The Los Angeles Lakers have made a move before the all star break. It wasn’t quite the move we were all expecting, but it included one of the guys we thought was a goner. I wrote back in December that the Space Cadet would probably be traded, and turns out, I was right.
Vladimir Radmanovic has been unloaded to the Charlotte Bobcats for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown. Vlad is obviously the best player involved in the deal and the Lakers aren’t gaining much. In fact, I’m not sure they gain anything at all.
The strange part of the deal is the contracts we take back. Many have already speculated that this move is strictly a salary dump, but with Morrison still being on the books for another season after this one, that doesn’t seem to be the case. If they wanted to save money I’m sure they could’ve found an expiring contract for this season.
I’m assuming that Phil Jackson likes the prospect of adding in potential role players. These guys haven’t achieved much in their careers thus far but have potential. Here is a clip of Phil Jackson’s thoughts:
From this interview, the lasting impression is the term developing talent. Morrison has upside potential and I look forward to seeing whether he can be a successful player in Los Angeles. It’s interesting looking at how things work out. With this trade, the Lakers, who haven’t had a decent first round pick in years besides Andrew Bynum 10th overall, have acquired an overall #3 pick in Morrison. Only three years in it’s interesting to see the Lakers pulling in some talent before the old guys get too old.
The only other team in the league that I could think of that would be able to pull of a deal similar to this would be the San Antonio Spurs. The management seems to think in similar ways and the only difference is the current players on the roster and tradeable assets.
I think this trade will be good for us. Vlad was having his best season as a Laker but his minutes were limited and bringing in some new talent to surround Kobe, Pau, and Bynum with could prove to be beneficial. Time to put Phil Jackson to work!
This is the official press release and a few answered questions from Mitch Kupchak as displayed on Lakers.com.
“As the season wore on, it looked like Phil (Jackson) had settled into starting Luke (Walton) and bringing Trevor (Ariza) off the bench, and we are very pleased with both players. Vladi (Radmanovic) started the season (at small forward) and I thought he played well, but here it is early February and it looked like he wasn’t going to play much. You can tell by just watching and talking to Vladi that he did want to play, and he didn’t come here just to sit on the bench and collect a paycheck. So, part of the decision was to accommodate a player that wanted to play.
From our point of view we feel we pick up two players that are still young developing players (is valuable). As you know, Adam (Morrison) was their No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and had an ACL injury against us last year. That injury takes more than a year (to recover from), so we think he would benefit from a situation that has less pressure, and our staff here in terms of our people downstairs medically and just a stable environment where he could progress and get back to where he was in college. Shannon Brown is a developing player as well – you may recall that he played really well against us in L.A. last week. So we picked up two players that have upside. If there was a third reason, we picked up some flexibility down the road with a shortened commitment versus Vladi’s (financial) commitment.”
The Lakers were looking for a new defensive look off the bench that “Maybe Shannon Brown could come in and give us something we don’t have.” The former Michigan State standout is a solid 6-4, 211 pounds, and can body up on both shooting guards and small forwards.
To Kupchak, it didn’t make any sense to keep a player “who was highly compensated on the bench and not playing at all, especially if he was not happy.” So shipping Radmanovic seemed to be a good option regardless; getting two young players with potential surely sweetened the deal.
When asked if he felt the Lakers were taking a risk in making the deal in terms of chemistry, Kupchak replied that since Radmanovic wasn’t playing, that shouldn’t be an issue. Vladi was “well liked,” but the feeling was if Vladi continued not to play, he would have been more and more unhappy: “Then maybe the chemistry side doesn’t look as good.“
It was obvious to GMs around the league that the Lakers had an overabundance of small forwards. In short, Radmanovic, Walton and Ariza had to duke it out for playing time, and even though Vladi played well as a starter, Jackson opted for Walton due to his understanding of the offense and ability to move the ball, while Ariza’s minutes couldn’t be diminished in the interest of the team. As such, Vladi became expendable, and opposing front offices knew that. It just “Took a little time to see whom Phil was going to settle on,” explained Kupchak.
Neither player has previous experience with the triangle offense, but Kupchak doesn’t see learning it as a problem. “We’re not going to expect either player to come in and produce right away, although if they earn it, they could.”
The deal started to take shape in the middle of this past week, according to Kupchak. A second conversation followed on Thursday, and the deal was done Friday.
Kupchak thinks Vladi, at worst, improves Charlotte’s relatively thin bench, adding that he might in fact start with Gerald Wallace on the bench due to the injury suffered against the Lakers last Tuesday.
When asked if the Lakers were done on the trade front before the February 19 deadline, Kupchak responded in turn: “I wouldn’t say that I’m making a lot of calls. We have the best record in the league right now, we just had a great road trip and hopefully we can end it really strong tomorrow. The news on Andrew (Bynum) was not good, but it looks like he’ll have a better chance to return this year than he did last year, so I’m not sure we want to address anything more than continuing to win as many games as possible and hope to get Andrew back.
More pointedly: “I don’t think there’s a deal out there that can make this a better team than the one we have or the one we potentially have.”
Kupchak doesn’t think there are any big men that are better than Chris Mihm or D.J. Mbenga that wouldn’t command equal value on the trade market. “I don’t know why we’d do that.”Finally, a business note: Both Morrison and Brown have to pass physicals before playing for the Lakers, and neither will be with the team on Sunday in Cleveland. Instead, both players will fly to Los Angeles to take their physicals on Sunday and are expected to practice with the Lakers on Monday.