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NBA Rumors: Darius Garland Trade Possible If Donovan Mitchell Signs New Cavs Contract

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NBA Rumors: Darius Garland Trade Possible If Donovan Mitchell Signs New Cavs Contract


David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ season came to an end Wednesday with their 113-98 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their second-round series, and now all eyes turn toward the future.

With that in mind, Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic reported that Darius Garland’s representation, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, would discuss a potential trade with the team’s front office if Donovan Mitchell decides to stay in Cleveland on a long-term contract extension.

The report also noted that “rival executives believe the Cavs will have to seriously evaluate the fit of Mitchell and Garland and ultimately may have to choose one or the other.”

Mitchell is under contract for just one more season with a player option for the 2025-26 campaign.

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There have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding the five-time All-Star, and everything Cleveland does this offseason will likely revolve around what happens with the go-to option.

On paper, Garland is more of a long-term option for the Cavaliers since he is signed through the 2027-28 season. The front office figures to build around him and Evan Mobley if Mitchell is ultimately traded or decides to go elsewhere, but the equation would change if he returns.

There is something to be said about Mitchell’s presence as a ball-dominant guard impacting Garland’s overall development and ceiling. Perhaps he would be better fitted somewhere else where he can be the primary option and facilitator, especially since he is still just 24 years old.

Yet he struggled without Mitchell in Wednesday’s loss and went 4-of-17 from the field. If the Cavaliers were going to have any chance at an upset win on the road without Mitchell, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, they needed a better performance than that from the point guard.

But changes need to be made if Cleveland is going to compete with the likes of the Celtics and other top teams in the Eastern Conference next season and beyond.

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Trading Mitchell would be something of a reset. Keeping him and trading Garland could allow the front office to get some win-now pieces in return, which might bring Cleveland a bit closer to the top of the conference.

If nothing else, the Cavaliers will be one of the teams to watch this offseason.



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How Cavaliers Are Viewing Search For New Head Coach

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How Cavaliers Are Viewing Search For New Head Coach


The search for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ next head coach began after the organization dismissed J.B. Bickerstaff from his position on Thursday morning. 

Whoever the next leader of this team is will have the job of taking the Cavs to the next level and it’s something that Cleveland’s President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman and the Cavaliers’ front office don’t want to rush.

“I’d be lying to you if I saw I already dove into a list of people and criteria,” said Altman at Friday’s media availability.

But how exactly are Altman and his team members viewing the search? 

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First off, Altman acknowledged that the coaching vacancy that Bickerstaff filled back in 2020 was vastly different from the vacancy Cleveland has now. That iteration of the Cavaliers was a team that was rebuilding while this team is looking to win it all now. 

From this, Altman detailed how the team is viewing their search.

“We haven’t had a search in five years,” said Altman. “That search five years ago was completely different than this one. There is a very highly specific job requirement in terms of the questions we’re going to ask. Very, very specific to the talent level. Very specific to how we can achieve even more than we already have, and obviously some characteristics we’ve been talking about from a cultural standpoint.”

Altman went on to say that his team was going to sit down at some time next week to discuss the criteria that they are looking for in their next head coach. 

But as for now, we know based on what Altman had to say that the Cavs are expecting to do their due diligence in the search and they want a head coach with a specific skill set that will get them to more playoff success.

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Quotes From Koby Altman’s End-Of-Season Cavs Press Conference

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Quotes From Koby Altman’s End-Of-Season Cavs Press Conference


Cleveland Cavaliers president Koby Altman addressed the media on Friday morning to discuss a number of topics around the team, including a heartfelt parting statement for J.B. Bickerstaff, what the organization is looking for in its head coach, Donovan Mitchell‘s contract, the Core Four, optimism in-house and more.

Watch the full press conference courtesy of Cavs Insider on X:

Here is the press conference in its entirety transcribed:

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Opening statement on J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cavs parting ways

Obviously we made an announcement yesterday regarding J.B.’s future here with us. We would like to thank J.B. for all his contributions to this franchise, this organization. I think it’s undeniable the amount of success he’s had with us pushing us from a rebuild to where we are now. What makes this even more difficult is he was an incredible partner and personally a friend of mine, and we love him as a human being, so that makes it even more difficult.

