Archives For Trades

It’s never easy saying goodbye to one of your favorite players. When you root for a team, certain players become more than a jersey, their stats, or even their contributions. They’re more than someone you hope succeeds on the court. They become, even if it’s patently illogical, part of your extended family.

This is how I’ve felt about Derek Fisher.

Through the years, D-Fish has provided me with some of my most memorable moments as a Lakers fan. The countless big shots. The moments where he’d rise to the occasion where many others would wilt. The times where he’d gather his guys in the huddle and inspire his teammates with words that only come natural to people that are born leaders. This was Derek Fisher I rooted for.

When you think about it, Fisher is one of the more unique players in recent history. He was never the best player on the team, but he was respected like he was. He was never the most skilled player but he had a knack for making the right play at the right time. He willed himself to becoming a contributing player on multiple championship teams through hard work and desire.

He became a player that superstars looked to for guidance but role players saw as one of their own. He was part player, part coach. Part clutch performer and part motivational speaker. He was an iron man on the court (not missing a game in 6 straight seasons and counting) and iron willed off it. Competitive as all get out and willing to do whatever necessary to win. This endeared him to his teammates and Lakers’ fans, despised by other fanbases, but respected all the same.

During this past off-season, he led the players union with dignity and dogged determination. He spoke of sticking together, of fighting for what was fair, and for not backing down in the face of what would surely be a deal that would be remembered as a defeat. He did this not because he necessarily wanted to, but because he was chosen to by his peers. Chosen to represent all players as the head of their union and fight for their interests.Gaining such respect doesn’t just happen on accident. It happens because of an abundance of character and leadership ability. Players from opposing teams and those that shared a locker room with him saw these qualities in him.

He was yin to Kobe’s yang of leadership style. The one that could smooth off the rough edges of a biting critique. The person that could turn a harsh phrase into a useful plan of attack to implement in the next game, on the next possession. And now, with him gone. A void must be filled. Who steps in at this point is anyone’s guess. Maybe Gasol – a player of long tenure and equal thoughtfulness is the guy. Maybe Bynum’s youthful honesty and emerging game will command the respect of his peers. And, of course, Mike Brown and Kobe will need to step in and be the guides that move this team forward.

Of course Fisher had his flaws. I mean, he’s been replaced in the lineup for real reasons and some other Laker will be looked to fill in what was missing from his game; to provide what he wasn’t in tangible production. But right now, it’s not really about harping on what he wasn’t and more about appreciating him for what he was and what he did provide. Which, for the time he wore a Lakers uniform was so much more good than bad.

It will be strange not having Fisher around. He was, for all intents and purposes, the definition of a professional. And I, for one, will miss him dearly. Though I’m sure I’m not alone there.

The trade deadline has come and gone and it’s bitter-sweet to be sure as the Lakers added a player that should help them a great deal but traded a player that has meant so much to their organization for so long.

In a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers acquired the point guard help they’ve sought, adding Ramon Sessions. Sessions has a variety of useful skills that will help this team. He’s a penetrating guard that can work in the pick and roll both as a set up man and as a finisher. When he turns the corner he’s a threat to get all the way to the rim to finish and that skill alone means the defense will need to make hard choices in terms of helping, especially those players guarding Pau and/or Bynum. He’s also a very good passer that reads plays ahead of time, meaning he rewards his teammates that move off the ball and dash into open space by hitting them on time with passes that allow them to finish easily. Basically, he’s a PG in the truest sense and for a team that’s moved to a more traditional offense this season, his skill set is a nice match for this team.

Of course, Sessions isn’t the perfect player and there’s a reason the Lakers could get him in the deal they did. Though he’s making over 40% of his three pointers this season, historically his jumper is shaky. If teams don’t respect his ability to hit the open J, the already dicey spacing exhibited on many Laker possessions will only be worse. This can be off-set somewhat by his ability to attack off the dribble because when defenses don’t close out he can hurt them but getting into paint or forcing help when he puts the ball on the floor, but he’ll need to make defenses pay with his jumper to truly be the player the Lakers need on offense. Defensively, his reputation is also of someone that doesn’t have good instincts and will make mistakes on that side of the floor. He’s not known to navigate screens well and his thin frame allows him to be overpowered by stronger guards. Of course, defending the elite class of PG’s in this league is a team effort and if Sessions can be brought up to speed on that side of the floor he may end up being a neutral defender. Which, if he’s helping on offense as much as he’s capable of, will be a net positive in the end.

