Ramon Sessions Signals The Official Start of Rebuilding in Cleveland

So Chris Grant has finally made a move. A real move. Don’t get me wrong, I take no issue with the signings of Samardo Samuels and Christian Eyenga. We’re in a new era of Cavalier basketball and signing developmental players is the new reality in Cleveland. But most of us were still waiting for Chris Grant to go out and make a real proactive move. He tried by signing Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet, but there was no way the Houston Rockets were not going to match it.

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.

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Photo Source: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

  • http://shakesthesnowglobe.blogspot.com EZ

    “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.”

    At the same time, while he probably has some say (and did with Sessions) it’s not ultimately up to Scott who’s on the roster. It’s his job to win with the players he has. If this is the best that Grant could do this off-season then Scott has to designate a new leader for the up-coming year while Grant goes out and tries to find another franchise piece.

    That’s all I’d read into the golf outing. Scott trying to get the most out of the pieces given to him.

  • Jim

    @EZ, I also wouldn’t read too much into the Scott/Williams golf outing. The team needs a leader for the upcoming season, regardless of the teams overarching goals. It seems fairly obvious that leader will be Mo Williams, regardless of whether he fits into the organizations plans for the future (which I highly doubt).

    I like the Sessions signing as I think he can be a solid rotation player on a championship caliber team. Obviously the Cavs are far from that, but they need to begin stockpiling assets. They now have some nice young pieces, and more importantly draft picks galore and one rather large trade exception (plus a veteran in Antawn Jamison that should be coveted come trade deadline). Add it all up and it’s clear that all is not lost in the Cleve.

  • Clown Baby

    I don’t know, maybe playing with sniffled Mo and playing without him cause him to settle down and play his game. He’s not someone that will hit the big shot out of nowhere, but when he’s hitting, he’s tough to stop. We also haven’t seen him play much off the ball since he’s been here and I’m wondering if that will help as well.

    Also, the name Ramon Sessions makes me think of some sort of saxophone player.

  • Mark

    Ok, I maybe kind of dumb on this but why are all of these 2nd round picks of any value? Are we hoping with so many we can get lucky and find a diamond in the rough? It seems to me if its not a lottery pick it’s just kind of…well nothing. Am I wrong?

  • bobby

    I said something to this sort on the trade post, but I was wondering how the Gs will be played. I hear Sessions and Mo on the floor at the same time so is Boobie supposed to play with AP? Is Boobie more of a SG now? I dont see him pushing the ball up court. Also, is Eyenga a SF? I see him more of a SG… but I guess he’s like Moon kinda.

    In a roundabout way I am just confused at who plays where and does what. They are stacked at PF with Jamison, JJ, Powe, Samuels, and AV really. But they are weak everywhere else. I really think they need to move Jamison and some TPE to bring back a SF who can shoot, and a G for depth.

  • http://shakesthesnowglobe.blogspot.com EZ

    @bobby

    I’ve read quotes from Scott that he wants Boobie to handle the ball more so I imagine that means he’s going to be the backup point (which… I dunno about that…) Re: Eyenga I’ve always viewed him as a Moon type SG/SF. Andy is probably now our starting center unless we make another move with Jamison as 6th man PF. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Powe moved since he’s expiring this year and could give decent minutes to a contender. Also, as you said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jamison moved at the deadline.

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    Another intriguing aspect of the West trade is that if and when the TWolves release Delonte, we will discover if the rumors are true. Miami is in need of a point guard and West could certainly fill that role for them.

  • Jake

    This tarde, in my opinion, just sets this team back from the inevitable. Look, we have to face the fact that the best way to rebuild is to start from scratch, not by adding decent players. By adding decent players like Sessions, that stil leaves Cleveland in the 38-42 win range, which is the worst place to be in the NBA. We shouldve tried tpo trade West to get a guy like Granger, who is a real player to build around.

    We should have sold this season away so we can get a playmaker in the draft, free up cap room, and trade our nest assets for a Granger or OJ Mayo type. That way we could build around a young star, an impact draft player, cap room and a crap load of draft picks in a few years when this is all complete. Instead, we just stay mediocre, get a bench player in the draft, and repeat for two more seasons when we can finally get the cap relief. None of what Grant has done has helped this team in the long run and we will see that this season unless he does something mentioned above.