I want to send a special thank you to Nikki Bickerstaff, his wife and their kids and their family. They dove into this community like none other. They’re a fabric of the community. They gave tremendous contributions to Cleveland, and so we just want to thank them for their time here. I wish them obviously nothing but the best. We will move forward, but they’ll always be a big part of our story.

What changed from last year to this year that made you go in this direction?

So I’ll say again, tremendously difficult decision. I’m not going to go into sort of any shortcomings or negatives about J.B. It’s not something that he did specifically. I think for us it’s, with this group, finding someone with a new approach, someone with a different voice, a fresh set of eyes to help us move forward. We’ve accomplished a lot in the last few years getting to a conference semifinals and we don’t want to be complacent. We don’t want to be content with that.

And so, what are the levers that we can push and pull to get to that next level? We feel we’re not far off. We feel we have a tremendous amount of talent in-house. We have players that believe in each other, believe in this organization and think they’re pretty close. And so it’s not one singular thing that J.B. did wrong. It’s how do we continue to move this thing forward because we don’t think we’re far off.

At this point, have you gotten assurances from Donovan Mitchell that he’s going to sign long-term with you guys?

One, we can’t talk to Donovan now about the contract until July. I’ll say that my exit interview with him was really good in that he was talking about the future and how excited he was about the team, the organization. This is a player that has had two of the best years of his career here, has had a lot of success here, understands the infrastructure, I think has a lot of trust in what we’re doing and understands that our goal is to win a championship. And again, when we’re talking to him about the future here, getting his feedback, it’s all about, ‘How do we make this thing better? How do we achieve this together? How do we win in the future?’

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And so, I take those as very positive things. From his own words, he says he’s happy here, he likes it here. He’s always been very genuine. He’s always been very intentional. He’s been a great teammate, and we have to take all that at face value and say, ‘Okay, we feel good about where we are with Donovan.’ Obviously things could change. In terms of his contract future, it’s nothing we can talk about until July.

How much influence does Donovan have on the team and coaching decisions?

So, last summer, he had a lot of influence in terms of how much he helped us recruit free agents to be here. Listen, you’ve talked to him. He’s a highly intellectual basketball junkie, and so I would love to have some of his input in terms of what we want to do in the future. And yeah, I absolutely would love his feedback in how we continue to build this thing. I think he’s been very influential in helping us land some free agents. That conversation will come for sure.

Cleveland Cavaliers Donovan Mitchell

May 11, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts in the second quarter of game three of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Do you think that Donovan and Darius [Garland] work together as well as you thought they would, or do you see an issue there?

I don’t. I think that’s overblown. I’ll say this. I think there’s way more data that speaks to it works than doesn’t. In the last two years combined — because they’ve been together for two years — there’s a lot of data that we can look at. And so, over the last two years, including the playoffs, they’re a net positive plus-five together on the floor. Everyone wants to throw out the first year together when Darius actually had one of the best years of his career; he wasn’t an All-Star, but he actually had more efficiency and that was with Donovan. They have a great relationship on and off the court. I think the other thing that we have to realize is that this is just Year 2 of this iteration of this team. Zooming out a little bit, when you look at some of the most successful teams over the past decade that had real success in the playoffs, they’ve had a long run at this thing.

Going back to Golden State, that’s been together for 12 years that core. You look at Milwaukee, that’s been together almost 11 years; Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris Middleton and their run together, right? That’s 11 years. Boston, I want to say seven years together and they’re still knocking at the door for that championship. But that’s been a core that’s been together for seven years, had a lot of success together. Obviously Denver, when you look at [Nikola] Jokic and Jamal Murray for eight years.

We’re just in Year 2 of this iteration and we got to a conference semis; we’re not content with that, but there’s a lot of runway left and there’s a lot of learning left to be with this core. And listen, I think this pairing has a chance to be really successful together and the data speaks to that over the last two years.

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Do you anticipate not breaking that pairing of Mitchell and Garland up?

I don’t see why we should, and the same thing goes to the fit of the Evan MobleyJarrett Allen (duo); that fit actually has a higher net rating than our guards. I think the other thing too, there’s a depth of talent here that’s really, really good. And when you look at the landscape of the league and how long (the season is), like 82 games, we can’t discount injuries. It’s a part of our game. It’s a horrible part of the playoffs this year. When Darius and Evan went down, it was really nice to have Donovan and Jarrett keep us at a really competitive level. Same thing when Jarrett goes down in this playoffs with a broken rib, it’s really nice to flex Evan into that 5 spot. We don’t compete without Evan being in that 5 spot. And so, I know people want to talk about the fit. I push back on that in terms of just the net ratings, but I also want to talk about the depth of talent here. That’s really good. That keeps us alive when we have to go through some injury spells.

