The last time Ramon Sessions experienced the thrill of the NBA postseason, he played as John Wall’s backup during the Washington Wizards’ 2015 playoff run. On Friday, Sessions was signed on for what is expected to be another playoff run after the Wizards, currently entrenched in the race for the fourth or fifth seed in the Eastern Conference standings, agreeing to a fully guaranteed deal for the remainder of the season.
Sessions, who had previously signed two consecutive 10-day contracts, will stay on as one of the team’s four point guards, providing Washington with a harvest of ballhandlers while Wall remains out due to left knee rehabilitation.
The Wizards’ commitment to Sessions could indicate just how long Wall is expected to remain out.
After undergoing left knee surgery on Jan. 31, Wall has been sidelined for six weeks. Although he has progressed to participating in offensive drills with teammates, Wall has not played in a five-on-five scrimmage — which would be his final step before returning to the court.
While Wall has impressed in his workouts — Coach Scott Brooks said he dunked several times Friday and Markieff Morris has observed that he looks “a lot lighter” and “quicker on his feet” — he still has not faced contact nor ran up and down the court. In repeating the same message, the team and those closest to Wall say there is no rush to bring him back, and that he will play only when he returns to complete health.
After the rest of the team practiced, Brooks’s reaction to a reporter’s line of question was just as illuminating as any remark about Wall’s post-surgery speed and athleticism. The inquiry opened with the suggestion that Wall would be back “in a few days.” Brooks smiled and interrupted.
“A few days, huh?” Brooks said. “Really?”
As it now appears, Wall will need longer than a few days just to get to the point of participating in five-on-five scrimmages.
“Who knows? It might be a week. Might be sooner than that,” Brooks said. “The next step will definitely be that — that he will have some contact.
“He had another great day,” Brooks continued. “His conditioning is great. He looks fantastic. It’s just a matter of the next step.”
As for Sessions, his signing brings the Wizards’ NBA roster to 14 players (rookie Devin Robinson will remain in the G-League until the end of the season as a two-way contract player before the team recalls him to Washington). And it also provides a sense of stability for Sessions, the 31-year-old veteran who has played for eight teams.
“Those were probably the longest 20 days I’ve been a part of in the NBA,” Sessions said. “It’s going to be fun down the stretch run.”
Over the past five games, Sessions has played the backup point guard minutes behind Tomas Satoransky. In those appearances, Sessions has averaged 7.2 points and 3.4 assists in 18.6 minutes per game. However, his work off the court has made more of an impact with the Wizards.
Since Sessions had played 132 games with the Wizards beginning in the 2014-15 season, he already had connections with several assistant coaches. During his second go with the team, Sessions has spent extra time with staffers to pick up the offense and defensive schemes and displayed work ethic and professionalism — traits that Brooks had previously heard about and highlighted as reasons behind the team’s decision to keep him.
“He’s perfect for our team. He gives us great leadership. He gives us professional approach to the game. To the practice court. He’s good for the locker room, for the culture. He’s just a great guy,” Brooks said. “Word gets out who you are. Every coach knows, that’s the thing: you act up one place, the whole league knows and that’s why every coach will tell you, you’ve got to be a pro or else you’re going to get a bad reputation and his reputation is amazing.”
On Saturday when the Wizards host the the third-seeded Indiana Pacers in matchup that holds significant playoff implications, Wall will miss his 22nd consecutive game. Whenever Wall does return, he will start and his presence will rearrange the rotation.
While the 6-foot-7 Satoransky can potentially swing to play some minutes at the two and three positions, he will likely assume his role as backup point guard and thus, limit the minutes for Sessions. Even so, Sessions sees Wall’s pending comeback in only positive terms.
“We’re ready for him to get back,” Sessions said. “One of the best point guards, if not the best point guard in the league in my eyes. A guy that makes it easy for you out there. I remember playing off the ball with him when I was here two years ago, he just makes it easy for you. All you do is basically get in your spot and he’s going to find you. So it’s one of those things, we’re definitely ready for him to get back and when he gets back, I mean — hey, it’s his team. His and Brad [Beal’s]. So we’re just looking for those guys and we’ll just follow their lead.”