The Last Laker Trade

 —  February 22, 2005

While we wait for more trade information to come down, let’s look at the last major Laker trade — the one with Boston this summer that has defined what both teams have become this season. The two teams face each other tonight at Staples.

After all the retirements (Rick Fox), refusals to report (Gary Payton), changes of mind (Payton) and alterations to the deal, here’s what it ended up being: Payton, the Lakers first-round draft pick this year (if they make the playoffs) and cash for Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm and Jumaine Jones.

Would you do that deal again? I would. The Lakers got a center for the future in Mihm as well as two guys who can be good backups (Atkins has been thrust into the starting lineup). Plus, they got rid of an aging Payton who couldn’t stop the top points in the West anymore, and whose attitude during the playoffs last year was reason enough for me to want him gone.

I asked Jeff, who runs the very good celticsblog.com, what he thought of the deal 50 games in.

I still love the trade. Looking back, if I knew what I do now about Blount and Mihm, I’d rather have Mihm I think, but that would mean no GP, which is a bad thing. GP has been nothing short of a revelation for us. Even with a step off his game and questionable defense, I’d love to keep him around another year or two if he’ll stay.

I also asked him what the Boston faithful thought about the players they gave up in the deal.

Atkins was great for us in that he gave us a true playmaker at the point (something Marcus has yet to grasp). He ran the pick and roll and really helped set up our offense when we were floundering around. Still, he wasn’t anything spectacular and we’ll always remember him for being the guy that Kenny Anderson torched against the Pistons many moons ago.

Mihm was understandably shaky. He wasn’t really around long enough to establish himself and mostly was prone to dumb fouls.

Jumaine was an enigma. He never got off the bench despite some early promise in training camp. Danny even went out of his way to tell Jones that he believed in him during a pep talk mid season. Still, it was necessary to toss him your way in exchange for Banks because we needed a backup plan in case Gary didn’t work out.

Atkins must have been a better playmaker in Boston than in LA, although Kobe takes all the pick-and-roll chances here. Jones may have been an enigma, but when he got his chance he’s played pretty well (still second on the team in +/-), giving a spark off the bench. And I think Mihm and his potential is the brightest spot in the trade for the Lakers.

Maybe this is a trade that worked out best for both sides.