Darius Garland

Devin Booker, Darius Garland Named Players Of The Week

Suns guard Devin Booker and Cavaliers guard Darius Garland have been named the NBA’s Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (Twitter link).

It’s the second time this season that Booker has earned the award — he also won it on November 29. From January 10-16, Booker led the Suns to three straight road victories, averaging 27.0 PPG on .464/.360/.769 shooting to go along with 4.3 RPG and 3.3 APG in 33.7 minutes per contest.

Garland is a first-time winner of the Player of the Week award and is the second Cavalier to earn it this season, joining teammate Jarrett Allen. Like Booker, Garland led his team to an undefeated week on the road, as the Cavs won in Sacramento, Utah, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. Garland put up 20.5 PPG, 12.8 APG, and 6.0 RPG in those four games (35.6 MPG).

Booker beat out fellow nominees Brandon Ingram, Dejounte Murray, and Anfernee Simons in the West, while RJ Barrett, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyler Herro, and Pascal Siakam were the other nominees in the East (Twitter link).

COVID-19 Updates: Porzingis, SGA, Garland, Valanciunas, More

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and has been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. Denver, the team announced today (via Twitter).

The Mavericks got good news over the weekend, as Luka Doncic was cleared to play for the first time since December 10 and led the team to a win in Oklahoma City on Sunday. But now Porzingis is at risk of missing a few games due to the health and safety protocols, and he’s not the only Mav affected — the club still has four other players in the protocols too.

Here’s more COVID-related news from around the NBA:

  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is no longer in the health and safety protocols, acting head coach Mike Wilks said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Gilgeous-Alexander only entered the protocols on Saturday, so he may have registered a false positive test.
  • Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, who had been in the COVID-19 protocols since last Tuesday, was able to practice today, per head coach J.B. Bickerstaff (Twitter link via Kelsey Russo of The Athletic).
  • Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas has cleared the protocols and will be available for Monday’s game against Utah, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN.
  • Damion Lee and James Wiseman have exited the protocols for the Warriors, per the NBA’s injury report. Wiseman remains sidelined while he recovers from right knee surgery, but Lee is no longer on the injury report at all, and Golden State doesn’t have any players in the protocols.
  • After briefly clearing the protocols, Hornets forward P.J. Washington reentered them on Sunday, according to the team (Twitter link). He’ll miss Monday’s game vs. Washington (Twitter link).
  • Lonzo Ball and Alfonzo McKinnie of the Bulls have both exited the health and safety protocols and will be available to play on Monday vs. Orlando, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • Nets rookie Kessler Edwards is no longer in the COVID-19 protocols, according to the NBA’s injury report. Brooklyn was hit hard by an outbreak in December but currently has no players affected.
  • Lakers assistant David Fizdale, who briefly served as the club’s acting head coach during Frank Vogel‘s stint in the protocols, has now entered the protocols himself, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

COVID-19 Roundup: Nets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Knicks, Wizards, Thunder

The NBA’s new guidelines regarding its health and safety protocols have resulted in several players being released from protocols this morning. The league and its players union agreed Monday to shorten the minimum required quarantine period for a vaccinated COVID-positive players and coaches from 10 days to six.

Here is the latest news on who has entered and cleared protocols today:

  • Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out of protocols, as is LaMarcus Aldridge, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Durant and Aldridge may be ready for Thursday’s game, Irving is still working his way back into game condition and remains ineligible to play in home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.
  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince has cleared protocols and will rejoin the team, but won’t play tonight against the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Minnesota also gets back Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers power forward Evan Mobley has cleared protocols and is set to reunite with the club today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers hope to have Mobley play in tonight’s game against the Pelicans, but will put him through his pregame paces first to gauge his conditioning level.
  • Unfortunately, just as one of Cleveland’s best players recovers, another will be absent. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, enjoying a nearly All-Star-level season with Cleveland, has entered the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
  • Knicks rookie point guard guard Miles McBride has cleared protocols, the team has announced (via Twitter). New York adds that he has rejoined the team ahead of its game tonight against the Timberwolves.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is also in protocols. Miami assistant coach Chris Quinn will return to the sidelines, Chiang adds.
  • Wizards forwards Rui Hachimura and Montrezl Harrell have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, joining six other Washington players, the team has announced (Twitter link). Hachimura has missed the Wizards’ entire season thus far due to personal reasons. Among the others, unvaccinated All-Star guard Bradley Beal is still in protocols and Wallace reports that his status is “questionable” prior to the Wizards’ upcoming contest against the Heat tonight. Center Thomas Bryant, wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and guards Anthony Gill, Aaron Holiday and Raul Neto are still in protocols.
  • Thunder rookie guard Josh Giddey has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Head coach Mark Daigneault has also entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, and will be replaced by assistant coach Mike Wilks starting with this evening’s contest against the Kings, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Wilks, a former journeyman NBA guard, suited up for four games with the Thunder during the 2009/10 season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman adds (Twitter link). Players Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl remain in the protocols for Oklahoma City.
  • Keep track of all the players currently in COVID-19 protocols through out our daily tracker.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

