Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  March 16, 2012

It was one of the stranger trade deadlines, for the league and for the Lakers. The blockbusters never went down – D-Will stayed a Net and D-12, after going back and forth like a radio dial, finally said he had wanted to stay all along. For Laker fans, the news that a deal had been struck for Ramon Sessions was welcome. Many were sad to see Luke leave, myself included. But, the benefits were real, and strong. The Fisher trade on the other hand, left most of us stunned. And as day turned to night, much of the conversation turned to a tenured career that changed in an instant. He was a favorite to many, and he will be missed. Below are some articles about the Laker deals, and the day:

Dave McMenamin, from ESPN GO: According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Minnesota Timberwolves backed out of a three-team deal also involving L.A. and the Portland Trail Blazers at 11:53 a.m. PT, just seven minutes before the noon PT deadline. The trade that was in place would have sent Fisher to Minnesota and the Lakers’ first-round pick acquired in the Lamar Odom trade with the Dallas Mavericks back in December to Portland. Portland, already engaged in a full-fledged fire sale, would have sent Jamal Crawford to Minnesota and the Timberwolves would have sent Anthony Tolliver to Portland. Minnesota would have also been receiving cash considerations from both L.A. and Portland as well.

But, Minnesota owner Glen Taylor and general manager David Kahn pulled out of the deal at the last minute (well, eighth-to-last minute), leaving L.A. officials “puzzled and disappointed” according to a source. Who knows what changed Minnesota’s mind. Maybe it didn’t feel comfortable being on the hook for $3.4 million for a 38-year-old Fisher in 2012-13. Maybe it was concerned that Crawford would opt out of his relatively bargain price of $5 million for next season. L.A. didn’t have time to wallow in the uncertainty trying to figure out the answer. Instead, it scrambled to put together a secondary deal with the Rockets before the trade deadline passed.

Brian Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers (with press conference video): Following a very busy morning for the Lakers ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Mitch Kupchak spent about 35 minutes with the media. The addition of Ramon Sessions to L.A.’s backcourt was obviously a topic of conversation, but not surprisingly Kupchak’s time was dominated by questions related to the departure of Derek Fisher. In his opening remarks, Kupchak welcomed Sessions, along with Jordan Hill and Christian Eyemga. He thanked Jason Kapono, and had some very nice words about Luke Walton, the other long time Laker sent packing today.

From there, he talked about Fisher:

“It’s hard to put into words what he’s meant to this organization on the court, off the court. If you’ve seen or read the release that our owner Dr. Buss put out, I think that puts it as succinctly as possible what he means and what he meant to this organization. From the bottom of our heart, my heart, I thank him for his contributions and I wish him well…

C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: As a basketball player, Derek Fisher is terrible. Only three other players who consistently start for their teams provide as little, statistically, as Derek provided to the Lakers, and, with the possible exception oof Raja Bell, all the others partially justify their performance with strong defense. Derek Fisher has no such justification. He’s a sieve on defense and one of the most ineffective starters in the league on offense. And he’s the only player in the league who could be a positive influence on his team even in those circumstances. I love Derek Fisher. It’s nearly impossible not to. The clutch shots are amazing, the big moments are fantastic, the memories of championships won are sublime, but I love Fish because he is the definition of doing it right. He, not Kobe Bryant, is the Anti-LeBron, the guy who made an entire career out of little more than hard work, perseverance, and belief in self. It is nearly impossible to find a 15-year veteran who is smaller, less athletic and less talented than Derek Fisher, and if you find that insulting, you don’t know Fish. It is also impossible to find a 15-year veteran who is less pretentious or less selfish, and you can bet those last two qualities are related to the first three. Derek Fisher is one of the worst basketball players in this league, and yet there isn’t a player in the league who doesn’t respect him. Derek Fisher’s stats barely register in the annals of history, but there is no way he will ever be forgotten.

