There are a lot of teams in the NBA that need a fair amount of help with their rosters to legitimately feel confident about winning an NBA title this coming June.
The Los Angeles Lakers are not one of those teams.
The Lakers are close. I'm sure that's hard for Lakers fans to believe with the unusual amount of drama that has surrounded the current season.
It's true though.
In spite of all the issues surrounding the Chris Paul trade, Lamar Odom's exit and the Pau Gasol rumors, the Lakers are sitting in first place in the Pacific Division. They have amassed a 27-16 record, good for third best in their conference.
Are they good enough to win a ring? Well until a few hours ago probably not. That's changed though, and it's all because of a fairly modest trade that transpired between the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The "Big Three" might be in Miami but the trio of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol is pretty good in its own right. Within that trio the Lakers have the best all-around player the league has seen since Michael Jordan and winner of three NBA titles. They've got one of the more versatile power forwards in the game and they've got a dominant center in a league that has very few players who fit that description.
That puts the Lakers in good shape.
Adding Ramon Sessions for the cost of Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and what will likely be a late first round pick in this summers' NBA Draft is small price to pay for what might end as the missing piece to a title. Yet that's what Sessions could end up as.
The Lakers needed a point guard. They needed someone who could break down defenses and either get to the basket or dish to one of the Lakers' big men. Sessions' quickness will also open the defense up and allow Kobe to get free from his defender with more regularity.
Sessions is a liability on defense but so are both Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, who will see their playing time decrease in the aftermath of this deal. His defensive shortcomings can be compensated for by the interior defense that both Bynum and Gasol provide.
The presence and rebounding of the Lakers' two big men is what sets the team apart. One way to combat size is to get up-and-down the floor and run, and that's what the Western Conference's best team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, like to do.
The problem is that it's hard to do that consistently if you're not able to rebound the ball effectively. The Lakers are the league's best rebounding team and as long as Gasol and Bynum are there that won't be changing.
This morning the Los Angeles Lakers were a good team with a tough road to win a title this year. This afternoon they're a better team and the road to a ring just got a little less imposing. All it cost them was a low first round pick and two players who didn't make major contributions. That's a fair price to say the least.