Cavaliers Insider Terry Pluto of cleveland.com was impressed with Darius Garland’s 2021-22 season.
He was so impressed, Pluto expects Garland’s representatives to push for a max contract extension this summer:
“Garland is eligible for a maximum contract extension. It would be in the 5-year, $180 million range, and his agent is expected to push for that to happen. Garland is 23. He averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 assists and shot .462 (.383 on 3-pointers). The only question will be if he can stay healthy – and the Cavs can’t play him 38 minutes a game as they did after the All-Star break.”
It makes perfect sense.
Garland showed this season that he can be a winning team’s leading playmaker, earning an All-Star nod.
Along with center Jarrett Allen and forward Evan Mobley, Garland forms a potent three-player foundation for the Cavaliers.
He’s quickly turned into one of the league’s best young guards to build a team around.
Don’t just take my word for it.
On a recent podcast, basketball savant Bill Simmons named Garland as the league’s top dynamic up-and-coming guards. He rated Garland ahead of players like Jordan Poole, Tyrese Haliburton, Lamelo Ball, and Tyler Herro.
That’s high praise, but’s it’s certainly deserved.
Pluto noted that health might be a concern in Garland’s contract extension.
In all fairness, Garland was one of the only pieces who was available almost all season.
He started in all of the 68 games he appeared in; up from 54 appearances in 2020-21 and 59 in 2019-20.
For better or worse, the Cavs have experience with Garland’s reps.
The former Boilermaker is represented by Klutch, whose clientele are a who’s who of NBA elite.
It’s funny, really.
The Cavaliers boast a twin towers frontcourt with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
But in the backcourt, it’s more like twin…townhomes?
That’s because, as it stands now, the 6’1” Garland is expected to share ball handling responsibilities with Collin Sexton, who also stands at 6’1”.
But the lingering question of what to do with Collin Sexton remains.
Pluto argued for extending a qualifying offer, a one-year, $7.2 million deal, that would essentially act as a “prove it” contract.
In the past, players have taken offers like this, betting on themselves that they have what it takes to earn a massive payout the following season.
It makes a lot of sense for Sexton, who is coming off a season in which he only appeared in 11 games due to a knee injury.
Pluto also made a compelling case for Sexton coming off the bench.
In that case, Sexton could act as a Tyler Herro-lite for the Cavs–a sixth man who can score in bunches.
It’s been obvious how successful the Heat have been with that formula, as they are set to play in their second Eastern Conference finals in three seasons.
But every NBA offseason is driven by narratives.
And the LeBron-less Cavs have traditionally been out of the spotlight.
But as the summer progresses, expect one narrative to become “Which guard will the Cavaliers choose?”
Because if the Cavaliers offer a multi-year extension to Garland and not Sexton, it wouldn’t be surprising.
But could it create a rift between two teammates who, to this point, seem to like playing together?
It all depends on how the Cavs play the situation.
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