Brian Windhorst on Darius Garland: ‘I think you definitely pay him a max contract this summer’

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes that the Cleveland Cavaliers should give guard Darius Garland a max contract during the upcoming offseason.

Windhorst appeared on an ESPNCleveland video and offered (at the 1:30 mark) his reasoning why the Cavaliers would make that huge investment in Garland.

“I think he’s spectacular, I think you definitely pay him a max contract this summer,” Windhorst said. “It’s easier to pay a guy who’s young a max, the money’s left. It’s still a lot of money. I think if he signs a max this summer, the starting salary is gonna be in the $33-$34 million range the following season. So, it’s still a ton of money, it’s a nine-figure commitment. It would be one of the biggest contracts the Cavs have ever given. But when you are paying him that money, you’re not paying it to him, obviously they want him to improve, but you’re not paying it to him thinking that he’s gonna develop into a superstar. You hope that he is.”

The 22-year-old Garland took a major step forward during the 2021-22 NBA season and was selected to play in the annual All-Star Game for the first time. During the regular season, Garland averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 assists. 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

Those numbers are what the Cavaliers envisioned when they chose him with the fifth overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. Garland’s up-and-down rookie season during the 2019-20 campaign ended on an abrupt note when the NBA season was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Garland’s overall statistical numbers improved during the 2020-21 season, he was limited to just 54 games. Still, he offered enough promise that the breakout campaign he had this past season didn’t come as a total surprise.

Most teams make a concerted effort to lock up their budding superstars before they enter the final year of their rookie deal. While the steep cost to retain Garland will take a chunk out of the Cavs’ payroll, it’s a necessity if the team hopes to make a deeper playoff run.

Garland’s salary increase that kicks in during the 2023-24 season would be more manageable considering that the Cavaliers will be done paying Kevin Love $30 million per season.

There’s no time frame as to exactly when the Cavs and Garland will come together on a new deal. However, it doesn’t seem as though the negotiations will last too long.

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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.