Slava has come off the IR, giving him a court-side seat for the Clipper game, we’ll see if Rudy T. lets him off the bench Friday night. His return is not alone — right behind him Jumaine Jones and Vlade are set to come back to the active roster, providing much needed depth and help in the front court.
But all good things come with a price — who does Rudy T. jettison to create room on the roster? He needs to find two spots now, three when Devean George returns.
The first (and one seemingly sure) candidate is rookie Sasha Vujacic, who will head to the IR (according to Joel Meyers). He has played only three percent of the Laker minutes this season, by far the smallest percentage of any player on the team, and is really more of a developmental project. The down side to this move is, it leaves you with just two point guards — Atkins and Brown.
Clearing the needed second space is more difficult.
If you take the person next on the “playing the least list” you get Kareem Rush, who has earned his lack of time on the floor by not being sharp at all this season. However, we’re talking Kareem Rush of the garuneteed $1 million contract and Kobe’s primary backup. In fact, there’s only one Laker without a guarunteed contract — Tierre Brown. Of course, take him and Sasha out of the mix and now you’ve got just one pure point (Atkins). Plus, Brown has played well at moments and is the kind of player you’d like to keep around and develop.
No easy answers for Rudy and Mitch here.
My guess is that we will see Sasha on the IR and, sadly, Brown released (and likely to quickly land on his feet somewhere). With that, expect to see more of Kobe playing the point guard position at times during the game.