Cavaliers’ Stauskas emerges from crazy week, cool beginnings

Nik Stauskas had a whirlwind of a week, finally making his Cavaliers debut in Mondays win over the Knicks.

There are big-name All-Stars who demand trades and make important free-agent decisions, and then there are guys like Nik Stauskas.

The newest Cavaliers guard was a Cavs guard for all of one day last week. That’s when the Cavs acquired Stauskas and fellow shooting guard Wade Baldwin from the Portland Trail Blazers in the Rodney Hood trade.

You may know the story from there. Stauskas was quickly traded to the Houston Rockets as part of the three-team trade that sent Alec Burks to the Sacramento Kings (and old friend Iman Shmupert to the Rockets).

Stauskas, 25, had already experienced a whirlwind of a few days. But it wasn’t over yet.

No sooner did the Rockets acquire Stauskas (and Baldwin) did another trade occur. This time, Stauskas (and Baldwin) went to the Indiana Pacers. But there would not be another trade. Instead, Stauskas (and Baldwin) got cut.

Today? Somehow, someway Stauskas is back with the Cavs. He is signed for the rest of the year. Luckily for Stauskas, the trade deadline has passed.

“It was crazy,” Stauskas said prior to the Cavs’ home win over the New York Knicks on Monday. “I haven’t left Cleveland. … I’m glad it all worked out.”

His first appearance wasn’t necessarily the best, as he finished 1-of-9 shooting in his Cavs debut. But it wasn’t necessarily the calmest of weeks leading into the game, either.

Things could be different once he has a chance to settle in.

“I’m very excited. When I got traded here initially, I knew it was going to be a good opportunity,” Stauskas said. “I was bummed when I was traded to Houston initially because I wanted to be here.”


Stauskas is 6-foot-6 and was selected out of Michigan with the No. 8 overall pick in 2014. He bounced around from the Sacramento Kings to the Philadelphia 76ers to the Brooklyn Nets to the Blazers and now the Cavs. He may have gotten a free Rockets and Pacers hat in there somewhere, too.

Now, he is back with the Cavs and has quite a story to tell.

Along with center Tristan Thompson, Stauskas is one of two Canadian products on the roster. He is actually Lithuanian but grew up in Ontario. That is hockey country, but hockey was never Stauskas’ game. In fact, basketball is the only game he ever really wanted to know.

“He doesn’t know anything about hockey, he doesn’t know anything about football,” Michigan coach John Beilein said while Stauskas was still a Wolverine. “The other day we had him try to throw a baseball pass as a press breaker. And he had never thrown a baseball.”

When Stauskas’ parents gave him the choice of a swimming pool or basketball court in the back yard, it was a no-brainer. Once the court was put in place, Stauskas refused to go inside.

That included an infamous ice storm in 2006 that basically shut down the city. Stauskas and older brother Peter kept firing jumpers anyway.

“The ball couldn’t hit the backboard without slipping off,” Stauskas once relayed. “But we didn’t care.”

His love of the game actually started at a Toronto Raptors open practice for fans. Through that promotional event, Stauskas got to play legend Vince Carter in a game of one-on-one. Stauskas was about 9-years old. It likely wasn’t much of a “game.” But it was the start of his obsession.

So Stauskas is a hoops junkie, a player who still prefers the solitude of the gym over the steaks and jets and fast cars of NBA life. That may be the kind of player the Cavs are looking for long-term.

“He’s driven,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “He wants to be out on the floor.”

If nothing else, the Cavs want Stauskas and Stauskas wants the Cavs.

“This is home for me,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping, (that) this is not a two-month thing.”