Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions will become a free agent after declining his $4.55 million player option for next season. That $4.55 million salary is slightly lower than the mid-level exception for most capped-out teams, and Sessions’ representatives no doubt also see a few teams with cap room and a potential vacancy at point guard (Portland, Phoenix, Dallas and Brooklyn all come to mind, depending on Deron Williams’ and Steve Nash’s situations and other variables).
Sessions’ market value will be interesting to watch. He became a decent three-point shooter out of nowhere during the regular season — the five-year veteran made 43 of his 56 career threes in 2011-12 and hit 44.3 percent from long range — and jump-started the Lakers’ offense after being acquired from Cleveland in March. But he shot just 4-of-25 from three-point range in the playoffs, played his usual shaky defense and looked out of sorts in trying to find his niche as an off-ball player whom defenses happily ignored.
Was that regular-season three-point shooting real? Or was it a mirage? If it was real, Sessions is a worthy starter deserving of a salary at the mid-level and even a little more. If it wasn’t, Sessions is a 26-year-old journeyman who has never started more than half his team’s games in a full season and can’t defend at an average level for his position.
Sessions’ decision does not preclude him from re-signing with the Lakers via Larry Bird Rights, and his departure would leave Steve Blake as the only point guard under contract. (Seldom-used rookie Darius Morris, who played some point guard, is a restricted free agent.) Los Angeles would surely like someone even better than Sessions, but the free agents who meet that qualification — Andre Miller and Nash, for starters — will be out of its price range unless those players are willing to take a steep discount to watch Kobe Bryant shoot.
Sarcasm aside, that is the major issue for the Lakers in making this decision: If they are going to spend on a pick-and-roll point guard, they have to let that point guard run pick-and-roll — and that involves the point guard actually having the ball. Bryant is a creative off-ball worker, and in theory he should embrace tilting his game even more in that direction as he ages. Will he do that? That is only one key question for a team whose roster just seems a bit off, despite the star talent on board.