My Favorite Cavaliers Moment of 2012: Turning Ramon Sessions into Tyler Zeller

Harry How

2012 was pretty interesting. What were some of the most memorable moments of the Cavaliers' year? Check em out.

Cavs fans, this very instant, would you trade Tyler Zeller for Ramon Sessions? That's the deal. Straight up; Tyler Zeller for Ramon Sessions. Cavs get Sessions, Bobcats get Zeller. I'll give you a minute to think about it.

*hums to self, refreshes twitter. refreshes twitter again. and again.*

Pencils down. Okay, does anyone have an answer that isn't "there is no way on God's green earth that I would trade a future starting center for a career backup point guard"?

I should hope not.

Now, I'm simplifying things just a tad. The Cavs didn't trade Sessions for Zeller. But they might have well have.

On March 15, 2012, the Cavs traded Sessions and Christian Eyenga to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and the Lakers' 2012 first round pick (which ended up being no. 24).

While there were some people that liked the trade, many didn't. The AP ended the article on the trade by saying Cleveland is hurting their playoff chances:

The Cavs want to build around Irving, and another first-round pick could help the 19-year-old No. 1 selection. While the trade may help Cleveland's future, it may jeopardize its chances of making the playoffs this season.

ESPNs Kevin Arnovitz also didn't care for the deal, saying Cleveland got worse and hurt their finances in the process:

the Cleveland Cavaliers somehow downgraded their roster while taking on additional financial commitments.

And John Hollinger gave the Cavs a D+ for the move:

If Dan Gilbert is paying attention, he should ask David Stern to void this trade for "basketball reasons."

First, let's follow the dead money. Walton makes $6.1 million next year with his trade kicker; Eyenga makes $1.1 million; neither of them are likely to play much or do anything of consequence if they do. So Cleveland swallows $5 million in dead 2012-13 salary.

For the privilege, they get a first-round pick from L.A. that will likely be in the 20s. The interesting part here is that when teams have done cash-for-late-first-rounder deals, they've typically valued the pick in the $3-4 million range. At best, the Cavs slightly overpaid on this part of the equation. And from L.A.'s side the savings double since they're in the luxury tax; effectively being paid $10 million for a late first-rounder is great business on their part.

But wait ... Cleveland also gave up a really good point guard! The Lakers essentially got Sessions for free; it was a fair deal just to give them a first-rounder to take Walton off their hands.

Silly Cavs. Taking on money, making your team worse and giving away a "really good!" point guard. Why would you do that?

Let's fast forward to the night of the 2012 NBA draft and see how the Cavs used that pick from Lakers.

The first trade of a quiet NBA Draft night (relative to what was expected) has Dallas selecting then trading North Carolina center Tyler Zeller to Cleveland for the number 24, 33 and 34 picks in this draft.

The Cavs received Zeller from Dallas for the Lakers' pick, Cleveland's second round pick and New Orleans' second round pick (acquired in the LeBron sign-and-trade).

So if we simplify the deals, they look a bit like this:

  • Ramon Sessions [+ crap] ==> First round pick [+ crap].
  • First round pick [+ different crap] ==> Tyler Zeller.

I'll take it!

Seeing GM Chris Grant make a move with with the long-term fortunes of the franchise clearly in mind gives me faith in this regime; the Cavs won't be taking short cuts or making quick short-term moves. Seeing that the Cavaliers have a plan and are actually sticking to it is far and away my favorite Cavalier moment of 2012.

Plus, I'm a big fan of Tyler Zeller.

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