After suffering a torn meniscus 11 games into last season and missing the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign, and with only a couple of rival teams with cap room, restricted free agent Collin Sexton has found himself in a tough spot. Tea Riderswho drafted Sexton No. 8 overall in 2018, have reportedly offered him a deal worth close to $40MM over three years, which certainly seems low for a scorer of his caliber, and that’s why he hasn’t accepted it.
Despite the negotiating impasse, the Cavs are projecting “a lot of confidence” that Sexton will be on the roster in ’22/23, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com said a few weeks ago.
Sexton is reportedly seeking “starting guard money” with an annual value of $20+MM per season, and Fedor previously reported the two sides were discussing a deal in the range of $72MM over four years prior to last season. Multiple factors seem to have convinced the Cavs to change that price tag.
Sexton’s injury and dry market, the addition of Caris LeVert, and the team’s proximity to the luxury tax line (roughly $13MM below) are all reportedly part of Cleveland’s thinking in extending a lower offer. The Cavs would also have to make a roster move to bring back Sexton, as the 15-man roster is already full, but that isn’t as big of a deal as the other factors.
If the Cavs don’t increase their offer, and Sexton decides against accepting it, he could also sign his $7.2MM qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, at which point he’d be able to test his value on the open market.
At 23 years old, Sexton has plenty of time to continue to improve. He was one of the NBA’s most underrated scorers from 2019-21, averaging 22.5 PPG and doing so efficiently (.474/.376/.828 slash line, including a 56.7% true shooting percentage).
However, there are some holes in his game. Standing just 6’1″, Sexton has been a high-volume, high-usage scorer, but he isn’t a point guard, averaging just 3.3 APG over his career, and since Darius Garland is also only 6’1″, having two small guards starting in the backcourt is an awkward fit on both ends of the court. Sexton also isn’t a great rebounder, averaging only 3.0 RPG in 218 NBA games despite a heavy workload (32.9 MPG).
The Cavs were the NBA’s worst team in Sexton’s first three seasons, and while that isn’t necessarily on him, the team did perform better with him off the court in each of those seasons. It also doesn’t help his cause that Cleveland found his most success during his tenure when he only played 11 games, going 44-38 and reaching the play-in tournament.
In theory, the team’s offense should definitely be better with him back, but the defense might decline, and that’s where the Cavs shined last season, ranking fifth in the league in defensive rating. Defensive concerns have led some suggest that Sexton might be better served as a sixth man, but I think Sexton is a better player — and much better shooter — than LeVert, the other primary candidate for the second guard spot, so I wouldn’t go that far, but I understand the logic to some extent.
I believe Sexton is worth at least $15MM per season, and it’s unfortunate the way things have played out, because he’s a hard worker and said to be a good teammate. Having said that, the Cavs seem to hold all the leverage right now.
We want to know what you think. Where will Sexton end up in ’22/23? Will he accept a seemingly lesser offer for more long-term security? Will an unexpected suitor emerge? Or will he simply accept his qualifying offer and test the unrestricted free agent waters in 2023? Head to the comments section and let us know what you think.