Cleveland Cavaliers President Koby Altman J.B. Bickerstaff Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman speaks to the media in his end-of-season press conference following the dismissal of head coach J.B. Bickerstafff. (Photo Credit: Spencer German/Cavs Insider) / Spencer German/Cavs Insider

What were your expectations for this season and did all of this match what you expected?

I wanted to be highly competitive in the playoffs. We had a taste of the playoffs last year, fell short with a young roster and inexperienced. This year, I wanted to be highly competitive in the playoffs. I think we were. Obviously, we weren’t whole. I’m not going to make excuses; I think a lot of teams are going through what we went through, so we can’t just say this is a Cavaliers thing in terms of the injuries. Look, it’s hard to say this season wasn’t a success when you look at (being in) our first conference semifinals since 2018. We were disappointed with how it ended, but certainly through a lot of adversity this year got to a point where we can look back and say, ‘Okay, we’re going in the right direction. We’re having success in the playoffs and we’re setting ourselves up in the future for a real run.’

And that’s the key. That’s the key is really diving deep into, ‘What are the levers we can pull where we can clean up some things?’ How do we maximize some talent in-house to give ourselves a chance to make a run like some of the teams I talked about that are seven, eight, nine years into this thing and really knocking at the door of championships, if not won a championship. We’re just in Year 2 of this thing.

How high do you rate that you need to get an experienced head coach? With John Beilein, when you had to make a change, you had J.B. there. There’s high expectations for your team. So in terms of that, describe the profile of your next head coach.

I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve already dove into a list of people and criteria. We’re going to take the weekend, decompress, come back Tuesday and really sit down with the staff and go over those questions. It’s a massive undertaking. First of all, when you had a person, a man as good as J.B. to get to the conclusion of, ‘Okay, we need to go in different directions.’ That has taken up all my mind capacity along with the (NBA Draft) Combine and LA draft workouts. We’re going to take the weekend and come back and really map out what that is.

We haven’t had a search for five years. We’ve had real continuity here — front office, bench —and so we haven’t had a search in five years. That search five years ago is completely different than this one. This is a very highly-specific job requirement in terms of the questions we’re going to ask. Very, very specific to the talent level, very specific to how we can achieve even more than we have and obviously some characteristics that we talk about from a cultural standpoint. But they’re gonna be very highly-specific questions that I think I’ll have, but I can answer you more next week in terms of criteria, experience and starting to compile a list.

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This time last year you were very adamant there was no real need to look at major roster alterations and you were true to your word. Do you have that same thought process right now that you don’t need to make any major decisions/alterations? Is that something you would be open to this offseason if the opportunity presented itself?

Yeah, I don’t see a major sweeping changes. I just don’t. Like I said, more data speaks to ‘this works’ than ‘it doesn’t.’ You can’t win 99 games over the regular season, make it to a conference semis and be like, ‘This doesn’t work.’ Again, this just being Year 2 of this iteration of this core being together, I have a lot of excitement for the future for this group and belief in this group. The other piece that the outside doesn’t see — you meet with every player and they have a really strong belief in the core of the group, their fellow teammates; they think they can win here. There’s a lot of camaraderie and belief, and they like each other. So it’s hard for me to glean anything other than, How do we pour more into the group that we have?’ Sure, there’s some moves you can make around the peripheral, but what are the levers we can pull? What can we tighten up? Where’s our upside? Where’s the low hanging fruit in-house to elevate this thing?

And like I said, way more data speaks to how much more success we’ve had with this group than it does — I think the outside perception of — fit. We’ve won too many games, we’ve had playoff success and we’re still young. I mean, we haven’t even talked about Evan Mobley and his ascension. He’s continuing to get better. He’s only known postseason basketball since he’s been drafted. And to see him elevate in Game 5 vs. Boston on the road and be the best player on the floor that night leads me to believe we have so much more to grow with him. And so, there’s a lot more in-house than I need to find outside of this building. There’s a lot of belief in our players and each other in this organization, and so, I don’t see the need to make sweeping changes.

