Cavs' Gibson healthy, ready to go to 'the zone'

Chris Beaven

It’s a place all NBA shooters seek out -- The Zone.

Few find it consistently.

Count Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson as one of those frequent visitors to the happy place for any shooter.

“It really is the zone,” Gibson said. “You get out there and you’re kind of just floating.”

Gibson floated into the zone enough last season to rank fifth in the NBA in 3-point shooting. He hopes to spend even more time there this season on a team with high hopes.

The Cavs open the preseason at 7 tonight at home against Toronto.

“I feel great,” Gibson said. “I’m looking forward to the season, no pain, no anything. I can just go out and play and have fun.”

Pain -- from a strained right hamstring to a bad ankle sprain – disrupted Gibson’s regular season a year ago, limiting him to 58 games. And finally a separated left shoulder ended his season after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Gibson could only watch as the Cavs’ season ended with a Game 7 loss in Boston. He hit 44.0 percent of his 3-pointers during the 2007-08 season, averaging 10.4 points a game. In the playoffs, he averaged 9.0 points, shooting 45.2 percent on 3-pointers.

“Last year only motivated me for this summer getting myself back, getting myself ready to do some good things,” said Gibson, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in June to ensure being at full strength for training camp.

Gibson did one other thing to make sure he was ready for training camp -- handle his contract situation over the summer. A restricted free agent, Gibson didn’t keep himself on the market too long. He agreed to a five-year deal with the Cavs in mid-July worth $21 million.

“I wanted to get (it) out of the way as soon as possible because I knew that as a team we wanted to get better,” Gibson said. “And knowing that I didn’t want to be anywhere else but Cleveland it wouldn’t make sense for me to try to hold out, take my time with the process.

“I could just get it over quickly and let the Cavaliers and the management go on and get guys like Mo (Williams) and re-sign guys like Delonte (West) once I got my situation out of the way.”

The Cavs traded for Williams in August. They came to terms with West, a restricted free agent, last month.

Williams and West also happen to play Gibson’s primary position – point guard. But none of the three view the situation as a battle among themselves for minutes. They know their versatility will allow them to play together in different situations.

“I just feel like we’re deep ... we have three guys in the backcourt that are capable of playing great at any moment in time,” Gibson said.

As far as if he will play point guard or shooting guard, Gibson can care less. To borrow a term from superstar teammate and close friend LeBron James, he’s a “playmaker.”

“As long as I can get out there on the floor and be in the game when it counts, that’s what matters to me,” he said. “Whether you’re starting or coming off the bench, I want to have an impact on the game in some kind of way.”

The Cavs know exactly what kind of impact Gibson can make once he floats into the zone. He destroyed the Pistons in the decisive Game 6 of the conference finals in 2007, scoring 25 second-half points. He had an 11-game stretch last year where he made 50 percent of his 3-pointers. Then there were his 11 3-pointers in the Rookie Challenge game during last season’s All-Star Weekend.

“You know once you touch the ball, once you shoot it, you don’t think about it,” Gibson said. “Nothing goes through your mind about even making a shot. You kind of just let it go. You just know it’s going to go in. It gets to the point where you feel like you don’t even have to look after you shoot. It’s going to go in.”

The Repository