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Powe: 'Cavs Had More Belief in Me'

Aug 14, 2009 – 5:35 PM
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Matt Steinmetz

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OAKLAND -- Signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers turned out to be a pretty easy decision for Leon Powe. Sure, LeBron James had something to do with it, and so did Shaquille O'Neal, not to mention the realistic possibility of winning an NBA title.

But a lot of it came down to peace of mind, and it's obvious that the Cavaliers' willingness to trust Powe when it came to his left knee and its rehabilitation was a big factor in the signing.

Powe is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee and is targeting a February return. Powe's been down the rehab road before -- two other times, in fact -- so his estimate is likely pretty solid. It's a timetable the Cavs are fine with.

"I think they (Cavaliers) had more belief in me (than some other teams)," Powe said, taking a break from working his youth camp at Merritt College. "But also look at Cleveland and how deep they are. They don't need me to rush back real quick. Some of the teams wanted me to play a little bit sooner than February, and I wasn't willing to do that."

Powe suffered the injury during Boston's first-round series against the Chicago Bulls. It's the third time Powe has torn the ACL in his left knee, but he said on Friday that the most recent injury doesn't compare severity-wise to the previous two.

Still, it's also apparent that some teams don't believe Powe will be ready to play in 2009-10 at all, and perhaps even beyond.

"I have no doubt at all about returning," Powe said. "I take it real personally. I know what I've got to do to get back on the court. And I know when I'm ready. You've got to just go out there and rehab your butt off. That's what I've been doing. I can't take any days off, and I've been in there strong, just working on my leg, trying to get it better."

Once October rolls around, Powe will head to Cleveland to continue rehab. He called himself a "bad negotiator" for not being able to talk the Cavaliers into allowing him to rehab in L.A. Then again, Powe made it clear he'll gladly do that for the team that took the shot on him.

Powe talked to a number of teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. In the end, he took a two-year, $1.77 million deal, with the Cavs holding a team option for Year No. 2. That's the minimum for a player of Powe's experience, and a nice bargain for a guy who played a role in the Celtics' championship a couple of seasons ago.

Powe said the Celtics made a late run, but the fact that they had failed to make a qualifying offer to him at the end of the season was too much of a stinger.

"Cleveland and the Lakers were a little bit later than all the other teams," Powe said. "We were trying to get a little more money. But in fairness to everybody, the Cavs were taking a chance. And since they believed in me, we said let's go with them regardless of the price. Even though the price is still a good price for the majority of people."

So, did he really give the Lakers a thought?

"I gave it a thought," Powe said. "Yeah, just a little bit. I think they told my agent (Aaron Goodwin) that if they didn't re-sign Lamar Odom they'd take a look at me. But they got Lamar Odom back so I wasn't worried about them anymore."

More Steinmetz on Twitter: @matt_steinmetz
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