Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Ramon Sessions Exit Interview: Wants to remain with the Lakers
By Brian Kamenetzky
Speaking to the media less than 24 hours after what might gently be described as a disastrous performance in L.A.'s Game 5 loss Monday night in Oklahoma City, Ramon Sessions made it clear he wants to stay with the Lakers.
“[I] definitely hope to be here," he said. "Hopefully, everything works out. It's not secret I have a player option that I have coming up, so we’ll just see what happens. It’s nothing I’ve thought about yet. The season’s just [ended], so I’ll just take some time off, reflect and go from there."
As for the organization, Sessions said their message to him was unambiguous. "It was definitely clear leaving the meeting they want me back. It was definitely 100 percent clear."
The player option Sessions references is worth about $4.55 million. Sessions denied earlier reports he planned to not to exercise it, and become an unrestricted free agent.
“I don’t know where those reports came [from]," he said.
"The Sessions Question" is one of the bigger facing the Lakers this offseason. They gave up a fair amount to get him -- what ultimately could amount to Derek Fisher and a pair of first round picks, depending on what the team does with Jordan Hill this offseason -- and postseason flame out notwithstanding, Sessions certainly had strong moments, providing the Lakers with their first up tempo, penetrating guard since what feels like the short-shorts-and-belts era. He's dynamic in the open floor, and demonstrated an ability to turn the corner and get into the lane. At the same time, Sessions also showed the silver still needs a little polish before becoming a family heirloom. Sessions copped to shortcomings defensively, noting on the teams for which he's previously played (all bad), attention to detail on that side of the ball was never made a high priority. With the Lakers, he was the kid suddenly held responsible for information he never learned in school.
Moreover, his impact lessened near the end of the season, due in part to a shoulder injury and then to the league adjusting to his presence, before a very disappointing playoffs.
For a lot of fans, the latter is a particularly important red flag. The inability to rise to the pressure of the postseason is a problem for players on teams playing in it every year. On the other hand, this was Sessions' first experience on the big stage. It's a totally different deal, and many good players fail the first time around. He's a young player (26) who has been productive at the NBA level, and unless they flip a big chip (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol) for an elite PG, it would be hard for the Lakers to find a better replacement this offseason.
Obviously Sessions can guarantee one more year in Los Angeles simply by exercising the player option, something that would suit the Lakers just fine. They'd get a full year to evaluate him, with the ability to extend him if things work well and maybe flip his expiring deal if they don't. If Sessions chooses free agency, his future with the Lakers becomes, like most things with the team, a question of money. Mitch Kupchak said at the deadline they made the deal with the intention of keeping Sessions around a while, and according to Sessions, at least, that's still the case.
They won't crack open the vault for him, but fortunately for the Lakers, the way Sessions finished the season probably guaranteed no overwhelming offers will come his way during the summer, making it that much easier for the Lakers and Sessions to find common ground contractually.