- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 10, 2007

SAN ANTONIO.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is resisting the urge to replace the hobbled Larry Hughes in the starting lineup with Daniel Gibson tonight, for whatever nebulous reasons.

Hughes is dealing with yet another injury, this time a torn plantar fascia in his left foot that has robbed him of his quickness and explosiveness.

This is as it always has been with Hughes, whether he was with the 76ers, Warriors or Wizards before joining the Cavaliers.


Hughes always has another body part in need of medical attention — a strained shoulder, a sprained ankle, a broken wrist, a fractured thumb, a fractured finger and now a torn plantar fascia.

Hughes sustained his latest injury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. He has played through the discomfort, with modest results.

He missed four of five field goal attempts in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He finished with two points, three rebounds and two fouls in 23 minutes. He also was too slow on defense to stop Spurs point guard Tony Parker from driving to the basket.

Gibson, meanwhile, finished with a team-high 16 points in 28 minutes and is potentially an antidote to the Spurs’ doubling- and triple-teaming of LeBron James. He has averaged 19.7 points in his last four games after being rarely used at the beginning of the playoffs.

Yet Brown sees no need to make a switch, not now, not with the Cavaliers in need of resuscitation on offense going into Game 2 tonight.

Daniel is in a nice rhythm coming off the bench, and we don’t want to try to mess with that right now,” Brown said yesterday. “But I understand Larry’s injury, as he does, and it’s something that we’ll just continue to monitor.”

This is not how Hughes imagined it to be after he bolted from the Wizards two summers ago.

He was coming off his best season in the NBA and was signed to be the No. 2 guy to James. Instead, he has the contract of a leading player — a five-year, $70-million deal — but numbers befitting a role player.

Hughes was the highest-paid member of the Cavaliers this season at $15.3 million. He still has three years and $38.4 million left on his contract, an unappealing prospect for the Cavaliers given his injury-plagued history and struggles playing off James.

James dominates the basketball for long stretches of the game and needs spot-up shooters on the floor to stretch the defense.

Hughes is a capable scorer if he is in transition or able to create off the dribble.

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