Earlier this summer, it looked like Cavaliers restricted free agent Collin Sexton would have no shortage of suitors.
Put aside his defensive woes for a moment.
Sexton is still an offensive dynamo who averaged 22.5 points in his second and third seasons.
Unfortunately, season-ending knee surgery derailed Sexton’s fourth season.
While Sexton should be ready to return at the start of next season, he was still limited to just 11 games in the 2021-22 campaign.
But we’re now well into free agency, with nary a single offer made for Sexton.
Is it possible then, that Sexton could play on just Cleveland’s qualifying offer?
How We Got Here
According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, “there’s a real chance” that Sexton does indeed play on the qualifying offer next season.
Earlier in the offseason, the Cavs extended a $7.2 million qualifying offer to Sexton, which sent the guard into restricted free agency.
This, after Sexton reportedly was looking for $18-22 million next season, while the Cavs’ figure was in the $15-18 million range.
Collin Sexton’s work ethic is INSANE😤
(via MichaelJonesYahoo) pic.twitter.com/mcIlpGSwuQ
— NBAPacific (@TheNBAPacific) July 7, 2022
That qualifying offer was more formality than anything else; likely both the Cavs and Sexton expected the figure to be much higher once offer sheets from other teams started coming in.
Since extending Sexton the offer, no one’s come knocking for Sexton’s services.
Unfortunately, that might be due to nothing on Sexton’s part.
Earlier in the summer, the Pistons, Pacers, Spurs, and Wizards all reportedly had some level of interest in acquiring Sexton in free agency.
The draft essentially nixed two of those suitors right away: the Pacers and Pistons.
Both teams got their two guards of the future.
The Pistons landed Jaden Ivey and the Pacers secured Bennedict Mathurin.
And the Spurs are apparently headed for a rebuild, having shipped Dejounte Murray to the Hawks and let Lonnie Walker IV depart in free agency.
Deandre Ayton and Collin Sexton are still free agents on July 10th, that’s crazy.
— Landon Thomas (@sixfivelando) July 11, 2022
So that leaves the Washington Wizards.
The Wiz are currently hard-capped at $143 million, leaving them with just about $17 million in unused space.
But if Washington comes knocking with just a $16 million contract offer for Sexton, the Cavs would almost certainly match, considering it’s within their reported salary range.
The only other team with any level of interest of late is the Dallas Mavericks.
After losing Jalen Brunson via free agency, the team is on the lookout for another guard to pair with Luka Doncic.
But the only way Dallas lands Sexton is via sign and trade, and the Cavs aren’t buying what the Mavs have to sell.
One Year Wonder?
The lack of suitors means Sexton has very little leverage to negotiate.
Cleveland, on the other hand, should be in no rush to sign Sexton.
At this point, the qualifying offer is not only the biggest offer, but it’s the only one on the table.
The Cavs also save over $10 million for other deals or mid-season trades.
For Sexton, the qualifying offer becomes a big bet on himself.
That’s because the qualifying offer is just a one-year contract, with unrestricted free agency on the back end.
Let’s say Sexton takes the one-year offer and crushes it this season.
Then, he opens the door for a much more lucrative and longer contract this time next year.