Collin Sexton

Central Notes: Windler, Garland, Sexton, Teague, Markkanen

Cavaliers swingman Dylan Windler has been experiencing knee pain recently and will undergo further evaluation in the next few days, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Windler, a late 2019 first-round pick, didn’t play at all last season due to injury. He’s seen action in 31 games this season off the bench, averaging 5.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1.1 APG in 16.5 MPG.

Windler suffered a hand fracture in the season opener, which kept him out of action for nearly a month. The Cavs picked up their $2,239,200 third year option on the 24-year-old in December.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • Utah’s backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell provides a blueprint of how the Cavaliers’ backcourt Darius Garland and Collin Sexton might eventually work, Fedor writes.  Thus far, it’s been a work in progress. In 821 minutes with Sexton and Garland, the Cavs have an offensive rating of 106.4 and a defensive rating of 115.5, for an overall net rating of -9.1, Fedor notes. However, it’s tough to fully evaluate the effectiveness of the backcourt pairing due to a lack of continuity in the frontcourt, mainly due to injuries, Fedor adds.
  • Jeff Teague will have a much different role with the Bucks than he did in Atlanta with Mike Budenholzer as his head coach, Eric Nehm of The Athletic notes. Milwaukee simply needs him to be a competent backup point guard for 10-15 minutes in postseason games. Teague has agreed to join the Bucks after being waived by the Magic.
  • Lauri Markkanen has been relegated to the second unit with the addition of Nikola Vucevic but the Bulls’ big man doesn’t want to be considered a backup, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Markkanen will be a restricted free agent this summer, if Chicago extends a qualifying offer in excess of $9MM. “I know I’m a starter in this league but I’m going to play my role,” he said.

Cavaliers, Pistons Among Definite Deadline Sellers

Because there’s now a potential path to the postseason for the top 10 teams in each NBA conference (via the new play-in tournament), it’s taking longer this season for clear sellers to emerge on the trade market, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Most teams are still in the playoff chase, which makes everyone bunched together and the trade market less active,” a high-ranking team official told The Athletic.

However, as Charania reports, at least two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings look like definite sellers, according to rival teams. The 13th-seeded Cavaliers and the 15th-seeded Pistons appear to be open for business.

Cleveland’s most obvious trade candidate is Andre Drummond, who has been pulled from the rotation as the team looks to find a taker for him. According to Charania, there have been some exploratory calls on Drummond, with the Bulls among the teams to express some interest, but there’s still skepticism that the Cavs will find an appealing deal for the big man, who has an unwieldy $28.75MM cap hit.

Drummond isn’t the only Cavalier on the trade block. The club has also been open to discussing JaVale McGee, Cedi Osman, and Taurean Prince, according to Charania, who hears that multiple teams have inquired on the Cavs’ wing players. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro are viewed as the club’s core pieces and are presumably off-limits.

Like the Cavs, the Pistons have an expensive big man who is sitting out as the team attempts to move him. However, Blake Griffin, who is making more than Drummond ($36.8MM) and has another guaranteed year left on his contract, will be even harder to trade. Sources tell Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic that Detroit will likely work toward a buyout with Griffin.

Veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington is expected to draw interest from contenders on the trade market and should be a far more valuable trade chip than Griffin, given his affordable minimum salary and his strong production in 2020/21 (10.6 PPG, .435 3PT%).

According to Edwards, combo guard Delon Wright and big man Mason Plumlee have also registered interest from rival teams, but both players are under contract beyond this season, so the Pistons won’t necessarily feel compelled to move them. As Edwards explains, while Detroit will be a deadline seller, the sense around the league is that GM Troy Weaver won’t be as aggressive this month as he was during his first offseason on the job, when he remade nearly the entire roster.

Central Notes: Sexton, Karnisovas, Holiday, Doumbouya

Amidst a four-game win streak, Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton has been out-dueling a series of recent All-Star guards in Trae Young, Ben Simmons, John Wall and Victor Oladipo, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Sexton, frequently called the “cultural backbone” for the club by members of its front office, is averaging 29.7 PPG during the run.

