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It’s late on Sunday night in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room inside Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Matthew Dellavedova is standing in one corner with a towel wrapped around his waste and a big smile on his face.
In another corner Cavs big man Tristan Thompson is laughing as he puts his giant feet in a bucket of ice.
Rookie point guard Collin Sexton is in the middle of the room surrounded by a crush of reporters and TV cameras, but he is also full of smiles.
“If you look around, everyone has a smile on their face,” Dellavedova tells AAP.
“We’re just trying to stay positive.”
Staying positive has been the motto of Dellavedova’s NBA career, despite plenty of ups and downs including going undrafted out of college, battling his way onto the Cavs’ roster in 2013 via the NBA’s Summer League, overcoming multiple injuries and being accused of being a dirty player.
The Cavs, the NBA’s worst team this season, on this night had reason to smile after breaking a 12-game losing streak by defeating a Los Angeles Lakers team playing without superstar LeBron James, who fled Cleveland for LA in the off-season.
Last month the NBA championship-contending Milwaukee Bucks traded Dellavedova to the wooden spoon favourite Cavs.
Few NBA players would embrace that.
The Cavs have won just nine of their 44 games this season, but Dellavedova loves being back in Cleveland where he started his NBA career, became James’ sidekick and won a title in 2016 before being enticed away by the Bucks with a $US38 million four-year deal.
The 28-year-old from country Victoria with the blue collar work ethic is a perfect match for the rust belt city of Cleveland.
“Obviously it’s tough going from winning a lot of games to not winning as many games, but Cleveland is a special place with a lot of special people,” Dellavedova said.
Dellavedova is also positive and fully supportive of whatever decision fellow Australian Ben Simmons makes about playing for the Boomers at the World Cup in China later this year.
The Australian men’s team has never won a medal at a major championship and Simmons, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year and a likely All-Star, would spearhead a formidable squad featuring veterans Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Andrew Bogut and young guns Thon Maker and Jonah Bolden.
Simmons might sit out the World Cup as he negotiates a potential five-year, $A200 million-plus contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“We definitely want Ben to play and want him to be a part of it,” Dellavedova said.
“From everything he has said he wants to be a part of it as well and obviously he has some important things to work out with Philly – obviously a massive contract.
“But we can’t wait to get him into the mix and play with him because he is a game changer and he is having an unbelievable year with Philly.”
There is one thing that does temporarily wipe the smile off Dellavedova’s face.
After enduring winter snowstorms and subzero temperatures in Cleveland and Milwaukee the Cavs this week have a multi-day stop in LA.
Dellavedova was hoping to get his pasty body out into the California sunshine and go for a swim in the Pacific Ocean, but LA has been hit by a rare major rainstorm that will keep him indoors.
“Oh man,” Dellavedova sighs.
“It never rains in LA.”