The Cleveland Cavaliers have answered a lot of the big questions that surrounded them going into this offseason.
They, as expected, gave Darius Garland the huge rookie max extension, drafted Ochai Agbaji with the 14th pick, who projects as a sharpshooting 3-and-D player they need. The Cavs brought back Ricky Rubio, who if he regains form, is the extra ball handler and passer/playmaker they need, while also adding depth at center with the addition of Robin Lopez as well.
One of the biggest question remains though, is what will happen with Cavs guard Collin Sexton?
The Cavaliers and Sexton have been negotiating going back to last offseason when he was first eligible for an extension. Sexton was coming off a strong season, which was also a career year in which he averaged 24.3 ppg , 4.4 apg and 1.0 steals, while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3. Still the Cavs and Sexton weren’t able to come to an agreement and the following offseason he would become a restricted free agent.
Unfortunately for Sexton he got hurt early in the season, and meanwhile Garland turned into a star and one of the league’s better point guards. Plus, Jarrett Allen took a big step forward also making an All-Star appearance, like Garland, and Evan Mobley established himself as a co-franchise building block with Garland and the Cavs made a huge leap winning a bunch of games without Sexton.
In fairness I think Collin gets a bad rap and it’s just unfortunate as the Cavaliers finally took off and started winning games, Collin missed out because of the injury. They were 8-7 with him this past season, but this is more in the sense that the team would eventually still win 36 more games and nearly made the postseason.
Regarding the potential extension, anyway, according to a recent report from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required), “there’s a real chance” Sexton could play on the qualifying offer in 2022-23.
This possibility playing out would be concerning for both the Cavs and Sexton, and hopefully, an extension agreement can be reached this offseason.
A couple things. Fedor mentioned that Sexton’s market of suitors has dwindled, but both sides would like to make a deal at the right price. Fedor mentioned the Cavs are looking for a deal in the low-mid teens.
In my opinion, I would still be surprised and would disagree if the Cavs had Collin playing on the $7.2M qualifying offer. I don’t think Sexton is a Garland or Mobley-caliber of a player, however, Sexton is a really good basketball player who obviously has value to the Cavs. Last year Cleveland certainly missed him as a player who could handle the ball and his dynamic shot creation/scoring. Having Sexton next year would give the Cavs another shot creation/scoring threat and will only make them better.
I think the perfect role for Sexton would be a sixth man-type role for him and this team. If they can get him on a $15-17M a year deal over 4 years I think it would be ideal for both sides and the Cavs should absolutely jump on that. Granted, to help from the luxury tax perspective, trading away Dylan Windler, for instance, would help for Sexton compensation, or Cedi Osman, as some have suggested, and we’ll see on those fronts.
I just don’t think playing on a qualifying offer is good for either side. For Sexton as Fedor stated, he doesn’t have much of a market right now. Often times players bet on themselves and sometimes it works out and sometimes it backfires. It’s not a guarantee Sexton would up his value.
The injury last year is part of the reason why Sexton’s value saw some of a decrease. Sure Collin could always bet on himself again, but on a 1-year deal, it also brings its risks. Getting a contract that keeps him in Cleveland, but also gives him financial security, makes the most sense.
For the Cavaliers Collin is a player whose still really young, who I think can still get better and offers upside. I think Sexton would thrive as a sixth man for this team and would light it up in that role. I think again if you’re able to get him on a multi-year deal for $15-16M a year you absolutely should extend him rather than him playing on the qualifying offer for a year.
It wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the Cavs for a player that is young with him only turning 24 next season, and he’s still ascending to push it down to a 1-year deal.
You can argue both sides could present risks, but getting a Sexton extension done with one of the better emerging young teams makes the most sense for both sides.