Central Notes: Mobley, Garland, Rubio, Holiday, McConnell

Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley and third-year shooting guard Darius Garland have developed strong chemistry in the early part of a surprisingly successful 2021/22 season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. At 9-5, Cleveland is currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. According to Fedor, the duo’s chemistry extends beyond the hardwood too, as they frequently grab dinner together during road trips.

“They’re dynamic together,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “They put a threat on the floor, where it’s two-sided and it’s in a lot of space. Teams can’t really pick their poison in that. Both are such good playmakers, you’ve got a tough decision to make.”

“I enjoy it a lot,” Mobley said of his on-court fit with his Cavaliers teammate. “We always know where each other [is] on the floor. He knows where I want the ball and then vice versa. I feel like every game, we keep getting better. He does a great job throwing lobs as well. That lob today, that was tough.”

Both players were high lottery picks. The seven-foot Mobley, an early Rookie of the Year favorite, was the third pick out of USC this season, while the 6’1″ Garland was the fifth pick in the 2019 draft out of Vanderbilt.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • New Cavaliers point guard Ricky Rubio, thrust into a starting role due to the absence of incumbent Collin Sexton, has proven to be a game-changing veteran this year, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com“He’s got the heart and grit and level of competition that isn’t matched many places,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “There is something special about him when it comes to impacting winning. He doesn’t have to shoot it great. He doesn’t have to get the stats or numbers. But he somehow impacts winning no matter when he’s on the floor.”
  • Pacers swingman Justin Holiday has found a fit with the team coming off the bench, writes James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle spoke highly of Holiday’s willingness to accept a bench role with Caris LeVert back in the starting lineup. “Justin’s certainly a very good player as a starter in this league, but it’s better for us if we can have him coming off the bench,” Carlisle said. “He’s a real professional at doing that. He knows how to get into the game, he’s got the right mindset and experience for it, he’s just a total team guy.” Boyd notes that, off the bench, Holiday is averaging 12.8 PPG on 49.1% shooting from the field and 44.4% from long range. In his eight contests as a starter, Holiday has averaged 7.0 PPG while connecting on just 32.3% of his looks from the floor and 29.8% of his efforts from deep.
  • Pacers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell is relishing his life as a bit of a bench pest with the Pacers, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. McConnell has planted real roots in town after signing a four-year extension worth up to $35.2MM with the club in the offseason. “He’s like a little irritant,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers remarked on McConnell. “He’s just solid, high IQ. There’s a bunch of guys that play that role in our league and they all are tough, they’re pesky, but they’re good. They’re more than just a pain, they’re actually good players.”

Cavs Notes: Rubio, Mobley, Sexton, Garland

Ricky Rubio enjoyed perhaps the best game of his NBA career on Sunday in a win over the Knicks, racking up a career-high 37 points and eight 3-pointers to go along with 10 assists. After the game, however, the veteran Cavaliers point guard was eager to praise one of his young teammates, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details.

“He’s special and he will be special,” Rubio said of rookie big man Evan Mobley. “We don’t even know how (high) his potential can be. … He’s really mature for his age. He knows how to play the game the right way. Scoring 26 points your first game in MSG is hard to do. We’re proud to have a teammate like him. It’s fun.”

While Mobley’s 26 points were a career high, he also contributed to the victory in several other ways, adding nine rebounds and five assists while anchoring the Cavs’ defense, writes Fedor. The 20-year-old was a plus-26 on the night.

Since LeBron James‘ exit from Cleveland in 2018, the team has sought a young star to build around, and Mobley is showing strong signs he’s capable of being that player.