Where Sessions acquisition would have caused the most issues was how he got integrated into a lineup that already had Derek Fisher and Steve Blake at his position. By my math, without trading or demoting one of those players, the Lakers had one PG too many and would need to sort that out. The Lakers, though, must have been thinking the same thing when right before the trade deadline came to pass it was announced that the team traded Derek Fisher and the Mavericks 1st round pick acquired in the Odom trade to the Rockets for PF/C Jordan Hill.

At this point, it’s safe to assume that the Lakers simply did not want to deal with the politics of demoting Fisher, a player whose voice is respected in the lockerroom and who provided leadership as both a veteran and a champion. Fisher is a prideful player and while his play has been in decline, he was still a key figure that his team rallied around when times got hard. With Sessions now in the fold and Steve Blake not dealt away, Fisher suddenly became the least productive player in a three man PG rotation and would have surely been the player whose minutes got cut.

But how do you ease him out of the lineup? How do you tell one of your leaders that his time as an on court performer is up and that he must recede to background while other, younger options take his minutes and his role? The fact is that for a first year coach and someone that doesn’t have nearly the clout in the locker room as the player he’d be demoting, there’s no good way to do this. At least not one that doesn’t risk a divided locker room with players potentially taking sides. The easiest thing to do, then, is to trade that player away and save yourself the difficult conversation and potential repercussions of demotion.

And so, the Lakers have traded away one of their leaders. Derek Fisher contributed to 5 championship teams. His shots against the Magic in game 4 of the 2009 Finals that forced overtime and then won the game will live forever. As will his game 3 performance against the Celtics a year later that clinched the game and put the Lakers up 2-1 in a Finals they ultimately won. Add in his historically hot shooting in 2001 that helped carry his team to an unprecedented 15-1 record in the playoffs and Fisher is a Laker legend. He’s on the Mt. Rushmore of Lakers role players. And now he’s headed to Houston for a serviceable big man.

There was a changing of the guard today for the Lakers. They’re probably better on paper than they’ve been in a year and a half and that’s certainly worth something. However, they’re certainly also lighter in the leadership department and definitely in the intangible qualities of having a guy on board that’s not only been there before but made sure the team left with the hardware. As I said earlier, it’s a bitter-sweet day to be a Lakers fan.

It’s Deadline Day

Darius Soriano —  March 15, 2012

UPDATE: Well, the Lakers got the point guard they’ve been linked to for weeks, acquiring Ramon Sessions from the Cavs according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The deal also includes forward Christian Eyenga coming to the Lakers in exchange for Luke Walton and the Lakers 2012 1st round draft pick. (UPDATE #2: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Jason Kapono was also part of this deal and is headed to Cleveland.) The inclusion of Walton means that the Lakers trade exception from the Lamar Odom trade is still intact and could be used in another deal before the trade deadline comes at noon PT today.

We’ll have more on this acquisition a bit later, but for now you can all feel good about this trade. Sessions is a solid PG that will help this Lakers team this season.

As an aside, my best wishes go out to Luke Walton. I know he’s been a whipping boy for years among the Lakers fan base. His salary was too high and his productivity too low. However, he was a pro’s pro and by all accounts a great teammate. His body betrayed him in recent seasons and injuries robbed him of having a more productive career. He was best suited to the Triangle offense but his instincts as a passer and his want to help his teammates get good shots always left a mark on me.

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The trade deadline is finally here. Today is the day that all the rumors and whispers of deals come to fruition or whither on the vine and die. And we’ll be hear to cover the news the best we can.

From the Lakers side, we’ll see if any of the deals being speculated on actually happen. Reports still point to the Lakers having strong interest in both Michael Beasley and Ramon Sessions. To acquire Beasley, the  rumored deal is a three-team trade between the Lakers, Blazers, and Timberwolves where the principle players moving would be Steve Blake (to the Blazers), Jamal Crawford (to the T’Wolves), and Beasley (to the Lakers). What many aren’t mentioning is that this trade doesn’t work under the collective bargaining agreement unless the Lakers either include another player to match salaries or they absorb Beasley into the Lamar Odom TPE. I’d guess the Lakers would try to include more salary, as that would fit their m.o. of not wanting to take on additional payroll.

As for Sessions, the rumored deal is either a three team trade between the Lakers, Rockets, and Cavs where Jonny Flynn and draft picks would be on the move between the three teams with the Lakers landing Sessions or a straight up trade between the Lakers and Cavs in which the Lakers give up a first round pick for the Cavalier guard. Sessions’ ability to opt out of his contract at the end of this season complicates things as the Lakers may not bee keen on giving up a first round pick for a rental lasting through the end of the year. That said, if the team actually deals Blake in the aforementioned Beasley trade, they’ll need another PG on the roster by the end of the day.

