Ramon Sessions

Rockets Eye Sign-And-Trade For Sessions?

THURSDAY, 4:39pm: Sessions is unlikely to end up with the Rockets, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. There’s only limited interest in a deal, Feigen says, though it’s not entirely clear whether he’s referring to the interest of the Rockets, the Bucks, Sessions, or some combination of the three.

MONDAY, 12:56pm: Free agent point guard Ramon Sessions and the Rockets have mutual interest, and Houston has spoken with the Bucks about the possibility of a sign-and-trade that would bring Sessions to the Rockets, reports Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). Still, no deal is imminent, Kennedy cautions. Houston has only the $2.077MM biannual exception to give Sessions any more than the minimum salary after spending its mid-level exception on Kostas Papanikolaou and Nick Johnson, but a sign-and-trade would allow the Rockets to give Sessions a better deal.

The Bucks renounced their rights to Sessions last week, but they’re still allowed to send him out in a sign-and-trade. It’s not immediately clear what they’re seeking, but perhaps they’ll look to acquire draft assets, given their rebuilding efforts after last year’s league-low 15 wins. If so, the Rockets could accommodate them without having to send out any salary, using part of the nearly $8.4MM trade exception to take on Sessions at a salary greater than they could offer if they signed him outright.

The market for Sessions appeared to have gone cold not long after Kennedy reported in July that three teams reached out to the 28-year-old within the first hour of free agency. The Bulls were among those showing interest, while there were conflicting reports about whether the Hornets were also in that group. The idea of returning to Charlotte, where he spent most of the last two seasons before the deadline trade that sent him to Milwaukee, intrigued Sessions this spring. Still, with Kemba Walker, Brian Roberts and Jannero Pargo in tow, it doesn’t appear as though there’s room for Sessions on the Hornets.

The Bucks picked up Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall this summer to go with Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters, putting a similar squeeze on the point guard position in Milwaukee. The Bucks have 15 players with guaranteed deals plus Marshall, who figures to play a key role, so it’s possible that they envision sending at least one rostered player Houston’s way in a sign-and-trade.

Sessions, a client of Jared Karnes, balances shaky shooting with a knack for earning trips to the free-throw line, as Cray Allred of Hoops Rumors noted when he examined the seven-year veteran’s free agent stock. He’s coming off a two-year, $10MM deal he signed after having been one of the marquee acquisitions at the 2012 trade deadline, when he went to the Lakers, so it’s not altogether surprising that he’s generating strong interest, even at this stage of free agency.

Bucks Sign Damien Inglis

AUGUST 26TH, 6:03pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

AUGUST 20TH, 8:05pm: The Bucks have signed 31st overall pick Damien Inglis, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The team has yet to make an official announcement, but the move took place Tuesday, as the RealGM transactions log shows. It’s a multiyear deal, according to RealGM. Inglis probably received a three-year deal worth a shade under $1MM this season and the minimum salary in the final two seasons if he’s like many of his peers from the top of the 2014 second round, including 36th overall pick and new Bucks teammate Johnny O’Bryant.

Inglis is a native of French Guiana who spent last season playing for Chorale Roanne in France. He had a decent chance to end up as a first-round pick, since he ranked 26th in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress prospect listings and 30th with Chad Ford of ESPN.com. The 6’8″ small forward is nonetheless a raw prospect, having averaged just 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game in France this year.

The signing creates a logjam of sorts in Milwaukee, particularly if Inglis’ contract is guaranteed, as is likely the case. The team already had 14 guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show, not including Kendall Marshall, who figures to be a part of the rotation on his minimum-salary pact after averaging 8.8 assists per game for the Lakers last season. The Bucks also renounced their rights to free agent Ramon Sessions, as Pincus and RealGM report, and while that doesn’t clear an additional roster spot, it’s a signal that the club is done with free agent signings this summer, save for perhaps a few training camp invitations.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Ramon Sessions

One of the most productive free agents who still hasn’t found a team this summer is Ramon Sessions. In fact, of the 30 point guards who scored at least 10 points per game while averaging over 4 assists, Sessions is the only player without a contract. Sessions wasn’t far off his career PER average of 16.7 last season, a number that ranks with many of the league’s better rotation players. Perhaps Sessions’ situation will look less bleak in the coming days, but at the moment there are not a lot of landing spots where Sessions could sign for at or above the $5MM annual salary he just earned on his (expired) two-year deal. As our own Chuck Myron detailed in today’s Ray Allen Stock Watch piece, the teams with much more than the veteran’s minimum to offer are dwindling.

Sessions’ skill set is an odd mix for today’s NBA. In four of his first five seasons in the league, Sessions averaged over 7 assists per-36 minutes, but that rate slipped well below 6 per-36 over his last two seasons. The point guard position is evolving from a pass-first mold, however, with unconventional scoring guards becoming more accepted. Sessions’ most glaring weakness is his poor three-point shooting, which stands at 31.1% over his career, and 28.2% last season. As the league moves away from mid-range shots to emphasize the three-pointer, teams are increasingly unenthusiastic about perimeter players with no long distance range. In fact, Charlotte traded away Sessions last season in order to bring in shooting specialist Gary Neal as the Hornets geared up for the 2014 playoffs.

