Since the Lakers were dramatically ousted by the Dallas Mavericks last postseason in sweeping fashion, the weakness at the point guard position has been in the spotlight. Further, the point guard problem seemed to grow with the exit of Phil Jackson and the triangle offense, which did not require a strong point guard performance. The aging and overall decline of Laker favorite Derek Fisher and the inconsistency of Steve Blake propelled the urgency for Mitch Kupckak and Jim Buss to make a move.
Buss and Kupchak appeared to be heroes when they were able to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in a three-team trade that included the Houston Rockets. Then, when David Stern nixed the deal and crickets could be heard, as far as the fans were concerned, questions and rumors came to the forefront in the basketball community.
Meanwhile, on the court the Lakers have had an up and down season. During the first half of the season, the players struggled to transfer their offense from the triangle to the Mike Brown system. The weakness at the point guard position become more apparent when the team faced opponents with star point guards, such as the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers. Yet, the Lakers were at the top of their division as we entered mid-March.
As the trade deadline approach and no moves were made by the Lakers' management, panic and frustration surfaced by fans especially on Twitter. Then with a little more than an hour left until the deadline, news broke that the Lakers' acquired point guard Ramon Session and forward Christian Eyenga from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a future first-round draft pick, forward Luke Walton and guard Jason Kapono. Laker fans were thrilled with the acquisition of a skilled, young point guard like Sessions.
Sessions has been a consistent contributor for the Cavaliers this season and he's been coming off the bench. Sessions is averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists per game in just 24.5 minutes. According to ESPN.com's Brian Kamenetzky, "To this point in the season, L.A.'s PG's [Fisher and Blake] have averaged 12 points a game as a group, the lowest figure in the NBA." Just imagine the improvement not only to his statistics, but to his game as well that will occur by playing with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as a starter.
Second, Kobe Bryant has carried the majority of the offense for the team, especially in the first half of the season. The 33 year-old Bryant is leading the league in scoring, but he is also playing the most minutes on the team and is among league leaders in this category as well. The performance of the backcourt solely depended on Bryant. With Sessions partnering with Bryant, the pressure is slightly lifted off of Bryant's shoulders and opportunities to rest and prepare his body for the postseason can become a reality.
Third, the acquisition of Sessions is quite a financial steal for the Lakers. The Lakers were able to save the trade exception acquired from the Lamar Odom trade and rid the overpaid contract of Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. They were both "great locker room guys", Walton in particular. However, Walton was averaging 1.3 points and 7.2 minutes in just 9 appearances this year on a $6.68 million contract. Kapono was averaging two points and 10 minutes per game in 27 appearances on a $1.2-plus million contract. With the new CBA luxury tax system, which heavily penalizes teams for going over the salary cap, the Lakers need to trim the fat, so to speak. In return, the Lakers were able to receive a much needed upgrade in the point guard position that will improve the team's passing game, athleticism, defense and depth.
As Brian Kamenetzky summarizes, The Lakers, without giving up any truly significant assets and retaining the significant advantage provided by two immensely skilled seven footers inside have improved themselves at their greatest weak spot. If Sessions performs as expected, he pushes them very near the top of the Western Conference. Are they better than Oklahoma City? I'd still say no . . . but they're a lot closer, and have given themselves a legitimate chance to make a run this postseason.
A new page has turned in Los Angeles. While the fanbase is understandably reeling from the loss of Derek Fisher, it is time to go back to business and make a run for the NBA Finals. The addition of Sessions will bring in skill, youth and athleticism to the team, all of which were definite needs. Sessions symbolizes the beginning of a new era in LA, despite the presence of familiar faces. Was Sessions the best option? Absolutely.