As the 2016 NBA Finals fade into memory, with the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, LeBron James blocking Andre Iguodala, and Kyrie Irving hitting the biggest shot of his short career standing as singular touchstones, it’s easy to forget that Timofey Mozgov was once a pretty critical member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Part of the flurry of trades that also sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland at the deadline in the 2014-2015 season, Mozgov gave the Cavs a big man presence – and a complement to Tristan Thompson – that they were sorely lacking. He had some bright moments and big games, but as the playoff rotation shortened, and the team relied more and more on sets with Kevin Love and Thompson, Mozgov’s minutes went away. He was always a shiny, happy member of the team, and his teammates loved him. So despite the fact that he was pretty much a ghost during the Finals, he more than deserved his ring.
The respect he had for his Cleveland compatriots was more than noticeable. He wore a Lil Kev shirt when he signed his contract with the Lakers.