    The NBA is a superstar league. Not 3 Robins and Role Players.

  • Chris

    “…no clear plan (at least not that I can see)…

    Well, it looks to me like they want a point guard who can push, and a ton of athleticism to keep up. That much is clear.

    @ #2 – Unless someone REALLY feels that Jamison is the final piece, we won’t be moving him until around the trade deadline in 2012 when his contract is expiring.

    @ #4 – If you get enough second round picks together, you may be able to bundle them and some cash to get somewhere in the first round. Building trade assets is definitely a good thing.

  • http://shakesthesnowglobe.blogspot.com EZ

    @Jake

    If Granger is a piece to build around why would the Pacers move him for cap relief? Ditto the Grizzlies and Mayo, who are trying to compete for the playoffs this season?

    It’s virtually impossible to trade for franchise players offering nothing but cap relief. If the Cavs are stockpiling young prospects and draft picks it’s likely they will try to package those for better players down the line, which is far more likely to work than offering up expiring deals and non-guaranteed contracts.

  • http://www.backseatgmblog.com Ricky

    A 2nd round pick that belongs to Minnesota is a very valuable pick – it might be the top 2nd round pick in 2013 for all we know

  • http://www.nologoneeded.com Z_NoLogoNeeded

    Sessions is a good player and this was a good move. I like what the Cavs are trying to do and hopefully we will be back to a legit contender in a couple of years. The last thing we need to do is start overpaying for mediocre players because there is pressure to win now. I think all the cavs fans have accepted the fact that we need to rebuild and do it the right way. Sessions is a good start especially because West and Telfair were not in our future plans anyway.
    As far as second round picks go, those can be used as trade assets in the future. I’m sure we asked for a first and surprisingly Kahn didn’t give us one, but I don’t think Grant has any delusions of us building a winner with second round talent. But the second round picks can add up when packaged in a trade. And lets face it, the team had very few assets because of the win now/LeBron era so making moves that involve any draft picks certainly has an upside.

  • 5KMD

    Mark,

    The Cavs got Boozer in the second round years ago and I’m sure others could give you more examples. It does happen occassionally.

    But second rounders can also be used in future trades to even out some salary issues so they are nice to have.

  • Stinkfist

    Carlos Boozer, Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili, Michael Redd, Rashard Lewis, Mo Wiliams, Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Mehmet Okur, DaJuan Blair, Anderson Varejao, Carl Landry, Brandon Bass, Zaza Pachulia, Paul Millsap (sure, Daniel Gibson)… all second rounders currently in the league. Pretty impressive. With enough chances, we certainly could hit once or twice (and we have). 3 of those guys are on our team now, plus we drafted Boozer.

    Nick Van Exel, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Jeff Hornacek, Anthony Mason, Mark Price, and Dennis Rodman were all 2nd rounders.

  • BW

    I like this move overall given the state of our franchise now.

    @Jake: There’s no way that we could’ve landed Danny Granger in a trade for Delonte, you are nuts if you think that was possible. I understand your desire for better return on investment, but in reality both teams need to get something and an expiring contract isn’t enough for a player of his caliber plain and simple. If Grant could’ve pulled that one off he would be exec of the year!

  • Mark

    @Stinkfist – Impressive list. I stand corrected. Let’s hope we hit on some.

  • MattyFos

    I like this trade. I would have liked it more if we kept Telfair. I know he hasn’t really panned out. But I’m one of those guys Andrew mentioned. Someone who loves potential and upside. I wanted to see Telfair play some significant minutes alongside Boobie.
    But, I think Telfair was the deal breaker for Hollins, again another player I love for the potential. Getting consistent playing time as the backup Center. Hollins should be able to get 10 pts and 4-5 reb a game, not flashy. But solid.

  • Gren (not Glen)

    Yes, let’s not forget Mo Williams was also a second rounder…in 2003. To bad we didn’t out right draft him and Lebron together that year. Another thing to go down in the white if machine.

    I like the moves. Like most, I will be sad to see Delonte go but, I’m glad we got some young players with upside for him.

