Why Were Cavaliers Willing To Trade Collin Sexton?

Sep 16, 2022, 1:03 PM | Updated: 1:15 pm


The Utah Jazz acquired Collin Sexton in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – After the dust settled from the blockbuster trade that sent Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I found myself asking one major question. Why were the Cavs willing to trade Collin Sexton?

At first, this might seem like an easy answer. Mitchell is a three-time All-Star, one of the premiere postseason performers in the NBA, and is under team control for the foreseeable future.

But on second glance, there has to be more to the story. Not only were the Cavaliers willing to trade Sexton, they seemed happy to throw him in with forward Lauri Markkanen, lottery pick Ochai Agbaji, and three future unprotected first-round picks.

So what’s the deal with Sexton? The closer I looked, the more questions I had.

The most obvious problem surrounding Sexton is the recent meniscus tear that sidelined him for the majority of the 2021-22 season. But on the full scope of NBA injuries, meniscus tears aren’t considered among the most serious.

They’re even less of an issue with 23-year-olds whose games aren’t solely dependent on acrobatic finishes above the rim.

Then, a quick glance at Sexton’s numbers only makes the question more confusing. In just his third season with the Cavaliers, the guard averaged an eye-opening 24.3 points per game on very respectable shooting percentages.

When looking back at Sexton’s 2018 draft class, only All-Stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young can beat the guard’s 20-point-per-game career scoring average.

In fact, Donovan Mitchell, who is known for his scoring acumen didn’t break the 24 point per game mark until he was 23, one year Sexton’s senior during his best scoring season.

And, if there’s one major knock on Sexton that is obvious from afar it’s that he has the body of a point guard, standing only 6-foot-1, and the game of a shooting guard.

Here’s the thing, that’s also Donovan Mitchell’s biggest fault.

So what gives? Why was Sexton, who is younger, with a similar build, a similar skill set, similar numbers, and a much smaller contract, one of three players the Cavaliers threw in along with significant draft capital to land Mitchell?

To answer this question, I asked Chris Fedor, the Cavaliers beat reporter from the Plain Dealer in Cleveland in hopes of getting to the bottom of this Sexton mystery.

“I was talking with somebody in the organization recently and they were joking that they have spent more time in their career discussing Collin Sexton than any other player that they’ve ever been with,” Fedor said. “And I feel the same way.”

Sexton was the eighth overall pick by Cleveland the year after LeBron James left the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, and was handed the impossible task of filling in for the greatest player in franchise history.

Though the rookie showed promise as soon as he stepped on the floor, Fedor acknowledged there has always been differing opinions about the guard’s true potential.

“This is a game about versatility, this is a game about positionless basketball, and he can play one position, shooting guard — a scorer really,” Fedor said. “He’s not a point guard, but he’s in a point guard’s body.”

But again, those questions sound similar to the ones Mitchell has faced throughout his entire career in Utah.

To explain the difference, Fedor referenced another Jazzman with Cavalier ties.

“I think it’s just really difficult to put an honest value on the things that Colin brings to the table. He’s a good player, he is a good scorer, but how good can he be and what is his ideal role in today’s NBA?” Fedor asked. “It’s probably a sixth man coming off the bench that can be that explosive score, similar to a guy that you guys know well in Jordan Clarkson.”

That’s a strong delineation from Fedor and one that Jazz fans should be familiar with. Clarkson is a lights-out scorer and was given an endless allowance to shoot the ball, but the differences between him and Mitchell were obvious to fans who watched the two each night.

Clarkson’s scoring punch was a devastating blow as a secondary option off the bench, but without Mitchell, it wasn’t enough to be a primary weapon.

Ultimately, with the influx of young talent Cleveland brought in, Fedor said there was simply no room left for Sexton on the roster.

“As time went on, there were guys that the Cavs acquired in Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Darius Garland that just became more important to the Cavs success stylistically than what Collin brought to the table.”

So, as Jazz fans prepare to watch Sexton assume the heavy scoring burden left by their three-time All-Star, give yourself room to appreciate all the things he brings to the table, even if he isn’t Donovan Mitchell.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Nick Smith Jr. #3 of the Arkansas Razorbacks warms up before a game against the Mississippi State B...

Ben Anderson

NBA Draft Insider Peek: Draft Opens Up At Jazz Ninth Pick

Yahoo Sports insider Krysten Peek said the talent in the NBA draft dips just before the Utah Jazz are on the clock with the ninth pick.

1 day ago

Steve Wojciechowski speaks during a press conference after being introduced as the new Salt Lake Ci...

Ben Anderson

Stars Introduce Steve Wojciechowski As Head Coach

The Salt Lake City Stars officially introduced Steve Wojciechowski as the team's new head coach on Wednesday.

1 day ago

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith...

Ben Anderson

Ryan Smith: Anyone With ‘Rabbit Ears’ Will Catch Jazz Games

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith hinted that the team's games will be available to fans without a cable or satellite subscription next season.

2 days ago

alen Hood-Schifino speaks with the media during the NBA Draft Combine...

Ben Anderson

Who Do Utah Jazz Fans Like In Draft?

With the NBA Draft just weeks away, Utah Jazz fans have turned their attention to the top prospects in this year's class. 

3 days ago


Kyle Ireland

Report: Jazz Associate General Manager Hired As Suns Assistant Coach

Jazz associate general manager David Fizdale's stop in Utah will only last one season, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

3 days ago


Kyle Ireland

Utah Jazz Guard Collin Sexton Launches ‘Always More’ Docuseries

Collin Sexton launched an original docuseries to give fans "an exclusive behind-the-scenes look as I explore what Utah has to offer."

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

Why Were Cavaliers Willing To Trade Collin Sexton?