Cleveland Cavaliers combo guard Jeremy Pargo has put the past where it belongs.
Though he is disinclined to admit it, Pargo’s lone season with the Memphis Grizzlies last year isn’t one he would describe as a memorable one.
“I’m here and now I’m happy where I am,” Pargo, before the Cavs faced the Grizzlies Monday night in FedExForum, said of landing in Cleveland.
Among the reasons Pargo is gratified about having a change in scenery is that despite having started five of 44 regular-season games for Memphis last year, he found it mostly difficult becoming acclimated to Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins’ system. That ultimately gave way to the Chicago native witnessing his seven-month stint with the team come to an end. He was traded in July to Cleveland in exchange for D. J. Kennedy and a 2014 second-round pick.
Kennedy has since been waived by the Grizzlies. Fortunately for the 26-year-old Pargo, though, he appears to be adjusting comfortably to his new role for the Cavs. So much, in fact, that Pargo — three years removed from having gone undrafted after a stellar collegiate campaign at Gonzaga — enjoyed what undoubtedly was his NBA coming-out-party last week against Philadelphia.
Making his first start for Cleveland in favor of the injured Kyrie Irving, who was sidelined with a hairline fracture to his left index figure, Pargo left a favorable impression on Cavs coach Byron Scott and his staff with a career-best 28-point outburst on 11-of-19 field goals in a 92-83 win over the 76ers.
That Pargo is starting to re-invent himself after one productive season in the Euroleague two years ago could prove beneficial for a young Cavs team Scott believes is headed in the right direction.
“He’s been pretty consistent from Day 1,” Scott said of Pargo. “He’s stepping in a system where Kyrie was down and I switched up some things. Like many guys, his shot comes and goes. He got the (starting) role because of his defensive presence. I think the situation (in Memphis), he’s learned from it.”
While Pargo, who registered nine points in 30-plus minutes in the Cavs’ 84-78 loss to the Grizzlies, wouldn’t comment on his brief tenure with Memphis and his relationship with Hollins, he described landing in Cleveland as a “ much better situation,” in part because the Cavs boast one of the NBA’s youngest teams with an average age of 27.
“I’m not even focused on the things from last season,” said Pargo, who exchanged pleasantries with Grizzlies assistant coach Bob Thorton and guard Tony Allen before the game. “Things work out for whatever reasons they do. I mean, I’m happy where I am now and I’m just glad to have the chance to play. It’s a better situation.”
One in which Allen, a nine-year veteran, believes is befitting for a player of Pargo’s caliber, considering the 6-foot-2 Pargo spent a majority of last year playing in the shadows of Allen, Mike Conley, and former Grizz and current Dallas Mavericks guard O. J. Mayo.
“I just told him to take advantage of his opportunities and he said okay,” Allen said of Pargo. “But fortunately, we came out with the victory.”
Considering there was much uncertainty surrounding whether he would actually make an NBA roster after going undrafted three years ago, Pargo said his primary emphasis as the season progresses is to relish every chance afforded to him. After all, he is in a much better situation, given what transpired during his first start for the Cavs.
“It’s basketball either way,” Pargo said. “You’ve got to come out either way and just play and focus every night. (Scott) just told me to play within myself.”
Let alone put the past where it belongs.