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#pounditWednesday, October 5, 2022

Articles tagged: Cleveland Cavaliers

Surprising player gets biggest contract in Cavs history

Darius Garland smiling

Mar 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) smiles after a basket during the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers just gave out the largest contract in team history, and it went to a surprising player.

On Saturday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi reported that the Cavaliers signed All-Star guard Darius Garland to a five-year, $193 million maximum designated rookie contract extension.

According to Wojnarowski, Garland’s contract could be worth up to $231 million.

The Cavs have had LeBron James on their team, as well as All-Stars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. But it’s Garland who gets the team’s biggest contract ever, which is a sign of the incredible financial progress the NBA has made in recent years.

The contract is by far the largest deal among players on the Cavs’ active roster. According to Spotrac, Kevin Love’s four-year, $120 million contract is the second-largest. In comparison, the biggest deal that James ever signed with Cleveland was a three-year $100 million deal after he led the Cavaliers to their first NBA title in 2016.

Garland has been a key presence on a Cleveland team that has made marked improvements since the 22-year-old was drafted fifth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Garland averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 assists during his rookie season, and 17.4 points and 6.1 assists during the 2020-2021 season. Last season, the Vanderbilt product made his first All-Star team. The Cavaliers had a 44-38 record while Garland averaged a career-high 21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game. The Cavaliers earned a spot in a play-in game, but failed to make the playoffs after losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.

With Garland locked in for the foreseeable future and a solid core of young talent around him, the Cavaliers look to be in a good position to build on last season’s success.

LeBron James fuels rumors about his future with Instagram activity

LeBron James in a purple Lakers sweater

Dec 9, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) warms-up prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has one year remaining on his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. There has already been speculation about him leaving the team if he does not sign an extension this offseason, and one popular theory is that he could return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron may be having some fun with that rumor.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has made a career out of following LeBron’s every move, has said on more than one occasion that Cleveland is a team to watch if James does not sign an extension with the Lakers. It may be a coincidence, but LeBron decided to share some old highlights from when he was with the Cavs on his Instagram story Friday.

Kyrie Irving, of course, was also on that team. Rumors have been swirling about Irving leaving the Brooklyn Nets and potentially reuniting with LeBron.

Could all of this be related?

At the very least, LeBron had to have known that sharing highlights from when he was with Cleveland would fuel the speculation. That does not mean he has any intention of leaving the Lakers and/or returning to the Cavs. Though, he was asked about that earlier this year and did not exactly rule it out.

Could LeBron James pave way to return to former team?

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is only under contract with the Los Angeles Lakers through next season, and there has been no indication that he plans to retire after that. If the Lakers cannot sign LeBron to an extension this summer, that could mean he is planning to finish his career with another team. But which one?

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hinted on Thursday the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the team to watch if LeBron does not sign a new deal with the Lakers.

“This is something that no one is talking about but is obviously a big thing that could impact next season,” Windhorst said. “If he doesn’t extend … he plays out the year with the Lakers and tries to make the best of it, and we start counting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ cap space.”

Windhorst was laughing when he made the comment, but he is certainly not the first person to speculate about LeBron finishing his career where it started. James even hinted earlier this year that he is open to it.

The Cavs had a huge turnaround this season. They won 44 games, which was twice as many as the year before. They have an exciting young core with Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. You can understand why LeBron might want to play for a team like that with how things are going in Los Angeles. Though, there have been questions about whether the Cavaliers even want him back.

Luke Walton lands assistant coaching job

Luke Walton on the sideline

Mar 5, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton reacts to a call during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Walton has landed a new coaching gig heading into the 2022-23 NBA season, and it is with a very familiar team.

Walton has been hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Walton, 42, spent his last two seasons as a player with the Cavs after the Los Angeles Lakers traded him to Cleveland in 2012. He will now serve as an assistant for the team under JB Bickerstaff.

The Cavaliers had a huge turnaround this year, going from 22 wins last season to 44 and a play-in tournament berth this year. They have one of the best young cores in the NBA led by Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Bickerstaff obviously feels Walton can be an asset for those young players.

Walton was fired just 17 games into his third season as head coach of the Sacramento Kings. He coached the Lakers for three seasons prior to that.

Ime Udoka names 3 teams that missed chance to hire him as coach

Ime Udoka coaching the Celtics

Mar 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka watches from the sideline as they take on the Utah Jazz in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ime Udoka is winning widespread praise after leading the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season on the job. Boston’s gain, as he made clear, is several other teams’ loss.

Udoka had long been a head coach candidate before the Celtics hired him, but missed on several opportunities. After Sunday’s Game 7 win, Udoka named those teams, admitting it had hurt to be passed over by them but pleased the situation worked out for him.

“You really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland,” Udoka told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “I can go down the list. That was tough because I believe I was ready. But I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an organization that’s pushing for winning and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I get that, but to not be in a rebuild and being in an expectation pressure-filled situation, I wouldn’t trade that in any day.”

The Pistons hired Dwane Casey in 2018 ahead of Udoka, while the Pacers and Cavaliers have made multiple coaching changes in recent years. Of the three teams, only the Cavaliers made the playoffs in 2022, losing in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Udoka seems to be a perfect fit for the Celtics. It took longer than he hoped to become a head coach, but he wound up landing a job with a contending team that he would not have walked into elsewhere.

Warriors could trade Andrew Wiggins to unlikely team?

Andrew Wiggins shooting the ball

February 23, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins (22) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Salary cap constraints could mean that this is the last dance for the Golden State Warriors’ current core. It could also mean that Andrew Wiggins ends up on an unexpected team.

