July 29, 2014

It’s a Shame, but the Cavaliers Need to Trade Ramon Sessions

Sessions' time in Cleveland may be ending soon

The first half of the NBA season is now complete for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They now will enjoy a nice 5 day break (except for Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, who will partake in some of the festivities in Orlando) for the All-Star Break. When they come back next Tuesday, they will play two games back to back nights, and then that is it for February.

It’s hard to believe March is right around the corner already, but even more surprising is how quickly the NBA trade deadline will be here. March 15 is just 21 days away, which means Chris Grant and company have just 21 days to decide the future for several players.

We’ve already debated trading Anderson Varejao, and Antawn Jamison is an obvious trade target due to his contract status. But the one player who the Cavaliers absolutely must trade is Ramon Sessions. It’s just too bad they have to do so.

There are actually a few decent reasons not to trade Sessions. The Cavaliers will probably never find a better backup PG than Sessions. You want to know a big reason why the Cavaliers are such a competitive team this year? It’s being able to have a player like Sessions fill in for Kyrie Irving when he goes to the bench. The losses of Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson would have been much more brutal for the team if they didn’t have a versatile PG who could also coexist in the backcourt with Irving to trade off PG/SG roles.

If the Cavaliers traded Sessions, and the highly likely scenario of Parker and Gibson both being hurt again comes to fruition, the Cavaliers would be left with one true guard they would feel comfortable playing. Manny Harris could play SG, and Alonzo Gee can fill in minutes at SG as well, but the Cavaliers would have to make D-League call-ups to play minutes with Irving. From a developmental standpoint, putting your rookie cornerstone in a position where he is the only guard on the roster healthy and playing is probably not a great idea.

Furthermore, Sessions is just a great guy to have on the team. He doesn’t complain about his situation even though you know he wants to be starting. He works hard, displays leadership, and you never hear anyone say a bad thing about him. In a perfect world, Ramon Sessions would stay in Cleveland, re-sign with the Cavaliers, and backup Kyrie Irving for years to come.

We don’t exist in a perfect world, though, and the reality is that the Cavaliers absolutely must trade Sessions before the deadline.

First of all, it would seem highly unlikely that Sessions would re-sign in Cleveland. He wants to be a starter. He deserves to be a starter somewhere. Some team will sign him with an opportunity to be their starter. The Cavaliers are set at starting PG and having a backup like Sessions is a luxury most bottom half teams just can’t afford. So the Cavaliers need to maximize return value now while they can.

As rumors continue to swirl that the Lakers are getting more and more desperate for an upgrade at PG for their playoff push, Sessions’ value is rising. Steve Blake and Derek Fisher currently sport PERs of 9.22 and 8.82, respectively, good for 53rd and 54th among all qualifying PGs in the NBA this season. Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions have PERs of 20.74 and 16.03, good for 10th and 28th among all qualifying NBA PGs. Chris Grant has an opportunity to get what he wants for Sessions. And the Lakers don’t even have to be the team. But they serve as the baseline for any team that needs a PG. The opportunity to trade Sessions is there.

Yet there’s a bigger reason why the Cavaliers must trade Sessions. The biggest reason is simply that Ramon Sessions is in the wrong role in Cleveland. Sessions plays better as a starting PG and plays better without deferring to Kyrie Irving.

In his time with Cleveland, Sessions averages 14.8 pts, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game as a starter and 11.1 pts, 2.9 reb, and 4.6 ast as a reserve. This season he has averaged 18.3 points and 12.3 assists in his 3 starts. Those don’t tell the whole story, though. In playing more minutes as a starter, of course his averages will be higher. But if we look at his Per-36 minutes splits this season, he averages 16.9/2.8/11.4 as a starter and 14.4/5.0/7.2 as a reserve.

None of this is to say he’s a bad backup PG. I’ve already stated that he’s really the dream backup PG for the Cavaliers. But to be fair to Ramon, that’s not the best role for him, personally. It’s not a coincidence that his two best Efficiency Rating seasons are ‘08-‘09 and last season, the two seasons he started the most games.

Beyond the stats, though, just use the eye test. Sessions is a different, more effective player when he is the starter. As a reserve he plays more like a steward, or one of those seat fillers they use at award shows when presenters and performer are on stage. As a starter, he is even more aggressive and shows more confidence and effectiveness. It’s a role he would have a chance to thrive in if he joins a PG-lacking contender.

Above all else, the Cavaliers need to remember they are a rebuilding team. Whether they somehow sneak into the playoffs or not, that fact won’t change. The Cavaliers need to continue to stockpile draft picks and assets while being mindful of how players fit into their future. While Anderson Varejao would likely bring a higher return than Sessions, there’s a role for Varejao on the Cavaliers going forward. Antawn Jamison doesn’t have a role in the future, but he also isn’t likely to bring a high return to the Cavaliers in a trade.

Ramon Sessions is the perfect mix of having trade value for the Cavaliers and not having an ideal, clear role on the team going forward. This is why it makes no sense whatsoever for the Cavaliers to hang on to him unless Sessions is telling the front office he 100% wants to stay and is ok with taking a lesser role to be a professional backup. Of course, even then, the Cavaliers know first hand how those promises to re-sign work out. Not that Sessions would necessarily go all Carlos Boozer on the Cavaliers, but regardless, this is a business and needs to be treated as such.

From the fans’ perspective, sports are a tough business. We value qualities like loyalty and commitment when neither players nor teams have much of either. But fan loyalty tells us we would like to keep guys like Ramon Sessions. We ask questions like ‘is it really worth giving up Ramon Sessions for the Lakers’ late first round pick?’. The real question, though, is ‘Isn’t any first round pick better than losing Sessions for nothing?’

The All-Star break is a break for the players, but it is anything but a break for GMs. Chris Grant should be on the phone all break long trying to procure the highest return for Sessions that he can. The upside of the slight chance Sessions stays in Cleveland after this year doesn’t outweigh the risk of losing him for nothing. He has demonstrated value this season and timing and circumstance demand he be traded.

Now it’s just up to the Cavaliers to get a deal done.

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Image Source: David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

  • mgbode

    That’s the key.  Sessions will get paid to be a part-time starter (either as actual starter or backup).  A 25-30min per game guy. 

    With Irving here, Sessions minutes will continue to go down and he’ll be a 15-20min guy.   As long as Irving is healthy, our backup PG has less value than places that like to split time (think Denver with Miller+Lawson)

  • mgbode

    Mike Brown coaches the Lakers though.  Do not underestimate Andy-V love from Mike Brown.

  • mgbode

    Make that Budinger + Jordan Hill instead.  My favorite 2 young players on the Rockets right now.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m afraid that “Kyle” is just too good to give up.  The Cavs won’t be giving up Sessions for Kapono… I’d bank on the draft pick, kev.  You won’t be seeing either Arenas or AI in a Lakers uniform.  Those guys are finished.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I was too mean with you in my other comment now that I’ve seen this… thanks Kevin

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Agreed. I think Budinger would be a huge improvement over Casspi at the starting SF spot. I love that Budinger is still developing and proving he can get better. I’m not crazy about Hill because I feel like he’s still the same player he was as a rookie. I’m not seeing the development. Having said that, though, even as raw as he is, he’s still MUCH preferred over Hollins. 

    I hate giving up Gibson, though. With his defense and his ability to come off the bench and knock down 3′s, he’s a valuable part of what the Cavaliers do. I want him to be our backup SG for the foreseeable future. 

  • Sean

    I like the optimism, but Indiana would laugh us off the phone if we asked for Paul George. He’s a 21 year old, 6’8” shooting guard who can do a bit of everything. He’s probably going to be a VERY solid starter in the league for the next 7-10 years, and he’s on his rookie contract. Sessions, who is just about in his prime, is a border line starting point guard. And, honestly, I’d probably prefer both Collison and Hill at pg over Sessions. 

    That being said, I REALLY like Paul George and wish we could get him into a Cavs uniform.

  • Sean

    I’d hate to give up Gibson, as well. And, realistically, we can’t give up both he and Sessions in a trade because we’d have no backup for Kyrie. It’s just that we don’t have a whole lot of decent talent to offer up, and I don’t think we’re getting two young pieces back for Sessions alone. 

    I initially had Flynn coming to the Cavs to be the backup, but I figured three young guys might be too much to ask (plus Flynn is pretty awful). To make this work, we’d have to supplement it with a deal for a backup pg, or find a way to do it without giving up Gibson.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    If we got Steve Blake back from the Lakers, we could potentially have 5 whities coming off the bench at some point this season… Blake, Budinger, Casspi, Harangody, Erden.  That group would be laughably bad.

  • mgbode

    you are right on Hill not improving much and the Rocket fans I know are disappointed as they thought he’d be much better by now.

    where he has improved is that he knows his defensive assignments and does a much better job boxing out too.  I just like this style as a backup PF/C guy.  He will hustle constantly, he’ll grab rebounds and provide good help defense and get up and down the floor really well. 

  • Vindictive_Pat

    As scary as the prospect is, I think Ben Uzoh would jump into the backup PG guard if that situation came to fruition.  I’d rather have Uzoh than Flynn if only for his defensive capabilities.

  • mgbode

    I think the Pacers would trade Granger before they would trade George.  He’s younger, he’s cheaper, and (to use a baseball term) he’s ‘controllable’ by the team for a much longer period of time.

    (and no, they aren’t trading Granger for Sessions :)  )

  • mgbode

    if Indiana was in NYC, then we could have traded them Jamison + King’s pick for Granger.    that would give them enough salary cap space to then go get Deron Williams + Dwight Howard in the offseason and have this lineup:
    PG:  Deron / Darren
    SG:  George Hill / AJ Price
    SF:   Paul George
    PF:   West / Hansbrough
    C:     Dwight / Hibbert

    Tell me that wouldn’t be the favorite to win the NBA title.  And with Dwight’s athleticism, you could put him and Hibbert on the floor together without much issue for good chunks of the game (good luck getting easy buckets there).

  • Chris

    I wonder the possibility of trading Jamison to a team like OKC, they could use a scorer like Jamison because Perkins and Ibaka are not the best on offense. They would help themselves make a title run by adding someone like Jamison and the cavs would be getting rid of his contract. Thoughts?

  • Draydenriley

    I Can’t agree. Think about it all the stuff Ramon did for Cleveland. You just can’t trade him away. He does his hardest to put points up on the board. Yes it would be great to have some more talent for the Cavs. Look Anthony has been injured for the past two seasons in a row so i thinkk that they should trade anthony for some Guard. No harm done but I think teams will want Anthony more than Ramon.

  • Patcanaday

    Are the Stephan A talk about Kobe for Irvin true? Also heard same rumors all over Orlando. Get er done.