Tomorrow’s story tonight …
Ramon Sessions has decided against exercising his option for next season with the Lakers and will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, which wasn’t a surprise since he can secure a bigger and better deal than the $4.55 million he’d get for 2012-13.
A longer and more lucrative deal could come from the Lakers. But any degree of certainty that Sessions will be their starting point guard next season ended with an email announcement from his agent, Jared Karnes, early Tuesday morning.
Karnes wrote in the email: “Ramon has carefully considered this decision. He had to make a career decision and ultimately decided to do what was best in providing stability and longevity for him in the NBA, and this could only be achieved through a multi-year contract.”
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, in a conference call later in the day, said, “I don’t know if disappointed is the right word. I would have preferred he would have extended (his contract) one year because he’s a young player who’s going to get better.”
Kupchak also said, “I’m not quite sure if he’s completely aware of what the future holds for him beginning on July 1st. Beginning today, we have to plan for the contingency that he won’t be available as a free agent on a later date in July.
“And we have to make sure we have backup plans in place.”
The Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers and dealt veteran Derek Fisher, 37, to the Houston Rockets in a pair of deadline-day trades March 15, creating a starting position for a 26-year-old who had never played in the playoffs.
Stricter luxury taxes that go into effect for the 2014-15 season make it less likely the Lakers will pay top dollar for Sessions in a multi-season contract. The Lakers saved money by trading Fisher to the Rockets and Luke Walton to the Cavaliers, however.
Sessions averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists in 23 games after the trade from Cleveland. However, his averages dipped to 9.7 points and 3.6 assists during the playoffs, when he seemed overwhelmed at times in his first postseason games.
Was there enough time to gauge Sessions’ value beyond next season?
“I think he would admit he wasn’t familiar with the playoff intensity,” Kupchak said. “I think he would indicate if he would attend training camp and play a full 82-game schedule, he would play better (in the playoffs next spring).”
Kupchak called Sessions, “an incredible athlete.” Kupchak also praised Sessions’ intelligence and his positive influence in the locker room, but he also acknowledged his shortcomings during the team’s second-round playoff ouster.
“I thought as we approached the playoffs, and particularly in the second round, he wasn’t as comfortable,” Kupchak said. “The playoffs are a completely different experience. … I think he would admit he didn’t play his best.
“And I’m not trying to single him out.”
In other news, Lakers coach Mike Brown acknowledged the departure of coaching consultant Ettore Messina by calling him “truly one of the great basketball minds in the history of the sport.” Messina will coach CSKA Moscow.