Windler, who underwent season-ending surgery in January for a stress fracture in his left leg, has impressed coaches and teammates alike during the team’s mini-camp. The Cavaliers selected him with the No. 26 in the 2019 draft, with the 24-year-old not playing in a single game this year.
“It was amazing for us to see him out there. I know it felt good for him,” Collin Sexton said. “Everyone went crazy because they know how bad he wanted to be out there.”
In addition to Windler, the Cavaliers sport a young nucleus consisting of Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. The team also has a number of veterans – including a star frontcourt duo in Kevin Love and Andre Drummond – and the No. 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft.
“It was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy. I remember that guy,’” Cavs general manager Koby Altman said of Windler. “He knows how to play. Super efficient. Can really shoot. He’s always around the ball. He hasn’t been hurt in his entire life, so it’s hard to be off that long. He’s excited to be back, doing his thing and when that silky smooth 3-ball goes in we are doing little fist-bumps too. He still needs to get through this week healthy and his body needs to respond the right way and has to get to NBA games and compete there, but we’re excited about him.”
There’s more from the Central Division tonight:
- Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what kind of coach Billy Donovan might be for the Bulls. Chicago hired Donovan last week, with the veteran coach coming off a stint with the Thunder. “I look at it as a positive of coaching some different teams,” Donovan said, “because it forces you as a coach to constantly every year have to figure out ways to make the group better. In today’s day and age in the game of basketball, there’s going to be turnover. You want to be able to find a way, however long or short your time is, to make a player better.”
- Bulls star Zach LaVine hopes Donovan can be a long-term fix at head coach, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. Donovan will be LaVine’s sixth head coach in seven seasons, and the team’s leading scorer hopes that rate of turnover won’t continue. “I was extremely happy,” LaVine said of the Donovan hire. “Somebody with his track record not just in the NBA but in college as well, a whole ton of players who are proven saying how great of a guy he is and how good of a coach he is. People like me, when you want to be great, you want to be coached extremely well. I gave him a text right when I heard the news. And I told him hurry to get after it. I’m extremely excited. I think the whole organization is.”
- The Pistons have looked to create an atmosphere of intense competition in the team’s mini-camp, head coach Dwane Casey said, as relayed by James Edwards of The Athletic (Twitter link). “The one thing I’ve seen this week … we wanted the competition, and guys are competing hard, taking charges,” Casey said. “We wanted to create the atmosphere of competition. They’ve responded.”