A week ago, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to trade Steve Blake, well-respected within the team, for what seemed to be spare parts right before the trade deadline. The decision to trade Blake stemmed from trying to avoid the luxury tax, but more importantly, the opportunity to let younger players shine. The move was not taken well by some players, including Kobe Bryant, who respected Blake’s tenacity and work ethic on and off the court.
With the inability to move any other assets and Mitch Kupchak’s insistence that saving a couple million does not matter to the Lakers, the move seemed pointless. But with players returning from injury, the move meant that Blake’s minutes were now up for grabs. And it looks as if these players are taking advantage of this opportunity.
While Kent Bazemore was more known for his on the bench celebrations than his scoring prowess, he has quickly accepted the playing time and shown Kupchak that he may be worth keeping around for another year. Bazemore has shown an ability to run the court and finish in transition as well as an aggression to get to the rim. More importantly, he is probably their best perimeter defender outside of Wesley Johnson. He continues to grow in confidence which will only help his game.
MarShon Brooks had a promising rookie campaign, but has been unable to find consistent playing time the past couple of seasons. He plays like a poor man’s version of Nick Young, unafraid of any scoring opportunity that comes his way. On a team short of shot creators, he has given them a nice secondary option, although he still needs to prove that he can do more than just shoot the ball.
During the offseason, with Kobe’s large contract and potentially money on the books with Steve Nash, the Lakers will once again be on the search for bargain players. Whether or not they choose to chase a high profile free agent remains to be seen, but they will need bodies to fill the bench. Bazemore has proven that he deserves a look, with his athleticism, high-energy and youth. Brooks has also played well, putting up solid scoring totals in the past three games.
Both players have added some excitement to the Lakers during a rather dull season. They are finally getting the opportunity to play, and are playing as if they have nothing to lose. So for now, the Lakers can say that they made the right move, but only time will tell if they will truly benefit from the trade.