There’s a lot of conversation about floor spacing and this year, that 18-2 run really showed a lot. So how do you create that floor spacing with the two bigs? Where’s the balance there and how do you create that while maintaining the continuity of this Core Four?

I think, one, the net ratings with both of them on the floor together is positive, from Jarrett and Evan and from Darius and Donovan. Both positive to almost the tune of plus-five when they’re both on the floor together. I think it speaks to the depth of what we can do from an offensive standpoint. Why can’t we do both, you know what I mean? Could it get a little clunky with two bigs on the floor? Guess what, on the other side, we’re really good defensively. That’s been true since we’ve had these two together. It’s been an incredible defensive group and that helps us win games in the fourth quarter as well.

Do we need to look at diversifying the offense? Sure, that’s something that we need to do. Evan continues to space the floor and we want him to shoot more threes. He was in the thirties this year and that’s something that we’re going to continue to elevate in his game and again, continue to get better. This is not the end of the story for this group. It’d be one thing if we just maximized everything, put everything into this group and just kept falling short. Again, this is just Year 2, Evan’s just 22 years old. Jarrett’s the oldest 26-year-old I’ve ever been around. And so, I just think we have a runway here to figure it out and give ’em a chance at it.

Cleveland Cavaliers Evan Mobley Darius Garland

Nov 30, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) and guard Darius Garland (10) wait to enter the game in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

How much does the development of Evan and Darius weigh into offseason decisions, the head coaching and even some of the roster positions you guys will address?

So the Evan piece is a really fascinating study because the balance of developing a top-three pick and the talent that he has with us trying to win big is really difficult. That’s difficult for a head coach. That’s difficult for an organization because if we weren’t trying to win big, I’m sure we could have rolled the ball out and had Evan scoring 20 points a game. But that means Evan Mobley’s probably not in the conference semifinals either, competing at the highest level. And so when you look at a top-three pick like Evan, it’s very rare that they played postseason basketball since the day they were drafted. He played in two Play-in tournament games his first year, played in the first round last year. into the conference semis this year. We feel that’s a huge part of his development, just playing meaningful games as part of it. Did we get away from unlocking his potential fully? A little bit this year, and I think that needs to be a focal point into the summer of how we can unlock him only because it’s going to make our team even better and give us a chance to elevate to a higher level. It’s going to unlock not just him but this organization. So that’s certainly a focal point.

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Darius knows he needs to have a major offseason. Him seeing the physicality of that series, of both series really, is something that I think he’s going to grow from. He had a tough year in terms of the injury piece, losing all that weight from the jaw injury, never regaining that. Trying to (reintegrate) himself to a team that was rolling as well was hard for him. And I think he knows this needs to be a big offseason for him. But I love the experience we’re giving our young guys. It’s invaluable when you’re playing in a high-level playoff series, playing against the No. 1 team in the NBA from a record standpoint in the Boston Celtics, going up against that experience. Evan by far is the youngest guy on the floor, the next was Darius. And so that’s a core we’re really excited about going into the future and giving them that experience in the playoffs was huge this year.

You mentioned the Boston’s, the Denver’s, Milwaukee’s, Golden State’s. It seems like increasingly those teams are the outliers. A lot of the league changes around every summer. So how do you balance your “long runway” idea with maintaining urgency?

I think when you speak to the urgency, it went into the decision to dismiss J.B. It’s part of it. It’s not being complacent, it’s not saying, ‘You know what, we know we’re going to get back here next year, so let’s just roll it out again. We know that we have a 22-year-old Evan who’s going to continue to get better, so we’ve got time at this thing.’ That’s not the task at hand. The task is looking at every part of our organization and having that urgency, not being complacent. Going into this offseason, look, it’s, it’s a major decision to let go of your head coach. It is, after a half decade with him. It’s a major, massive undertaking to do a coaching search. And we’re going to embark on that and find the right leader to help push us forward. And yes, I think there’s a long runway in terms of the talent, the guys that are under contract, that’s exciting. But from a man, in my office on the way out, every player said, ‘We’re right there. We want to win this thing. We think we’re very close,’ which is exciting for me. And now, I have to find different levers to figure out how we can realize that potential.

How do you feel you guys have done as a front office pulling the levers? How do you feel about your place in the organization right now?

