Darius Garland’s first thoughts after playing alongside Rajon Rondo: ‘Dang, that’s Rondo on the floor’

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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers star Darius Garland got his first chance to play with new teammate Rajon Rondo on Friday, and it resulted in some awe from the third-year guard.

Garland spoke after the Cavaliers’ 114-101 road victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, and he noted how important Rondo’s veteran leadership will be to the team.

“It was fun, the first couple plays were kinda like, ‘Dang, that’s Rondo on the floor,’” Garland said. “New face, but it was cool — Rondo’s a really good guy, he’s a great vet, he’s a leader on the floor, so it was fun playing with him.”

Rondo was acquired by the Cavaliers after key injuries left Cleveland’s backcourt depleted. The contest against the Trail Blazers was his first game with his new team.

The Cavaliers traded for the 35-year-old Rondo partly for the veteran leadership that he can provide to a team that has plenty of young players. He’s been a part of two NBA championship squads and has plenty of playoff experience as well.

Part of Garland’s awestruck feelings likely stem from the fact that he was just six years old when Rondo played in his first NBA game in 2006.

Garland, who turns 22 later this month, scored 26 points in the win over the Trail Blazers and continues to develop into the player the Cavaliers envisioned when he was drafted in 2019.

It’s clear from Garland’s feelings that he’s eager to absorb any wisdom that Rondo shares, which could help the Cavaliers this year and beyond.

For now, Garland and the Cavs will focus on the present, with their next game coming on Sunday against the Golden State Warriors. It’s the second contest of a six-game road trip for Cleveland.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.