Beilein and Altman were smart to get Sexton's blessing before picking Garland

Jake Chapman says it's a small gesture, but it shows they get it

Jake Chapman
June 21, 2019 - 3:28 pm
May 21, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein speaks to the media during a press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts. At left is general manager Koby Altman. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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The idea of creating Portland East is a popular notion now that the Cavaliers backcourt features two undersized, scoring playmakers in Collin Sexton and the newly-drafted Darius Garland. Today’s NBA calls for numerous playmakers on the floor at the same time, as does John Beilein’s 2-guard offense. And any doubt about a smaller backcourt’s efficacy should be laid to rest based on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum taking the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals this spring. Furthermore, the NBA Champion Raptors finished many games throughout the postseason with both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet on the floor. If you were concerned about Garland and Sexton co-existing on basketball terms, you shouldn’t be. But if you were concerned about Garland and Sexton co-existing on personal terms, well, that’s valid. Yes, this is professional sports. Yes, Sexton should be welcome to any addition that will improve the team. But the Cavaliers’ front office was smart to reach out to both Garland and Sexton before-hand to make sure both were on board with playing together. And the fact that both gave their blessing bodes well for the future.

“The type of young men they both are, you know, we talked with Collin when this became a possibility, and he was all in favor of it as well. And then we went out to visit Darius last week and we spoke with him about it and he was like, I mean you just look at what Portland’s done with those two terrific guards and it’s worked very well,”  Beilein said.

Sexton very easily could have been put off by Garland’s selection. If the Browns drafted a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft, don’t you think Baker would’ve been a little perturbed? But between John Beilein and Koby Altman, Cavaliers leadership covered their bases and made sure nobody would feel alienated or like the odd man out. And even if Sexton is a little bothered or wants to prove that this is his team, that’s all fine. Healthy competition can be great, and hopefully these two will push each other for the first few years of their careers. But the one mistake the Cavs could not afford to make was drafting Garland while Sexton got radio silence from the organization. They headed that one off at the pass.

“Collin, he’s really good. I mean, I think I can help him. I think we both can combine and just do some crazy things in Cleveland,” Garland said.

Beilein’s 2-guard offense is predicated on multiple playmakers on the floor at once, preferably with a stretch-big on the perimeter clearing the way for dribble drives, slashes and off-ball movement. Whether or not Garland and Sexton have duplicitous skillsets and who plays what position isn’t an issue at all according to Beilein.

“It really doesn’t make a difference… That’s the whole idea of positionless basketball. We’ll have two forwards, we’ll have two guards and we’ll have a big center. That will all depend on who we’re playing, who’s playing well, who’s injured. Hopefully we can just morph into whatever shape we need to take for games as time goes on,” Beilein said.

Great coaches alter their game plans and systems to maximize the output of the players they have on roster. Great GM’s juggle egos and all the trappings of professional athletics to keep everyone on the same page, devoted to the same goal. It’s too early to determine whether Beilein is a great NBA coach or Altman is a great NBA executive. But when they drafted Garland Thursday night, it could’ve been a sticky situation between the Cavalier backcourt. Altman and Beilein made the right move by avoiding such stickiness.