Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler out indefinitely after left knee surgery

Dylan Windler, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Dylan Windler, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler has not been able to stay healthy with the club to consistently make an impact in his career to this point.

Windler, who was the 26th overall pick by Cleveland in the 2019 NBA Draft, did not appear for the Cavaliers at all in what was supposed to be formally his rookie campaign in 2019-20 because of complications involving a stress reaction in his lower left leg.

In relation to the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Windler ended up fracturing the fourth metacarpal in his left hand, and would then be sidelined for a 13-game span. He would then be mostly available from there for a good stretch, which was a positive.

That said, unfortunately, Windler would again have more problems involving the injury front. He’s missed the past 12 games for the Cavs due to what’s been designated as knee soreness, which has been concerning at this point.

And in regards to that, it’s tough to foresee exactly when he’ll be able to be back for Cleveland, and really if he will the rest of this season with likely less than a month left.

Here was the key gyst on that with Windler, per a Cavaliers team status update on Wednesday. Per the Cavs, Windler “underwent successful left knee surgery to address ongoing patella tendinopathy concerns.” And from there, they stated how he’ll be “out indefinitely and his return to basketball activities will be updated as appropriate.”

This is more rough injury stuff on the Windler front, who just can’t stay healthy with the Cavs.

On the season, the de facto rookie wing has had 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per outing on the season. He has had his ups and downs as a deep ball shooter off-the-catch, as evidenced by a 33.8 percent hit rate from three-point range on 2.5 attempts per appearance.

On a positive note, though, Windler, while he was amid a cold spell as a catch-and-shoot threat, did show plenty of instances of off-movement shooting capabilities and did flash very deep range, and looking onward, could be a really valuable floor spacer in burn for Cleveland.

He also hit a robust 40.6 percent of his 534 career three-point attempts in a four-year collegiate career at Belmont, for what it’s worth.

It hasn’t necessarily been proven this season, but Windler could have intriguing potential as a pull-up threat as well, considering his effectiveness in that regard at Belmont. We’ll see in relation to that, perhaps. Windler did flash some nice touch on floaters/push shots on occasion, too, which was another positive.

Additionally, Windler demonstrated encouraging off-ball cutting feel, and in his burn this season, has been a solid finisher with both hands near the rim, which has led to nice feeds from guys such as Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton.

In terms of the defensive end, I was often pleased with Windler’s feel positionally, and him having had 1.3 steals was a plus. Along with that, as a rotator/helper, him having had a block rate of 2.1 percent in his burn so far this season as a rotational 6-foot-6 2/3 has been notable.

His rebounding timing/positional sense has also been a key positive in his run this season with Cleveland. 7.5 rebounds per-36 minutes for Windler is nothing to sneeze at, either, in that regard.

All things considered, though, even while the condensed schedule this season for the league, in order to get back on track for next season/going onward hasn’t helped in relation to potential injury risk overall, Windler himself has had rampant injury problems.

Injuries weren’t an issue with him in college, so this has been very unfortunate and frustrating for him/the team, albeit Windler is objectively a thinner 196-pound build at his height.

It’s tough to forecast how much of an impact player he can or will eventually become in his time with the Cavaliers looking onward.

That’s also factoring in guys such as Isaac Okoro, who is figuring it out offensively, Cedi Osman/Taurean Prince to an extent and Lamar Stevens. Plus, Cleveland seemingly has a real possibility of adding another wing in the 2021 NBA Draft as well.

And in terms of a further update from Wednesday evening, per a report from Chris Fedor of (subscription required), Windler will not only miss the remainder of 2020-21, “but he’s not expected to be ready for summer league,” so that adds to the uncertainty involving his outlook moving forward/potential impact.

That’s even worse news regarding Fedor’s report for the Belmont product.

Cavs: 3 things to watch the rest of the season. dark. Next

There were positive signs from Windler, from my perspective, in his rookie year, but the injury issues make it so difficult to project whether or not he can be a viable long-term piece.