Two Years After a Draft Night Deal Made Him A Cav, Cedi Osman Comes to Cleveland
On a Cavaliers team loaded with accomplished veterans, it’s easy to lose track of the young guys.
Guys like John Holland, Ante Zizic, London Perrantes and Cedi Osman are going to have their hands full trying to find minutes in Coach Tyronn Lue’s star-studded rotation. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of the franchise’s future.
Rookie forward Cedi Osman – (pronounced JED-e AUS-min) – was tabbed by the T-Wolves with the 31st overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft and his rights were immediately dealt to the Cavaliers. After playing two successful seasons between the Turkish BSL and Euroleague, Osman signed with the Wine & Gold this summer.
The 6-8, 215-pounder, originally from Ohrid, Macedonia, averaged 13.2 points and 3.7 boards per game in his final season in Europe and was very impressive with the Turkish team in EuroBasket 2017 – including an epic duel against Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis in which Osman went for 24 points, six boards and five assist.
And he won’t turn 23 until the final week of the regular season.
Before he and the Cavaliers head to Milwaukee for the first road trip of the season, Cavs.com sat down with Osman to talk about his maiden voyage in the Association …
Cedi Osman handles the ball during the preseason game against the Washington Wizards on October 8, 2017 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Let’s get this out of the way first. Explain the story of your uniform number and how you wound up with No. 16?
Cedi Osman: So, the thing is, overseas I was wearing No. 6 – and LeBron also wears No. 6 on the practice court, so it was impossible to take it.
So I picked No. 9 because it’s, like, 6 from the other side.
And when D. Wade came, they were like: ‘Hey, Cedi, we have to talk about your number.’ And I said: ‘Sure, no problem, whatever you want.’
Actually, a couple friends of mine texted me and said: ‘Do you know that you’re going to change your number?’ I said: ‘Of course. I’m going to get an American number.’ I didn’t understand that we were talking about the jerseys.
They said: ‘No, I’m not talking about your American number. I’m talking about your jersey.’
I didn’t know what he meant. And then I checked on Twitter and they were talking about my Number 9 going to D. Wade.
But, it’s all good. So, I picked No. 16, so I still get to have a 6. (Laughs) That’s the story about the number.
What’s your hometown – Ohrid, Macedonia – like?
Osman: Macedonia is a small country and Ohrid is a really small city. But it’s really nice. It’s on a lake. In the summer a lot of people visit, especially from Yugoslavia. There are a lot of American people going there. A lot of tourists.
It’s a nice city, small, really hot in the summer. I go back every summer because my family is there
How are you getting accustomed to Cleveland?
Osman: I mean, I feel perfect being here and I’m really happy and proud that I’m a part of this team and all the great players, All-Star players. I feel lucky.
This is really my first month here. Before that, I came to Cleveland in the summer for two days, just to sign a contract and to see the city. Then I went back.
But, you know, Istanbul is a really big city — like 20 million people. A huge city.
And what I like about Cleveland is that it’s small and you only have a chance to think about basketball and concentrate on basketball. So, I love basketball and that’s why I like the city.
There’s a ton of traffic in Istanbul. Here, there’s no traffic; (it’s an) easy 15-minute drive to the practice facility, five-minute drive to The Q.
So, it’s all good.
Knowing you’d most likely play for the Cavaliers, what were those two years like before you came to Cleveland?
Osman: After Draft night, the day after I talked to David Griffin and, at that time, Coach Blatt, they said they were really excited about me. But I knew that I would stay two more years overseas and play there until my contract ended because I had a three-year contract and the last year was my option that I can go out.
So, I tried to do my best in those two years, getting ready for the NBA, getting ready for the Cavs.
Were you able to follow the Cavaliers from Turkey?
Osman: All the time. All the time.
In Turkey right now, together with the Spanish league, they’re the number one leagues in Europe. They have really good players; a lot of NBA players have played there.
But I was always following NBA games, the Cavalier games – especially the Finals with Golden State. That was a tough one.
But I was watching every game, cheering for the Cavs.
“Channing Frye, T-Thomp, K-Love. All of those guys are great and they were really taking care of me and, you know, I’m really thankful.”
Cavs Swingman Cedi Osman
How much did your success in EuroBasket 2017 help boost your confidence coming over to play in the NBA this year?
Osman: I mean, it was important to play well in Eurobasket. I signed (with Cleveland) before playing with the national team, but still I knew that I had to improve a lot.
So Eurobasket was a good chance for me because I took that opportunity to be a leader, and I was playing as a leader on that team. And I think I did good.
Playing against Porzingis was fun. The crowd was into it, it was a full gym, tons of Latvian fans.
It was a great game, playing against Porzinigis. He’s an excellent player. That was really fun for me.
For fans who haven’t seen you play much, how would you describe your game?
Osman: I’m a guy who can play on both ends of the court.
I can play shooting guard, power forward. I played power forward for the national team. I can pass the ball, I can create shots or space for my teammates.
What I like most is when I get the rebound I like to push the ball up the floor. That’s when I’m at my best.
The NBA is really good for me because there’s a lot of running. That’s what I like. And over these past two years, I’ve fixed my spot-up shots. I’m shooting better right now, but I’m still working a lot on that.
You’re playing with some high-level NBA veterans now. How have they welcomed you?
Osman: So, the first day in Santa Barbara, that was the first day when I met LeBron and all the players. But I was feeling a lot of stress because I’m the new guy, the rookie.
But when we met, I saw that they were such good people and they have a great character.
And LeBron is always talking and making jokes all the time. Not just him. Channing Frye, T-Thomp, K-Love. All of those guys are great and they were really taking care of me and, you know, I’m really thankful. They helped me a lot right from the first day.
In five-on-five, from the first minute, LeBron was talking to me: ‘You have to help on this man … You have to shrink … You have to get back.’
So that was a really good thing for me and I was really happy. And that’s why I’m saying I’m really lucky to be here.
Are your buddies back home asking you what it’s like practicing with the King?
Osman: (Laughs) They’re always asking: ‘How’s everything going with LeBron? Is he talking to you?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s talking to me!’
Because you don’t know him and he’s the best player in the world and, like, people who don’t know him think of him as scary, right?. But actually he’s not like that. He’s a very good person and a hard worker. I’ve never seen a professional like he is.
I remember Santa Barbara. He was the first one coming to practices and the last one to leave the gym. But that’s the key to great success.
So we have to watch him and learn from him and go in the same direction he goes.
Any rookie initiation yet? Donuts?
Osman: Yes. Donuts, on game days.
I mean, it’s all good for me because those are all funny things. Like, Channing Frye told me that I had to buy 16 iPhone chargers. And he was talking something about the bags before we leave today for Milwaukee.
I don’t know what that is, but we’ll see.