Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cavs did something

Chris Grant, in his first real move of his career, traded Delonte West to Minnesota for Ramon Sessions. Exciting!! Whoooo!!

The Cavs reached a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade for guard Ramon Sessions. The Cavs will send Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota in exchange for Sessions, center Ryan Hollins and a 2013 second-round draft pick.

The team had been looking for a player like Sessions, even signing restricted free agent guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet two weeks ago, and had been actively shopping West. With his contract set to become fully guaranteed by Aug. 5, it was the team's hope to trade West by this week.

I hate seeing Delonte leave (sorta) but this isn't a terrible deal. Actually, it's a fairly decent deal. The Cavs are getting a quick, starting caliber point guard and a dude who's 7 feet (can't teach size!) for basically an expiring contract and garbage (no offense to Bassy Telfair).

I admit, I'm not all that familiar with Ramon Sessions. All that really comes to mind is that, as a rookie, he had some crazy stat lines at the end of the 2007-2008 season (like a 20 point, 24 assist game) and then became one of Minnesota's billion point guards.

Terry Pluto likes the deal and he kinda talks me into it:

Ramon Sessions is exactly the type of player the Cavs should be adding at this stage of their life without LeBron James. That's especially true because the price for Sessions was minimal, in terms of contract ($12 million left over three seasons) and cost in the trade. Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair were shipped to Minnesota, where both are expected to be cut for salary cap purposes.

Meanwhile, Sessions could start, or at least be the Cavaliers' first substitute in the backcourt.

So why is a Minnesota castoff someone the Cavs need?

Because Sessions is the point guard who loves to motor the ball down the court on the fast break. He is very effective in the pick-and-roll, and he has the quickness to drive to the basket.

[snip]

Sessions has started 47 games in his pro career, averaging 14.7 points, 8.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent in 35 minutes per start. With the Bucks in 2008-09, it was 38 starts, 15.2 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 45 percent shooting.

When given a chance, he delivers impressive numbers. He is the type of guard that new coach Byron Scott loves, because of his tendency to play in high gear, but not throw the ball all over the gym. He is a terrible 3-point shooter (10-of-56 for his career), but smart enough to know not to shoot often from that range.

The Cavs have a backcourt jammed with guards who love to fire away from long distance -- Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and Gibson. They don't have a pure point guard such as Sessions.

While I see what Pluto is saying (he fits Scott's system, he's young and he's cheap!), I can't get over the fact that the Cavs have reunited the point guards from the 07-08 Milwaukee Bucks. Yay?

Kelly Dwyer sums up the Cavs side of the deal thusly (emphasis added):

And, Cleveland? You're still pretending to use stopgaps?

Unless the Cavs are planning on a massive overhaul soon — trading away big parts like Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison for cap relief, draft picks, young prospects; or any combination of the three — the team is just deluding itself. Which, considering the fact that Dan Gilbert owns it, sounds about right. Preferring to save face and pass on obviously rebuilding after its failure with LeBron James became so, so public.

I'll give them the same optimistic bent I gave the Timberwolves last summer. If they're picking up Sessions as an asset — a good scoring guard who is worth twice what he makes and has a contract that, with a player option after two more seasons, expires soon — then good on them. This is sound value for money, and players.

But if you're going to try and back up Mo Williams with the same version of himself, minus all that accurate shooting? Then you're mistaking yourself for a team that actually matters. And, worse, wasting your fandom's time. Kindly rebuild, soon. They showed up for 2002-03, if you'll recall, so they'll definitely show up now that most of the tickets for 2010-11 have been sold, and now that your team has achieved martyrdom.

I have a hard time disagreeing with that.

I completely understand the not wanting to rebuild. I'd always get so frustrated with people who'd say shit like, "without LeBron, the Cavs would be no better than the Nets/Knicks." I fully believe that the Cavs could've and would've been a playoff team sans LeBron. Would they be a championship contender? Hell, no. But they could've snuck into the playoffs as a 6th-8th seed.

And gotten whooped in the first round. And earned a mediocre draft pick for their troubles. And then repeated the whole thing over again the following season.

How often have the Cleveland Cavaliers been relevant in the NBA? How many eras were they, you know, good? I'd say three times and I'm willing to hear arguments for a fouth. To me, it's safe to say there are three distinct eras of Cavalier success: 1975-1978 (Miracle of Richfield), 1988-1994 (Price-Daugherty) and 2003-2010 (LeBron). Exciting players, big playoff games... fun times.

You know what preceded all of those runs? High draft picks. Like, really really high.

The Cavs drafted guard Austin Carr 1st overall in 1971. In 1986 they took center Brad Daugherty 1st overall (and guard Ron Harper 4th). And, of course, LeBron James was chosen 1st overall in 2003. Three eras of basketball greatness (or basketball very-goodness) all brought about by the first overall pick.

I don't think that's a coincidence.

Look, this deal isn't terrible. Both Pluto and Dwyer say Sessions is an asset. That's good. But to what end? I don't need to spend next season watching the point guard rotation for the 2007 Milwaukee Bucks. We know how that turns out (26 wins, 56 losses).

Don't get me wrong, I'd enjoy watching a scrappy, fast paced Cavalier team try to make the playoffs (you think Gilbert doesn't want to face Miami in the first round?). That's not a terrible way to spend next season. But I worry that, at the end of the day, going that route is simply a year wasted before their actual serious rebuild. 44 wins won't get them anywhere.

(And as much as I'd love to see the spectacle of a home playoff crowd for Game 3 of Heat-Cavs, I'm not sure I want to witness (har!) an angry LeBron dropping a 50-18-13 in a rage induced beat down while talking heads scold us classless Cleveland fans for our uncouth t-shirts, signs, chanting and battery throwing).

Basically, I'm reserving judgment on this deal until I see what else the Cavs have in store. I don't hate it. Sessions is a nice, cheap player. They got him (and a 7 footer) for practically nothing. But I want to know what the Cavs are going to be doing with Mo Williams Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions all on the roster. What's the plan? What's the end game? Best case scenario?

(Also, I'll miss you, Delonte. You rapped about hot sauce, you got arrested while riding a three wheeled motorcycle (with three guns, including one in a guitar case), you taught me about the Golden Panther, you occasionally did shit like this and this, you made sure J.J. got your donuts (and I purchased a shirt for the occasion) and you may have derailed a title run by banging LeBron's mom. It's been fun. You were definitely one of my favorite Cavaliers of the LeBron Era. Best of luck).

No comments: