Let's see what we can make out of Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak's deal with the Charlotte Bobcats, in which L.A. receives third-year player and former No. 3 overall draft pick (2006) Adam Morrison and fellow 2006 first-round pick (No. 25) Shannon Brown.
The bottom line from Kupchak's conference call with media members here in Cleveland is three-part:
A) Radmanovic had fallen beneath Luke Walton and Trevor Ariza on the small forward depth chart, and did not appear likely to play much for the rest of the season. Particularly since Radmanovic was "highly compensated," in Kupchak's words, it didn't make sense to keep him when he wasn't getting minutes.
B) The Lakers acquired two young players with upside that have a chance to help the Lakers down the line, if not this season. Morrison is a terrific shooter and Brown a strong, athletic wing player who might give L.A. a different defensive look off the bench than it previously possessed.
C) The salary and number of years factor favors the Lakers. In Kupchak's words, "We picked up some flexibility down the road with a shortened (financial) commitment versus Vladi's commitment." Basically, Shannon Brown’s contract expires at the end of this season, and Morrison’s expires at the end of next season. Radmanovic’s contract, however, goes through 2011, so the Lakers pick up an extra year of flexibility.
Mitch Kupchak Conference Call Transcript Intro
"As the season wore on, it looked like Phil (Jackson) had settled into starting Luke (Walton) and bringing Trevor (Ariza) off the bench, and we are very pleased with both players. Vladi (Radmanovic) started the season (at small forward) and I thought he played well, but here it is early February and it looked like he wasn't going to play much. You can tell by just watching and talking to Vladi that he did want to play, and he didn't come here just to sit on the bench and collect a paycheck. So, part of the decision was to accommodate a player that wanted to play.
From our point of view we feel we pick up two players that are still young developing players (is valuable). As you know, Adam (Morrison) was their No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and had an ACL injury against us last year. That injury takes more than a year (to recover from), so we think he would benefit from a situation that has less pressure, and our staff here in terms of our people downstairs medically and just a stable environment where he could progress and get back to where he was in college. Shannon Brown is a developing player as well - you may recall that he played really well against us in L.A. last week. So we picked up two players that have upside. If there was a third reason, we picked up some flexibility down the road with a shortened commitment versus Vladi's (financial) commitment."
The Lakers were looking for a new defensive look off the bench that "Maybe Shannon Brown could come in and give us something we don't have." The former Michigan State standout is a solid 6-4, 211 pounds, and can body up on both shooting guards and small forwards.
To Kupchak, it didn't make any sense to keep a player "who was highly compensated on the bench and not playing at all, especially if he was not happy." So shipping Radmanovic seemed to be a good option regardless; getting two young players with potential surely sweetened the deal.
When asked if he felt the Lakers were taking a risk in making the deal in terms of chemistry, Kupchak replied that since Radmanovic wasn't playing, that shouldn't be an issue. Vladi was "well liked," but the feeling was if Vladi continued not to play, he would have been more and more unhappy: "Then maybe the chemistry side doesn't look as good."
It was obvious to GMs around the league that the Lakers had an overabundance of small forwards. In short, Radmanovic, Walton and Ariza had to duke it out for playing time, and even though Vladi played well as a starter, Jackson opted for Walton due to his understanding of the offense and ability to move the ball, while Ariza's minutes couldn't be diminished in the interest of the team. As such, Vladi became expendable, and opposing front offices knew that. It just "Took a little time to see whom Phil was going to settle on," explained Kupchak.
Neither player has previous experience with the triangle offense, but Kupchak doesn't see learning it as a problem. "We're not going to expect either player to come in and produce right away, although if they earn it, they could."
The deal started to take shape in the middle of this past week, according to Kupchak. A second conversation followed on Thursday, and the deal was done Friday.
Kupchak thinks Vladi, at worst, improves Charlotte's relatively thin bench, adding that he might in fact start with Gerald Wallace on the bench due to the injury suffered against the Lakers last Tuesday.
When asked if the Lakers were done on the trade front before the February 19 deadline, Kupchak responded in turn: "I wouldn't say that I'm making a lot of calls. We have the best record in the league right now, we just had a great road trip and hopefully we can end it really strong tomorrow. The news on Andrew (Bynum) was not good, but it looks like he'll have a better chance to return this year than he did last year, so I'm not sure we want to address anything more than continuing to win as many games as possible and hope to get Andrew back.
More pointedly: "I don't think there's a deal out there that can make this a better team than the one we have or the one we potentially have."
Kupchak doesn't think there are any big men that are better than Chris Mihm or D.J. Mbenga that wouldn't command equal value on the trade market. "I don't know why we'd do that."
Finally, a business note: Both Morrison and Brown have to pass physicals before playing for the Lakers, and neither will be with the team on Sunday in Cleveland. Instead, both players will fly to Los Angeles to take their physicals on Sunday and are expected to practice with the Lakers on Monday.
Check back tomorrow for more on the two newest Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired forward Adam Morrison and guard Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Vladimir Radmanovic, it was announced today.
Morrison, currently in his 3rd NBA season out of Gonzaga, was selected third overall by the Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft after earning unanimous First Team All-America honors and garnering multiple National Player of the Year awards his senior year. Named to the All-Rookie Second Team following the 2006-07 season, Morrison appeared in 78 games as rookie including 23 starts, averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29.8 minutes while earning T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors for November 2006.
Missing the entire 2007-08 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in an October 20 preseason game against the Lakers, Morrison has played in 44 games this season including five starts, averaging 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes with a high-game of 16 points November 11 vs. Denver.
In 122 career games (23 starts), Morrison is averaging 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 24.5 minutes.
Brown, also in his 3rd NBA season out of Michigan State, was originally selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 25th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Traded to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Ben Wallace deal in February of 2008, Brown signed with Charlotte as a free agent this past August. In 30 games with the Bobcats this season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points in 11.4 minutes with a season-highs in points (16), steals (4) and minutes (26) coming November 3 vs. Detroit.
In 74 career games (9 starts), Brown is averaging 4.5 points in 10.6 minutes.