David J. Leonard Reflects on Derek Fisher Trade | The Layup Line

The Derek Fisher Trade

David Leonard

David J. Leonard Reflects on Derek Fisher Trade | The Layup Line

I am a Lakers’ fan. From cradle until grave, I will be a Lakers fan. I was cheering for alley-oops (Coop-a-loop) long before “Lob City;” I have watched games at the Great Western Forum, the Staples Center, and elsewhere. So, when I heard the Derek Fisher had been traded, I was sad. With his jersey hanging in my closet, Fish has always been a favorite player of mine. Defensive-minded, but someone who has always hit key shots – .04 against the Spurs; his 3 against the Magic; his greatness in Game 3 against the Celtics – he has been instrumental in the Lakers’ championships. In a history of the NBA’s greats, Fisher is not one of them, yet his lore and power extends to the likes of West, Baylor, Magic, Worthy, Shaq, and Kobe

At an intellectual level, his trade to the Houston Rockets makes perfect sense. Fish is 37-years old and his best days on the court are certainly behind him. His effectiveness, whether on the defensive end or as shooter, has been in steady decline. Add to this, the economics of the game and that the Lakers’ had just traded for Ramon Sessions, a young and dynamic point guard, one has to concede trade makes sense.

It is clear from yesterday’s trades that the Lakers’ improved their squad, increasing their chances in the playoffs, something every fan has demanded since their last championship two years ago. Yet, I found myself conflicted, uneasy about the trade outside of “basketball reasons.” I was not alone with Lakers’ fan lamenting the trade of Fish (while celebrating the departure of Luke Walton and barely noticing the trade of Jason Kapono). Noting how he was a glue guy, how important he was to the team’s chemistry, and how instrumental he has been for the Lakers’ the overall tone was both reminiscent and predictive. Fans have expressed concern about how his departure may impact the team though little of it has focused on specific contributions – scoring, rebounding, assists, defense, ball-handling – that the Lakers are losing. Kelly Dwyer encapsulates this line of thinking:

There is absolutely no justification for the move. Fisher, to be quite frank, has been absolutely brutal on both sides of the ball over the last two seasons for Los Angeles. He can’t stay in front of even the NBA’s slowest point guards, at this point, and he offers precious little offensively save for the occasional (as in, “32 percent of the time he shoots one”) 3-point basket. By every conceivable standard, he was a millstone for the team on the court. No amount of leadership and smarts (two things Fisher provides in spades) could make up for his shortcomings.

It still doesn’t mean you trade Derek Fisher, heart of the team, to save $3.4 million and a few million more in luxury tax savings. Some guys really should just be untouchable, even as their minutes decrease to nil. Derek Fisher should have been one of those guys.

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