Mark Whicker, OC Register: Once the Lakers and their fans get past the fact that they traded away some of their recent history on Thursday, they’ll probably be very comfortable with the deals they made. How long it will take Kobe Bryant to get past it is not clear. Derek Fisher, on top of his other roles, was Bryant’s confidante and, as he would say proudly, one of the few people whom Bryant would listen to. He also will live forever for the multitude of big shots he hit in playoff games, in San Antonio and Orlando and against the Celtics here. But Fisher is not a fit for the new Lakers offense, and Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions are simply a better point guard combination. Luke Walton, too, will be missed, as a professional, a locker room presence, and a very useful small forward in Phil Jackson’s two terms. But again Walton is a triangle-offense player who wasn’t going to be as comfortable in this offense, and Mike Brown had no plans for him.

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: In an astonishing turn of events, the Los Angeles Lakers have decided to trade Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets for forward Jordan Hill, likely ending the Laker career of a point guard who has started for three of the five Laker championship teams he’s played on. In a day that saw the Lakers save a good chunk of money (both in terms of Luke Walton’s 2012-13 contract, and the 2012 draft pick they don’t have to pay, sending both to Cleveland) while improving their point guard situation, the Lakers made a callous, needless, money-saving deal just to rid itself of Fisher’s $3.4 million contract for next season. Ramon Sessions, acquired earlier Thursday in a trade with Cleveland, is a good scoring point guard that was set to rightfully replace Fisher in the starting lineup, and he owns a $4.5 million player option for 2012-13 that he would likely pick up; unless some lights-out shooting and a long Laker playoff run tempted other teams into signing him for more money. In exchanging Walton’s contract for Sessions, and declining to pay a first-round pick guaranteed money next season, the Lakers were able to lop a few million off their 2013 payroll and luxury tax ledger; but they were still due to pay what would likely be about $15 million or so in dollar-for-dollar luxury tax payments; depending on where the tax figure is placed next year. Losing Fisher knocks $3.4 million off of those payments. And that’s it. They’re not under the cap, and they still have to pay a ton of luxury tax cash to non-tax paying teams. They just sold out everyone’s favorite teammate for a flighty big forward who won’t play much, and $3.4 million dollars.

***

The above articles are but a small sampling – there is no shortage of good writing about Fisher, Sessions, Luke, and more. In addition, there’s a game to play tonight. Like the deadline itself, it’ll be more than a little strange. I have my own feelings on the subject of Fish, I have a great admiration for him, and none for the way this was handled. Hoping for a win tonight, and for brighter days ahead.

- Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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41 responses to Friday Forum

  1. Interesting side note: As a results of recent trades made by the Lakers, do you realize the 2nd player in seniority based on games played in a Laker uniform is… Andrew Bynum. That’s right, Bynum. Kobe, of course, is the leader, currently at 1146 games played. Fish was 2nd (915), Lamar Odom, 3rd (519), Luke Walton, 4th (493), and Sasha Vujacic, 5th (420). Bynum is currently at 371. If your wondering about Gasol: 298:

    http://bkref.com/tiny/jrCRX

  2. Just for clarification, my previous post pertaining to seniority in a Laker uniform relates to the ACTIVE Laker roster. Above link has an issue, lol, try this one:

    http://bkref.com/tiny/ukucH

  3. Nice to see that Dwyer and Steven A (I promise none of my occasional Steven A rants today) don’t get it. Let’s see–other than a shameful salaray dump, could there be a reason we are trading Fish……..

  4. Mindcrime,
    Watch Mitch’s pressed yesterday. He said Fisher would have been the third guard off the bench as therefor would never play. He also said we needed a third big man to back up Bynum and Gasol (Murphy as we know is awful) and lastly he said he sent beleieve Fisher and the team would handle Fish being benched as he carried so much clout in the lockeroom.

  5. Well.. Its happening tonight. Our first game since Gary Payton came for a season where we go into a game with an advantage at PG. This is gonna be weird. I mean even Payton was playing in the triangle. I mean it’s really been since Van Exel Kobe played with a true PG.

