People were quick to slaughter the Cavaliers for what many called "just giving away" Sessions to fill the Lakers' biggest need. Let me say this before I go any further: I absolutely approve of this move by Chris Grant. It was the right move for the franchise considering where they are and what they are trying to do. You may not agree with me now, but hopefully by the end of this post, I'll have convinced you that the Cavs are better because of it.
First, let's address what actually got moved in the trade. The main point of the trade was to move Sessions for the 1st round draft pick. The Lakers' pick won't be particularly high, but in a deep draft class, it should still have some nice value. I expect the Cavs to get a decent rotation player with that pick this year. It's also not impossible for the Cavs to use that pick to trade up in the draft to get a player that they want. The Los Angeles pick is top-14 protected, but unless the Lakers somehow miss the playoffs, the Cavs will be receiving that pick. If they DO miss the playoffs, it rolls over to 2014 (yes, 2014) and remains top-14 protected. If you aren't familiar with Sessions' contract situation, he has a player option at the end of this year. It seemed inevitable that he would not pick up that option after this season and would probably test free agency to see if he could be the starting point guard elsewhere. If we make that reasonable assumption, the Cavs had 20-ish games left of Sessions before he left for nothing. If the front office was assuming this (as I assume they were), it became imperative to get some sort of value for Sessions. Ultimately, getting the first round pick is nice compensation for a guy who was simply taking minutes away from Kyrie Irving and was going to leave at the end of the year anyway.
That being said, there are several more components to this trade that ought to be discussed. Most obviously is the fact that the Cavaliers gave up Christian Eyenga in the trade as well. Feel free to talk about the potential that you, personally, saw in Eyenga, but he's a downright terrible basketball player. There's a reason that he has been playing for the Canton Charge for the majority of the season. He hasn't shown the necessary signs of progress and isn't much of a loss in the long run. He's essentially a throw-in, perhaps to make the finances work.
So what, besides the first round pick, did the Cavs get in return, you ask? Well they were burdened with taking back Luke Walton and his contract. He's owned some money for the rest of this year and $6.1 million next year. People were stunned to find this out and thought that the Lakers royally screwed the Cavs, but consider this: what are the Cavaliers going to do with cap room? It's pointless to have salary cap room if you have no use for it. The Lakers, on the other hand, are in desperate need of financial relief to avoid the luxury cap, which is far more sever under the new CBA. Cleveland is still way under the salary cap, even with the addition of Walton's contract. It's not like this move ruins the Cavs' plans to go after some big free agent. This team is determined to build through the draft -- Walton does not impact that. During the press conference, Chris Grant addressed the possibility of Walton actually being a useful player for the Cavs. There isn't any way to know at this point, but let's just be polite and say that Walton is not part of Cleveland's long term plans.
Jason Kapono seems to have been another throw-in, and a late one at that. He's another guy that is pretty inconsequential and makes a negligible amount of money. He makes $1.2 million this year and expires at the end of the season. If nothing else, he gives Kyrie another 3-point shooter to dish assists to.
Finally, the Cavaliers get the added bonus of being able to swap their least favorable first round draft pick in 2013 with the Lakers first round pick in 2013. Currently, the Cavs own the rights to the Miami Heat's 2013 first round pick. Let's pretend that the Heat have the 28th pick in the 2013 draft. Similarly, let's say the Lakers have the 19th pick in the 2013 draft. This added bonus to the trade allows the Cavs to move from 28th to 19th in next years draft just like that. Pretty sweet, eh? If Kobe Bryant's play falls off significantly or someone like say, Andrew Bynum blows out a knee, this ability becomes all that more valuable.
In the end, the Cavaliers certainly made the right move. They traded an expendable player in Sessions for an essentially certain first round pick in 2012 and a nice draft ability in 2013. They had to take on a bad contract in Walton, but that doesn't really have any impact on the Cavs cap situation. This was a classic case of both teams getting what they wanted. The Lakers needed Sessions -- the Cavs didn't. Sessions' absence allows the Cavs to give more minutes to Kyrie while probably losing a few more games and improving their own lottery position. It is now clear that the Cavs front office is not short-sighted in this rebuilding process. They are not gunning for the 8th seed this year, but rather accumulating assets to make this team competitive in the long term. I wholeheartedly support this approach.
People will inaccurately assess this trade by looking at how it benefits the Lakers, instead of looking at how the Cavaliers benefit from it. I don't particularly care if it filled one of the Lakers' biggest needs -- it got the Cavs some valuable assets. All I know is that the Cavs had little to no use for Sessions and were able to get something for him. As a side note, look at the rest of the league at the trade deadline. Did you see any other point guards getting traded? No. Not a single one. There clearly wasn't a huge market for point guards, so if you think the Cavs could have gotten "significantly" more for Ramon, you're just wrong. If the deal was out there, they would have done it.
Did I miss anything? If you have any other questions about the deal or want to argue some of my points, feel free to comment or contact me at ConradFTS@Gmail.com.