And just like that, the “Player President” has been traded away from L.A. Talk about some misdirection.
The Los Angeles Lakers trade Derek Fisher and a draft pick acquired in the Lamar Odom to Dallas deal, to the Houston Rockets for power forward Jordan Hill. Hill was drafted by the New York Knicks with the 8th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Hill could possibly be the ultimate energy guy for this Lakers team, if he can get into the rotation. He is an athletic big who can finish around the rim, rebound and block shots. His main deficiencies include not being able to get his own shot, as well as playing with a high level of consistency.
But this deal is really not about acquiring Hill, it was more so about the Lakers clearing space for their new point guard acquisition of Ramon Sessions earlier Thursday.
The Lakers traded away Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and their 2012 first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Sessions. The Lakers also received a thrown in player by the name of Christian Eyenga, who was assigned to the Lakers NBDL team. In Sessions, the Lakers get a point guard who averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 assists per game coming off the bench. Sure he is quick of the dribble, a decent shooter, and above average defender, but the biggest difference between he and Fisher is his youth (Session 25, Fisher 37), and his ability to keep up with faster and younger point guards.
Now this is the time in this blog where I choose to take the opposite route of most of the pundits, on fully assessing the Lakers’ trades.
Yes, I know the Lakers got younger, yay for the youth movement, or not. I’m not so convinced that these pieces gives them a better chance at contending for a championship, than with Fisher. I would have more so, preferred the Lakers picking up forward Michael Beasley from the Minnesota Timberwolves, without giving up Gasol (which was a realistic scenario that somehow fell through).
Obviously, the offensive production from the point guard spot was a key area of concern for the Lakers, so on paper this trade makes sense, but that’s where it ends for me. Sessions and Hill are clearly not battled tested, meaning they don’t know whats it’s like to be on a team where the objective year in and year out is to win championships. Yes, Sessions youth and extra five points per game will be welcomed, and if Hill can crack the rotation, he gives the Lakers another big to spell Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but are they made of championship mettle (clearly a rhetorical question we all know the answer to)? If they were, I don’t think the Lakers would have gotten them for like “black market cheap.” The Lakers, Cavaliers and Rockets, basically just shuffled bench caliber players amongst themselves, excluding Fisher of course.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Fish, and I would have had a certain level of loyalty to him if I was Mitch Kupchak, and would have allowed him to finish this season with the team before parting ways, but I’m not. But this notion of getting Sessions would cause Fisher to fall out of the rotation on most nights, and racking of a gang of DNP’s is a bit extreme. Kupchak would go on to say that he didn’t want to have “four point guards on his team”…..ummmm dude that’s what you already had on your team with Fisher, Steve Blake, Andrew Goudelock, and Darius Morris. With them acquiring Sessions, they could have easily put Morris in street clothes right behind the bench. Honestly, they could have looked to their fellow Staples Center tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers, on how to play with multiple point guards on one team. Now obviously, the Clipper point guards, outside of Paul are more natural scorers, but they managed to make it work to their advantage. Bottom line, Fisher could have still started and you could have came off the bench with Sessions and Blake, so you wouldn’t have to rely on the rookie Goudelock, to step up and take on big minutes if someone got injured or in foul trouble.
My biggest issue with the trade is the championship pedigree you lose when you deal away the likes of a Fisher. He was the calm before the storm, the voice of reason, reassurance, confidence and maturation wrapped into one. He was their vocal leader, while Kobe Bryant was their “lead by example” type of leader. He is one of only a handful of past and current teammates, who could waive off Bryant to take, and make big shots when they mattered the most. The Black Mamba relied on Fisher heavily, and one can only wonder what’s Bryant’s true perspective on losing his partner in crime (since coming into the league together in 1996), these trades and if they turn the Lakers into legitimate contenders. Let’s not forget, Fish was a big, big reason why the Lakers have won two out of the the last three NBA championships (defeating Orlando in 2009, Game 4 specifically and Boston in 2010, Game 3 heroics). Say what you want about him losing a step or two, and that his shot is not as consistent as it use to be, Fisher stepped up his play in crunch situations in his own ”just in the nick of time” type of manner.
Since the millennium, there has only been three constant proponents on the court, when it comes to the Lakers’ five championships; Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. A class act on and off the court, the Lakers won’t simply be able to replace a player like D-Fish.
On behalf of Laker Nation, I salute you Mr. 0.4, it’s been real Mr. Player President!
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Written by Arthur Kai