Faced with the prospect of going into the season with a thin corps of inexperienced point guards, the New York Knicks came up with a modest solution Friday, signing 31-year-old Ramon Sessions to a one-year, $2.33 million contract.
The deal was confirmed by Sessions’ agent, Mark Bartelstein. Sessions, a Myrtle Beach native, will join Frank Ntilikina, a 19-year-old who was taken with the eighth overall pick in last month’s NBA draft, and Ron Baker, who had some impressive moments as an undrafted rookie last season, as the team’s point guards.
Whether Sessions begins the season as the starting point guard remains to be seen. He is a 10-year NBA veteran who spent last season with the Charlotte Hornets, playing in 50 games and averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 assists off the bench. He missed significant time because of surgery to repair a torn left lateral meniscus.
Ntilikina is from France, where he played professionally, but it seemed far-fetched to expect him to step right in and immediately become a starter at a position that requires experience and judgment.
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Baker signed a two-year contract with the Knicks earlier this month, but he seemed to project less as a starter than a useful player off the bench who could provide energy and a willingness to play tough defense.
That left the Knicks looking to add a veteran to the mix, although their salary-cap situation clearly limited their options. They also did not seem interested in re-signing Derrick Rose, last year’s starting point guard. Rose instead signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for $2.1 million earlier this week.
One intriguing point-guard possibility emerged over the past week after it became known that Kyrie Irving had asked the Cavaliers to trade him and that the Knicks, who are in effect his hometown team, were one of his preferred destinations.
Irving, 25, is one of the league’s top players and was naturally coveted by numerous teams. Any deal, if one occurs at all, may take a while because of the challenge involved in moving Irving’s large contract and because the Cavaliers will want a significant return for letting him go.
The Knicks, of course, can offer Carmelo Anthony as part of a package for Irving, but it seems unlikely that Anthony, who has a no-trade clause, would want to go to Cleveland if Irving is leaving and LeBron James might do the same a year from now.
And while the Knicks could instead offer Kristaps Porzingis to Cleveland as a way to create a trade for Irving, it is unclear whether they would be willing to take that step.
So for now at least, Irving to the Knicks seems like a long shot. But the Knicks have at least added Sessions. His signing is the team’s first player move since the Knicks named Scott Perry as the new general manager and elevated Steve Mills to team president.