“He’s earned our trust. We can depend on him,” Bickerstaff said. “How many 19- or 20-year-olds can you say that about?”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton exited Sunday’s game early due to a left knee injury and will be further evaluated on Monday to determine the severity of the injury, Fedor writes for Cleveland.com. A source tells Fedor that Sexton felt discomfort after bumping knees with teammate Jarrett Allen in the second quarter. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was unable to provide an update after the game.
  • Darius Garland is exhibiting growth across the board early in his third NBA season, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Garland, who has posted career-best rates in APG (7.6), FG% (.476), and 3PT% (.440) so far, is still working on becoming a more vocal on-court leader and finding a balance between making plays for teammates and seeking out his own shot, Russo notes. Garland will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2022 offseason.
  • For more out of Cleveland, be sure to check out our Cavs team page.

Cavaliers Exercise 2022/23 Options For Garland, Windler, Okoro

The Cavaliers have exercised the fourth-year contract options for Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, along with the third-year option for Isaac Okoro, the team announced in a press release. All the option decisions cover the 2022/23 season.

The moves lock in the salaries of $8,920,795 for Garland and $4,037,278 for Windler, who will both be eligible for rookie scale extensions next summer. Okoro will receive $7,040,880 in 2022/23 and will be extension-eligible during the 2023 offseason, assuming Cleveland picks up his fourth-year option as well.

Garland, the fifth pick in the 2019 draft, showed considerable improvement during his second NBA season and is considered to be a cornerstone for the team’s future. He averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists last year while shooting 39.5% from three-point range and earned three votes in the Most Improved Player balloting.

Windler has been hampered by injuries at the start of his NBA career as he missed his entire first season and played just 31 games last year. He will need a strong performance this season to show that he’s worthy of a long-term investment.

Okoro, the No. 5 pick in 2020, was a member of the All-Rookie Second Team last season. He led all rookies in minutes per game and ranked in the top 10 in steals, points and assists.

Cavs Notes: Davis, James, Rubio, Garland, Rotation

The Cavaliers‘ signing of Ed Davis on Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise, given the timing of the move and the fact that Cleveland already has a good amount of frontcourt depth. However, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff pushed for the addition of Davis, who is considered one of the NBA’s best locker-room presences and mentors.

Davis’ one-year, minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed, per Fedor. However, the expectation is that the veteran center will be part of the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster to start the regular season.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Justin James, who also signed with the Cavs on Wednesday, will likely play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday and will get a chance to earn one of the team’s open two-way slots, says Fedor. If James doesn’t get a two-way contract, he could still become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge.
  • In another story for Cleveland.com, Fedor takes an in-depth look at how the Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio early in the offseason and what role they expect him to play in 2021/22. Although Rubio won’t be part of the starting five, Bickerstaff will be counting on him for starter-type minutes, and one member of the organization told Fedor that he thinks the Spaniard will work his way into Cleveland’s closing five.
  • Fedor adds in the same story that Rubio has taken starting point guard Darius Garland “under his wing.” The two guards, whose lockers are next to each other, talk daily and watch film together, writes Fedor.
  • After indicating earlier this month that he planned on a 10-man rotation for the regular season, Bickerstaff now thinks the Cavs’ regular rotation could include just nine players, tweets Fedor. Bickerstaff believes the versatility of Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, along with his desire to have Rubio play starter minutes, reduces the need for a 10th regular.

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Love, Valentine, Mobley

The Cavaliers want Darius Garland to become more of a team leader as he enters his third NBA season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Garland has emerged as a dynamic offensive player and appears to be part of the foundation for the rebuilding Cavs. He earned an invitation to the Select Team that scrimmaged the U.S. Olympic squad over the summer and appeared in exhibition games with Team USA.

Cleveland needs to find new leadership after parting with veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova during the offseason. It’s a role that Garland is eager to take on.