  • mike

    is that an unprotected second round pick? :)

  • The Other Tim

    Here’s an email from a friend of mine who used to watch the Wolves for a living.

    Not sure anyone wins there. Sessions is a passable backup 1 if he doesn’t try to score; he usually does. Likes to drive; can’t finish. He’s like Randy Foye with MS. … Hollins, from what I saw, is a decent backup big – in college. He is not an NBA player.

  • mike

    FWIW – sessions was much better than a passable backup when he was used in a more correct manner in Milwaukee. i am taking anything from Minny right now with a large grain of salt. that team / organization is a mess.

  • Gren (not Glen)

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=2172 – sign this guy. SF hole is filled, he won’t cost much, and we can break out our old jerseys.

    Seriously, loved that guy :(

  • Stinkfist

    I took another look at the names I found for #14 and looked at their positions. Of the guys still in the league, there were 3 PG, 3 SG, 1 SF, 7 PF, and 2 C. Should we take anything away from that? Why so few small forwards, does that indicate less of a success rate, or is it too small of a sample? Power forwards seem like they have a much higher rate of being a diamond-in-the-rough, is that because they are used improperly in college? 7 footers are probably overvalued and good ones don’t fall very far (hell, BJ Mullens and Kosta Koufos were first rounders), which could explain why there weren’t many centers. Basically what I got out of that… wait to draft a PF and address other needs first, but a 2nd round C or SF may not be your best bet.
    Did I just overthink this?

  • bobby

    How would Shannon Brown look back in a Cavs uni? If they gave him around 3mil/year is that overpaying for him? He doesnt shoot a good 3-ball but he would be another young guard to help build around.

    Also a side note- Telfair and West are both expected to be waived by the Twolves. Flynn is out 3-4 months with a hip problem, and they traded their back-up PG and got 2 others that they are waiving??? That organization is a mess. But looks like the Cavs have options if they want at G.

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    The point guard should be a leader on the team. Curious to see how Mo responds to the challenge. Arent you guys?

  • MattyFos

    @WayneEmbrysKids

    Mo and Ramon are good friends. I don’t think he looks at as a challenge for supremacy. Mo probably sees a chance to play with a friend in an offense that should make them both shine.

  • mgbode

    random note that was sort of asked above:

    a very high 2nd round pick is worth MORE than a very low 1st round pick because they are non-guaranteed contracts and you can take a bigger risk on a player with upside without worrying about potential red flags (i.e. dejuan blair types).

  • Matt

    The ways our teams are looking we may need to change the name of this blog to “Waiting for the following year”…

  • Alen

    Huzzah for NBA purgatory!!

    Seriously, people, rebuilding from scratch isn’t the wild hit or miss scenario everyone here fears it to be. Just because PREVIOUS cavs front offices screwed the pooch w/lottery picks like dajuan wagner, luke jackson, etc etc etc doesn’t mean that you can’t get consistent talent through the draft lottery, even w/out hitting a jackpot Durant/LBJ/Rose type of guy. Look at the Kings. Small market, not a prime FA destination, yet they never stay down for long and always rebuild SMARTLY. Evans wasn’t a guy many were high on last year, and w/the No.4 Pick they weren’t gonna land Rose. But look how that turned out. Same this year, they got the no5 pick (no wall, but Cousins). Add some solid pieces, have another smart draft, and the Kings are in good shape. Why can’t we do something like that? Why is it always a choice between blindly lunging around the lottery stabbing away at picks like a chicken with no head (which, incidentally, describes 2nd round drafting much more so than the lottery) or throwing money at mediocre guys hoping they come to CLE for a glorious 38 win campaign? C’mon. Think smart, think long term.

  • http://shakesthesnowglobe.blogspot.com EZ

    @28

    Kings aren’t the best example. They had less than 30 wins last year and still don’t look great for this year. And before that they were horrible for several years.

  • MattyFos

    Yeah, it seems that the last time the Kings were good was when they had Webber, Peja, Brad Miller, and Hedu, oh and Bibby.
    But that was like 10 years ago, so Alen couldn’t be talking about that Kings team..

    “yet they never stay down for long and always rebuild SMARTLY”

    Because I see 10 years as staying down for a while and not re-building smartly.