Though the trade was quite a surprise, especially because previous reports had indicated that trade talks regarding Mitchell between the Cavs and Utah Jazz had stalled, Sexton’s tenure with the Cavs ending was far less of a shock.
Sexton had spent the 2022 NBA offseason as a restricted free agent, and the Cavs seemed unwilling to meet his contract expectations. As a result, there had been numerous rumors of possible sign-and-trade deals taking place with various teams.
As a result of those months of limbo, the relationship between Sexton and the Cavs reportedly “soured a bit” over time. Jason Lloyd of The Athletic detailed how the relationship morphed during the summer months.
“The Cavs had offered a three-year, $45 million extension at one point last summer before yanking the deal off the table,” Lloyd wrote. “Sexton fired his agent and hired Rich Paul for his restricted free agency this summer. The relationship between the two sides soured a bit, according to multiple sources, when the Cavs wouldn’t make Sexton an offer but wouldn’t release him from his qualifying offer, either. The Cavs seemed content letting Sexton, who struggled to get an offer sheet in free agency, play out this season on the qualifying offer before allowing Sexton to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.”
It’s no mystery why Sexton was not a fan of the circumstances provided in the report. Though Sexton is not considered amongst the elite guards in the NBA, he is perhaps just a tick below. It’s quite impressive given the fact that he’s still just 23 years old.
Last season, Sexton was dealt a major career setback when he suffered a knee injury early in the season. He ended up playing just 11 games in the 2021-22 campaign.
In the previous season, however, he had played well enough to get some All-Star consideration. He averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. Surely, he felt that kind of production was worth far more than the $15 million annual average the Cavs reportedly offered him.
As for the Cavs, they clearly did not feel confident that Sexton was worth much more of a financial commitment, especially considering his questionable fit alongside All-Star guard Darius Garland.
Luckily, it seems like Thursday’s trade solved both sides’ concerns. The Cavs got an established star in Mitchell, and Sexton got the financial commitment he desired to the tune of a four-year deal worth $72 million.
Shortly after the trade was reported, Sexton expressed excitement about the news.
UTAH what’s good!!!!!!!!!
— Collin 'Young Bull' Sexton (@CollinSexton02) September 1, 2022
Sexton was a pivotal part of the Cavs’ post-LeBron James rebuild.
Hopefully, whatever souring there was of the relationship can be mended over time.