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Lakers make risky decision trading Derek Fisher

March 15, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Celtics power forward Brandon Bass pressures Lakers point guard Derek Fisher during their game Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
Celtics power forward Brandon Bass pressures Lakers point guard Derek… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers lameted Derek Fisher's inconsistent shooting. But they marveled at his clutch shots.

They fretted over his inability to stop young and quick point guards. But they admired his willingness to make key deflections and take key charges.

Fisher hardly matched Kobe Bryant's talent. But he nearly matched his work ethic and toughness.

And the list goes on and on.

That's why it shouldn't be surprising Laker fans remain in what appears to be a state of contradictions. They responded with glee when they acquired Cleveland guard Ramon Sessions because it stripped away Fisher's starting position. They responded with sadness moments later when the Lakers traded Fisher to the Houston Rockets for forward Jordan Hill because it stripped away Fisher's standing as a Laker.

And that's what makes this move so difficult. Laker fans view Fisher with varying degrees. Some looked at his Laker legacy: his five championship rings, his classiness, his locker room leadership. Some harped on his deficiencies: his age (37), his declining speed, his inconsistent scoring. But many appreciated all those aforementioned qualities and understood what that resembled. Fisher remained a role player who maximized his abilities and found ways to help talented and super-star laden Laker teams win.

Parting ways with Fisher brings tremendous risk.

Fisher remained the lone player who has the clout and relationship to stand up to Bryant. Fisher prevented any locker-room dissension from boiling over significantly. He garnered the team's universal respect. The Lakers appeared to understand that by pursuing Minnesota small forward Michael Beasley for Blake, but that deal never happened.

But this move still served a higher purpose. 

The Lakers trimmed away their temporarily logjammed point guard position in favor of acquiring more help at small forward.  Blake proved to be a more dependable point guard than Fisher this season. The move prevented any potential conflict all the roster shuffling would've created. As much as Fisher has expressed his willingness to accept any role, the politics in how he and his teammates would handle such a demotion could've become complicated.

With that approach, the Lakers upgraded their on-court production on the same day they have set themselves up for major adjustments off the court. That's not a good things. As Fisher had demonstrated throughout his time with the Lakers, his off-court intangibles always provided more value than anything he brought in a game.

And now the Lakers don't have it, without any plan in sight in fulfilling that gap.


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