The Cavaliers have a game in progress tonight against the Pacers, a club that boasts another high-level guard in Malcolm Brogdon, though he has yet to make an All-Star team. With a 14-21 record, Cleveland is currently two games behind the 10-seeded Bulls and the 9-seeded Pacers for a play-in slot in the East. Should the Cavaliers make the cut, Sexton will surely be leading the way.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago analyzes recent comments from tight-lipped new Bulls team president Arturas Karnišovas. Johnson discusses the growing mutual respect between Karnišovas and his new coaching hire, Billy Donovan, and how Karnišovas’s comments would seem to indicate his belief in Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen as long-term building blocks.
  • The big new addition to the Bucks roster this offseason, new starting point guard Jrue Holiday, has had a major positive impact on the club, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated. Pina examines how Holiday’s two-way impact could be the key to getting Milwaukee to its first NBA Finals with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. When Holiday is available, the Bucks rank in the top-four on both sides of the ball.
  • Promising Pistons power forward Sekou Doumbouya is grappling with second-year growing pains according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. “To his bad luck, he’s been playing behind Blake [Griffin] and Jerami [Grant],” head coach Dwayne Casey said of Doumbouya’s limited action thus far. “We need to get him some more minutes some kind of way, but he’s got to be ready to get out once he steps in there condition-wise, physically and I love his approach, attitude and seriousness about the game.”

Cavs Notes: Drummond, Trade Partners, Defense, Love

The Cavaliers would prefer not to take bad contracts with multiple years remaining in a potential Andre Drummond deal. However, they’re open-minded to that possibility if an asset is included that would justify a restricted future cap, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The front office would otherwise like to protect cap space with extensions for Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen on the horizon.

Cleveland has received calls on Drummond, as well as Allen and JaVale McGee, but it is not interested in dealing Allen. Fedor explores potential trade partners for Drummond and what those deals could include.

We have more on the Cavaliers:

  • Spencer Davies of Basketball News also speculates where Drummond, an impending unrestricted free agent after the season, could be dealt. The Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks and Kings could be among the teams in the mix if a trade is completed, while the Nets would be the front-runner if Drummond winds up on the buyout market.
  • Drummond didn’t play on Sunday, but that didn’t solve any problems as the Cavaliers lost for the ninth time in 10 games. They were overwhelmed by a Clippers team playing without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, demonstrating that the team’s issues go far deeper than Drummond, Fedor writes. The Cavs’ overall effort has been lacking, especially at the defensive end. “I think defensively we need to be better,” Cedi Osman said. “I mean, it’s just not enough, especially against these types of teams. We have to play harder.”
  • Kevin Love has been making progress from the right calf strain that has kept him out since December 27 and coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team could desperately use his veteran presence and scoring prowess, Fedor notes in a separate story. “There’s times in games when you can see ‘This is where Kevin would help us’ or ‘This is where he would help settle us in. I know right now he’d get a foul because we’re in the bonus.’ There’s those moments where you see,” Bickerstaff said.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Walsh, Plumlee, LaVine

The Cavaliers are in relatively good shape in relation to the salary cap, but will have some challenging decisions to make later in 2021, as Kelsey Russo and Danny Leroux of The Athletic examine.

Russo and Leroux estimate a price range for newly-acquired center Jarrett Allen ($8-12MM annually), who will enter restricted free agency this summer, and try to assess whether or not Cleveland will bring back reserve center JaVale McGee. They also discuss whether or not Cleveland will extend standout guard Collin Sexton during the offseason.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Former Pacers consultant Donnie Walsh, 79, spoke with Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about his retirement this season. “I don’t have the same energy, I don’t have the same body, I guess, that I used to have,” Walsh said. “I just thought I’d like to spend the complete time with different members of my family and have the ability to do that. So that was the real reason I did it.”
  • New Pistons free agent addition Mason Plumlee has emerged as Detroit’s “glue guy,” willing to do the team’s glass-cleaning and interior defensive dirty work, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News“Mason is a great facilitator and obviously a great rebounder,” said fellow free agent signing Jerami Grant. “He can finish a lot of plays. We’re still a new team, so he’s getting more comfortable and playing at a high level.”
  • The Bulls may have a decision to make regarding star shooting guard Zach LaVine, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times contends. The athletic sharpshooter, currently earning $19.5MM a year, will be in line for a raise on his next contract and could come at a cost higher than what Chicago should pay for a one-way player. Cowley points to LaVine’s ranking as 113th of 113 shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus as a limiting factor to his efficacy on a contender, and suggests the Bulls should think about moving the guard if they’re not comfortable maxing him out.

