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More Than a Trade Chip: Steve Blake

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Signed to help the Lakers defend their championship in 2010, Steve Blake's tenure on the Lakers was instead littered with injuries as the team has disappointed over the last few seasons.

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It almost seems besides the point to evaluate on Steve Blake on his season or provide a retrospective. In a lost season for the Lake Show, Steve Blake only played 27games before being traded to the Warriors for Kent Bazmore and MarShon Brooks, a move the Lakers made to shed salary and take a flyer on some young players heading into this pivotal offseason. A lottery bound Lakers team had no need for a heady, veteran PG in his mid-30’s like Steve Blake. Once seen as a missing piece to sustained championship success, Blake left the team without much fanfare.

Coming off of the 2010 championship season, the Lakers signed Steve Blake to a four year deal after losing Jordan Farmar to free agency. I remember having high expectations for the Steve Blake era, hoping his passing abilities and outside shooting would help the Lakers and reduce the minutes that they had to rely on Derek Fisher for. He was mentally tough and a true professional in the classic PG mold that the Lakers had lacked in years.

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Unfortunately, Blake showed flashes while in Los Angeles but it would be difficult to classify his tenure as a successful one. The Lakers made the playoffs three times, but were swept out twice in the process and registered their worst season in franchise history this year. Blake struggled with injuries, missing substantial time in three out of four seasons. Although hurt consistently, Blake had a precession of freak injuries. In addition to the run of the mill hip, knee, and groin problems, he missed games with chicken pox, abdominal surgery, stepping on a spike strip, and a cartilage fracture.

When healthy, his numbers were pretty much in line with what he’s produced throughout his career: above average three point shooting, a good assist/turnover ratio, and a below average PER. Blake was an effective captain of the bench, decent starter in a pinch, and played a major role in the playoff push last year after Kobe went out with an Achilles.

Although Blake never had a defining moment as a Laker and wasn’t healthy enough to be a steady contributor, you can imagine an alternate universe where Blake’s career in Hollywood was totally different. Steve demonstrated a killer instinct, a fearlessness when it came to taking big shots, and earned the respect of his teammates. There were flashes of the Steve Blake that Lakers fans were hoping for.

Upon hearing that Blake had been traded, Kobe tweeted, "Not cool with @SteveBlake5 being gone AT ALL One of my closest teammates and psycho competitor GS picked up a gem #smartmove." When Kobe Bryant calls you a psycho competitor, you’re clearly doing something right.