Ramon Sessions

Central Notes: I. Smith, Pistons, Bulls, Zeisloft

Ish Smith was one of the top three point guard targets identified by the Pistons when free agency got underway this summer, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who writes that the club was also eyeing D.J. Augustin and Ramon Sessions. Detroit may have had some interest in Brandon Jennings as well, but there are signals that interest wasn’t reciprocated, per Ellis. In any case, it was Smith who ended up becoming a Piston, and now the team will be leaning on him heavily to start the season. With Reggie Jackson sidelined for six to eight weeks, Smith will move into the starting lineup at the point, and as Ellis details, he’s confident he’ll be able to step up for the club.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • James Hawkins of The Detroit News passes along a few Pistons notes, including the latest on Ray McCallum and Lorenzo Brown battling for the backup point guard role
  • The Bulls had already been without guard Denzel Valentine due to an injury, and have now learned that Tony Snell will be out at least a week, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com tweeted earlier, Snell sprained his ankle in Monday’s practice and was expected to be out for “a little while.” The injuries don’t appear serious enough to affect Chicago’s regular-season roster decisions, though that’s just my speculation.
  • After his final year at Indiana, Nick Zeisloft participated in just one pre-draft workout and didn’t get a Summer League invite. However, Zeisloft still managed to land a training camp deal with the PacersJim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star examines how that agreement came about, and what’s next for the sharpshooter, who figures to head to Fort Wayne to join the Pacers’ D-League affiliate.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Bosh, Hornets, Ibaka

The Wizards aren’t going to push John Wall to be ready for opening night, writes Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic.com. The 26-year-old point guard had surgical procedures on both knees during the offseason, and the team is being careful with his recovery. “We’re in no rush,” said new Washington head coach Scott Brooks“We want to make sure that he’s ready. It’s a process. We still have all of training camp. We’ll see. We’re going to keep working, keep pushing him. The one thing about John. He puts the work in.” Wall has started playing one-on-one, but he still has to make progress before he can handle training camp drills or five-on-five games.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Chris Bosh may be planning to join the Heat in training camp, but veteran teammate Udonis Haslem cautions everyone to be realistic in their expectations, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Bosh has had his last two seasons cut short by blood clots and he hasn’t played competitively since the All-Star break. “Chris’ timetable is just a little bit different than everybody else’s,” Haslem said. “So we have to be mindful. We have to be conscious of the things that are important. And the thing that is most important is that when Chris needs to be ready, that he’s ready.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford believes the team’s offseason moves have improved the defense more than the offense, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Charlottte lost three key free agents in Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee, but brought in Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions and Marco Belinelli. Also, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is expected back after missing nearly all of last season with injuries.
  • Serge Ibaka may help bring a winning culture to the Magic, writes Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders in a preseason look at Orlando. Ibaka, who was acquired from the Thunder in a June deal involving Victor Oladipo, was part of a very successful team in Oklahoma City and will give the Magic the rim protector they have needed since they lost Dwight Howard. However, many of the Basketball Insiders writers were confused by Orlando’s offseason moves and are concerned that they don’t have enough scorers to be a contender.

Eastern Notes: Gay, Ellington, Walker, Karasev

The Heat are among the preferred destinations for Kings small forward Rudy Gay, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Gay, who can opt out of his current deal next summer, denies asking Sacramento to trade him, but he made comments last month that show a clear unhappiness with the direction the team is taking. While it’s understandable why he might prefer Miami, the Heat are low on tradable assets after a flurry of moves this summer. The free agents the team added this summer are not eligible to be traded until December 15th.

There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat’s signing of Dion Waiters may push Wayne Ellington to the back of the rotation, Jackson writes in the same story. Ellington had a shot to start at shooting guard before the move, but now may be fighting for playing time in a crowded backcourt with Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson. Ellington could see minutes at small forward if Chris Bosh remains sidelined with health problems and Justise Winslow is needed at power forward.
  • Kemba Walker is optimistic about the new-look Hornets, but he hated to see Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin leave in free agency, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “But that’s the business: You’re always going to play with some new guys every year,” Walker said. “You think about Big Al, who I wish we could have kept. He helped change this franchise around big time from the day he got here.” Charlotte tried to replace them by adding Ramon Sessions, Marco Belinelli and Roy Hibbert.
  • Sergey Karasev will play in Russia next season, but he hasn’t ruled out the NBA, according to Eurohoops. Karasev, who spent the past two seasons with the Nets, says first he hopes to prove that he can lead a team. “Ι want to be one of the key persons in a team, not just go in for 10 minutes,” he said. “I hope that Zenit [in St. Petersburg] will be successful in VTB League and then it will be possible for me to go back to the NBA.”

Southeast Notes: Prince, Scott, Burke, Sessions

Taurean Prince got his draft wish to join the Hawks, but Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that the rookie out of Baylor had to wait two weeks for it to happen. Prince remained in limbo as a member of the Jazz until a three-team trade with the Pacers was formally completed this week. That deal sent the number 12 pick to Atlanta, which was happy to add the 6’8″ combo forward. “Taurean has many of the qualities that we value in our program,” said Hawks GM Wes Wilcox. “We are excited to add his competitiveness, toughness, versatility and desire to improve.” Prince, who worked out twice for the Hawks before the draft, was a first-team All-Big 12 selection this season after averaging 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds at Baylor.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Mike Scott’s $3.3MM salary for next season will become guaranteed today, Vivlamore tweets. Scott played in 75 games for the Hawks this season, all as a reserve, averaging 6.2 points per night and shooting 39% from 3-point range.
  • Former lottery pick Trey Burke is excited about the chance to revive his career with the Wizards, writes Gene Wang of The Washington Post. Washington acquired the third-year point guard last week in a trade with the Jazz, sending a 2021 second-round pick to Utah in return. Burke had fallen to the bottom of the depth chart in Utah and figured to have his playing time severely cut with the Jazz trading for George Hill and getting Dante Exum back from a year-long injury. Instead, he gets to join the Wizards and back up one of his favorite points guards. “I think it’s just a good fit for me, obviously playing behind John Wall,” Burke said. “He’s an established guard right now. Learning from him, I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the city. It’s just great to know that I’m welcome to another organization.” Burke has one year left on his contract at nearly $3.4MM.
  • The two-year contract that Ramon Sessions signed with the Hornets will pay him $6MM in the first season with a $6.3MM team option for the second, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Wizards Acquire Trey Burke

JULY 7TH: The trade is now official, the Jazz announced.

JULY 3RD: The Jazz are close to completing a trade that will send point guard Trey Burke to the Wizards, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Utah will reportedly receive a second-round pick in return (Twitter link). The pick is for 2021, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

Burke has been on the trading block since the Jazz made a deal to acquire George Hill from the Pacers. Burke has spent his entire three-year career with Utah after being acquired from the Timberwolves in a 2013 draft-day deal. He averaged 10.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game this season in a reserve role, but there were rumblings that Jazz management had soured on Burke after he failed to win the starting job when Dante Exum was lost for the season with an injury.

Burke’s acquisition may mean the Wizards are not planning to re-sign point guards Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple. Both are 30-year-old free agents.

Hornets Sign Ramon Sessions

THURSDAY, 11:23am: The Hornets have officially signed Sessions, the team announced today in a press release.

MONDAY, 1:36pm: The Hornets have landed a backup point guard, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has agreed to sign Ramon Sessions. The two-year pact will be worth $12.5MM, a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) pegs the exact value at $12.3MM.Ramon Sessions vertical

Sessions, 30, has bounced around the NBA since entering the league in 2007, playing for six teams over the course of his career. Most recently, the former second-round pick appeared in all 82 games for the Wizards last season, backing up John Wall at point guard. It was a solid year for Sessions, who contributed 9.9 PPG, 2.9 APG, and a.473 FG% during his first full season in Washington.

In Sessions, Charlotte lands a backup at the point for Kemba Walker, and one that will come much cheaper than Jeremy Lin, who agreed to a three-year deal worth $12MM annually with the Nets. Sessions will earn about half that with the Hornets, on a shorter term, and his agreement will still leave Charlotte with a little leftover cap space to go shopping for a big man.

Since free agency opened, the Hornets have also reached deals to bring back Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Batum, Nene, Whiteside, Wade

Nicolas Batum has been “perfect” for the Hornets, contends Kemba Walker, who hopes the team shells out the money necessary to keep the swingman as he heads into free agency this summer, notes Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. Still, it’s conceivable that Batum has played his final game for the team, as he suffered a sprained left ankle Wednesday in the second game of Charlotte’s first-round series versus the Heat. Teammate Al Jefferson doesn’t think he’ll be back at any point during the series, according to Justin Verrier of ESPN.com, and with the Hornets down 2-0, the outlook is bleak. Batum won’t rule out leaving for another team, but he’s said he wants to be back with Charlotte, as Fowler relays. “Our core is young, we signed our coach to an extension and we’re winning,” Batum said as the playoffs began. “We can have a great run here.”

See more from the Southeast Division:

  • Randy Wittman‘s refusal to criticize Nene was at the heart of the reason John Wall recently cited a lack of accountability on the Wizards, sources told J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Other Wizards players also saw it as part of the ex-coach’s declining favor within the locker room this past season, Michael writes. Wittman was also loath to criticize Ramon Sessions, who went so far as to ask the coach to be more critical of him, according to Michael. Washington fired Wittman last week, and Nene and Sessions are set to become free agents this summer.
  • Sessions has never been a full-time starter in any of his nine NBA seasons, but he said he’s gunning for a starting job as he approaches free agency, observes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.
  • Hassan Whiteside had plenty of praise for the Heat coaching staff and front office this week, a clear sign of his appreciation to Miami for helping revive his career, tweets Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. Whiteside is No. 10 in the latest Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings.

