Former Laker Ramon Sessions focuses on upside, not the what-ifs
One of the most influential decisions last summer involving the Lakers was made outside the front office.
Ramon Sessions opted to leave the team, leading to an influx of superstars.
Steve Nash became a Laker. So did Dwight Howard.
A precursor to their arrival in Los Angeles came in June when Sessions decided not to exercise a player option with the Lakers for one season and $4.55 million.
“I definitely didn’t want to go in with one year not really knowing what to expect in that situation,” Sessions said Tuesday before his first game back at Staples Center, “so I kind of was looking for longevity.”
Sessions found it with the Charlotte Bobcats, signing a two-year, $10-million contract. The point guard’s decision to decline his player option prompted the Lakers to make the trade that netted them Nash from the Phoenix Suns.
A month later, they acquired Howard from the Orlando Magic as part of a four-team trade.
Should Lakers fans thank Sessions or blame him for altering the direction of the franchise?
It’s too soon to tell, though the early returns at point guard haven’t been good for the Lakers. Maybe that’s why Sessions generated a few boos when he checked into the game Tuesday late in the first quarter.
Nash has missed all but the season’s first two games with a small fracture in his fibula and his primary backup, Steve Blake, has been sidelined since last month with a torn abdominal muscle.
The shorthanded Lakers have slipped toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Count Sessions among those surprised by their struggles.
“I definitely thought they were going to jump out a little bit more than what they did,” Sessions said. “But it’s a long season, it’s a lot of new pieces, it’s a new coach now, so they have a lot of learning to do. But there’s a lot of veterans on that team and I know Kobe [Bryant] will get those guys right.”
Sessions, 26, has been a productive reserve with the Bobcats, averaging 14.4 points and 4.2 assists in 26.7 minutes per game before Tuesday.
Signing with Charlotte came with more upside than security. Sessions moved closer to family in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the father with whom he recently reconnected.
He looked as if he might make L.A. his permanent home late last season after being acquired in a trade with Cleveland, showing flashes of brilliance as a playmaker.
Then the playoffs started.
Sessions had a few impressive moments early in the Lakers’ first-round series against Denver before struggling with his shooting accuracy. He was sometimes replaced by Blake in the fourth quarter.
He occasionally wonders how things might have turned out had he decided to stay with the team.
“Definitely, I’ve kind of pictured myself [with the Lakers], what if I went back?” Sessions said. “But it’s a what-if. Hopefully my boys can get it together.”
See you Saturday?
Nash’s status for the Lakers’ game at Golden State on Saturday will be determined by how he responds to contact practices scheduled for this week, Coach Mike D’Antoni said. If he cannot play against the Warriors, Nash probably would return against the New York Knicks on Christmas Day at Staples Center.
Times staff writer Melissa Rohlin contributed to this report.
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