Monday night, though, Chris Grant made his first real move as GM of the Cavaliers. He shipped out Delonte West’s partially guaranteed contract and Sebastian Telfair for Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, and a 2013 second round pick.
It’s a nice trade for Cleveland. It feels good to continue stockpiling draft picks after what feels like a decade of wasting picks and throwing them away in bad trades. While Delonte West is still a very good basketball player and a guy who will be missed by most in Cleveland, his being traded was inevitable. So to get a couple useful players in return in Sessions and Hollins was a nice move by Grant.
Ramon Sessions was, of course, the centerpiece of the trade. Just last offseason he was considered one of the most promising young point guards in the NBA and was fairly highly sought after. In fact, it was Sessions’ presence in Milwaukee that had made Mo Williams expendable to the Bucks in the first place, allowing Danny Ferry to pull off the masterpiece trade that brought Mo to Cleveland. So I’m not going to write off Sessions based on one bad season where he was misused and given no defined role in Minnesota.
Sessions is precisely the kind of player the Cavs need to bring in while they search for their next franchise player to build around. Sessions fits Byron Scott’s system as a PG who loves to push the ball and initiate the offense in a hurry. His style will serve as a stark contrast to Mike Brown and LeBron James’ system of standing around and dribbling out the shot clock. Sessions is young, has a comfortable contract, and has a lot of upside still left in his career.
Ryan Hollins is what I like to call a bloggers’ type player. Many basketball “bloggers” (myself included) tend to view basketball in a different kind of abstract, and we have more affinity for potential than perhaps the average fan. Not that Hollins has an amazing ceiling, but he’s the kind of player you can easily talk yourself into liking. Again, he’s athletic and can be dangerous in the open floor, making him an intriguing fit with Coach Scott. He’s tall, quick, and capable of making highlight reel blocks. On the other hand, he’s a marginal bench player at best, although based on necessity, he could see his role expanded with the Cavaliers due to the absence of any other centers.
So sure, I like this deal by Chris Grant. I’m not out in the streets doing cartwheels over it, but it’s a nice move. And I liked the Cavaliers taking a chance on Samardo Samuels. Once upon a time he was an elite prospect and, similar to JJ Hickson, probably left school too soon and with some seasoning could have a role in the NBA. And I liked the Christian Eyenga signing. I’m not ready to declare that I was definitely wrong about Eyenga and his lack of basketball skills, but he showed enough in Summer League that letting him either play in the D-League or else at least be around actual NBA players on a daily basis was the right move for speeding up his development.
So in general, I feel good about all these moves when taken on an individual basis. Where I begin to feel dread, however, is when I look big picture. The Cavaliers’ off season ticket at the moment looks as such:
Players Lost: LeBron James, Delonte West, Shaquille O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Players Added: Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Samardo Samuels, Christian Eyenga
I didn’t have a chance to look up any numbers on this, but the loss in wins produced has to be pretty significant in that level of turnover. None of this is surprising. We knew this is what would happen to the franchise if LeBron James left. The Cavs went all-in and lost. Now there are consequences to deal with.
The bottom line is that the Cavaliers are now in a position where they have enough talent to be mediocre, but nobody to truly build around and no clear plan (at least not that I can see) of how to acquire such a player. I don’t want to read too much into Mo Williams playing golf with Byron Scott the other day, but we’ve heard talk that Coach Scott has asked Mo Williams to step up his leadership and his play to become the focal point of the Cavaliers. If that’s true, as much as I like Mo Williams as a person, the Cavaliers are making a big mistake.
Mo Williams isn’t a player you build around, he’s a player you bring in to help an established franchise player. He thrived in that role playing beside LeBron James, but there are real question marks about how he will be able to adapt to a new leadership role on the team. Can he change his playing style to fit in the up tempo system? Can he play on the court at the same time as Ramon Sessions? What happens to the Cavaliers’ defense in that scenario?
We’re living in a strange new world now, and it’s going to take some time to get used to. We can be happy with the moves Chris Grant has made so far and feel good about a young player like Sessions, but none of these moves have an impact right now in this moment on the Cavaliers’ direction as either a rebuilding team or a team trying to continue to make playoff appearances. The franchise took about a hundred steps backwards when LeBron James left, and they now have to find ways to start making small steps forward. Hopefully Sessions can be the first step, but there are still many steps left to go.
Photo Source: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)