The Los Angeles Lakers acquired point guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland on Thursday in a four-player trade sending Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to the Cavaliers.
The Lakers also got forward Christian Eyenga in the deal, while the Cavaliers will get Los Angeles’ lottery-protected first-round pick in the upcoming draft and other considerations, according to the Lakers.
The Lakers have had an eye on Sessions for several months, and they made the deal shortly before dealing veteran point guard Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets. Fisher is a five-time NBA champion and an unquestioned locker room leader alongside Kobe Bryant, but they’re heading into the stretch run after effectively exchanging their starting point guard for the past five seasons for Sessions, a backup in Cleveland who joins his fourth NBA team in five years.
”We think Ramon will make an immediate impact,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. ”Despite Derek’s presence, we felt that we needed more speed and more quickness in the backcourt. . . . We didn’t feel that we could get a better or more talented player than Sessions with a first-round draft pick in the 20s.”
Kupchak is hopeful Sessions will be available for Friday’s home game against Minnesota.
Sessions backed up Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists this season. He was expected to opt out of his contract following the season to become a free agent, but he is likely to have a major role with the Lakers alongside Steve Blake, who has been Fisher’s backup this season.
”Ramon is a true pro and approached his job in a way that showed that every day,” Cleveland general manager Chris Grant said. ”Our primary focus continues to center on building this team with our young core and, most importantly, through the draft as we develop a very talented group that can play and succeed together for many years to come.”
The Lakers unloaded the albatross contract of Walton, a two-time NBA champion who has played almost no significant minutes for Los Angeles in the past three years. The son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton has spent his entire nine-season NBA career with the Lakers, but was hampered by injuries the previous two seasons before failing to crack new coach Mike Brown’s rotation this year, playing in just nine games.
Walton is making $5.68 million this season and $6.1 million next season under a lengthy contract signed when he was still a contributor to the Lakers.
Kapono, who signed with the Lakers shortly before training camp last summer, returns to the team that drafted him out of UCLA in 2003. The 3-point specialist also hasn’t played much for the Lakers, averaging 2.0 points this season.
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.