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto revealed this week on his podcast that Wiggins’ name has been mentioned within the Cleveland Cavaliers organization as a potential trade target for them. Scotto adds that the Cavs have a need for two-way wing scorers.

The 27-year-old Wiggins has been dynamite this season for the Warriors, who are one win away from the NBA Finals. He averaged 17.2 points per game on a career-high 39.3 percent from deep to go along with excellent perimeter defense. He also made the All-Star team. But Wiggins is owed $33.6 million next year, and it is looking increasingly likely that Golden State will not be able to retain him.

Of course, Cleveland is an unlikely landing spot for Wiggins on paper. For one, the Cavs are bitter rivals with the Warriors, having battled with them four straight times in the Finals over the last decade. For another, Wiggins was actually drafted by Cleveland No. 1 overall in 2014, only to be shipped off to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade after LeBron James arrived. If Wiggins does somehow end up back with the Cavs, it would be an interesting callback to what was a very awkward initial tenure.

Did Collin Sexton jinx Cavs with his shirt at play-in game?

Collin Sexton in a T-shirt

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ season is officially over, and the superstitious might point to the shirt that Collin Sexton wore as a contributing factor.

The Cavs guard Sexton, who had been out since November with a meniscus tear, wore a throwback 1995 World Series shirt to his team’s play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks. The problem? The 1995 World Series also pitted Cleveland vs. Atlanta (the Indians vs. the Braves) … with Atlanta winning.

Here is another angle of Sexton’s shirt.

Call it a jinx if you will, but Friday’s play-in game produced the same result. Atlanta (the Hawks) defeated Cleveland (the Cavs) by the final of 107-101, despite trailing by ten points at halftime.

Sexton is a native of Marietta, Ga., which probably explains why he was repping the Braves. But it feels like he should have known better than to tempt fate by bringing any sort of Atlanta-over-Cleveland juju into Friday’s contest. That may have been the greatest postseason jinx since the one that we saw in another sport a few years ago.

Notable ex-LeBron James teammate wants him back in Cleveland

LeBron James looking on

One prominent NBA player would like to see Cleveland host a landmark third installment of the LeBron James story — The Return of The King.

In an interview this week with FanSided, Cleveland Cavaliers five-time All-Star Kevin Love said that he wants James to come back to the Cavs.

“I mean, that’s like a storybook ending for him,” said Love of James, his old teammate. “I don’t want to project what he may or may not want to do, but where our team is trending and how we’re set up to win for a very long time and how much, you know, Cleveland and Akron and all of Ohio loves him. It’d be great to get Bronny [James] over here too and then we’ll call it a day.”

As it stands right now, the Los Angeles Lakers star James can become a free agent in 2023 (which is also when Love’s contract with the Cavs will expire). The 43-36 Cavs are also way ahead of the 31-47 Lakers in the standings right now and have a much brighter outlook than the Lakers for the coming years.

James and Love were teammates in Cleveland from 2014 to 2018. Though their relationship was not always a perfect one, they won the NBA title in 2016 together and remain close friends. But while Love may want James back on the Cavs, the same is not necessarily true for everyone else in the organization. There are already some signs that the Cavs would prefer to move on from James for good.

Photo: Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers might not want LeBron James back?

LeBron James looking on

If LeBron James again decides to tell the Cleveland Cavaliers, “I’m back,” they may have a two-word response of their own for him — “No thanks.”

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein cast some doubt on the possibility of James returning to Cleveland for a third stint in a post to Substack this week.

“In conversations with people I had in Cleveland, I think it’s just assumed that the Cavs would jump at the chance to get LeBron back … and I really don’t think that’s the case,” Stein wrote.

The Los Angeles Lakers star James, who can become a free agent in 2023, ignited speculation about another homecoming during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. James hinted that he was open to one more hurrah with the Cavs.

But it makes sense that the Cavs themselves may not want that on their end. At 35-23 this season, this is their first real taste of success without James on the roster. Cleveland has focused on developing young and/or homegrown talent with players they drafted like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley plus players they acquired like Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen. Garland and Allen were All-Stars this season, and another player that the Cavs drafted, the injured Collin Sexton, has blossomed into a 20-point-per-game scorer.

For as much talent as James has, he comes with his own set of headaches. The four-time MVP has a tendency to domineer his teams, ruining young player development, butting into roster decisions, and waging war against management when things do not go his way. We have even seen plenty of that this season with a franchise as storied as the Lakers.

James will be going on 39 by the time that he becomes a free agent. With the amount of scrutiny that James attracts and the dysfunction that he brings, it is hard to blame the Cavs if they do not see James as worth it any more, especially since they are already living their best lives without him.

Photo: Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James opens up about possible return to Cavaliers

LeBron James looking on

LeBron James has left the Cleveland Cavaliers twice during his NBA career. The first time he did it, he ultimately returned a few years later. Could that happen again?

James discussed the possibility in a new interview with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The Los Angeles Lakers star made clear that he had not given any thought to the possibility, but notably left the door open to it.

“The door’s not closed on that,” James said Saturday. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”

James also reiterated that his aim is to end his career playing alongside his son Bronny, who would be draft-eligible in 2024. The elder James even went as far as to say that money would be no object in that scenario.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James said. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

James is eligible for free agency after the 2022-23 season. That would leave him one year before his son is due to enter the league. He could certainly opt to stick with the Lakers, or even assess other opportunities in the hunt for a championship. Cleveland could even be an option at that point, as an ex-teammate has mused.

The money and fit would have to work, and that could be complicated if the Cavaliers continue to progress and ascend toward the top of the Eastern Conference. A reunion is definitely not off the table, though.

Photo: Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports