Cavaliers swap West, Telfair for T-Wolves Sessions, Hollins
MINNEAPOLIS — Goodbye, LeBron.
The Cleveland Cavaliers completed their first post-LeBron James personnel move on Monday night, trading troubled guard Delonte West and point guard Sebastian Telfair to the Minnesota Timberwolves for point guard Ramon Sessions, 7-footer Ryan Hollins and a future second-round pick.
After James dumped the Cavs on national television and fled to Miami to join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat, owner Dan Gilbert sent off a scathing letter to Cleveland fans vowing to win a title before LeBron does.
The Cavaliers tried to start the roster makeover by signing restricted free agent point guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet, but the Houston Rockets matched it. So they settled on Sessions, a quick, pick-and-roll specialist who spent last season backing up rookie Jonny Flynn on the woeful Wolves, as their new point guard.
Sessions averaged 8.2 points on 45.6 percent shooting with 3.1 assists in a career-low 21.1 minutes per game last season. He signed a four-year, $16 million deal to join the Wolves before last season. The native of South Carolina is close friends with Cavs guard Mo Williams from their days together with the Milwaukee Bucks and should get much more playing time in Cleveland this year.
The 25-year-old Hollins is a super-athletic, but very raw, forward/center who averaged 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds last year.
“In Ramon, we’re excited to add a young, multi-dimensional guard, and with Ryan, we’re adding a young, athletic center,” new Cavaliers GM Chris Grant said in a statement issued by the team. “We think both Ramon and Ryan are really good fits for this team. We’re also happy to add another asset for the future with the additional draft pick.”
They also have to be relieved to rid themselves of West, who was the team’s second-best performer next to James in the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 before his play suffered thanks to several off-the-court issues last year.
West pleaded guilty in Maryland earlier this month to weapons charges. He was sentenced to eight months of home detention with electronic monitoring, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of community service and psychological counseling.
Prosecutors said that the sentence would allow West to attend practices and travel to NBA games as his team’s schedule requires, but NBA officials are reviewing the case for possible further discipline.
The Cavaliers did all they could to work with West, who averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 assists in 25 minutes per game. He also dealt with a host of personal problems that coupled with his September gun arrest to serve as major distractions to the team, which lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The young and rebuilding Timberwolves aren’t interested in taking on a player with West’s baggage. His $4.6 million contract will only cost Minnesota $500,000 if West is waived by Aug. 5, and that’s what the Wolves plan to do.
Telfair, who played for Minnesota for two seasons after coming over from Boston in the Kevin Garnett trade in 2007, also likely will be traded or bought out.
The principle reason for the Wolves to make this deal was to alleviate log jams at both point guard and in the front court. The Wolves have Flynn returning and signed veteran Luke Ridnour to a four-year, $16 million deal last week. They have also brought in forward Michael Beasley and re-signed center Darko Milicic and have agreed to a three-year deal with center Nikola Pekovic that is expected to be announced any day now.
So there simply was no room for Sessions and Hollins.
“With the arrivals of Luke Ridnour, Michael Beasley, Nikola Pekovic and the signing of Darko Milicic, it was clear that Ramon and Ryan would have lesser roles this season if they were to remain,” Kahn said in a statement. “This move provides them a better opportunity in Cleveland and adds to our flexibility both this season and beyond in relation to the salary cap.”