What could the Cleveland Cavaliers get in a Collin Sexton trade?

If the rumors are true then things could get messy for the Cavaliers.

When teams don't make the playoffs, it usually leads to a quiet offseason until a champion is crowned. Unless you're the Cleveland Cavaliers, that is. Early last week, Cleveland learned that they would be selecting third overall in the 2021 NBA Draft. Towards the end of the week, meanwhile, reports started surfacing that the Cavaliers were looking to move guard Collin Sexton this summer. According to league sources, those reports have some validity to them but the situation isn't as dire as some fans may think it is.

The hang-up for Cleveland, according to sources, is how much money Sexton wants in his contract extension this summer. If he were to sign a maximum contract with the Cavaliers, Sexton would make $168 million over the next five years which is a tough pill to swallow for Cleveland. Sexton is a highly efficient, high-volume scorer that also suffers from poor defensive instincts and a sloppy handle. The Cavaliers also have not come anywhere close to the playoffs with Sexton leading the charge. With that in mind, Sexton isn't worth nearly $33.6 million annually for Cleveland nor should he be.

But the problem is that the Cavaliers organization has done a lot of leg work to prop up Sexton as one of the most integral pieces to the team's future. He's also been touted as the team's cultural leader by general manager Koby Altman and has embraced the city by partnering with local companies like Ghurka. Sexton is endearing to the fanbase and has a cult-like following online as well. His agent also has to be aware of all of this and can use it as leverage in negotiations with Cleveland's front office. If your client had all of these things going for him, despite his flaws, why wouldn't you try to try and maximize his future earnings as much as possible?

So that means that the Cavaliers and Sexton's camp are likely at an impasse when it comes to contract extension talks for the foreseeable future. Granted, both sides could let this play out until next season when Sexton enters free agency. But, that could get messy for Cleveland as Sexton could sign a contract that they simply cannot foot the bill for. For a small-market team like the Cavaliers, that would be a disastrous way to lose homegrown talent like that. That's why if things go nowhere between Cleveland's front office and Sexton's agent, then a trade is on the table.

If the Cavaliers were to explore this though they have to find a team that's willing to commit money to Sexton long-term. That's already a roadblock for a lot of teams around the league due to what Sexton's perceived value is financially.

"If Collin was on our roster, he would make roughly $18 to $20 million annually in an extension," said one unnamed Western Conference executive. "His skill set as a three-level scorer is able to help so many teams in this league. But, he doesn't raise the floor, or ceiling, of your team either. Why would you commit that much money to such an uncertainty?"

Knowing that can certainly give Cleveland's front office pause when exploring the trade market for Sexton. Financial flexibility is beyond valuable in today's NBA and not using it for a player that has such glaring flaws as Sexton's. Sure, he's shown plenty of tangential growth in his first three seasons. But, the fear around the league is that Sexton is reaching the apex of what his archetype is.

But, despite the possible limitations Cleveland may face, what exactly can the Cavaliers get for Sexton in a trade? According to sources, Cleveland would either try to move Sexton on his own or try and attach him in a trade to help move Kevin Love's mammoth contract. Those same sources also said that as of today the Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among the teams most interested in acquiring Sexton this offseason and would look to sign him to an extension. They also shared that Miami would be comfortable taking on Love's contract while New York wants only wants the young guard due to the agency connection between Sexton and Knicks President Leon Rose.

In theory, a trade that sends Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa and Andre Iguodala to Cleveland for Love and Sexton makes a ton of sense. It allows the Cavaliers to get off of Love's contract all while taking on young, intriguing prospects in Herro and Achiuwa. Sexton's lack of playmaking wouldn't so be apparent when alongside Jimmy Butler also makes this a boost for the Heat as well. It also frees up salary for Miami as well which allows them to sign Duncan Robinson to a long-term deal.

All in all, the Heat should remain a prime destination to possibly acquire Sexton this offseason. But, with New York, meanwhile, things do get a little murky. The Knicks do not have a ton of things to offer the Cavaliers that can move the needle towards completing a trade. One deal that might do it would have the Knicks send Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox and the twenty-first and thirty-second picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. In this trade, New York is able to get a player they covet in Sexton while Cleveland gets some young players in Toppin and Knox as well as draft compensation for their troubles.

Granted, the hypothetical trade from New York is nowhere near as sexy as the hypothetical from Miami but Cleveland cannot be picky. If things reach the point of no return and trading Sexton is all the Cavaliers have left then the team has to explore all options. If they draft Jalen Green with the no. 3 pick, it only expedites the process further. Thankfully, Cleveland doesn't have to rush through this and consider all their options. But, when it does come, the market may not be as receptive to Sexton.


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