God, who on earth is running the Wolves? It’s like they change the names but not the brains over there as each year brings a new memorably puzzling decision or two. They drafted two (technically, three!) PGs in the lottery this year, were unable to sign one but got the other- so their next move is to sign a young, talented borderline All-Star candidate who plays the same position to a long term deal? Just inexplicable, really. It’s almost like they’re trying to put together a team of parts that don’t fit, starting with the Kevin Love/Al Jefferson duplication and moving onwards from there. I’d say Sessions is a major upgrade but if he succeeds you’ve got a queer backcourt who is horribly undersized if they play together and doesn’t take best advantage of available talent if they don’t, and if Sessions is a backup you’re paying through the nose for that spot. It’s not like signing Sessions is a BAD thing exactly, but in a salary-capped sport you’ve only got so many bullets in the gun and the Wolves appear to be spending one to make sure a dead guy is really, really dead.
EDIT: Fun pair of T Wolves stats with Love & Jefferson as starters/regulars in the frontcourt last year: the team was an excellent 5th overall in the league in defensive rebound rate… and 27th in defensive efficiency. No doubt there’s nuances here that I’m not picking up, but on paper that seems to me to be an almost textbook example of the on-court issues with player duplication when the players involved aren’t all-around talents: it makes a team overwhelmingly good at one thing and often poor at the goals that one thing is intended to achieve. It’s not really an accident that the Wolves also finished last year 28th in blocks and conceded the 5th highest opponent FG%.
God only knows how true this is or isn’t, but it is heartening to see that all the rumors on this one are trending the same way towards the Knicks getting a shiny new non-embarrassing PG for next season. Two major points:
1. We’re getting only one shot at this people; guys who are all of good and quick and named “Ramon” do not come along too often. We’re nicknaming him “Razor”. I will not be argued with on this.
2. Sessions matters because he’s one of the first players brought in since rebuilding really got underway who stands a reasonable chance of being part of the next serious Knicks team. I love Dave Lee and if the timing were different on his free agency he could at 26 be that kind of player; but it’s not. I LOVE Nate, but it’s been abundantly clear that the current Garden braintrust just doesn’t really buy into him for the role and money he thinks he’s worth. Danilo Gallinari is a fascinating prospect and could be another guy for the next good Knicks, but we’re really not sure what we have in him yet given how up-and-down last year was. Wilson Chandler is very promising but not obviously a foundational player, and he was an Isiah guy before Walshtoni came in. This year’s draft picks are too new to make any form of call on. You can make the case that Sessions would be the first major building block, the first clear long-term answer at a key position with a real NBA trackrecord, which the new regime will have brought in. That deserves to be noted and celebrated if this comes off.
Yeah, there’s salary cap implications, and honestly only Donnie Walsh is in a position to judge those relative to what his contacts and back channels are telling him about the summer of 2010. Whatever choice he makes as a fan I’m basically ok with it, because I trust him to make the right call based on information I don’t have. But my God, on the basis of the players alone is this a serious question? Tinsley may be a local guy, but he’s got a nation-wide reputation as a dipshit with bad connections whose most memorable career moments are either the Malice in the Palace or the time thugs chased him through the streets riddling his car with automatic weapons fire. He’s played 70 games or more only 3 times in 7 seasons, and last year the Pacers hated his presence so much that they were willing to pay his salary and force him to stay at home the whole year and fight the union over doing so, resulting in him playing precisely zero games. He’s 31 and has been below average offensively (below 15 PER) two of the last three years where he actually saw a basketball court, he’s a mediocre 3 point shooter and the Knicks are a team which relies on that shot as much or more than any other, and he’s got virtually nothing going for him other than being cheap. Yaaaaay.
With Sessions, I confess: I haven't seen him play all that often, so I'm working off of stats. Here's some of them: 2 years experience, 23 years old next season, PER 16.48/17.65 the last two seasons, 2 year adj. +/- of 4.60 (note: he played only 17 games his first year, so sample size is low), finished 15th among point guards in APG last year despite playing fewer minutes per game than all but one other qualifier in the top 25. His major downsides seem to be that he's a dreadful 3 point shooter (6-34, .176 last year) and with only a year and change of pro experience there's some question as to how real all these numbers are; he's also a restricted free agent which may impact his signability, although Milwaukee was the team which let Charlie Villanueva walk without even a qualifying offer so God knows what's in the cards up there. I'm sure there's a lot which isn't captured by this picture, but unless he's got wee little horns and frequently sacrifices a fatted calf to Ba'al beneath the full moon I think he's probably a better bet as a player than Tinsley. And if he does have the calf and the horns he may be the only guy in the league with a more interesting social life, if we're going the entertainment route.
Again: only Walsh has the full breadth of information to make the call on this and only D'Antoni can make the determination as to whether a long term commitment to Sessions makes sense in context of the offense, so I'm not going to go nuts either way. But if this team ends up punting on Our Guide and Leader, passing on Sessions and signing Jamaal fucking Tinsley, well… I will be cross.
For whatever it’s worth, Posting & Toasting says an offer sheet for “Razor” Ramon Sessions is forthcoming.
EDIT: this is the trouble with writing these things in advance, as the Knicks’ point guard circus has added another ring since I put this together. Jason Williams…well, the less said, the better. He missed all of last season, and previous to that after three years of almost exact offensive averageness (15 PER) he dropped to 12.7 and then retired- not great signs for a guy in his 30’s at a position which relies on quickness. According to Knickerblogger’s similarity scores his most comparable is the current Rafer Alston based on his ’07-’08 stats, and in my also-a-Nets-fan capacity let me say that one of those guys is enough to endure in any given year. He’s 34, and the only thing he really brings to the table over Tinsley is a better 3 point shot and less chance of being shot (from 3 point range or otherwise), along with a lot of relative deficits.
Basically, the only good option out of these guys is Sessions. If the Knicks have good reason to think that they’ll need the money next year or that there’s no chance they can get Razor at a decent price, ok; but let’s be clear: if he’s not the choice, the question is simply how much the guy who is chosen will suck, not whether. If either are signed to a 1 year deal as a spare part to make up the numbers on a bad team with big plans for the future, well, whatever; if either are offered more, they’re the Mikael Silvestre of hoops, and that’s no good.