  6. The hyperlink connected to ‘I have my own feelings’ isn’t active/working.

  7. Also, does anyone know what is required for an NBA physical? Is it just a matter of an EKG to diagnose Turiaf kind of ailments, or is there blood work involved? Not sure why Mitch said he wasn’t certain if the new players would be available today or perhaps not until sunday.

  8. I assume that “no shortage of good writing” was not meant to include Dwyer.

    Also, Plaschke did not like the Fisher trade, which is a very good reason to think it was the right move.

    FB&G is such a great site, and there are so many good, thoughtful writers on basketball out there, would it be possible to consider a ban on links to Dwyer, the LA Times, and that Bleacher Report monstrosity? Not because of the opinions, but just as a form of quality control. There are dozens and dozens of sites and writers that deserve links before any of those three.

  9. Aaron, don’t forget about Ron Harper. He was hardly a true PG (though he performed the triangle’s version of it very well), but he was often the better player when compared to his opposite starter.

  10. Looks like Ramon might debut tonight

    “Ramon Sessions is expected to be available for his new team tonight, but the Lakers have recalled Darius Morris from their D-League affiliate just in case, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.”

  11. JB,
    Hey… harp was a solid guy defensively for the Bulls and a star player with the Cavs before he blew out his knee. But with the Lakers he was almost the liability Fisher was. I’ll hold to my stance that Kobe hasn’t played with a legit PG since Payton and has not played with a true PG out of the triangle since Nick Van Exel.

  12. Sessions role is pretty clear, becoming the starting point within three to five games. What are the expectations of 6’10, 235 lb Jordan Hill? 1st big off the bench? 20+ minutes? Is he more 5 than 4 or vice versa?

  13. @billbill – thanks for posting the link. Stupid infernal hyperlinks are the bane of my existence. Hopefully, the link in the post itself, is now fixed.

  14. BigCitySalad,
    Hill will be out first and only big off the bench along Lamar Odom’s minutes in the rotation almost. He is a Power Forward. He is too small and thin to play Center. But that doesn’t matter because Gasol will play Center when Bynum is out :) We are in pretty good shape now with our roster. We replaced old stiffs (Fisher/Murphy) with young athletes (Sessions/Murphy). It’s really going to make a giant difference.

  15. I’ll actually miss Luke. I remember his one good season before the injury. Too bad that NBA is build in a way that if you truly want to contend you can’t allow your “old warriors/role players” to retire with the teams jersey.

    I wish all the best to Luke and Fish…

    On Kobe playing with Sessions, maybe it will help decrease Kobe’s TO’s since he might handle the ball less than he does before. Let’s see how it goes.

  16. guys, if the season were to end today, we’d wind up with the #60 pick in the draft. remember to root hard against the bulls so we can wind up with…#56 perhaps.

  17. Question: why do all the websites/blog articles I read talk about how Fish hasn’t missed a game in years, with a streak in the hundreds? Does this not include playoff games, or does this only include games lost to injury? Fisher definitely missed a game in the Houston series in 2009 when he was suspended for his hit on Scola. Which was a glorious takedown, by the way, one of my fondest memories of Fish.

  18. My feeling on Hill/Murphy is that unless you are playing them together, Murphy is a better fit with Bynum since he helps spread the floor for kickouts from the double-team, and Hill is a better fit with Pau because he adds defensive toughness and rebounding.

  19. flye,
    I would agree if his was a few years ago. But now Murphy is such a liability on the floor besides his shooting it’s hard to justify him being in the game. Within the week Jordan Hill will be playing 20 minutes a game back up Bynum and Gasol at PF (what Murphy does now) and Troy will e out of the rotation. Just my prediction.

  20. So happy to have some athleticism on the team.

    When was the last time the Lakers had so many players that can run and jump on the team?