Southeast Notes: Grunfeld, Johnson, Howard

It’s been a down year for the Wizards, but team president Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, since he’s under contract for next season, league sources revealed to Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The terms of Grunfeld’s pact hadn’t been clear, and it remains unknown when Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis included this season in the arrangement. The pressure remains on coach Randy Wittman, who’s also under contract for next season but with only a partial guarantee on his salary, and Wittman’s relationship with the team’s players has reportedly deteriorated.

See more from Washington amid items from the Southeast Division:

  • Two soon-to-be free agents on the Wizards have dropped their agents to instead hire Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, as SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. Ramon Sessions left Allegiant Athletic Agency’s Jared Karnes to team up with Bartelstein while Garrett Temple parted with John Hamilton of Performance Sports Management.
  • Heat buyout market signee Joe Johnson isn’t giving the team quite as much return on its investment of late after a hot start, though coach Erik Spoelstra, among others, isn’t overly concerned, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald chronicles. Johnson will hit free agency again this summer after his short-term deal with Miami is over. “Joe’s a vet, an experienced guy,” said fellow soon-to-be free agent Luol Deng. “We’re not worried about the vet guys. He’ll be fine.”
  • Dwight Howard reportedly has interest in returning to the Magic, but the team would be unwise to give him the maximum salary of around $30MM that he and new agent Perry Rogers will no doubt request, opines Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Schmitz believes the Magic should stop at around $20MM and thinks the team would prefer to sign a free agent with less baggage.

Southeast Notes: Pierce, Lin, Green

The Wizards are intending to utilize smaller, faster lineups this season, something they would have done a season ago if they had the proper personnel, J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic.com writes. According to point guard John Wall, the presence of Paul Pierce, who is now a member of the Clippers, was a big reason why Washington needed to play at a slower pace during 2014/15, Michael notes. “No disrespect to Paul but we wanted to kind of be a half-court team. He couldn’t get up and down the floor,” Wall said. “He’s not the young Paul anymore. He helped us out a lot in so many other ways in making big shots and being a leader. Now this is an opportunity to let Otto Porter excel, running the floor, being able to create off the dribble, slashing to the basket.” This desire to play at a quicker pace also led to the team swapping Andre Miller for Ramon Sessions at last season’s trade deadline, the CSN scribe adds.

Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets owner Michael Jordan, in an interview with Hou Qiang of Xinhuanet.com, was cautiously optimistic about Charlotte’s chances this season, saying, “They [the team] should be OK. We changed a lot of personnel. Everybody is excited I’m very excited but I don’t want to get overexcited.” Jordan specifically mentioned the team’s signing of point guard Jeremy Lin as a boon to the franchise, adding, “We just got Jeremy Lin, who I think is going to be our biggest acquisition. His penetration, his shooting capability, his point guard savvy, he can really pass the basketball, and [we like] his energy about the game of basketball.
  • With the Heat‘s excellent depth heading into the 2015/16 campaign, Gerald Green will need to be more of a two-way player if he wants to log significant minutes for Miami, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “Offense comes easy for me,” Green said. “I know if I go down and lock my defense down, nine times out of 10 we’re going to win. I know my role is to have energy on both ends of the floor. I’m really focusing on defense, that’s what I’m really trying to focus on. Scoring is easy for me. I’m not really worried about scoring. It’s the defense that I’m trying to work my best at. I know that’s the only way we can become a better team, if I’m a better defender.” The addition of the 29-year-old via a one-year, minimum salary deal is easily one of the best bargains of the offseason, regardless of how much playing time he receives.

Southeast Notes: Sessions, Deng, Oden, Scott

Ramon Sessions is growing more comfortable with the Wizards, especially offensively, after a deadline-day trade that brought him to Washington ended a brief and unusual tenure with the Kings, as Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post details.

I’ve been around for a while and I’ve been around with a few different teams and it was probably one of the strangest things, to have three coaches by the All-Star break,” Sessions said. “A lot different things you’re hearing from different people and it didn’t really correlate with what was going on on the court. So it was tough. It definitely was tough. Me being an older guy, it was a little easier, but I know for some of the young guys it had to be real tough.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Suns reportedly had interest in Luol Deng at last year’s trade deadline and during this past offseason‘s free agency, but they didn’t ask about him as they negotiated the Goran Dragic deal with the Heat last month, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports.
  • The Heat have been planning a free agency push for 2016, but that’ll be difficult unless team president Pat Riley wants to break up the core he has now, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines.
  • Ohio State coach Thad Matta has suggested that Greg Oden will make another NBA comeback attempt, but the former No. 1 overall pick had limited passion for the game last season with the Heat, Winderman writes in the same piece.
  • The toe injury that’s sidelined Hawks power forward Mike Scott doesn’t involve a broken bone as previously reported, writes Paul Newberry of The Associated Press. Scott was reportedly expected to miss four to six weeks as of a week ago, but now it’s likely he’ll be back at full strength for the playoffs, according to Newberry. The postseason begins three weeks from Saturday. The team’s 10-day contract with Austin Daye, whom the Hawks signed to offset the loss of Scott, expires overnight tonight.
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