Cavs take chance on Powe

Updated: August 13, 2009, 6:34 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Leon Powe once thought he was the nation's top 10th-grade basketball player. Then he saw one of his AAU teammates play: LeBron James.

Powe asked his coach if James was in his graduating class. He was.

Powe
Powe

"Aww man," Powe said. "There goes my No. 1 spot."

He'll gladly take a backup role to James again, as soon as his repaired left knee allows it. Powe signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, even though he isn't expected back on the court until sometime around the All-Star break. The Cavaliers are paying Powe the league minimum for a three-year veteran.

"The money is not the issue with me," Powe said. "The issue is I want to get my knee back healthy and go out there and play basketball. The money will come."

The Celtics let the 6-foot-8 forward leave following a third surgery on his left knee, this time to repair a torn ACL suffered in the playoffs. Powe is strengthening the knee in Los Angeles and should begin running in about a month. He is expected in Cleveland in two weeks to continue his rehab.

"It's always tough leaving the place you started," Powe said in a conference call on Thursday. "I gave them every opportunity to have me over there, which didn't work out. It wasn't my fault. I had to move on."

Powe averaged 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 70 games last season.

He is reuniting with James after the two stormed the country on AAU teams and at summer camps during their high school years. Powe, 25, watched James take over games long before he became an NBA superstar.

After Powe broke into the NBA alongside stars such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Powe now joins James and Shaquille O'Neal.

"Shaq is one of the greatest players of all time and 'Bron is going to be right there in that category," Powe said. "Those are two great personalities. That's the fun thing about playing with guys like them. They're easy to get along with and it's easy to play with them."

By remaining in the Eastern Conference, Powe might not have to wait long for a reunion against his old team. The Cavaliers and Celtics are likely to again be two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and Powe admits he's already dreaming of a postseason meeting.

"If that happens, that's going to be fun for me," he said. "I know Boston is a challenge, but our team, the Cavaliers got better and we'll take on all challengers."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE