Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Notebook: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland Updates

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Notebook: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland Updates

Danny Cunningham
1 year ago
5 min read
Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Notebook: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – With a new season begins reason for new hope, and the Cleveland Cavaliers certainly seem to be obliging. Since LeBron James left the franchise for the West Coast, the franchise has won just 60 games in total across the last three years. The franchise is hoping things are different with the plethora of young talent that’s been amassed. In fact, they have to be. 

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff and general manager Koby Altman were asked what the season needs to bring, and it’s clear that wins are the correct answer to those questions. This isn’t a team that’s going to compete for anything of significance, and it’s not one that’s asked to, but it is a team that needs to show some sort of progress. 

"We have to continue to do the right thing over and over,” Bickerstaff said. “If you do that more often than not, it will be easy to see in the wins and loss column as well."

Doing the right thing is only going to get the Cavs so far. After posting back-to-back 22-win seasons – albeit, in COVID-19 shortened years – means the Cavs still have a lot to prove. There is a solid amount of young talent on the roster, and the Cavs may boast the youngest starting lineup in the NBA, depending on what Bickerstaff decides to trot out there. 

"Our guys are fed up,” Bickerstaff said of the losing. “If you listen to them and talk to them, they want to win basketball games. They have to learn how still."

Kevin Love

The Cavaliers would be happy to get Kevin Love – and more specifically his contract – off their books if there were a deal to be made with another team, but a buyout certainly doesn’t seem to be an option that’s currently feasible.

There was a report that Love and the Cavs were talking about a buyout this summer, but Love’s agent quickly refuted it to ESPN, and Love shot it down on Monday as well.

“It’s never been a thing, I’m still sitting here, in year 14, as a Cav,” Love said. “It’s a young team, that’s obviously where this is headed and where this is going. What I’m going to try and be, like I’ve told Koby and JB, is a positive force. Wherever this ends up, I just want to make sure, at least internally, in here, when we walk into this building that it’s positive.

“We know what’s going on, within the locker room. Everybody had their moments, me included, maybe me specifically, but I want to make sure that it’s going to be positive so long as I’m donning a Cavs jersey.”

Love maintaining that positivity throughout the season could be a big thing for the Cavs inside the locker room. Whether or not he will remain healthy enough to contribute on the court is yet to be seen. He did mention that he feels as if he is in a good place both mentally as training camp gets underway.

Darius Garland making the leap

While the best player on the Cavs entering this season is Collin Sexton, there seems to be a belief around the organization – and outside of it – that point guard Darius Garland is the guy with the highest expectations heading into the year.

Garland is entering his third season in the NBA, and oddly enough, it will be his first full NBA season. His rookie year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his second season was shortened to just a 72-game schedule in order to help the NBA put its calendar back on schedule.

In those first two years, Garland has shown flashes that he can put everything together to become an elite-level NBA player. This year, more is expected of him. He spent his summer with Team USA, playing on the Select Team that helps the Men’s Senior Team prepare for the Olympics. Having the opportunity to practice alongside the game’s greats on a regular basis is something that should not only make him better, but boost his confidence, too.

The Cavs have also brought in a guard whisperer of sorts in Ricky Rubio to help not only Garland, but Sexton too. Rubio was acquired in a trade with Minnesota, and has spent his last few years bouncing around the league, but has helped to mentor Utah guard Donovan Mitchell and Phoenix guard Devin Booker. Both Mitchell and Booker have blossomed into All-Star caliber guys, and Rubio’s experience could be a big help to both young members of Cleveland’s backcourt.

Speaking of Sexton

One of the biggest questions for Sexton on Monday was about a potential contract extension between the fourth-year guard and the Cavs. Sexton sidestepped those questions, saying that Altman and his agent were continuing dialogue on the matter and he just plans to focus on basketball. 

Aside from growing on the court, Sexton is in a position now where he’s expected to grow as a leader of the team. One of the more frequently used words on Monday was accountability, and that’s something he thinks needs to be had by all if the members of the organization, as long as it comes from a good place.

“Just letting each other know, just like, ‘hey, you missed that box out’ or ‘I was open one more, swing that one more to me, I’m going to knock it down.’ That’s not coming from a selfish place, that’s coming from a good place,” Sexton said. “It’s holding each other accountable. That’s what we need.”

Vaccination status

The biggest story across the NBA on Monday was a number of players who may miss more than half the season due to their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. There are certain markets – New York, San Francisco – that require players to be vaccinated to take part in indoor mass gatherings. Former Cavaliers Kyrie Irving (Nets) and Andrew Wiggins (Warriors) have both been outspoken so far about their reluctance to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and could both end up missing close to 50 games if that does not change. 

The Cavaliers seemingly will not have that issue. When asked about it, Altman did not want to dive to deep into specifics, but did mention that he’s confident the team will be fully vaccinated by the time opening night rolls around next month. 

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