Cavaliers Notes: Drummond, Garland, Sexton, Attendance

Andre Drummond may not be part of the Cavaliers‘ long-term future, but any talk of a buyout is “nonsensical” while the team remains in the playoff race, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Several media outlets brought up the possibility last week, with Zach Harper of The Athletic calling it “just a matter of time.” However, the Cavs have little to gain by giving up their starting center, who is averaging a career-best 18.2 PPG this season while leading the league in rebounds at 14.6 RPG.

Drummond has an expiring $28.75MM contract, and the Cavaliers recently acquired 22-year-old Jarrett Allen, who will eventually take his place. While a trade remains a strong possibility before the March 25 deadline, Cleveland may opt to keep Drummond if the team can’t find an acceptable offer and try to get its young players some postseason experience.

“I know we live in the era of the 3-point shot, but at the same time when you go back and study the numbers, teams that dominate the paint on both ends are teams that are the most efficient on both ends,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Dre gives you the ability to do those things. The ability to secure possessions from a defensive rebounding standpoint, there’s no one better in our league who can do that. That helps your defense immensely.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Bickerstaff is encouraged by the level of determination from Darius Garland, who is off to a strong start after a a tough rookie year, Fedor adds in the same story. After a rough road trip last weekend, Garland watched videotape with the assistant coaches to determine why he was committing turnovers. “When you’re facilitating the ball and you’re making everybody better and making everybody feel like they’re a part of it, and then when you’re able to make those daggers, your status grows,” Bickerstaff said. “I think that’s where Darius is headed.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue was still with the Cavaliers when they drafted Collin Sexton in 2018, and he’s not surprised that the young guard became a star so quickly, Fedor writes in a separate piece. Sexton is averaging 24.3 PPG in his third NBA season and ranks seventh among Eastern Conference guards in the first round of All-Star voting. “From summer league of his first year to when we got to preseason to the six games that I coached, his shot got better and better,” Lue said. “Now he’s really shooting the basketball well from midrange and from 3, so he’s really improved that. Scoring the basketball was his thing when he came out of college and he’s doing it at a high level right now.”
  • The Cavaliers have been granted a request to increase the number of fans for home games, Fedor notes in another story. The state of Ohio has approved allowing 2,720 spectators, which is 14% of capacity for Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Eastern Notes: Monk, Knox, Ntilikina, Allen, Markkanen

Malik Monk‘s 36-point outburst on Monday pumps up his future value, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The Hornets guard has knocked down 15-of-26 from 3-point range since he was reinserted into the rotation four games ago and has also served as a playmaker.

“He makes us so much more dynamic. He’s kicking that ball out and making plays for others,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. Charlotte can make Monk a restricted free agent this summer by extending him a $7MM+ qualifying offer. Otherwise, he’ll head into unrestricted free agency.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Two prominent young players, forward Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, have fallen out of the Knicks’ rotation but it doesn’t appear they’ll join the G League’s Westchester Knicks in Orlando, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Dennis Smith Jr. agreed last week to join the G League club in order to get some playing time. Knox, who is currently stuck behind Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks, could have more trade value than Smith and Ntilikina because he’s under contract next season, Begley adds.
  • Jarrett Allen‘s big performance on Monday provided a glimpse of the future for the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. With Andre Drummond, who is headed to unrestricted free agency, sidelined by a back injury, Allen erupted for 23 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. He’s developing chemistry with young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and the front office views him as the better long-term fit at center, Fedor adds. Allen will be a restricted free agent this offseason.
  • Following a disappointing season, Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is making a case to be in the team’s long-term plans, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, is averaging 22.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG while shooting 52.4% from the field over the last eight games.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Garland, Thompson, Porter

The controversial Kyrie Irving trade in 2017 gave the Cavaliers a path toward rebuilding quickly after LeBron James left, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The centerpiece of that deal was an unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn that was used to draft Collin Sexton. Now in his third season, Sexton has developed into a prolific scorer, averaging 26.8 points per game and shooting 46.8% from 3-point range.

“He comes in every night with the mindset that you can’t stop him,” said backcourt partner Darius Garland. “And that’s what he shows the league, that’s what he shows the world and everybody that’s watching this basketball game. He’s getting wherever he wants. Getting teammates involved. I mean, a lot of people don’t do that.”

