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The Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers are reportedly the “biggest threats” to poach shooting guard Collin Sexton from the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
The San Antonio Spurs also reportedly “have some Sexton fans in their front office.”
Sexton, 23, is set to be a restricted free agent after missing all but 11 games during the 2021-22 season following a torn meniscus in November.
The guard had a career year in 2020-21, averaging 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and a steal per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three.
But there are real questions about whether a small backcourt of Sexton and Darius Garland, both standing 6’1 “, can hold up defensively come the playoffs, even with defensively stout big men like Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen behind them.
Garland is clearly the point guard of Cleveland’s future. He was an All-Star this past season, posting 21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three.
There’s little doubt Sexton can score, but Garland’s playmaking means he’ll be the man with the ball in his hands. So how much will Cleveland be willing to pay for an undersized, off-ball scoring threat?
Per Fedor, “The sense I get is the Cavs are more comfortable in the $ 15-18 million range while Sexton’s camp is eyeing something around $ 18-22 million.”
He added: “Sources say Cleveland’s front office doesn’t believe there is a team willing to give Sexton a contract north of $ 20 million annually.”
If a team does exceed 20 million, though, will the Cavs match? They currently have an active roster cap of $ 123.8 million, per Spotrac, putting them just above the projected $ 122 million salary cap before signing any incoming rookies.
Kevin Love will come off the books after his $ 28.9 million cap hit for the 2022-23 season, so the Cavs may not be too worried about one season over the cap. But a major Garland extension is on the horizon, too.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Cavs let Sexton sign elsewhere if his asking price remains prohibitively high, given those considerations and his questionable fit next to Garland.
As for Sexton’s potential suitors, all three are rebuilding around young cores, so adding a jolt of instant offense would make sense. Sexton would likely play off the ball for all three teams, with Cade Cunningham handling the point in Detroit, Tirese Haliburton in Indiana and Dejounte Murray in San Antonio.
And if those teams are willing to offer Sexton a big contract, they might just pry him away from the Cavs.It will be an interesting offseason in Cleveland, to say the least.