One of Sessions’ greatest strengths does fit the advanced team-building strategies in today’s NBA, however. Sessions has an elite free throw rate. At 6.6 free throw attempts per-36 minutes, Sessions ranked 12th in the league last year, behind only Ty Lawson at the point guard position. Teams increasingly value trips to the charity stripe as one of the most efficient elements of a strong offense; if Sessions could convince teams he could put up even mildly below average shooting averages to go with his ability to draw fouls, I can’t imagine he’d still be unsigned today.

Charlotte trading the veteran to the Bucks blindsided Sessions, but he was still open to reuniting with the Hornets as his free agency approached this summer. The Hornets sent mixed signals as to their own interest in a reunion, but eventually signed veteran backup Brian Roberts along with Lance Stephenson, a combo guard capable of running the point to complement starter Kemba Walker. In any case, Charllote was just one of many teams that had the point guard on their radar as free agency began. One of those teams was the Bulls, but they have since re-signed Kirk Hinrich alongside newcomers Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott. Considering Derrick Rose‘s return, it would be surprising if they even wanted Sessions at the minimum now, considering the cap ramifications.

Some of the teams with cap flexibility might not be interested in upgrading their point guard slot. The Bucks haven’t been reported as interested in bringing Sessions back, and have already added the cheaper Kendall Marshall to a backcourt that includes Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters. The Jazz have two young point guards in Trey Burke and Dante Exum, but appear comfortable letting the raw Exum grow alongside Burke, rather than developing behind a veteran like Sessions. The Sixers have the most money available, and the thinnest roster, but have done nothing to bring in solid talent this offseason via free agency.

The Pacers haven’t been named as a Sessions suitor, but stand as a potential match. The team is seeking offense after losing Stephenson to free agency and Paul George to injury, and that is definitely Sessions’ strength. They are also applying for the disabled players exception, which would allow them over $5MM in signing ability if granted. The Rockets are another team without a reported connection to Sessions, but could theoretically be a good match for his talents. After trading away Jeremy Lin, Houston was left with Patrick Beverley as their only proven commodity at point guard. Beverley is a much better defender than Sessions with more success behind the arc, but Sessions has a longer track record than the likes of Ish Smith or Isaiah Canaan, Houston’s current bench pieces behind Beverley. Houston also has the flexibility to sign Sessions for significantly more than the minimum.

The Allegiant Athletic Agency client will hope that his strengths will eventually outshine his weaknesses in the eyes of a front office with money to spend. Just two years ago, the point guard was confident enough in his market value to decline a player option of over $4.5MM, and wound up getting a raise. It remains to be seen if the market will provide such a soft cushion this time around.

Eastern Rumors: Wade, Bosh, ‘Melo, Gasol

Happy Fourth of July to our American readers! It remains to be seen if there will be any free agency fireworks today, but with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh hesitant to take discounts, prompting a disconnect between them and LeBron James, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the fuse has been lit. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference as the market waits to see what James and Carmelo Anthony will do:

  • The Bulls remain confident that they’re still in the running to end up as Anthony’s choice, but they sense they’ve lost momentum with the Knicks prepared to offer the max, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Pau Gasol learned when he met with the Bulls on Thursday that he would be a starter if he signed with the team, as Cowley, writing in the same piece, also hears.
  • The Raptors have had preliminary talks with Patrick Patterson as they concentrate on securing depth behind Amir Johnson, reports Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. They’re willing to wait before shopping for a physical, defensive-minded wing this summer, Smith adds. Concerns about Johnson’s ability to stay healthy also likely played a role in the team’s decision to fully guarantee Tyler Hansbrough‘s contract, Smith believes.
  • The Hornets have expressed interest in signing Ramon Sessions, a source tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). A report late Thursday indicated the opposite, so perhaps Charlotte reached out within the last several hours.

And-Ones: Gasol, Knicks, Lakers, Marion

There won’t be a decision from Pau Gasol anytime soon as to where he will be signing, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com. This is despite the pleas and pitches he has received from Carmelo Anthony and numerous teams, notes Aldridge.

More from around the league:

Central Rumors: Melo, Bulls, Irving, Sessions

Carmelo Anthony says that he values winning over money and if he’s a man of his word, then the Bulls make perfect sense for him, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Here’s more on Melo and Chicago, plus other notes out of the Central Division..

  • Melo met with the Bulls earlier today and a source tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter) that he followed that up with a dinner alongside Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and others.  Rose had to leave the dinner early, but coach Tom Thibodeau also stopped by (link).  The dinner pitch is going “great,” according to the source who is in attendance (link).  Prior to dinner, Rose took to the floor at Chicago’s practice facility and went through a private workout to show Anthony that he’s healthy, Kennedy writes.
  • The Cavs sealed the deal with Kyrie Irving on a five-year, $90MM extension with an overnight meeting, but there was much more that went into wooing the guard.  Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer runs it all down.
  • A bunch of teams are showing interest in Ramon Sessions, including the Bulls, tweets Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times.
  • A league source tells Candace Buckner of The Star (on Twitter) that the Pacers plan to dine with C.J. Miles tonight.