Ultimately, though, these are all still just rumors. Whether or not the Lakers actually make a move remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that there will be actual moves made today by other teams and we’ll be here to talk about those.

Welcome to the Rumor Mill, a place to talk about all the rumors, innuendo, and speculation about potential Lakers moves as we approach the trade deadline. In this space we’ll offer up links to reports, opinions on the speculation of the day, and anything else trade related that crosses our minds. This may or may not be a daily feature at FB&G, but we hope it can serve as a place to capture the craziness. As an aside, this feature will only run through the trade deadline this season. So, get comfortable but don’t unpack all your bags yet. ‘Cause just like the circus the trade deadline represents, this post will be on its way to the next town in a couple of weeks.

That on any given night (or afternoon) the 2011-12 Lakers are capable of overcoming even the stiffest competition is simultaneously thrilling and disconcerting.

Despite the occasional foray into disarray and the occasionally terrifying deficiency of on-court firepower, the Lakers carry on, not only trudging forward, but excelling. Given its composition –top-heavy, veteran-laden and deliberate with possession – this squad is clearly one built for postseason ball, where the significance of front-line size is magnified, and that of roster depth diminished.

However, the Lakers, winners of 23 of 37 games this season, including an almost-league-best (along with Miami, OKC and Memphis; Chicago is 9-1) eight of their last ten, find themselves a half game ahead of their Staples Center roomies in the Pacific (and for third in the West), two games behind the second place Spurs. They have won 17 of 19 at home, 16 of 23 against some rock-solid Western Conference opposition and, at 5-3 (the Clippers are 3-3) boast the Pacific’s best division record. Not bad for a team with little more than a passing interest in this regular season.

As impressive as it has been, we (well, management) must resist the urge to allow the Lakers’ success thus far in 2011-12 to mask a rather urgent need for reinforcements. Whether or not you feel a franchise-altering blockbuster is necessary – and if so, whether said blockbuster would entail bidding adieu to Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol –there is one deal to be made that will bolster this Lakers team, either in the form of an upgrade at the point or quality depth elsewhere (anywhere) on the roster.

As you are no doubt aware by now, in parting ways with Lamar Odom just days before the season tipped off, and received precious little in exchange, the Lakers acquired a traded player exception (TPE). In short a TPE resembles a “deferred multi-team trade,” allowing a team that is over the salary cap (as the Lakers are) to acquire like-priced talent at a future date (TPE’s often expire after a year) for a player dealt today. In the Lakers’ case, this TPE allows for the absorption of up to $9 million (Odom’s $8.9 million salary, plus $100,000, per CBA rules) worth of salary, with minimal loss of on-court productivity. Perhaps even more than the aforementioned blockbuster that would put pen to paper on the next chapter of the Lakers’ superstar legacy, this exception will play a vital role in determining whether these Lakers are able to realize their championship aspirations.

A few ideas regarding possible directions in which the Purple and Gold could go:

Ramon Sessions ($4.2M this season, $4.5M player option for 2012-13) for a 1st round pick

Sessions has been, and continues to be, one of the most logical cost-effective fixes available for Lakers’ most glaring weakness. He is not Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but Sessions is a young (26 in April), productive (15.4 points, 7.5 assists and just 3 turnovers per 36 minutes) NBA-caliber point guard that will solidify the already-dangerous Lakers’ status as a contender in the West.

One potential concern is that he will cost the Lakers some assets, and has the ability to void his deal this summer and will cost more to re-sign. Given the win-now mode in which the Lakers are firmly entrenched, this is more than a worthwhile risk. Plus, is Sessions arrives and plays well enough to gain any serious leverage in contract negotiations, chances are it’s been a pretty solid spring in Lakerland.

Francisco Garcia in exchange for a pair of 2nd round picks, with Sacramento taking on Luke Walton

Maybe not the first name that comes to mind, but ‘Cisco Garcia is a quality NBA veteran that can fill multiple roles for this team. He is a combo guard, but with a point guard lean, does not dominate the ball (20+ USG just once in six years) and historically has shown a nice touch from the outside (just 31% on 3-points this season, but at least 35.6% each of the past five, including 39%+ three times). In addition to easing the Lakers’ pain at the point, however, Garcia (who is 6’7”) would provided depth on the wing, either two spelling Kobe at the two or playing alongside him in three-guard/wing (with Matt Barnes, MWP, Goudelock or Blake) units.

Most importantly, this is a deal that makes sense financially as well. Garcia’s contract pays him $5.6 million this year, $6.1 million next season and has a $6.4 million team option for 2013-14. For the rebuilding Kings the acquisition of Luke Walton (who is making $5.6M this year and $6.1M next) is a cap neutral way to nab a pair of second-rounders without breaking a sweat.

