Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is still a restricted free agent.
Over 10 days into free agency, Sexton is just one of several names who have yet to find a team next season.
With each passing day, the likelihood that Sexton returns to Cleveland only rises.
Just last week, it was reported that the Cavs are “quite confident” that Sexton will return to the team.
But what happens if Sexton doesn’t return.
Despite his defensive warts, he’s a sparkplug offensive option, arguably the scoring jolt the team needed last season.
If Sexton isn’t rostered, the Cavs will need to get offense somewhere.
Last Season’s Lessons
Last season, the following teams had a higher offensive rating than the Cavs: the Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Those teams won an average of 26.83 games last season.
And that’s not all: Cleveland fielded the 20th-best offensive unit, per Statmuse.
Reports say there’s no market for Collin Sexton. What??
A 23 year old who, through 218 games, has averaged 20 PPG on over 45% shooting and has improved each year? Stop it.
Sexton is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be fresh after an 11 game 2022 szn.
— Dylan Harrison (@Realdtharrison) July 6, 2022
Both the Celtics and Warriors, who competed in the Finals this year, boasted top-15 offenses (as well as top-two defenses).
Cleveland’s defense was excellent last season, seventh-best in the Association.
But as evidenced by the Warriors and Celtics, it helps to have strong units on both ends of the floor.
If Sexton doesn’t return, there’s little shot the team that is more or less running it back from last season improves dramatically on offense.
Perhaps Evan Mobley‘s shot falls; his form and fearlessness from three looked promising.
And maybe Darius Garland‘s scoring also improves as he ascends atop the league’s floor general elite.
But the team still needs another go-to scoring option from its two-guard.
Without Sexton, that leaves one of Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, or rookie Ochai Agbaji.
While the early returns on Agbaji look promising, he’s unproven at the big-league level.
And LeVert has struggled to find rhythm in Cleveland’s system, while Okoro’s true shooting percentage (58.9%) is exciting, his volume and efficiency leave much to be desired.
Perhaps the answer to unlocking the next level of Cleveland’s offense is already on the team.
But what if it isn’t?
Could the Cavs go hunting in free agency for Sexton’s replacement?
Of course, the best replacement for Collin Sexton might very well be Collin Sexton.
He’s obviously still available in restricted free agency, with not a single other NBA team extending him an offer so far.
I’m starting to believe Deandre Ayton and Collin Sexton don’t actually exist
— Young Simba (@the2kmessiah) July 14, 2022
That leaves Sexton with just Cleveland’s $7.1 million qualifying offer.
And there’s apparently a “real chance” that Sexton plays on that qualifying offer next season.
Bubble phenom TJ Warren might have been a nice addition, but he was snatched up by the Nets earlier in free agency.
The point is: there are very few free agency options left for the Cavs to boost their offensive numbers in any meaningful way.
And is bringing back Sexton on a minuscule $7 million really that bad?
The team’s defense might take a hit, but with Mobley and Jarrett Allen on the prowl, it shouldn’t be a devastating blow.
And with this contract, Cleveland will have greater flexibility to play Sexton’s minutes flexibly.
On a $20 million deal, the Cavs would be hard press to make Sexton a bench option.
But if that’s Sexton’s destiny on this Cavs team, it’s far more palatable an option at $7 million.
His scoring might eat into other players’ totals, but Sexton’s 20+ points per night is something the Cavs desperately missed last season.
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