INDEPENDENCE: The evolution of Kyrie Irving took another step this week when the Cavaliers traded Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers. The way coach Byron Scott explained it, Irving’s performance is demanding more minutes. He’ll get them beginning with Sunday’s home game against Atlanta.
Irving is averaging 31 minutes per game this season, but those will increase to about 36 minutes for the final 25 games of the season.
“As this young guy gets better, the demands on him from me are going to get even higher,” Scott said. “That means minutes and everything else. In the long run, I think this [trade] was definitely the best thing for us. In the short term … we’ll see how it pans out.”
Scott said he wasn’t sure if Sessions would’ve been happy playing 10 to 12 minutes a night, but that isn’t entirely accurate since both Sessions and Irving recently began playing extended minutes together.
Regardless, Sessions’ trade to the Lakers was more about his ability to be a free agent at the end of the season and the first-round pick the Cavs received than anything else.
To fill the roster spot, the Cavs signed point guard Donald Sloan out of the Development League. Daniel Gibson will be the primary backup point guard until Sloan is acclimated to the system.
“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment,” Gibson said. “Sess did a lot of the ball handling for that second group. I have to get back into the flow, figure out where I get my shots from and where teammates get their shots from.”
Irving has been the present and future of the position since the night he was drafted. The Cavs have been realigning their roster since. First it was waiving Baron Davis under the amnesty clause, now it’s Sessions’ trade to maximize assets.
With the increased minutes on the way, Irving is growing into the role the Cavs always envisioned.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Irving said. “I just have to fill a role that Sess did for us coming in and doing a heck of a job backing me up, getting the team continuously going when I was out of the game. Just have to pick up the slack.”
Neither Luke Walton nor Jason Kapono, the two players acquired in the deal, reported to the Cavs on Friday. They have 72 hours under league rules to report to a new team following a trade, but the Cavs are expected to waive Kapono today and re-sign Manny Harris for the remainder of the season.
Walton has been dealing with a back problem all season, but Scott was told by Cavs trainer Max Benton that Walton is healthy enough to play.
“That’s all I need to know,” Scott said. “How much can he play? I don’t know. Once he gets here, Max and our guys get a chance to examine him, I think we’ll have a better idea.”
Now Scott will try to keep the Cavs in contention for a playoff berth despite the absence of a crucial piece.
“Obviously losing Ramon is a blow to us,” Scott said. “The guy has been terrific all season long. He’s been a true professional ever since I’ve had him here. As I said to him [Thursday], it was a pleasure coaching him. He really did try to do everything you asked him to do. It was fun.”
Sessions caught the first flight out of Cleveland to Los Angeles on Friday morning, clearly anxious to be headed to the playoffs for the first time in his career.
“He really thought he was going to be here and he was excited about the future of the franchise and the direction we were headed,” Scott said. “Obviously, going to L.A. gives him an opportunity to win a championship as well. This is great for him and I’m very excited about what we did as far as another first-round pick. In the short term and the long term, it was the best thing for us to do.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://cavs.ohio.com. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.