While they failed to reach the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament, this season was definitely a major success for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a franchise.
Amidst all the injuries and roadblocks they faced, Cleveland was still able to finish with a 44-38 record, their best record since LeBron James left in 2018, and they learned a lot about their high-potential young core.
Now, heading into the offseason, the Cavaliers will have some big decisions to make, the biggest revolving around 23-year-old guard Collin Sexton.
After not agreeing to a contract extension prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, Sexton entered this season with a chip on his shoulder and was looking to prove that he is the best player on this Cavaliers’ roster.
In November though, Collin Sexton appeared to suffer a left knee injury against the New York Knicks that turned out to be a torn left meniscus. Shortly after, Cleveland announced that he would be shut down for the remainder of the year after undergoing surgery to repair this torn meniscus in his left knee.
Now, Collin Sexton is getting ready to be a restricted free agent this summer, drawing a ton of questions about what the future may hold for him. There has been a lot of speculation already in regards to teams that could pursue Sexton once free agency begins, but the Cavaliers’ guard does not seem to want to go anywhere anytime soon.
“I want to be here in Cleveland,” Sexton said during his season-ending exit interview recently. “I love the organization, love my teammates and whatever happens, I know that Cleveland was really good to me. I know this is the place that helped me get to where I am today, and I know I want to continue to be a part of this winning culture and be a part of this culture.
“I feel like me just being able to be at the start of it helped us get to where we are yesterday and where we are right now at the present. So, I love Cleveland. I want to be here.”
With Kevin Love still being under contract for $28.9 million next season and Darius Garland now being up for a massive raise after being named a first-time All-Star, the Cavaliers have some very big decisions to make in the offseason, especially since they are dangerously close to going over the tax line for the 2022-23 season already.
All season long, Collin Sexton has traveled with the team despite not being able to play and he has continued to be a younger leader for this team. Sexton was the first high draft pick of the Cavaliers after LeBron James left for Los Angeles and since then, the eighth overall pick in 2018 has been “the guy” for the Cavs.
This has not gone unnoticed, as general manager Koby Altman loves what he has seen from the team’s young leader and he has stated that he would like to keep the young core of Sexton, Garland, Allen and Mobley together long-term in Cleveland.
“He, in a lot of ways, was the start of not only the rebuild, but the culture that we have in place now,” Altman said in regards to Sexton. “We asked him to do a tall task. Four straight Finals, and now, we’re sorta starting anew, and he was the start of that. And we wanted to have a place that thrived from great attitude, great work ethic, and somebody that really wanted to be in Cleveland, Ohio, and help us get back to those heights. He embodied every part of that, and he still does today.
“And so, he in a lot of ways is the reason why we’re here, because he started that culture for us. That (attitude of) every single day, I’m gonna get better. I’m gonna bring my hard hat, I’m gonna work on my skills; I don’t care about the results if I’m incrementally getting better and pushing this franchise forward. He’s enormously important to us, he’s been enormously important to us. To lose him, you can see throughout the year why we missed him or how we missed him. So, we owe Collin a great debt of gratitude for what he’s done, the work he’s put in and he continues to put in. An important part of his team.”
Collin Sexton’s qualifying offer from Cleveland entering the offseason will be around $7.2 million, the standard amount for him coming off his rookie contract, but he is expected to see at least $14 million a year on a new contract offer from other teams, even though he is coming off of a season-ending knee injury.
It is not crazy to think that Sexton will see offers upwards of $18 million to $20 million per year either, especially given that he is an explosive, young scorer in the backcourt.
Through four seasons in the NBA now, Collin Sexton has averaged 20.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and has shot 45.8% from the floor, making him one of the better free agents this upcoming offseason.
What the Cleveland Cavaliers decide to do in regards to Sexton’s future remains very up-in-the-air right now, as financial problems are on the horizon for this organization given how their roster is constructed entering the summer.
Related stories on NBA basketball
- 2021-22 NBA Awards Media Poll: Most Valuable Player: 20 different NBA media members from around the country participated in a mock voting process conducted by SI Fastbreak for this year’s NBA awards. Here are the results of the voting for Most Valuable Player. CLICK HERE.
- Warriors' Players and Coaches React To Jordan Poole Being Left Off Most Improved List: Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole was left off the list of finalists for the 2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player award, leading to his teammates and coaches giving their thoughts and reactions. CLICK HERE.