    Oh yes, welcome Ramon Sessions (always liked you). Welcome Jordan Hill (watched plenty of your games with Arizona). Welcome Christian Eyenga (I don’t know anything about you, other than you’re a freakish athlete).

    These three players are going to transform this team, not only in games but in practices. Can’t imagine how competitive practices are going to be, going forward.

    Hahaha, the intangibles are what I look to, when players are acquired.

  21. Hill/Murphy: Comparing someone to Murphy does not fill me with confidence. Let’s hope for better : )

  22. 9 @flye -

    I thought I’d address your comment about what writers we link and why. First, the quality of writing is subjective. My particular taste might not be someone else’s, etc. Also, doing links posts are kind of a strange thing – especially for a team site. I’ve been doing links on weds & fri and I’ll usually try to find good articles that are Laker-centric, recent, and often having to do with some particular thing (a game, trade, etc.). It’s remarkable how much the pool of material can seem to shrink, especially when trying to put a post together in a compressed period. Believe me, there’s times when I get frustrated, because I’m just not finding what I want.

    Like anybody, there’s writers I like and some that I don’t particularly care for. There’s some real quality writers that aren’t team specific and every now and them they’ll do something on the Lakers. It can be a crap shoot – I tend to go to certain sources time and again because they’re reliable. The K-bros for instance – consistently good writing IMO. Once I’ve gotten a few articles from familiar Lakers writers I’ll start combing for other pieces. All in all, I read a ton of articles every day.

    In the end, I include links that I feel work within the format, and that I enjoy. As far as the Dwyer article, I liked it. I would say this to you and everyone else – make suggestions. If there’s a writer or a site that you like, mention it. And don’t assume that I’ll always catch all the stuff that you link in comments – if there’s a writer that’s really good and isn’t getting any play here, then chase me down. Hit me up on twitter or ask for my email or whatever. Maybe I’ll like the suggestion or maybe I won’t but it’s always worth a shot.

    Sorry for the long rant but I do hear what you (and others) are saying. We all want to read good stuff and your opinions matter.

  23. The Jim Buss era is in full force, and yesterday’s events gave us a glimpse (or confirmation) of what we can expect from this new regime going forward.

    1. Jim Buss is willing to make improvements to the roster only if the deal saves the team money. Despite the new billion dollar TV deal, priority number one has been, and will be, to cut costs.

    2. Jerry and Jeannie Buss treated their productive and long time employees with respect and appreciation. This is one of the reasons I was so proud to be a Laker fan. The Lakers were more than a business, they were a family.

    Jim Buss, on the other hand, thinks running the Lakers is no different than training horses, and he treats his employees as such. He fired Lester and the entire scouting department, chose not to consult with Kobe when Brown got hired, and let go of a Laker legend to save a few million bucks, without even giving him a heads up. Fish deserved better. Thank goodness Kobe has a no trade clause, because Jim is proving to be the type of owner that would trade an all time Laker great to cut costs, despite being the highest valued franchise in the league, and getting a TV deal that pays them almost $200 million a year.

    - I am excited about the Sessions acquisition, but at the same time, am concerned about what this great and unique franchise is becoming. This Laker family is turning into just another franchise, chasing the bottom line.

  24. @ Aaron re my post #3 and your #4

    I saw it. I was being sarcastic–I just couldn’t help getting a dig in on Dwyer and SAS for myopically railing about how terrible the Lakers are for cutting Fisher just to save money, showing they were completely forgetting that there might be a team-chemistry motivation for the trade.

  25. @Snoopy – good question. For my own SfS post I went to NBA.com and added up every regular and playoff game for Fish since he returned to L.A. (after Utah). I was more interested in his continuity during this period of play. I totally missed the Scola suspension, so my bad on that. It didn’t pop out at me because it was post season, so I was just accepting the numbers in each series at face value (as opposed to any easier 82 out of 82 in each regular season).

