After playing in the last two games before the All-Star break, Darius Garland has missed the Cavaliers‘ first three games since the break due to lower back soreness. The player and team have faced some scrutiny for Garland’s participation in the All-Star festivities in Cleveland, but general manager Mike Gansey said on Monday that it wouldn’t have made sense for the point guard to skip All-Star weekend, given how he was feeling at the time.
“No, because he played in Philly and Atlanta and was feeling good,” Gansey said, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “The Skills Competition was like getting some shots up or playing H-O-R-S-E. The shooting stuff for him was fun. Then the team had a practice which wasn’t a practice and he played in the All-Star Game, and I don’t even know if he tried to defend or even touch someone.
“You watch him run around and see him in pregame and he’s fine. It’s a bone bruise. A day-to-day thing. Nothing long term. He needs rest. Obviously, rest is not on our side right now.”
Garland’s back soreness is an issue he’ll likely have to deal with off and on for the rest of 2021/22. However, according to Gansey, the Cavaliers are hopeful that the rest Garland has gotten since the All-Star break will help him stay on the court for the final stretch of the season.
“I think with him, like, it’s just like a day-to-day thing,” Gansey said, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “And, we just hope we can get through it, with him here taking a week. Who knows, maybe Wednesday, he’ll wake up and feel good. I don’t know. I just think this proper rest here will only help him. There’s nothing structural or anything there. It’s just something he’s got to deal with the rest of the year, unfortunately.”
Here’s more on the Cavs:
- Cleveland finds itself shorthanded at point guard with Garland, Rajon Rondo, and Caris LeVert all sidelined, but Gansey doesn’t think the team made a mistake by not acquiring more depth at the position at the trade deadline. “I don’t think we regret (not adding another) because I didn’t think we would see doomsday with our point guard situation,” Gansey said, according to Fedor. “Brandon Goodwin has been awesome for us. A great find. He’s keeping us afloat right now. Gotta give him credit for that.”
- Gansey, who acknowledges the Cavaliers have exceeded expectations this season, would consider it a “huge success” if the team even gets a single playoff series, as Russo relays. “If you would have told us (prior to the season), I guess with just the way we’re progressing, if we were in the play-in game, I think we’d be very, very happy with that,” Gansey said. “And I guess you could say we’re ahead of schedule. But the exciting thing is we’re so young. Everyone talks about Darius, Evan (Mobley), and Jarrett (Allen), but, like, Lauri (Markkanen)‘s 24. Isaac (Okoro)‘s 22. Collin (Sexton)‘s (23). Like, there are six guys under 25 that hopefully are our core moving forward. … Hopefully, with the young guys we have, they’re just only going to get better like they’ve shown and see what we can do.”
- There has been some speculation that acquiring LeVert means Sexton’s days in Cleveland could be numbered, but Gansey believes there’s room for both guards on the roster going forward, according to Russo. “I mean, based on what we’ve seen this year, you can’t have enough playmakers and ballhandlers,” the GM said. Sexton will be a restricted free agent this offseason, while LeVert is under contract through 2023.
- Waived on February 19, Kevin Pangos is one of four NBA players who has reached a buyout agreement since the trade deadline, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Marks tells Hoops Rumors that Pangos gave up $100K in his deal with the Cavs. The 29-year-old could afford to sacrifice a little money because he had an agreement in place with CSKA Moscow, though he still hasn’t traveled to Russia since signing his new contract due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to a Mundo Deportivo report (hat tip to BasketNews.com).