Listen, I think that’s for you guys to decide. What we’ve done, I think, in a relatively short amount of time, we’ve rebuilt this thing to where it is now. Not so long ago we were at 22 wins, and if we stayed like that, I wouldn’t be here. So I think we’ve had a tremendous amount of success, but I would leave that to you guys to decide the job we do.

Cleveland Cavaliers Koby Altman

Sep 14, 2022; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman speaks to the media during an introductory press conference at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Did you expect more from Max Strus and Georges Niang, especially Niang in playoffs?

Yeah. I think Georges would tell you, and he told me in the office, he knows he can be better in the playoffs. He knows he could have been better in the playoffs just in terms of shot-making. What he gave us over the regular season was 82 games. He’s one of the only guys that played all 82 games. He brought a toughness, competitiveness. He was serious, but also so lighthearted that… we went through a lot of adversity this year. The projected starting five only played 28 games together. When they did, we were 18-10, so it was pretty good. I think he would tell you that from a shot-making standpoint, he could have been a lot better in the playoffs. He did bring a lot to us during the regular season, which is part of it. And I think he knows from his standpoint what this offseason means. But he still has a lot of belief in this program.

Max had the best year of his career statistically. If you ask him, he thinks he can do better. He thinks he can shoot better. There’s things he wants to do better from a playing standpoint. I didn’t know about the playmaking. We thought we were getting a basketball player. We didn’t know that he was going to have the best year of his career from a statistic standpoint — passing, rebounding, defense. He brought a lot of intensity, a lot of seriousness, and he was the first one to say we’re not content with just making the second round. This is a guy, before us, that went to two (NBA) Finals and a conference finals in between. So he has a lot of internal data of what that looks like and how you get back there. And so we love his leadership, we love his feedback. We’re very, very happy with him and his play and his leadership and his fearlessness. There’s the toughness, the grit. I mean we put him against the best wings in the world and he competed and gave us a chance on that end. He’s a much better basketball player than I felt when we acquired him.

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How much pressure do you feel to make the right hire, make this work?

Absolutely have to find the right leader. There’s pressure in everything we do, so I get the importance of this. There was nothing that J.B. did categorically wrong to say that now we have to get this right. I think there was a lot of things we did incredibly well over the last four-and-a-half years that he was at the helm. I think, going back to the original statement, what’s a fresh set of eyes look like? What’s a new approach look like with this particular group? And how can this new candidate really or new head coach really push us to the next level?

Cleveland Cavaliers Dan Gilbert Koby Altman

Feb 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert (back left) watches a game between the Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings in the third quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

You haven’t run a search for years, so what are the mechanics of this that you can share about who else is involved? And to what extent is Dan Gilbert playing a role?

Dan will for sure play a role at the end when I sort of present him with our finalists. Dan gives incredible insight. I love when he’s involved because it’s just helpful. It gives you support, but also, he thinks outside the box, he pushes you. And so I’d say, at the end, he certainly would have a big influence on what we do. Obviously our front office will run the search. There’s a lot of hours, days, weeks that pour into this decision. There’s hours spent with the candidates, there’s phone calls, there’s backgrounds. And so from just a mechanics standpoint, we’re going to take the weekend off right now just to decompress a little bit. I know people already have lists that we have, but it’s not true. We’re going to come back on Tuesday, we’re going to go over characteristics, what are the specific questions that we have, and then start to compile a list and then, go from there.

Why did it take you a week and a half to come to this decision on J.B.?

One, there wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is not going to work.’ There’s been too much success for us to have that conclusion after one day. It was going to take several days to really dive deep into the evaluation of J.B., who deserved that. There was time spent with him as well during this process that he deserved and I thought was really healthy in terms of our dialogue. And then also, not to make excuses, but when you play a little deeper into the playoffs, it puts you right up against the draft. And so, we were dealing with the draft combine while playing Boston, so going back-and-forth. Last week, we we’re out in LA for agent workouts. So not that it slowed it down, but it certainly added to what we had to do. Obviously we have the 20th pick in the draft. The draft is immensely important to what we do. And so those two things together sort of put us to where we are now. But I wouldn’t have said it would have been appreciably earlier anyway. These are just the things that we’ve had to deal with over the last week.

Is there anything J.B. could have said or promised to get one more crack at it?