Free Agent Rumors: Melo, Love, Henry, Sessions,

The Knicks are still viewed in league circles as the favorites in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The team is confident that it will get the final sales pitch with Anthony, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). The latest free agent rumors from around the league..

  • The Rockets, Suns, Bulls, and Warriors are all expected to make plays for Kevin Love if they miss out on LeBron James and/or Anthony, tweets Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.
  • The Pacers are targeting Xavier Henry in free agency to replace Evan Turner, tweets Shaun Powell of Sports On Earth.
  • Bucks free agent guard Ramon Sessions‘ camp received calls from three teams in the first hour of free agency, a source tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
  • The Grizzlies, Nets, Spurs, and Thunder have expressed in free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair, a source tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter). Telfair played in China last season. For the Nets, Telfair could be a potential replacement for Shaun Livingston if he goes elsewhere.
  • The Nets reached out as soon as the negotiating window opened to their own free agents Paul Pierce, Livingston, and Alan Anderson, a source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • The Blazers have strong interest in signing a stretch four, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Spencer Hawes, Boris Diaw, and Josh McRoberts are among their targets.
  • Blazers GM Neil Olshey met with Hawes and his agent, Greg Lawrence, tonight in Los Angeles, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
  • Channing Frye would be open to returning to the Blazers, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. “Of course coming back would be an option,” Frye wrote in an e-mail. “I love the city, the fans, and the players they have are top notch.”
  • Nick Young was contacted by the Lakers and a number of other teams, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (via Twitter).

Ramon Sessions Interested In Bobcats Reunion

Bucks guard Ramon Sessions says that he would love to be a member of the Bobcats again if they’d be interested in signing him this summer, tweets Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.  Charlotte traded Sessions to Milwaukee at the trade deadline along with Jeff Adrien in a deal that brought them Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour.

Sessions, 28 next month, recently told Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders that he felt “blindsided” by the February deal.  Meanwhile, he told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo back in 2012 that the reason he opted out of his contract with the Lakers and signed with Charlotte in the first place was so that he’d have some career stability.  However, it sounds like there are no hard feelings between the veteran guard and the Bobcats.

Sessions is making $5MM in the final year of his contract and while Milwaukee isn’t playing for much at this stage of the season, the veteran has been playing well over the past few weeks.  In 12 games for the Bucks, Sessions has been averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.8 RPG in 25 minutes per contest.  Between the two clubs, Sessions has averages of 10.9 PPG, 3.7 APG, and 2.3 RPG in 24 minutes per game (15.6 PER).

Central Notes: Bynum, Sessions, Pistons

Andrew Bynum considered playing for both the Heat and the Lakers before signing with the Pacers, tweets Tom Moore of Calkins Media. The Lakers were viewed as a potential trading partner for the Cavs when Cleveland was looking to move him, but were not linked as a suitor once he hit free agency after being traded to and waived by the Bulls. Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Ramon Sessions tells Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders that he was completely blindsided by the trade that sent him from the Bobcats to the Bucks.  “To be honest the trade was kind of last minute,” Sessions said. “I didn’t really hear too much coming up to the trade deadline but as we got closer I started getting calls from my agent and hearing certain things were happening behind the scenes. But it’s one of those things in the league that when it happens, you got to pack up and be ready to move on to another team.”
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times thinks Bulls center Joakim Noah can be penciled into the All-NBA first team, and the $500,000 bonus that would come with that selection.
  • Pistons coach John Loyer tells Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News that the three-big lineup in Detroit can eventually work if the team is able to get consistent shooting from the perimeter. “You need spacing, two guys who can score the ball from the perimeter when you have those three on the floor,” said Loyer. “As long as those three are here and here together and playing productively, you’ll see them. It’s what we have. We want to put them in places where we think they can score the best. It’s your job as coach to figure out who you’re coaching and what they’re best at and put them in those spots.”

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Bobcats Acquire Gary Neal

The Bobcats announced that they have acquired Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from the Bucks in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.  Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter) first reported the agreement.NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

We are excited to add a pair of quality players to our backcourt,” Bobcats president Rod Higgins said. “Gary is an exceptional shooter and Luke is a veteran point guard who can help us off the bench. They both have significant postseason experience so they know how to get where we’re trying to go. We look forward to adding them to our rotation. We also want to thank Ramon and Jeff for their contributions and professionalism and wish them the best of luck.”

Charlotte was attempting to talk Milwaukee into the idea that taking Sessions would make it easier for the Bucks to trade Ridnour, and apparently they agreed, simply deciding to fold Ridnour into this deal.

An earlier report suggested Caron Butler and Ben Gordon could be involved in the deal, but that wasn’t the case. The Suns, Kings, Wolves and Thunder were among the teams in the mix for Neal this week, but Charlotte emerged as the most serious suitor today.

Ridnour, a free agent at season’s end, makes $4.42MM, while Neal earns $3.25MM this season and gets the same pay next year. Sessions is on a $5MM expiring deal while Adrien makes the minimum.

Zach Links contributed to this post.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.