LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ramon Sessions realizes many people are wondering whether he’s the right choice to replace Derek Fisher on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster. He’s probably even aware Kobe Bryant might be among those people.
But if Sessions feels any pressure about following the five-time NBA champion point guard in purple and gold, he didn’t acknowledge it in his first few hours at Staples Center.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Sessions said Friday after his first visit to the Lakers’ locker room, where he saw his new No. 7 jersey.
“I’ve been a basketball fan all my life,” Sessions said. “I know a lot about the history of the Lakers, and it’s just an honor, a privilege. … There’s no secrets. You come in here and look up at the banners, and you know history has been done in here.”
Sessions and Jordan Hill formally joined the Lakers on Friday night after the club acquired them along with Christian Eyenga in trades with Cleveland and Houston a day earlier. Sessions and Hill both were cleared to play against Minnesota after the players traded by the Lakers passed their physicals.
Los Angeles traded away a quarter of the roster of the team with the NBA’s sixth-best record largely to improve its play at point guard, where Fisher has started every game for the past five seasons. The Lakers sent Fisher to Houston for Hill after dealing Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to Cleveland for Sessions, giving up two first-round draft picks and other considerations along the way.
Although Steve Blake is expected to take the starting job, Sessions was the impetus behind both deals. The Lakers have been aware of an urgent need to improve at point guard since their trade for Chris Paul was rejected by the NBA before the season began.
“Fisher was a great guy for this organization,” Sessions said. “I’m not here to replace Fisher. I’m just here to help the team however I can.”
Still, replacing Fisher with Sessions, a backup point guard joining his fourth NBA franchise in five years, hasn’t sat well with some Lakers fans, and Bryant still hasn’t weighed in on the deal. After the guards entered the NBA together in 1996, Bryant is closer to Fisher than most of his teammates, and he didn’t contact Sessions or Hill to wish them well in the 24 hours after the trade.
Although Bryant agreed the Lakers had to make moves to compete for a title again, he hasn’t enjoyed the Lakers’ breakup of the team that reached three straight NBA finals from 2008-10. Bryant disagreed with Los Angeles’ decision to trade irked forward Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks before the season after the deal for Paul disintegrated.
The Lakers also got the 6-foot-10 Hill, who could fight for a backup spot in the Lakers’ rotation. Hill has been an NBA disappointment since the Knicks chose him with the eighth overall pick in 2009, but he’s also thrilled to join the Lakers.
“Watching them as a kid, you always wanted to be a part of that,” Hill said. “We’ve got a great group of guys here.”