Sexton’s end-of-season operation puts Okoro in Cavaliers’ spotlight

Nothing is easy for the Cavaliers, and now they have to figure out how to navigate the rest of the season without Collin Sexton.

Sexton underwent end-of-season surgery on November 17 to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee. The fourth-year Alabama shooting guard was injured when he and teammate Jarrett Allen collided with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Sexton was the team’s leading scorer last season, averaging 24.3 points per game. He’s averaged 16 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his 11 games this season.

“I apologize for breaking a record, but everyone has to do it,” coach JB Bickerstaff said Nov. 20 during a Zoom call. “We can’t expect a guy to pick up where Collin left off.

“What we need to do now is move the ball more and generate open shots for more people to get back that score that he obviously provided.”

Sexton’s injury will likely mean Isaac Okoro will have to take on more of a shooter role. It doesn’t bode well for the Cavs. Okoro, best known for his fierce defense, is averaging 7.1 points per game. He shoots 36% from the field.

The Cavs are 9-8 heading into a Nov. 22 game with the Nets at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Some steam was taken out of their quick start with three straight losses, but Allen, who missed the last two games due to illness, and Lauri Markkanen, who had been in NBA health and safety protocol, could be back in time to take on the Nets. Allen is 6 feet 11 inches tall. Markkanen is 7 feet tall. The Cavs are built to beat their opponents with their size and obviously lack their best advantage when Allen and Markkanen aren’t playing.

The decision to undergo surgery was not an easy one for Sexton. He got a second opinion and discussed his options with the Cavaliers and his family before going under the knife at Emory University Sports Medicine Center in Atlanta.

Sexton is expected to be like new by the start of next season. The question is, will he always be a horseman? The answer to this question may have been “unlikely” three months ago, but things have changed.

The Cavs are 2-4 without Sexton. They haven’t managed to reach 100 points in any of the six games he missed.

Sexton will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign extra time before them. Another season averaging over 20 points per game would obviously put him in a good negotiating position.

“We want him here for the long term,” general manager Koby Altman said on Cavaliers media day at the start of training camp. “He wants to be here for the long haul. We’re working with his representation to make it happen, but he’s someone who’s been with us from the start of this thing, and we love him.

“We will deal with this behind closed doors. The feelings are mutual in terms of something long term.

Of course, Altman won’t say he’s counting the days until he can trade Sexton for picks just before the 2022 draft. Even for that to happen, the Cavs would need to strike a signing and ditch deal. ‘exchange.

But time to rack up draft picks as a way to tear down to rebuild shouldn’t be in Altman’s plans. Trying to win without Sexton shows the Cavaliers are better with him (even taking into account the absence of Allen and Markkanen), unless they can get one of the top three players in the 2022 draft in exchanging it. It doesn’t seem likely.

• LeBron James is in the news, and not for one of his dazzling dunks.

Enes Kanter, a center for the Celtics, was outspoken about the slave labor the Chinese government allegedly used to produce the country’s goods. Kanter tied James’ tie to Nike because James has a lifetime contract with Nike and Nike shoes are made in China.

“Moral money for the ‘king’,” @EnesKanter tweeted. “Sad and disgusting how these athletes claim to care about social justice. They really do “shut up and dribble” when Big Boss China says so. Did you find out about the slave labor that made your shoes or isn’t it part of your research? “

The Lakers and Celtics met in Boston on November 19. James ignored Kanter’s accusation as he does whenever someone calls him.

“If you know me, I don’t give my energy to too many people, and he’s definitely not someone I will give my energy to,” James said in his post-game press conference.

The Celtics demolished the Lakers, 130-108.

I did not know

… until I read the cap of my Snapple bottle:

A flamingo can only eat if its head is upside down. … DFW Airport in Texas is larger than Manhattan. … Snails can sleep for up to three years. … The longest hiccup attack lasted 68 years. … Astronauts grow up in space. … The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. … Termites eat wood twice as fast when listening to rock music.

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