That’s a good question. I think for us, again — keep going back with this particular group — I think a new approach was needed.

With the input that you received directly from players during the exit interviews, did that provide anything as far as making the decision for the coaching change?

So we always take input from the players. I think it’s definitely a valuable exercise. At the end of the day, the decision has to come from me and no particular player or players. I have to do what’s right and find the right match for this set of players, this group that we hope will have a long runway and a lot of playoff success, and identifying who that is. And so, we got a lot of positive feedback from players. You get negative impact from players, but my job is to listen, decipher through all of that and come to a conclusion. There’s feedback that helps us as a front office that has nothing to do with coaches. There’s feedback from an organizational standpoint of how we can get better. Those are the questions I’m asking too. How do we make this the best place for you to be successful? That’s a driving force behind what we do. There’s a lot of things we talk about, not just the coaching staff, but how we can improve, and we take that feedback seriously. But at the end of the day, from a coaching standpoint, that’s my decision.

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You said that the starting five only played 28 games together. Is it just coincidence or is it something that you think training-wise something needs to be changed or updated?

There’s a few things. That is the hardest thing that we have to do. Figuring out this injury thing is not just particular to the Cavs. We had a hard year this year from an injury standpoint. Last year, we were actually pretty good from a games missed standpoint. Zooming out and looking at the league as a whole, I’ve never seen a playoffs like this where we’ve seen this many stars out; that was not specific to just the Cavs. I think just looking at the landscape of the long season and what it entails now… I think it’s a really good question. How do we solve this player injury piece? We have more meaningful games now during the regular season than we’ve ever had.

We’ve added the In-Season Tournament, the NBA Cup that has I think five games of group play, that intensity gets risen, right? Those are playoff-level intensity games that are in the beginning of the season. The Play-In Tournament at the end of the season — which we thought was going to elevate the teams at the bottom to try to make it at the end and make a run at it — the unintended consequences, the top-six teams don’t want to lose and drop out of it. So for the last few weeks of the season, you see a huge ramp-up in load and playing in meaningful games. And then, the league adding the Player Participation program — 65 games or less — puts another burden on this usage. And so now you’re going into the playoffs and over the course of 82 games, how much have we expended on these players’ bodies?

It’s something we need to figure out, something we need to study. We need to figure out how to manage five games in seven days, three games in four days. It’s a lot of games in one month. These are big questions for us, and it’s something that we’re trying to figure out to be better at. But you can clearly see this is not just a Cavs issue. We need to figure out how to navigate 82 games and then playoffs and then, us specifically, Post All-Star into playoffs how are we playing our best basketball and how are we healthy? Because if you look at it, and there are great teams still playing, but they’re the most healthy teams that are still playing. And that’s something that we’re studying.

Cleveland Cavaliers Sam Merrill

Apr 20, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Sam Merrill (5) looks to shoot in the second quarter against the Orlando Magic during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Branching off of that, over the course of an 82-game season, managing a rotation, having it shorter — do you think that all had any effect second half drop-offs the last couple of years? Do you think that also plays into it?

I think the one silver lining of the injuries was we actually figured out we had some depth. You saw the emergence of a Sam Merrill, which is incredible, hugely important for us moving forward. You saw undrafted rookie Craig Porter Jr. figuring out that he has a real chance at this thing and to be successful and be a rotational player. Obviously you don’t want to have injuries, but these are some of the silver linings that we figured out that we have real depth of this roster. And then to your point, how are we using that depth over the 82 games? Really diving into, ‘How are we breaking up the season into segments?’ when we want to be playing our best after All-Star and being healthy into the playoffs. Those are crucial questions. I think we have the roster to navigate that a little bit better.

Did Donovan’s contract status or Donovan’s views at all impact the decision to fire J.B.?

No.

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What is your timeline for wanting to have a new coach in place?

That’s a good question. I think we’d love to have a coach in place for the draft. I think that might be even… that’d be probably too aggressive of a timeline. It’s when we come up with the right decision for who’s the right match for this group. And if it has to drag on a little longer, it does. This is such an important decision for us. Like I said, we haven’t had a search in a half decade, so we need to get back together as a group and really talk about criteria, the specific questions, who we want from a cultural standpoint, create a list and then really dive deep into those candidates, get to a finalist. But I wouldn’t say it’s something that we need to rush.