Cleveland used the other assets it acquired from the Celtics in that deal to gain valuable pieces, Fedor notes. Isaiah Thomas was sent to the Lakers in a deal for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. The Cavs flipped Jae Crowder in a trade for George Hill and Rodney Hood, and Hill was sent to the Bucks in a deal that brought back John Henson and a future first-rounder. Henson was used to acquire Andre Drummond from the Pistons, while the pick was part of the price for Jarrett Allen.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • While he’s with the Celtics now, Tristan Thompson continues to send messages of encouragement to Garland, Fedor adds in a separate story. Thompson adopted a mentorship role to Garland last year and helped him get through a difficult rookie season. “TT is like a big brother to me. He texts me before like almost every game.” Garland said. “He took me under his wing. TT has made his name in this league. He’s won a championship in this league. He knows what to do and how to get there. … Just hearing from him and having another guy I can talk to instead of my dad or some of my own teammates and coaches, it’s really cool having him there for me.”
  • Although his time in Cleveland was troubled, Kevin Porter Jr. posted a social media message thanking the Cavaliers after being traded to Houston Friday night, Fedor relays in another piece“Cleveland, thank you for giving me a chance to change not only my life but my family’s as well, and believing in me,” Porter wrote. “To the beloved city, the fans, my brothers I gained, the coaching staff and the entire organization, I appreciate you and won’t ever take the relationships we have for granted.”
  • Early-season injuries to their best shooters forced the Cavs to rely on defense, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. That approach of “playing ugly” has become their calling card and has been reinforced by the trade that brought Allen and Taurean Prince from Brooklyn.

Central Notes: Porter, Sexton, Turner, Pistons

Having made up their minds last weekend to trade or release Kevin Porter Jr., the Cavaliers found a taker on Thursday night, agreeing to a deal that will send the second-year wing to Houston. Cleveland won’t get anything of value in return, but was at least able to move off Porter’s salaries for this season and next, opening up a roster spot in the process.

Given how high the Cavaliers were on Porter’s on-court potential following his promising rookie season, the move represents a major step back in the team’s rebuild, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. As Fedor writes, the 20-year-old was viewed by many within the organization as the player with the highest upside of any on the roster, and it was only a few months ago that he was considered virtually untouchable in trade talks.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, general manager Koby Altman made every effort to make things work with Porter, who has made a series of poor off-court decisions, but ultimately felt like they couldn’t get through to him and decided it was time to move on.

“The organization did everything and more for him,” a league source told Fedor. “They went above and beyond. They gave him more chances than most franchises would have.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • While Porter won’t be part of the Cavaliers‘ rebuild going forward, Collin Sexton – who poured in a career-high 42 points in an impressive win over Brooklyn on Wednesday – continues to establish himself as a cornerstone player for the franchise, Fedor writes in a separate story for Cleveland.com.
  • After suffering an avulsion fracture in his right hand last Thursday, Myles Turner has missed the Pacers‘ last two games, but he could be back in the lineup as early as Friday. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star writes, Turner’s return will come down to how much pain and discomfort he can play through. “There’s really not much you can do for it to heal,” Turner said on Thursday. “No surgery. No time off. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to get used to.”
  • In his latest mailbag, Rod Beard of The Detroit News explores whether the Pistons should be playing their rookies more, Jerami Grant‘s role in the team’s rebuild, and the possibility of trading Derrick Rose by this season’s deadline.

Cavaliers Pick Up 2021/22 Options On Four Players

The Cavaliers have picked up the fourth-year option on Collin Sexton, along with the third-year options for Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr., and Dylan Windler, the team announced today in a press release.

Sexton, 21, showed improvement in his second NBA season, raising his scoring average from 16.7 to 20.8 PPG and improving his field goal percentage from 43.0% to 47.2%. Sexton’s $6,349,671 salary for the 2021/22 season is now locked in and he will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason. If he doesn’t come to an agreement, he will become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022.

The 20-year-old Garland was the fifth pick in the 2019 draft. He struggled during his rookie season, shooting just 40.1% from the field, but got better as the year went on. He will make $7,040,880 next season.

Porter, 20, was the 30th pick in 2019 and was acquired in a draft night trade. He averaged 10.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG as a rookie and will earn $1,782,621 in 2021/22.

The 24-year-old Windler missed his entire rookie season due to a stress fracture in his left leg after being taken with the 26th pick in 2019. His 2021/22 salary will be $2,239,200.

We’re watching all the 2021/22 rookie scale team option decisions here.