Samardo Samuels wasn't rumored to be attending Impact Basketball's Competitive Series of games out in Las Vegas over the next couple weeks, but the Cavaliers big man ended up dropping in on Thursday anyways. He showed up pretty well for himself in his first game too, playing alongside former teammates Mo Willams and JJ Hickson, and I caught up with the former undrafted rookie afterwards. Our exchange is below:
Stepien Rules: How'd did you feel like it went for you out there today?
Samardo Samuels: Today was good man. It was the first time I really got to play with a large group of NBA guys since I was working out at UCLA so that was good, and to come out here in the first game and get a win was good too.
SR: What have you been up to this offseason so far?
Samardo: Just busting my ass man, working out and just trying get better and not trying to let this lockout effect me. I know that I have a lot of catching up to do, and a lot of things to work on as far as my game goes, so I’m just trying to get better.
SR: What are you working on specifically, any one part of your game?
Samardo: Everything really, but stamina is a focus. [After being sidelined with injury to end season] I'm trying to get myself so I’m not tired when I'm banging inside and doing all that stuff, you know what I mean, so that's really what I'm working on right now. I just gotta get myself to be able to get back, and just be in better shape. I feel like everything else will fall in place once I’m in good shape.
SR: What would be the biggest thing you've taken away from last year as you look to move forward in the NBA?
Samardo: Just to know that I can do it, just to know that it can be done. In the end I kinda got my groove, was doing a little bit better, felt like I was growing, and I just wanna keep doing it.
SR: You going to be back for week two out here at Impact?
Samardo: Yeah I’m gonna be out here.
I gotta think this lockout hits home hardest for guys in similar situations as the one Samuels is in too for whatever that's worth. I don't imagine it's easy to "not try to let the lockout effect him," and I would think I'd have a tough time doing that in his spot too. If anything a guy like Samuels, who created some positive momentum for himself late in the season while averaging 12 and 6 for the month of March before being sidelined for the last handful of games, would want this next season to start right away while he's got some people paying attention to him.
Hopefully it does start back up soon for his and all of our sakes though I guess, but I imagine there'd be at least a few people around the League who'd still recall that performance he put on in Cleveland's 119-115 win out in New York late last year. He was an absoulte beast that night; and while he was by no means the best player on that floor, for one night at least, he was by far the toughest.
I see no reason why he doesn't have a few more games like that in his arsenal too moving forward, so we'll see what happens whenever something eventually does I suppose.