You’re not the only team that’s looking for a coach. Obviously other teams started that process before you. Is there any concern that they’re ahead of the game when it comes to that and you could miss out on somebody that you want?

Potentially, but that doesn’t mean we need to speed up our process.

Jarrett had a broken rib, obviously this was a significant setback for this year’s team. What is your view of his injury situation?

It was massive. The most important player we had all year in terms of games played and his value. He played 81 straight games. Having a pierced rib, I’ve never had a broken rib, but I’ve had several people reach out to me about how much it hurts. You can’t drive to work, you can’t sleep, you can’t tie your sneakers. To give you some insight to what Jarrett did, I mean Jarrett tried to give it a go. I mean to the last day-and-a-half, he was trying to go up and down on this floor and do some real basketball moves. It’s hard to play basketball if you can’t raise your arms over your head. I know there was speculation of more stuff he could have done. It’s impossible to play through what he was playing through. It was a pierced rib.

Cleveland Cavaliers Jarrett Allen Donovan Mitchell

Apr 10, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and center Jarrett Allen (31) celebrate during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

What do you think you’re missing to get to that next level?

You mean from a roster standpoint? Again, I have great belief in the talent here. You know what I mean? If I didn’t, I would say we’re going to look at all these different things and maybe breaking up the core and trying to bring other guys in here. I think around the margins, how do we get better? How do we maximize the talent we have in-house? And really try to pull levers that we have here from every angle that we can look at to maximize what we have in-house. And so we’ll look. We’ve been super aggressive in the past.

This front office, we’ve made some sweeping changes. We’ve made some sweeping moves before. To the Jarrett Allen question, Jarrett has a lot of equity here. I mean, we traded for Jared and the whole trajectory of the rebuild changes, right? You go out and trade for a Lauri Markkanen, who helps us achieve great level of success that future year. And then you go out and get a Donovan Mitchell, which is a monumental trade for a franchise.

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So we’ve made some major changes. We made some real injections of talent into this roster. And so now’s the time to figure out, ‘Okay, how do we win with this big?’ Because we have had a lot of success with this group. You don’t win 99 games and be back-to-back home-court-advantage playoff teams without that. And now it’s trying to figure out how to go further.

Why was Jarrett’s injury listed as contusion? And did you feel like you had to do any repairing of the relationship with Jarrett because of the report that painted him in a certain kind of light?

That’s a good question. I mean, it’s all semantics in terms of what you want to list it for. No strain on the relationship though.





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Marcus Morris: I'd Be 'Surprised' If Donovan Mitchell Left Cavs amid Trade Rumors

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Marcus Morris: I'd Be 'Surprised' If Donovan Mitchell Left Cavs amid Trade Rumors


Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward Marcus Morris doesn’t believe that teammate Donovan Mitchell will leave the team amid a host of trade rumors.

Run It Back @RunItBackFDTV

.<a href=”https://twitter.com/MookMorris2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MookMorris2</a> on Donovan Mitchell’s future in Cleveland.<br><br>”I think Cleveland is a great place for [Donovan Mitchell]…I would be highly surprised if he left.” <a href=”https://t.co/g4usEi44VE”>pic.twitter.com/g4usEi44VE</a>

Mitchell can sign a four-year, $200 million extension this summer. Right now, he’s due $35.4 million in 2024-25 and can become a free agent afterward by declining his 2025-26 player option.

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It would behoove the Cavs to sign Mitchell, of course. The 27-year-old and five-time All-Star guard averaged 26.6 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game for a Cavs team that reached the second round of the playoffs.

“I will say this. In three weeks, the Cavs are going to meet with Donovan Mitchell. In that meeting there’s probably going to be three things that are on the agenda. One, they’re going to offer him a $200 million extension. Very kindly, with a lot of smiles and hope. Two, you’d like to think that the new head coach would be hired by that time and would have for him an idea of how he wants to play. How it would affect him and how it would affect the other players.”

Of course, the Cavs also need to find a new head coach after firing J.B. Bickerstaff, and one can surmise that the new coach could have an impact on Mitchell’s decision.

Ultimately, the Cavs’ future is a big question mark with Mitchell’s future with the team up in the air. But this team is clearly better with him than without as the Cavs find themselves as perennial playoff contenders in the post-LeBron James era.





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