CLEVELAND (AP) Matthew Dellavedova‘s return to his first NBA home is off to a good start before playing in a game.
Dellavedova, dressed in street clothes, was greeted by security guards and arena employees, and received a standing ovation from the crowd when he returned to Cleveland on Saturday night.
“I appreciate the love from everyone,” he said. “It makes me feel very welcome.”
Cleveland acquired Dellavedova in a three-team trade Friday with the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards. He began his career with the Cavaliers in 2014 and was a key member of the 2016 title team before he signed with the Bucks later that summer.
Dellavedova watched Saturday night’s game against the Wizards from the bench. The Cavaliers showed a video of him playing in the Finals from the championship season, which led to a long ovation from the crowd.
Known to Cleveland fans as “Delly,” Dellavedova became an instant hit with Quicken Loans Arena crowds, who immediately liked his gritty style of play. The trade received positive reaction from fans on social media.
“It makes me feel great,” he said. “My time here was really special and I loved every minute of it. It makes me excited to get back out there and play for everyone in this city because it’s a special place.”
Dellavedova could play Monday when Cleveland is in Milwaukee, where he learned of the trade.
“Obviously you don’t expect to pick and move, but it’s the NBA so it could always happen,” he said. “If it was going to be anywhere I’m definitely glad it’s here where I’m comfortable with familiar faces and a lot of friends. ”
The 28-year-old Dellavedova averaged 1.7 points and 2.4 assists in 12 games with Milwaukee.
Cleveland is 5-20 and rebuilding following LeBron James‘ departure last summer. The Cavaliers also received forward John Henson and 2021 first- and second-round picks from Milwaukee, and a 2022 second-rounder from Washington.
Henson also arrived in town Saturday and quickly learned how popular Dellavedova is, calling his teammate a “folk hero” in Cleveland.
“I’ll just be in Delly’s shadow,” Henson said. “Don’t forget about me.”
Cavaliers coach Larry Drew believes Dellavedova will help the development of rookie point guard Collin Sexton.
“It will be really, really good for Collin,” Drew said. “Delly is one of those guys when you watch him play, he doesn’t woo you the way he plays, he just gets the job done.”