A Collin Sexton Cavs return, ‘surplus’ of ball handlers would be ideal

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

With constant trade rumors for some time about the Cleveland Cavaliers potentially trading for the Indiana Pacers’ Caris LeVert, and them reportedly showing continued interest in him, it was not surprising that they did.

The Cavaliers pulled the trigger on a trade for LeVert on Sunday, reportedly in exchange for Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract, Cleveland’s lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick, Cleveland’s 2022 second-round pick via the Houston Rockets and Cleveland’s 2027 second-round pick via the Utah Jazz. The Pacers attached a 2022 second-rounder via the Miami Heat with LeVert, too.

Without the Cavs being without Collin Sexton and Rubio since early November to a torn meniscus for the former and a torn ACL in late December for the latter, it was sensible that Cleveland was looking for perimeter help for Darius Garland.

Garland has been outstanding this season with 19.9 points and 8.1 assists per contest, en route to him being a big reason why the Cavaliers have been 34-21 this season, and Garland himself being honored as an All-Star reserve. But Garland had missed the last four games with back soreness prior to Cleveland’s win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, and Cleveland looking to help alleviate pressure on him, with what’s to come in mind, was not surprising. That move can aid in preserving him some.

In LeVert’s case, he’s had 18.7 points and 4.4 assists per outing this season for Indiana, and in his first Cavs appearance, had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting versus San Antonio in that one coming off the bench. He was making some nice plays still, and is a multi-faceted guard/wing.

Now, there were plenty of stretches this season where LeVert was seemingly self-creating when it wasn’t what was there, and/or out of sync in relation to the Pacers system, and I can’t say for certain that it’ll be a harmonious fit with the Cavs early on.

With Malcolm Brogdon being out though, LeVert was taking on far more of a primary playmaking role, and one had to see the context there. The Cavaliers did, too, and with how the team has been in regards to ball and man movement this season, I can’t help but to think the LeVert fit will work out.

Collin Sexton, who, for comparison’s sake, is similar in the shot creation and driving sense to LeVert, showed marketed growth last season as a secondary playmaker for Cleveland, too, and even without the assist splits, did demonstrate more of that early this season pre-injury. So, that’s more reason for optimism.

When looking onward, with LeVert being extension-eligible, and one would assume him and Cleveland will get into serious discussions, and Sexton himself being likely set for restricted free agency, something might have to give.

LeVert will have a prominent role the rest of this season, whether that’s in the mold of being a starting 2, or functioning as Cleveland’s sixth man off the bench, where he’d get starting minutes I’d imagine. He’ll get some time at the 3 clearly as well. The gist there is, the 27-year-old, who is on the books for $17.5 million this season, will be looking for another sizable deal.

But with that being the case, and Sexton’s growth he’s demonstrated, and three-level scoring abilities prior to his essentially wiped-out Year 4, it’s tough to say right now if Sexton will end up being back. Does Cleveland let him walk, or does a potential sign-and-trade occur? Those are seemingly possibilities.

Maybe Sexton does end up back, conversely, perhaps by playing out next season on the qualifying offer of roughly $8.6 million, in that case, or Cleveland and him can sign him to a new deal and extend LeVert.

I can’t say for certain either way. That said, a couple of recent reports have me fairly optimistic that the Cavaliers could keep Sexton around for coming years, and the club could have Garland, LeVert and Sexton.

Having Sexton back would be ideal for the Cavs, as an additional shot creator with Garland and LeVert.

According to a report from Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, while some teams have called about Sexton’s availability since his injury, the Cavaliers do want to keep him, and Cleveland having a “suplus” of ball handlers and “scoring” wouldn’t be a “bad problem to have.” That’s with Garland, LeVert and Sexton in mind, and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com essentially echoed in a report how the Cavs want to keep Sexton in the fold, too.

From there, Scotto added in his report how currently with 12 players rostered for it, Cleveland would project to be “21.4 million” below luxury tax territory for next season. So as was noted in the report, the Cavs would have a shot at keeping Sexton and being under the tax, which is a priority for the team.

It’s hardly a certainty that Sexton ends up being back, however, given that he and the Cavs couldn’t come to an agreement last offseason on an extension, and Sexton recently changed his representation to Klutch Sports, who also rep Garland.

Sexton should assuredly have some other suitors too, so with feasibly a LeVert extension in mind as well, and/or perhaps an extension for Garland, it’s unclear whether Sexton will sign a new deal with the Wine and Gold or have an offer sheet matched. In Fedor’s report, he mentioned how Cleveland is interested in potentially bringing back Rubio in free agency, also; I wouldn’t personally find that to be sensible, but I’m not the Cavs.

If Collin is back, though, I’d definitely value him much more so over say, Dennis Schroder, who has been a player that the Cavaliers have reportedly had trade conversations about with the Boston Celtics, for what it’s worth.

Now as a side note, we’d have to see how lineups/minutes would shake out involving Garland, LeVert, Sexton and Isaac Okoro too, potentially others, but overall, I do think with what he’s provided, and with other talented guys around him, it’d be great for Cleveland if Sexton returned.

Even if injuries to others played into it a bit, the dude did have 24.3 points per outing last season to go with 4.4 assists, and his presence can open up other guys, such as Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley and Cedi Osman.

Next. Grading the LeVert trade from all angles. dark

If Cleveland could have Garland, LeVert and Sexton moving forward, that’d be ideal for this team, with the other dudes involved and from an injury insurance perspective, in the event Sexton can recover fully. He hasn’t had much injury history prior to this season, fortunately, on that front.