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Phillip Barnett —  June 9, 2011

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: On Monday we booted up our postseason report cards with a look back on Sasha Vujacic and his final moments in Lakerdom. Today we grade someone we never would’ve seen had Sasha not been traded. The Lakers signed Trey Johnson on the last day of the regular season to fill out a backcourt rotation stretched thin by Steve Blake’s chickenpox. Had Sasha been kept around, that playing time would’ve been his to soak up. Instead, we got an all too brief look at the great Trey J, and our lives are richer for it. The amount of time it’ll take me to write this might exceed the time Trey actually spent on an NBA court this season. He played a not so grand total of 25 minutes: 13 in the regular-season finale up in Sacramento and then 12 in playoffs, mostly in garbage time. No Laker has logged so little action since 2005, when Slava Medvedenko injured his back in early November, never to work in this town again. There’s no real significance to that fact, but I thought I’d mention it since I went to the trouble of looking it up and it’s always fun talking about Slava.

From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: There is no question that Pau Gasol had a lackluster and overall disappointing post-season this year.  In the first round, Gasol was overpowered by the New Orleans’ Hornets Carl Landry and then couldn’t keep up with the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki.  Whether his playoff performance was caused by personal, off the court issues or not, Lakers fans hold the team to a higher standard, and rightfully so.  Getting swept in the second round was a shock and unacceptable.  Some Lakers fans want Gasol out of Los Angeles due to his recent poor performance.  Some fans know he can bounce back and play like his usual consistent self. When Gasol recently announced his intentions to play for his home country of Spain in this summer’s European Championship, some liked the idea and some did not.  Gasol has always kept Spain close to his heart during his decade in the NBA.   However, the main negative regarding his playing for Spain this summer is the possibility of injury.

From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: After the Lakers lost Game 3 of the Western Semi’s to Dallas, Magic Johnson suggested during ESPN’s studio show that L.A. should “blow up” the team heading into the future. But Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who has stated that the Lakers do not want to break up the roster, thinks Johnson’s comments were intended to be more inspirational than literal. “Unfortunately, a well-known commentator made some comments before our fourth game in Dallas about breaking up the team,” Kupchak said. “I think that’s what fueled speculation that this team should be broken up. I think that commentator was trying to inspire our players, but a lot of the fans didn’t see it that way.”

From Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: The 2011 NBA Finals will shift cities again this weekend, with the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks determined to resolve this basketball conflict of theirs in a matter of days. The NBA owners, the players’ union and that business conflict of theirs? Not so fast. The ongoing labor talks will change venues, same as The Finals, with the owners and the players joining the clubs in Miami on Tuesday for their next negotiating session — if there is a Game 7 — or moving to New York that day. Another meeting will be held in New York on June 17. But the Heat and the Mavericks figure to be long done as the wrangling for a new collective bargaining agreement further revs up, based on a more somber mood than existed even 24 hours earlier as principals emerged from a four-hour session Wednesday at a Dallas hotel. It was the second consecutive day of discussions, the third since The Finals began last week in south Florida.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Whether the Lakers are coming off a championship season or under-performing in a shortened season, there’s one thing that keeps fans unified and divided: trade talk. Unified because every fan wants to size up any trade scenario imaginable, wondering if that out-of-nowhere reserve that lighted up the Lakers in a regular-season game could produce more magic, or if the Lakers could land the next superstar. Divided because there is hardly ever any consensus. I’ll spend part of this offseason on a series that will analyze what effect free agents could have on the Lakers, and the feasibility of various potential deals. Those looking for significant changes are going to be disappointed. Lakers owner Jerry Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have expressed their desire to keep the team’s “core,” wanting to only make “tweaks” to the lineup. The Lakers are coming off a season that included a $91-million payroll. And despite Magic Johnson’s contention that Buss needs to “blow this team up” the Lakers aren’t exactly scrubs, considering that before being swept by the Dallas Mavericks in this season’s Western Conference semifinals, they had three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, earning two titles.

Phillip Barnett

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