  26. At LT re Buss

    I’m worried about Buss Jr. as well. But the trades yesterday were financially and strategically smart. LA got better from a basketball perspective and, in the process, were able to shed three contracts that were simply bad–period. I loved Luke, but did you ever think anyone would be crazy enough to take that contract off of our hands? And it all occurred without giving up one of the bigs. (And at the expense of Gilbert, no less, who demonstrated once again why he is such a crummy owner–he managed to make his roster worse from a talent perspective, yet more expensive). That’s a good day.

  27. Mind crime,
    Sorry… I usually get sarcasm. I thought you might be being sarcastic but didn’t know for sure. Lots of people on this site suprise me ;)

  28. In reference to the Beasly trade as reported by Dave McMenamin, there was a question in the end why Glen Taylor GM of T’wolves backed out from the deal? At first, it was suspected that T’Wolves didn’t like the remaining salary of D’Fish of 3.8 M, however the real reason was relayed to Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld:

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba2-what-happened-to-the-michael-beasley-trade

    Mitch wanted to dump more garbage salaries of Luke, Kapono on top of Fisher and the 1st rd draft pick. Haha, that was really close in getting Beasly to Lakers.

    Within those last few minutes, Mitch was able to turn around to Cavs and offered Luke + Kapono, 1st rd but in those dying minutes he has to agree to get Eyenga in the RS trade.

    When Minny deal collapsed, it was reported by Adrian W. of Yahoo that Fisher was also offered to Blazers for Crawford straight up, which again was rejected by owner Paul Allen & staff since they’re on rebuilding mode. They don’t want to take salaries.

    Finally, last few seconds Mitch got to GM Morey of Rockets and got Jordan Hill instead. A day later, Rockets announced that they are buying out the contract of our beloved da Fish.

    Bravo, Mitch was the Houdini yesterday with his bag of tricks offered to his audience who were in trance with his presentation of the great leader, El Presidente. Unfortunately he oversold the T’Wolves which botched the Beasly deal when Mitch pulled additional rabbits in Luke and Jason contracts. Hoho.

  29. #24, I think that may be a little harsh criticism at this point until we see how this all plays out. You may, in the end be right, that Jim Buss is turning the Lakers into “just another franchise” because of these cost cutting ways, but I’m willing to give them the benefit if the doubt for the next year or so. While everyone freaked out when we traded Odom, maybe they knew he was out of shape and losing his will to be a quality basketball player, and just wasn’t worth the $18 million (salary + tax) this year. Yes we love Fish and Walton, but they were not producing anywhere close to what the team was paying for them. Even though they are a long way from getting under the cap, just by freeing up some money they have the opportunity to listen to offers that come along in the next year and/or use the MLE in free agency. With the tax escalators that will be kicking in the next few years, if they didn’t make these cuts now, I doubt they would be willing to add players or salary later at all. Sometimes, like in soccer, you have to go backwards to go forward. And in this case, Mitch was able to back up financially without breaking up our core and picking up some useful layers that filled a need. If Jim Buss only cared about the bottom line, they would have traded Gasol. As far as firing the scouting department, maybe they deserved it, who knows. I don’t know, but who really knows what goes on behind closed doors. I just don’t think we as fans should be so quick to judge this franchise that has produced so many incredible teams over the years. The Buss family and Mitch deserve a little credit until we see how this all plays out. As for now, I think we are a better basketball team than we were last week, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride into the playoffs. And who knows, in a few years it’s possible that you may be right, but we won’t know til then.

  30. Jimbo: Yesterday’s moves were good in that they did not give up talent due to salary reduction. However they also did not add, which we were in a position to do with the TPE. For “basketball reasons” there is no reason to cut salary, as we will not be able to sign FA until 2014 in all probability.

