Cavs’ rookie max extension for Darius Garland demonstrates faith in the future
The Cleveland Cavaliers locked in another baseman for the long haul.
Darius Garland has agreed to a five-year, $193 million rookie contract extension with the Cavs, sources have confirmed to Athleticism. The deal could be worth up to $231 million with escalators. It’s the richest deal in Cavs history.
It was an important item for Cleveland to check off their offseason to-do list. Getting the deal done now, 22-year-old Garland enters next season with the extension out of the way. The deal doesn’t go into effect until the 2023-24 season, when the money will go on Cleveland’s books.
It’s also a deal Garland’s play suggests he deserves.
Garland took major steps forward in the 2021-22 season, averaging 21.7 points and shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 38.3 percent on 3-point attempts. He averaged 8.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds. His success helped ignite Cleveland’s overall progress. The Cavs doubled their 2020 win total to 21, from 22 to 44, and reached the Play-In round after three straight seasons out of the playoffs.
Besides his production on the field, Garland has also found his voice as a leader for the Cavs. Coach JB Bickerstaff handed the keys to the team to Garland, and the franchise wanted him to lead. That’s exactly what he did. He made it easy for his teammates, finding Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley for lobs or Isaac Okoro and Lauri Markkanen for dunks as they cut to the basket. He absorbed input from veterans such as Ricky Rubio, sometimes teaming up with him to form a dynamic backcourt that forced defenses to choose who to guard. He learned to balance creating plans for others while finding his own plans.
For Garland, one of her main areas of growth was trust. It goes back to his time with the Select Team and his call to Team USA last summer, when he was surrounded by players who helped him flourish, he said.
Garland continued to work with assistant coach JJ Outlaw throughout the season, along with Kevin Love, in what the trio called “flight school”, where they worked on the arc and the firing on the perimeter. Garland was warming up before games with Outlaw, taking shots at various spots on the floor. Over her first three seasons, Garland built a relationship with Outlaw that had a huge impact on her game and mindset.
“He meant a lot to me,” Garland said. Athleticism in March after a shooting in Miami. “I mean, he’s been through the lows when I got here, and he’s been through the highs this year. So he saw it all. He saw the growth and saw the process. He was in the growth and in the process. So just having him around, having someone like that, that trustworthy guy, means a lot to me.
“I talk to him about everything. He’s like a big brother to me. I’m with him every day, so the bond will continue to grow, to improve. And one thing I like about him is that he tells me when I’m wrong. He tells me I’m doing something wrong and when I’m having a bad night or something, just try to get me going, just lift me up a bit. I like that about him; it is always true.
Garland’s success last season earned him an All-Star nod, and he represented Cleveland in the skills challenge. Individual accolades, along with the team’s leap forward, led to the contract extension. The Cavs are banking on his confidence and skill to continue pushing his success and that of the team.
“An absolute record,” Garland said of his confidence after that March shooting in Miami. “Highest he’s ever been in my life, to be honest with you. All-star party, it gave me even more confidence to be a part of that, being named one of the top 24 guys playing basketball right now. Just being honored and getting that respect in the league from your peers means a lot to me. I worked for it, and for it to come so soon, it’s is super cool.
The Cavs drafted Garland No. 5 in the 2019 draft. He had played just five games at Vanderbilt before tearing the left meniscus injury. As with most rookies, his first season was one of adaptation. But over the next two seasons, he became one of the league’s top playmakers.
Now he is paid as such. The extension, along with the one given to Allen last summer and the promise shown by Mobley, demonstrates what the Cavs think they have in their young core.
(Top photo: David Richard/USA Today)