Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking for an upgrade at the point guard position. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
Of course, you didn’t raise your hand. The Lakers’ point guard situation has been awful for a few years now but it wasn’t as pressing of an issue when Phil Jackson was the head coach. In the triangle offense, Derek Fisher and Steve Blake weren’t asked to make plays, thus, with Pau and Kobe’s brilliance, the Lakers could live with it. But now that Mike Brown is in charge, the Lakers need their point guard to do more than spot up.
Thus, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Los Angeles has inquired about Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Ramon Sessions. And Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy reported over the weekend that the Lakers have also expressed some interest in free agent guard Gilbert Arenas.
Sessions was brought in to Cleveland after Brown had been let go by the organization so he never got to play for him but he seems to be a pretty good fit for his offense. Last season, pick and rolls made up 38% of Sessions’ offense according to Synergy Sports Technology, and he was very good at operating it. He was a decent pull-up shooter and a proficient passer but his biggest value came as a penetrator. Sessions was also surprisingly good as an isolation player, and his production rated him in the 85th percentile last season. Sessions attempted an average of 4.4 shots at the rim last season, which is a significant upgrade over the Lakers’ current guards not named Kobe Bryant.
Sessions is having a down season this year but that is due in large part to the play of Kyrie Irving. Byron Scott has given Irving the keys the offense and Sessions’ role has been significantly decreased. The Lakers have a solid crop of pick and roll big men, as Pau Gasol (roll/pop), Bynum (roll) and Troy Murphy (pop) are all adept catchers on the move. And for the Lakers to finally have a guard that can get into the lane to make a defense scramble would help correct perhaps their most pressing issue. In addition to that, as someone who is not 37 years old or a rookie, Sessions figures to be a slight upgrade defensively.
The problem here is that Sessions apparently has a few suitors and the Lakers are noticeably dry of any valuable trade assets. If other teams are interested in Sessions, what can the Lakers offer that will make Cleveland pick their offer over all others? Surely Cleveland won’t be interested in a Luke Walton for Sessions swap and unless they are impressed by Devin Ebanks or want to take on Matt Barnes cheap expiring contract, the only thing left is draft picks.
Hit the jump for the rest of Mark’s piece…
The Lakers could offer up two first round picks in this years draft (their own and Dallas’, which is top 20 protected). In one of the deepest drafts in the last decade, those 16-22 picks can be valuable. That said, I’m not sure the Lakers should be giving up those picks for Sessions. If I were them I’d rather hold onto those picks and take Tony Wroten and Terrence Jones (or whoever is available). It has been their unwillingness to hold onto draft picks that has lead to such a drought of talented youngsters for the Lakers in recent years, and with this particular class, I’m not sure Sessions is worth it.
So unless the Cavs are willing to accept a Walton for Sessions deal or some combination of Barnes, Derrick Caracter, Darius Morris or Devin Ebanks (all expiring), it may be best for the Lakers to hold off on dealing for Sessions.
So what about Gilbert Arenas? Most seem opposed to a potential Arenas signing for the Lakers, including their front office, but one of my biggest quibble with the Lakers over the past few years has been that they always take the safe bet over the risky one. When you go the safe route, you get guys like Luke Walton, Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts. At times, all of those guys can be useful, but they’ll never going to win a game for you. If Arenas has anything left, his scoring ability may be able to win games for the Lakers. I’m not entirely on board with the idea, but if he can still play and he’s willing to take a minimum deal, what’s the downside? Fewer minutes for Jason Kapono? Sounds fine to me.
Based on what the Lakers have to offer, it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to score a point guard unless it comes in a straight salary dump. Because of the Lakers’ own incredibly dumb salary dump before the year (Lamar Odom) they robbed themselves of their lone asset that was both valuable and expendable. Right now, I have a hard time determining who the Lakers’ best trade chip is who isn’t also a part of their core (Kobe, Gasol, Bynum).
Devin Harris is another name that has been mentioned with the Lakers and Utah would very much love to dump his salary off on another team. Unfortunately, Odom’s trade exception is just a bit too small to take on Harris’ current salary, meaning the Lakers would have to put together a package for the Jazz that would work financially and give Utah some players they like. And again, there just aren’t many players that teams would like to trade for.
The only point guard that I can see the Lakers acquiring with their trade exception is Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich has a large expiring deal and it didn’t seem as if the Hawks missed a beat when he was out at the beginning of the season. Thus, they may be willing to let Hinrich go early in exchange for a draft pick. Hinrich would give the Lakers a good outside shooter, a tough defender (relative to Fisher and Goudelock) and someone that can initiate an offense.
But again, you can debate whether or not a player like Hinrich is worth it for the Lakers to use their trade exception on. If a big man like Anderson Varejao or Paul Millsap were to become available, they would bring a lot more value to the team than Hinrich would. Point guard is definitely a position of need for the Lakers, but then again having Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts backing up Gasol and Bynum leaves a pretty heavy burden on their starters (both in minutes and production). If Goudelock continues to hit shots, then addressing the third big man in the rotation may be even more important than addressing the point guard spot.
The Lakers came oh so close to making this topic irrelevant during the summer. If David Stern decided not to execute his veto power, then the Lakers wouldn’t even be thinking about upgrading at point guard for at least another five years. But alas, Chris Paul is has a locker on the opposite side of Staples Center and the Lakers are stuck with old legs and young minds. It’s obvious that they need to find someone that can attack the paint from the perimeter, but because of their impulse decision to trade Odom for nothing, it appears as if they won’t be able to do so without breaking up their big three.
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