“That’s my whole goal this year,” he said. “And then just try to make it as easy as I can for some of the young guys that we have, even though I’m still a young guy. But I’m going to my third year, so I’ve seen a lot, played a lot of games. Just try to do some of the little things that make everybody successful.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Collin Sexton was reportedly on the trade market this summer, but the Cavaliers weren’t able to find the type of return they wanted, Russo states in the same piece. Sexton will be eligible for a rookie scale extension through October 18, and although general manager Koby Altman refused to talk about negotiations, he said the team hopes to be able to work something out. “We want him here long-term,” Altman said. “And he wants to be here long-term. We’re certainly working with his representation to see that through. But this is someone that’s been with us since the start of this thing, in terms of where we’ve been the last three years. And we love him; we want him here long-term. We’ll deal with that sort of behind closed doors. But the feelings are mutual in terms of something long-term.”
  • Kevin Love hasn’t talked to Altman or coach J.B. Bickerstaff about his role, but he’s expected to play fewer minutes per game, Russo adds. The team’s top priority for Love will be to keep him away from injuries after he missed 47 games last season.
  • Denzel Valentine is eager for a new challenge after spending the past five years in Chicago, Russo tweets. The 27-year-old guard signed a two-year deal with the Cavs last week. “I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities,” he said. “It’s been up and down, but I feel like the best basketball is ahead of me. I’m finally getting healthy, finally coming into my own, getting my routines down and I think it’s only up from here.”
  • The Cavaliers plan to be patient with rookie big man Evan Mobley, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We will be cautious of too much, too soon, but I think his game is going to dictate what too much is,” Bickerstaff said. “We don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. We’re building this team and then talent always rises to the top.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Allen, DiVincenzo, Garland, Olynyk

Zach LaVine and Bulls have been unable to reach a contract extension agreement this offseason. He said it won’t affect his performance or mindset heading into the season, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes.

“What I can control is what I do on the court. That’s what I do best, I take care of business,” he said. “I’ll come into camp ready to be a good teammate and be a better leader every day and help my team win. I think that shows my value and I’ll let my business part speak for itself when the time comes.”

LaVine, who will make $19.5MM this season, could be the top unrestricted free agent on the market next summer unless he works something out with his current club. Given that the Bulls can’t offer more than about $105MM over four years on an extension, an in-season deal appears very unlikely.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Grayson Allen and Donte DiVincenzo are eligible for rookie scale extensions prior to the start of the season. Bucks GM Jon Horst is hopeful of reaching agreements with both but it’s not necessarily a high priority to get them locked up, he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I don’t think it’s essential that we figure out how to extend them,” he said. “I think it’s a priority to have the discussions, see if there’s any kind of meeting of the minds or any way that we can land a deal with one or both those guys. They’re guys that we value and we like, but if not, they’re both restricted.”
  • Oddsmakers have projected the Cavaliers to lose more games than any other Eastern Conference team except Orlando. That doesn’t stop Cleveland guard Darius Garland from setting his sights on the postseason, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype writes. “Our expectations are to make the playoffs,” he said. “The league is very balanced this year, so it’s going to be tough, but I think we’ve got the guys and the mindset to do it.”
  • Figuring out what to do with their top free agent acquisition, Kelly Olynyk, will be one of the main storylines in Pistons training camp, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. They’ll have to decide whether to start Olynyk or use him as Isaiah Stewart‘s backup. They’ll also have to decide whether to use to him at power forward at times alongside Stewart. Detroit targeted Olynyk due his ability to stretch the floor. He signed a three-year, $37MM contract in August.
  • The Pistons are fully vaccinated, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports tweets.

And-Ones: Young, Scola, Breakout Candidates, Salary Cap

Guard Joe Young is taking a proactive approach to getting back in the league. He’ll work out for NBA teams in Houston this week, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. Young, who appeared in 127 games for the Pacers from 2015-18, has been playing in China since the Pacers parted ways with him.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Longtime NBA forward Luis Scola has been named CEO of Italy’s Pallacanestro Varese, Sportando relays. Scola retired after playing for Varese last season and Argentina’s national team in the Tokyo Olympics.
  • Darius Garland, Keldon Johnson and Jaren Jackson Jr. are some of the top breakout candidates for the upcoming season, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives conducted by Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto.
  • The salary cap could increase significantly when new TV deals are signed, Morten Jensen of Forbes Sports notes. Citing a league source, Jensen writes that a $171MM salary cap is possible, assuming no cap smoothing, by 2025. Even with cap smoothing, the cap will likely increase by $15MM annually. However, it should be pointed out that it’s unknown how much the NBA’s next TV deal will be worth, so these figures are speculative.