Darius Garland was probably just minding his own business when a rumor surfaced that the Cleveland Cavaliers were possibly open to dealing him, which caused backcourt mate Donovan Mitchell to comically react to what’s become known as the NBA’s silly season.
I see we are bored this beautiful afternoon😂😂
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) June 28, 2023
— Darius Garland (@dariusgarland22) June 28, 2023
A report on Wednesday claimed some have said “not to be be surprised” if Cleveland trades Garland, which then generated a quick rebuttal from a Cavs insider who said they “don’t intend to move him.”
Despite having some obvious needs, such as seeking a “significant upgrade” to the frontcourt, trading Garland probably would hurt the Cavs more than it would help them. The 23-year-old has established himself as an excellent NBA player, highlighted by his first All-Star Game appearance in 2022.
This season, his first alongside Mitchell, Garland averaged 21.6 points and 7.8 assists per game, just slightly below career-highs he established the season before (21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game). Cleveland improved to 51 regular season wins and made its first playoff appearance since 2018.
The Cavs’ failure in a first-round playoff loss to the New York Knicks could be what’s making other teams reach out about Garland, who would definitely have trade value if Cleveland was so inclined. Instead, it’s more likely the Cavaliers will continue to build around their core of Mitchell, Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, who also has sparked some trade interest this offseason.
Mitchell knows all about being the subject of trade speculation, having gone through it last offseason. The Knicks were thought to be a likely destination before the Cavs wound up making a deal with the Utah Jazz in September. In fact, New York reportedly still hasn’t given up on the idea of eventually getting Mitchell on board.
The Cavaliers reportedly have interest in pending free agents Max Strus of the Miami Heat, Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Charlotte Hornets and Georges Niang of the Philadelphia 76ers. One of those players, combined with 2023 NBA Draft pick Emoni Bates, who has been praised by Mitchell, could give Cleveland the offensive boost it needs for next season.
That sort of path toward improvement seems much more likely than trading away a young rising player like Garland.