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Random dribbles on the Cavaliers and their summer-league team following an 86-71 loss to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
1. Is it just me, or is everyone else wondering why Darius Garland isn’t playing? Or how about Kevin Porter Jr.?
2. As you know, Garland and Porter were two of the Cavs’ three first-round draft picks. Garland was selected fifth overall, so let’s start with him.
3. As you probably also know, Garland missed all but five games last season as freshman at Vanderbilt. He suffered a meniscus injury, but it wasn’t supposed to be anything major. I don’t believe there is any reason to worry about Garland’s knee. Which is why I can’t figure out why he’s not on the court.
4. Granted, it’s just summer league. Granted, the Cavs will take part in another one next week in Las Vegas. There is still plenty of time for Garland to get in a run. And I’m not trying to tell Cavs general manager Koby Altman and coach John Beilein what is best for their team. (At least, not in this particular instance.) But I think the fans are tuning in to see Garland — and no real reason has been given for his absence.
5. Basically, when you play just a handful of college games in your only season … and you’re just 19 years old … it couldn’t hurt to start facing some real, live competition. A lot of the players you see in summer league may not be in the NBA next year, but most will be pros, somewhere. Most really get after it against lottery picks such as Garland. He needs to experience that challenge at some point. Why not now?
6. OK, what about Porter? Word is, he has a sore hip. But how did this come about? Is it severe? How long is it supposed to take to heal? And if this were the regular season or even preseason, would he be out there?
7. Porter is a shooting guard with lots of explosiveness but questionable productivity. He is a fine talent and seems like a good kid. The Cavs were impressed with him all the way around. But there’s a reason he dropped to the final pick (No. 30) of the first round.
8. Translation: Most teams didn’t view Porter as ready for the NBA. Well, there’s only one way to get ready, and unless Porter longs to be a basketball writer, it doesn’t involve sitting on the sidelines in a shirt and street shoes. He needs to play the very minute he can.
9. Now, there is a chance Garland and Porter really are sore or still on the mend, and the Cavs want to be wise and not push them into action. Fine. This isn’t a plea for information for myself and it’s not intended to rip the Cavs for their in-house personnel decisions. But it’s pretty clear the fans are dying to know when Garland and Porter will be on the floor.
10. The Cavaliers’ other first-rounder, Dylan Windler, has played in both games. As Jeff Phelps wrote Monday, Windler rung up some memories of Dan Majerle in his first game. In his second, it was more like Luke Jackson. Remember him? Most Cavs fans won’t.
11. Windler finished just 1-of-6 shooting for five points against the Jazz. He was far from bad, though. The Jazz just treated him like the Cavs’ biggest threat and did their best to lock him down. He received every last ounce of the opponent’s attention. But that just furthers the point that Garland and Porter should play if/when healthy. Especially Garland. He needs to see what it’s like to be The Man — both in the eyes of the Cavs and the team they are facing.
12. Also, I’m not really sure why Collin Sexton isn’t on the summer team. It’s true that Sexton had a really nice run after February and has little to prove. But again, this isn’t about making a case as a future All-Star. It’s about working on your game against someone other than … well, no one. Any basketball player at any level will tell you that individual workouts are important. But nothing prepares you for games like (drumroll, please) playing games.
13. Undrafted rookie big man Dean Wade got the night off after showing some promise in his summer debut. That’s OK, because the Cavs want to give everyone a chance to audition. At least Wade had a shot to play. He is on a two-way contract and fans of the G-League’s Canton Charge will probably see a lot of Wade this season.
14. The Cavs were led by former Jazz two-way guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The Cavs already view him as a training camp candidate.
15. With most of the top free agents off the board, Altman and the Cavs are eyeing the list of younger veterans who are still looking for a team. They could sign one or two within the next month or so to minimum or non-guaranteed deals. Right now, they are still trying to trade the contract of J.R. Smith. They still have a few weeks before his contract becomes fully guaranteed.
16. The Cavs wrap up play in Salt Lake City vs. the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. EST. They then face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Vegas at 5 p.m. on Friday.