It all began one afternoon in mid-March. I was sitting in my friends' apartment above Jimmy John's on 15th and High Street in Columbus, Ohio when I looked at my Twitter feed on trade deadline day and saw the news: the Cavaliers had traded their backup point guard Ramon Sessions and the always hilarious Christian Eyenga. The actual players they received (the illustrious combination of two-time Three-Point Shootout champion Jason Kapono and Luke Walton, who I thought had already retired and had moved into coaching as the elder statesman on Josh Pastner's Memphis Tigers staff) in this circumstance were of little consequence to the rest of the deal. The real haul was the 2012 first round pick they had received, along with the right to swap their lowest first round selection in the 2013 draft for a higher one if possible.
Already owning both their own and Miami's pick (Miami's pick is top-10 protected, which essentially means nothing. Also, the Cavs have a top-13 protected Sacramento Kings' selection, which also essentially means nothing since there's no way that team isn't among the worst in the league), it seemed that the Cavs would simply end up trading the Heat's pick for the Lakers' pick for a net gain of no more than five picks, and that would be that. It had never occurred to anyone that the Lakers would possibly miss the playoffs the next season, meaning whether or not there was a protection on the 2013 pick was inconsequential.
Then July rolled around. Everybody's favorite Canadian Steve Nash was a free agent who was probably going to either re-sign with the lowly Suns, go to the Knicks (according to their fans at least, even though they didn't have the cap room or ability to sign-and-trade for him after Toronto offer-sheeted Landry Fields), or make the Raptors relevant by becoming Canada's beloved son on their "beloved" team. But then, something strange happened. Kobe Bryant was able to use his magical wizardry (possibly the result of his German vampiric knee procedure. Let's be honest, we really don't know what powers those crazy doctors gave him) to convince Nash to join the dark side and become a Laker. In order to sign him, the Lakers had to complete a sign-and-trade. In this deal, they gave the Suns their 2013 and 2015 first-round picks, to go along with second-round selections in 2013 and 2014.
But wait. Didn't the Cavaliers already have the right to that 2013 selection? How was this going to work?
Then an even crazier thing started happening: the Lakers, replete with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (along with an injured Nash who has played 50 minutes this year), were losing at an alarming rate. The media-anointed "Big-4" was free-falling to a record of 9-14 (currently 11-14) through the first quarter of the season. So then the question to Cavaliers' fans became: what happens with that first round pick we have the right to swap? Is it lottery-protected? Do the Cavs get the pick over the Suns? And was being forced to pay Luke Walton a salary this season worth all of the hassle?
Seemingly, no one had the answer until everyone's "favorite" Ohio-based insider, FSO's Sam Amico, took the stage on a question asked by FTS's own David Zavac:
No protections on Lakers pick involving Cavs whatsoever. It's not a matter of believing me @davidzavac. It's a matter of accepting a fact.
Then, Amico affirmed his standing minutes later by stating:
The RealGM report stated (and still states) that "if the L.A. Lakers own 2013 first round pick is #1-#14, then the L.A. Lakers' obligation to Cleveland shall be extinguished." Which is totally different than what Amico had made so simple earlier, which was that the Cavs would get the pick no matter what, leaving the Suns out in the cold apparently.
But then, a few hours after Amico's initial report about the selection not being protected, the Plain Dealer's Cavs'-based account (@PDcavsinsider, which is run by Mary Schmitt Boyer and Jodie Valade) tweeted this:
Meaning again, fans simply had no idea what to think. This died down for a little bit until last week. Cavs' fans again began asking what the restrictions are on the pick. Luckily, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times was there to come to the rescue with this handy report:
The pick is only protected in the trade with the Cavaliers, not in the trade with the Suns.
The Cavs may have picks from the Miami Heat (top-10 protected) and the Sacramento Kings (top-13 protected). Whichever pick is furthest from the No. 1 pick can go to the Lakers in exchange for L.A.'s first-round pick, at the Cavaliers' discretion.
Cleveland is mostly likely to have the Miami pick which would presumably be swapped with the Lakers (if they're in the playoffs). The Suns would then end up with Miami's first.
How does that impact the Lakers? It doesn't.
Whether the pick goes to the Cavaliers or a Lakers, Cleveland, Miami or Sacramento pick goes to the Suns, the Lakers still aren't going to pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft barring an additional trade.
Finally, I took to Twitter myself to ask the guardian of the CBA and all of its knowledge, Larry Coon, what the final conclusion was. Coon's answer:
@Sam_Vecenie Cavs don't own it if it's 1-14. If it is, it goes to Phoenix.
Finally. The mystery that had been nearly nine months in the making had seemingly been solved. Even Amico, a major cause of this mess to begin with, had begun to backpedal from his initial tweets in his chat the following day.
Basically, what happens is that if the Lakers do not make the playoffs, the selection goes to Phoenix, meaning the Cavaliers keep the Miami selection. If the Lakers do make the playoffs and finish with a higher draft selection than the Heat, we have the right to swap the Heat pick with the Lakers' pick (again, this is ignoring the possibility of the Kings finishing below 13th overall because, let's be honest, there's little chance of that), and the Suns will then receive the Heat pick.
So Cavs' fans, the lesson here is to root for the Lakers to suck, but not suck enough to the point where they miss the playoffs. Oh, and also that Sam Amico may have a loose definition of what the word "fact" means.
Thus ends the Mysterious Case of the 2013 Draft Pick in the Ramon Sessions Trade.