  31. Salary: To put this in perspective, from a cap standpoint, we could have everything we have now, plus LO instead of Murphy. For that matter we could have Shannon as well instead of Morris. I think everyone would want this, so it really comes down to business vs basketball. Where I think people complain is “IF” the Lakers are “truly” making hundreds of millions (network etc), then what’s another $10-$20 million to invest in a title? Hey – we are spoiled : )

  32. #30. That’s exactly what the Buss family is counting on. This is the price paid for the championship runs; the benefit of the doubt. But the benefit could turn into a detriment, if you don’t watch it…

  33. Thanks for the reply, Dave.

  34. I’m pleased with the moves the lakers made and don’t feel at all bad they saved some money in the bargain.

    What’s wrong with that?

    Just like us mere mortals, having more cash on hand results in greater flexibility for tomorrow. Maybe Jim Buss will use the extra cash to take advantage of future opportunities to improve the team. Maybe he will use it pay off his bar tab. Maybe a little bit of both.

    I like davis luv’s take on this @ 30: only time will tell.

    Still can’t believe they saved money & got better!

  35. Still can’t believe they saved money & got better!

    exactly. That is what great teams do. I for one will give Jim Buss the benifit of the doubt. He was in position earlier to make the big deal which he did, LO has proven that he was a shell of himself and correctly moved, getting rid of the old guys is what the new guys do, it happens everyday. The Lakers have shown dfish more loyalty of the past 3 years by resigning him and over paying him than any other team would have. Lets go Lakers lets mess around and get another ring. And if we do I am sure dfish will get one. Thats how the Lakers do it

  36. Hmmm, wonder if Fish will get a 1/2 playoff share?

    Since it’s somebody else’s money I’d say do it!

    Kidding aside, even Spencer Haywood got a half share way back in the day of Magic’s first ring, if I remember correctly. And that tool got himself suspended during the playoffs!

  37. I, for one, am still puzzled by the whole Fish trade:

    1. Was it a salary dump? I don’t think so, because, by all accounts, we were close to getting Beasley, which is adding to the payroll.

    2. Was it because of chemistry issues associated with demoting Fish? Mitch said that he thought Fish would have accepted it. Then why trade him away?

    3. The logical conclusion is that they really liked Hill. But if that was the case, I haven’t heard/read much about that from our FO’s perspective.

    Mitch did refer to making Mike’s job easier, but given that Fish’s minutes were being reduced anyways (didn’t Blake play most of the OT in one of the recent games?), I don’t know if it was that big a deal.

    Yes, there was a logjam at PG, but now there is a log jam at PF/C.

    Whatever be the case, I don’t think this was just a salary dump. After all, we could have given McRoberts away and shaved nearly the same amount of salary.

    My (totally uninformed) guess – there is a tug of war going on between coach Brown and the players (Kobe, Pau, Fish) about the offense. Given Fish’s catchet with the rest of the team, the FO prolly thought it best to address the problem by removing the “malcontents”.

    Thoughts?

  38. Edwin Gueco,

    That was an interesting take on why the Beasley trade fell through. Except that the Sessions/Eyenga for Walton/Kapono/pick had already gone through! The ‘Sota thingy was apparently on the vine till the very end. I don’t buy what Ingram is selling :)

  39. any_one_mouse – immediately after the Fish trade, Jeanie Buss tweeted, “where is ‘for basketball reasons’ when you need it”.

    There’s certainly an organizational shift.

  40. LT Mitchell

    You obviously have not been reading recent articles. We tried to pick up Beasley, which would have brought on millions of dollars in payroll.

    Im getting really tired of reading everyones posts on here about how this isnt like the Lakers, theyre changing, Jim Buss is a money grubber. Its silly. Mitch Kupchak HIMSELF said they were willing to spend money if it were going to make the team better. But you dont just throw that money around, you have to be intelligent with it, which the Lakers mostly have been, and are obviously continuing to be.

    Also FISH WAS TRADED TO AVOID LOCKER ROOM CHEMISTRY PROBLEMS. This was basically stated outright by the GM Kupchak. You guys can think whatever you want, but the lakers’ management words and actions both speak to the contrary.