Few things are more certain than the New York Knicks pending point guard chase this summer, with all of Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina headed for free agency.
And it seems Leon Rose and the front office have zeroed in on their target: Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Tuesday morning that the Knicks have emerged as ‘the most aggressive suitor’ for the 22-year old.
Sexton averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and one steal per game last season, his third in the NBA.
But speculation is mounting as to whether or not the Cavaliers will be willing to pay up for his next contract.
Sexton’s currently eligible for a max rookie extension worth north of $168-million. But if Cleveland opts to bypass those talks, he’ll enter restricted free agency in 2022.
Lloyd: Sexton is ‘Very Much Available’
In his latest piece for The Athletic, Jason Lloyd reported that Collin Sexton is no longer considered a mainstay for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and is in fact, a gettable player this summer:
A deal that might make more sense for the Cavs is bundling Love with Collin Sexton, who I’ve been told is “very available” this summer. I wrote not long ago that I thought the Cavs were going to write the check to pay Sexton a max contract this summer, but based on what I’ve been told the last few months from sources around the league, I no longer believe that’s true.
Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported just weeks ago that the New York Knicks were “monitoring” the 22-year old point guard, among others:
If both the Trail Blazers and Wizards are uninterested in a deal, the source says the Knicks are also monitoring Cleveland’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier as younger guards the franchise can fold in its plans for the future.
Host of the Locked on Cavaliers podcast, Evan Dammarell, followed up all reports on Sunday, saying Sexton’s name is “popping up a lot more in trade chatter,” and included a list of suitors:
It seems a matter of when, not if, Collin Sexton is moved.
And the Knicks are ready and willing with an offer in hand, or so it appears.
It’s very rare to find no fire underneath this much smoke.
Knicks ‘Would Have’ Drafted Sexton
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the New York Knicks end up with a player that they could have drafted, but ultimately for one reason or another, missed out on.
They acquired Dennis Smith Jr. in the infamous Kristaps Porzingis trade, whom they passed on when they took Frank Ntilikina eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The following draft, in 2018, was when Sexton was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers at eighth overall. New York had the ninth overall pick and ended up taking forward Kevin Knox.
But, as Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Tuesday, the Knicks likely would have gone with Sexton at nine if the Cavaliers had passed him up in favor of another prospect:
If Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton fell to ninth in the NBA Draft in 2018, Knicks brass would’ve selected the Alabama point guard over Kevin Knox, according to a source.
Now they get a chance to make right on their wrongs, and it seems they’re motivated to do so.
Sexton Would Be Good for the Knicks, and Randle Too
A 20 point-per-game scorer like Collin Sexton makes far too much sense for a New York Knicks team that was embarrassed in the playoffs by their downright inability to score the basketball.
If the 22-year old is on the table, Leon Rose and company should be finding a way to get a deal (within reason) done.
Arguably the biggest concern for New York walking into this offseason is how Julius Randle will handle playing next to a true point guard on a nearly full-time basis.
Will he be the same player when his 29.3 usage rate dips back to league average? Can he have the same effect on the game without the ball in his hands for what felt like 99 percent of the time all season?
But that’s just it.
There’s an argument he could be the same player alongside a guard like Sexton.
The 22-year old wouldn’t necessarily take the ball out of Randle’s hands, but more so provide him a reliable ball handler to defer to in double-team situations, or less than favorable matchups.
Of which he saw many, in their first-round playoff blunder against the Atlanta Hawks.
There’s a reason why Sexton’s 4.4 assists per game average ranked 34th among all qualified starting guards this season per NBA.com’s Stats Tracking.
He’s a more comfortable scorer, but still able to make the necessary reads in basic offensive sets.
And that’s exactly why Derrick Rose was such a crucial addition for this year’s Knicks team; his ability to drive the offense when Randle was off the floor, and his scoring presence in both the mid-range and at the rim.
A point guard rotation featuring Collin Sexton and Derrick Rose could help to maximize not only the New York Knicks’ offense but also the All-NBA talent they’ve stumbled upon in Julius Randle.