Most of us were likely expecting a very different shoe to fall for the Lakers, whether it was the Pau Gasol deal that has been an on-off presence in the rumor mill for the past few years or one of the Jordan Hill trades that has been rumored in several quarters earlier today, but Steve Blake will be the first Laker to change jerseys as the deadline approaches. From the immortal Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Y! Sources: The Los Angeles Lakers trade guard Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors. http://t.co/ddMbY2ZV5W— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2014
This is a straight salary dump for the Lakers, as Golden State is using one of the traded player exceptions they received in the deal that sent Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush to Utah while sending back token assets to the Lakers in the form of MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. As a result, the Lakers are saving money and picking up two players that could essentially be called reclamation projects or otherwise young players who haven't produced in previous stops, the very kind of player that Mike D'Antoni and this Laker team have done very well with this season.
Neither Brooks nor Bazemore have been especially productive this season despite the Warriors' need for backcourt depth, so we shouldn't have significant expectations here, but they do bring good traits to the table. Brooks was a prolific scorer in college and had a respectable rookie year in New Jersey before falling off in subsequent years. He will have to develop his three-point shooting and distributing chops to be effective, but D'Antoni has succeeded with gunners similar to him in the past, most prominently with Nick Young this season. As for Bazemore, his defensive potential has always intrigued as a two guard with a spectacular 6'11.5'' wingspan, but outside of summer league and D-League contexts, Bazemore has never been especially productive in the league.
Oh, and Bazemore is the top competitor in the league to Robert Sacre's throne as the best bench cheerleader in the league, so this will be fun:
Look for the Lakers to continue to trade pieces in an effort to get picks and drop below the luxury tax deadline as the deadline approaches tomorrow, as this is emphatically a tanking trade in every sense of the team. The front office has firmly stated how they view the remainder of this season; how they follow through with that sentiment and deal away other pieces in an effort to both aid the Lakers' draft position and acquire financial relief the only details to resolve.
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