The Latest on Sessions and the Clippers

Of course, nothing has really ever changed on this subject.  It seems like it's been in constant motion, but nothing has actually changed since free agency started. 

Ramon Sessions has been a restricted free agent since July 1.  The Clippers have likely had an interest in him since before then.  He was first linked to LA in published reports about the time that the Allen Iverson rumors surfaced, around July 14.  Since then it's been one story after another:

  • the Knicks, Clippers and Thunder are interested;
  • the Bucks will likely match;
  • the Clips traded for Telfair, so they're out of the Sessions talks;
  • no wait, Telfair doesn't change anything for the Clippers;
  • but he does change things for Sessions, who doesn't want to fight two guys for playing time;
  • the Bucks signed Hakim Warrick, so now they won't match;
  • no wait, they will match, up to $3M;
  • or maybe more, and that's just they want New York to believe;
  • the Knicks aren't going to make an offer, so the Clippers are in the lead;
  • the Knicks are going to make an offer;
  • the Knicks are negotiating with Jason Williams, so that changes everything;
  • no wait, the Knicks aren't going to sign Williams.

At the end of last week, an offer sheet from the Knicks was supposedly imminent.  On Monday, the final details were reportedly being worked out.  And here we are, August 7, and the reality is nothing has changed at all.  Ramon Sessions is still an restricted free agent, and that's all we know for sure.

Fortunately, to save us from more grammar discussions, Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times is reporting something - not much really, but at least it's something - new in the saga  (Sharp-eyed and extremely bored Citizens PaperClip and Chris.S.Oakesboth have FanShots on this already).

The Los Angeles Clippers have intensified their interest in Sessions and appear on the brink of making a strong pitch for him. 

The scuttlebutt around the NBA is the clippers and Bucks are discussing a sign-and-trade scenario with Sessions, a restricted free agent, being the central figure. 

The Clippers would ideally like to include point guard Sebastian Telfair in the deal, and have also tossed out some other possibilities, including a draft pick. 

If the Clippers can't come to an agreement with the Bucks on a sign-and-trade arrangement, there are growing indications they'll extend an offer sheet to Sessions.

Wow.  That is news.  I mean, it's been widely assumed that the Knicks were in the driver's seat, since they have a starting job to offer Sessions while the Clippers' backcourt is locked in.  So this is really interesting, this whole 'strong pitch' thing.

Only except for it's not interesting.  What exactly is this strong pitch going to be? 

As we've discussed before, unless I'm missing something, the sign-and-trade scenario is a red herring.  Sessions' status as a Gilbert Arenas, early Bird RFA sets his salary ceiling at the mid-level exception.  And the Clippers have their entire MLE to work with.  So this S&T talk would benefit exactly one entity in all of this - the Bucks.  Why would the Clippers give up a draft pick as part of this deal when they could just give Sessions Telfair the offer sheet?  Sure, Sessions doesn't have to sign their offer sheet if he doesn't want to play for the Clippers.  Then again, he doesn't have to play along with the S&T either.  Invariably when a FA signing is restuctured as an S&T, the player gets a little more money as an incentive to play along.  But Sessions gets the same money either way on this one. 

Of course, the Clippers might actually be willing to give a little in the S&T just to get rid of the uncertainty of the offer sheet process; if he signs an offer sheet, they have to sit around for a week to see if the Bucks are going to match.  Not that anything has happened in the last week or is likely to happen in the next week, but still.  A S&T would have the advantage to the Clippers of finality and certainty.  But I don't see them giving up a lot for that.  (They wouldn't mind too much giving up Telfair, since he would become redundant with Sessions, but I don't see them giving up a decent pick.)

But all-in-all it still seems like the ball is in the Knicks court.  All of the playing time and stylistic advantages for Sessions in New York are still there:  if the Knicks make a competitive offer, he'll take it.  Which makes you wonder - where might this latest rumor have originated?  Hmmmm.  The latest news from New York had the Knicks being uncharacteristically patient.  Here's what Alan Hahn said in Newsday this morning:

Sessions' agent, Jim Wells, has only one client. He also doesn't have many other viable options. The Clippers are in the periphery, but if they were hot for Sessions why haven't they made an offer yet? And with Baron Davis, Sebastian Telfair and Eric Gordon in the backcourt, there is far less minutes for Sessions -- a combo guard -- in LA.

The Knicks are making Wells and Sessions sweat, acting as if they're the only game in town.  And suddenly, as if by magic, another motivated buyer appears on the scene.  How convenient!  You don't suppose Sessions' camp may have planted this story, do you?

If I really put on my salary cap thinking cap (my cap cap), I suppose that Sessions could get larger raises in the S&T scenario than signing an offer sheet.  His starting salary is limited to the MLE, but the Bucks could give him 10.5% raises, while the Knicks and Clippers can only give him 8% raises.  So maybe he can make a little more in the S&T than otherwise.  But it's not as if the Knicks appear ready to offer him the full MLE - so if the Clippers are willing to go there, they're already the more lucrative offer.  

It really feels like we're exactly where we've been the whole time.  It's the Knicks' move.

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