He was never going to be Shaq, but when the Lakers signed Vlade Divac in the off-season my reaction was that he would be a good bridge between the old Lakers and whatever they team would evolve into in a few years.
But Vladeâ€™s back blew up that bridge before the season started, and now it looks like heâ€™s out for the entire season. Maybe heâ€™s back for the playoffs, but how big a role he can play at that point is questionable.
At this point, I think itâ€™s time write Vlade off as the Lakersâ€™ bridge and just move on. There are two reasons for this: 1) Chris Mihm has emerged as a solid center, and if there were a good four along side him (or if you brought in another center and moved Mihm to the four) you would have a solid inside presence; 2) The Lakers need to find the young players that will be part of their future, not use stop gaps this year. That is why I donâ€™t like the idea of Karl Malone returning â€” heâ€™s a short-term measure not a long-term answer.
At the end of this season, the Lakers can buy out Vlade for $2 million. I think they should take it, allowing him to move on (or retire) and the Lakers to do the same. This was one of those good ideas at the time that hasnâ€™t worked out like we hoped. We need to start making decisions now for three years from now, not just playing to get the seventh seed this season.
Update: Vlade is going under the knife and will miss at least 12 weeks.