by day.”