Darius Garland trade rumors are getting even weirder with Cleveland Cavaliers

The future of Darius Garland and the Cavaliers remains uncertain.
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Although the offseason is not entirely underway, the Cleveland Cavaliers' storyline already has more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan classic.

When the Cavs' offseason began, The Athletic reported various major shifts could come this summer, starting with the coaching. Soon after, J.B. Bickerstaff was relieved of his position as the head coach after four-and-a-half seasons. The search is still underway with three finalists in the forefront, but the Cavaliers have been the center of numerous other offseason rumors.

The report also sparked trade rumors for two of Cleveland's core four - Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. Following the news, Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman repeatedly restated his commitment to retaining the core rather than exploring the trade market.

Garland's trade rumor came from a sentiment that his representation at Klutch Sports would prefer a trade for the All-Star guard if Donovan Mitchell signs a contract extension with Cleveland this summer. Klutch seemingly viewed a change of scenery as the best avenue for Garland to reignite his breakout season and reach his full potential.

Initially, Garland's trade market surged, but teams reportedly backed off after Altman indicated he would not entertain the offers. Despite unending rumors and opinions regarding what Garland's value would be in a trade, Cleveland has stayed patient. Instead, the Cavs appear to believe a new offensive scheme and change in leadership can put the team in a better position to win than a reactionary trade.

A new report, though, suggests Garland's representation has not been swayed by Cleveland's public commitment.

The Darius Garland saga is getting weirder before the offseason even begins

According to Matt Moore of The Action Network, Klutch Sports will still approach the Cavaliers to negotiate a trade request if Mitchell puts pen to paper and stays for the long haul.

When the Garland trade news immediately broke, one team emerged as a favorite to land the former All-Star. The San Antonio Spurs have reportedly shown significant interest in Garland with a wealth of draft picks and young talent to offer in return. While Moore's article supports the possibility that Garland could exit the Cavs, he doused fire on the possibility for him to join Victor Wembanyama in Texas.

"There's an expectation [Klutch Sports] would prefer a move to stay in the East to give Garland a better opportunity at an All-Star appearance to boost his earning potential."

Matt Moore

Staying in the East gives Garland an easier path to the All-Star team with a loaded Western Conference cannibalizing one another every year. With Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Edwards, Jamal Murray, Devin Booker and more competing for a select few backcourt spots on the All-Star roster, Garland's chances are undeniably better in the East.

Clearly, the pending trade request does not revolve around Garland's happiness with the Cavaliers. In every rumor and report, there has been no mention of a poor relationship between Garland and Mitchell or Garland and the organization. NBA insider Brian Windhorst even stated that the backcourt stars are not at odds in an earlier interview, clarifying that the possible trade is based on Garland's desire to return to his All-Star form and reach his ceiling.

This past season, Garland's impact took a significant drop, averaging 18 points, 6.5 assists and 37.1 percent from deep per game. On the surface, Garland's stats point to a productive, exciting young player, but he has steadily declined from his career best and first All-Star season since Mitchell's arrival. Horrendous injury luck and personal issues also factored into Garland's down year, but he has undoubtedly taken a step back in role since the 2022 blockbuster move for Mitchell.

Moore's mention of earning potential signifies the real cause for a potential Garland departure. Although Garland can play and win alongside Mitchell, he cannot fully realize his own value as a lead ballhandler and offensive orchestrator as the second fiddle on the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers have to play the waiting game with trades

From the coaching hire to Jarret Allen's mysterious but brutal rib injury in the playoffs to Darius Garland's trade saga, the Cavaliers have already endured a lengthy stretch of offseason rumors. But, the starting line has not even been crossed as Mitchell cannot officially sign a contract extension until the end of moratorium on July 6.

Per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, there is a league-wide sentiment that the Cavaliers will come to terms on a maximum contract extension with Mitchell this summer. Until all papers are signed and the deal is official, the Cavaliers cannot move on from their homegrown star guard. They benefit nothing from moving Garland before an official trade request is made. If Mitchell is not willing to extend this summer, losing Garland is a catastrophic mistake.

With weeks before Mitchell's extension can be agreed upon, the Cavaliers have no choice but to wait and maintain their commitment to Garland. After the first report, no news circulated that Garland's agents would request a trade, and the possibility that the backcourt could stay intact became more likely.

Now, as more positive signs point to Mitchell sticking around, Garland's trade rumors resurfaced. Until anything can be certain, the Cavaliers must publicly continue to support keeping a cohesive core rather than seeking a trade. Actively shopping Garland would likely plummet his value, hurting the Cavs' chances to find a suitable return dramatically drop.

As the Garland saga unfolds, the Cleveland Cavaliers navigate a complex offseason. The current conference juggernaut Boston Celtics just won the NBA Finals, only losing three postseason games in the process. Competing for a championship will require perfect decision making with no room for error or a rushed move. Whether it is a Darius Garland trade or draft night selection, every choice the Cavaliers make holds significant impact on the future of the organization.

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