Collin Sexton received a qualifying offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
He will now be eligible for restricted free agency if he turns down the offer, which would guarantee him $7.2 million for the upcoming season.
Sexton is among the most electric young guards in the NBA, but he is coming off a lost season of sorts because of injury.
In 2021-22, Sexton missed all but 11 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. When Sexton was healthy and playing, he averaged 16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 three-pointer made per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from long range.
In 60 games during the 2020-21 season, the 23-year-old averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 three-pointers made and 1 steal per contest while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Cleveland selected Sexton with the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA draft out of Alabama, and he was coming off a career year entering the 2021-22 campaign.
While Sexton was excellent individually, it did not result in winning basketball for a Cavs team that struggled to a 22-50 record and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
The Cavs were much better in 2021-22, going 44-38, which led to questions regarding whether he would be back next season.
Another reason why Sexton’s return was in flux is the presence of guard Darius Garland, who is a similar player in many ways.
The Cavs selected Garland fifth in 2019 out of Vanderbilt, and he broke out with a career year in Garland’s absence, averaging 21.7 points, 8.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 three-pointers made and 1.3 steals en route to his first career All-Star selection.
Cleveland also acquired guard Caris LeVert in a trade with the Indiana Pacers this past season, making Sexton even more expendable.
Despite that, the Cavs made a play to potentially keep Sexton in the fold for the 2022-23 season, giving them even more backcourt depth and production.
It also gives Cleveland a trade chip should it decide to move on from Sexton for another asset.