Jason Thompson in exchange for a 2nd round pick (maybe a 1st rounder at gunpoint)

An interesting deadline sleeper. Depending on your perspective (I really like him) Thompson is potentially a fourth starter or excellent bench contributor going forward. Thompson has turned in a solid effort in relief of (and more recently starting alongside) DeMarcus Cousins, scoring in double figures 15 times, grabbing 8+ rebounds 14 times and posting six double-doubles despite seeing the floor for just 24 minutes per game.

Additionally, he is a restricted free agent this summer (qualifying offer is $4.1M, though he’ll likely command more), and with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins in line to get PAID in the summers of 2013 and 2014, $12M+ per year committed to Marcus Thornton and Chuck Hayes for the next four years and another lottery pick on the way, it’s unlikely that Sacramento will be committed to signing him long term.

Amir Johnson in exchange for a 2nd round pick (maybe just simple salary absorption)

Is Amir Johnson the difference between the Lakers and the Larry O’Brien trophy? Probably not. What he is, however, is a young (25 on May 1), athletic big that is productive (10-10), will hit the offensive boards (11.9 ORB Rate) and has range to (generously) 15 feet – in other words, quality depth.

Plus, the fact that he is signed to a lengthy, iffy-but-manageable ($6M, $6.5M, $7M next years) contract with a lotto-bound team set to welcome a pair of top-ten picks (2011’s #5 overall Jonas Valanciunas, plus an addition from the 2012 class) to next year’s squad will suppress the cost of acquiring him.

Paul Millsap in exchange for a 1st round pick

This is the dream scenario.

With Utah quickly fading from playoff contention, the development of the last two #3 overall picks will become a priority, as will showcasing Al Jefferson (owed a prorated portion of $14 million this year and $15 million next season) for (hopefully, if you are a Jazz fan) a future cap clearing deal.

From the Lakers’ perspective, Millsap is an ideal fit – an efficient offensive threat (22.62 APER on just 22.9 USG, per Hoopdata) and solid rebounder (22.2/11.4 ORB/DRB Rates) that is still fairly young, having just turned 27, and has the capacity to play All-Star caliber ball for prolonged stretches. What’s more, Millsap (owed the remainder of $6.7M this season, and $7.2M in 2012-13) is an ideal complement to the Lakers’ current front line, able to step outside (43.2% from 10-23’) when Bynum is in the paint and capable of banging down low (72.4% FG on 4.5 FGA at the rim) when Pau is operating on the wing.

Ok, guys, let’s fire up the mill! Who knows what coming days will bring for the Lakers, but these are my thoughts on possible ways to strengthen the team going forward. Looking forward to your feedback on these ideas, as well as any that you’ve been kicking around.

The Roller Coaster Continues

Darius Soriano —  December 10, 2011

Reports are coming fast and furious and it’s difficult to keep up. But, here’s what we think we know based off reports from reliable sources:

  • The Lakers have dropped out of their pursuit of Chris Paul. The deal that was reworked and resubmitted to the NBA for approval is dead.
  • Instead, the Lakers seem poised to trade Lamar Odom to the Mavericks for future draft pick considerations. This is possible because of the large trade exception the Mavs received when they traded Tyson Chandler to the Knicks.

The assumption is that the Lakers will turn their sites to acquiring Dwight Howard. That’s not yet proven, but seems to be the next logical move in this amazingly windy road of roster upheaval.

Some things to take note of as you all speculate on what could happen next:

  • The Lakers would receive a trade exception in the amount of Odom’s salary in a trade to Dallas. That amount would 8.9 million dollars.
  • The Lakers have a trade exception from the Sasha Vujacic trade in the amount of 5.3 million dollars.
  • However, trade exceptions cannot be combined in order to acquire a more expensive player. So, the Lakers cannot acquire Hedo Turkoglu using either their trade exception from Odom (Hedo makes too much money) and can’t combine the two exceptions to make up the difference in salary.
  • The Magic have made some signings themselves in the recent days. They’ve traded Brandon Bass to the Celtics for Glen Davis and have reportedly made an offer to retain Jason Richardson. By my understanding of the old CBA – and these would be rules that would likely be the same in the new CBA – neither of these players could be included in a trade for Dwight Howard based off rules that restrict trading players right after they’re acquired as part of a trade of more than one player. Said another way, the Lakers could not, hypothetically, trade Bynum and pieces for Howard and Richardson or Howard and Davis.

We’ll update this thread when we know more, but for now comment away.