Being a public sports figure is more difficult than most of us could ever comprehend. Just think how Derek Fisher must feel these days. D-Fish has an undisputed place in Laker Lore for his numerous clutch moments and overall quality of character. Still, that hasn’t stopped the entire hoops universe from proclaiming him to be one of the weakest links on the Laker roster.
Unfortunately this post isn’t going to do much to turn the tide of Fisher flogging. The Lakers need to upgrade at the point guard position…badly.
Just over a year ago there were rumors of Mitch Kupchak calling the New Jersey Nets to see what it would take to get Devin Harris in Purple and Gold. One year later it’s time to reopen the Harris file.
Before we breakdown his game, let’s first cut to the chase and talk about what it would take to acquire DH.
Assuming we’re operating under pre-lockout rules, the Lakers would have to match Harris’ $9-million salary for the 2010-11 season. Currently a member of the Utah Jazz, Harris has two years remaining on his deal and is owed $17-million.
Now assuming the Jazz are willing to part with the man they exchanged for D-Will the Lakers have a few options.
Most likely any team that opens trade talks with the Lakers is going to inquire about Lamar Odom as Kobe, Pau and Bynum are assumed to be off limits. In the case of LO, there is a pretty even match meaning a straight swap could be accomplished.
Problem with that scenario is that the Lakers lose their most valuable and versatile asset off the bench. While Harris is an instant upgrade the loss of Odom would be far too great.
Moving on, the Lake Show could offer Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) and say Derek Fisher or Steve Blake in exchange for Harris. Artest provides a veteran presence in Utah though he does leave a defensive void in Los Angeles. Something tells me D-Fish might not be so well received in Utah so let’s go with Blake for this scenario. Blake’s got three more years left on his deal so there is a chance teams might balk at the prospects taking on his contract.
For the Lakers it becomes imperative to deal one of their point guards as inheriting Harris would create a bit of a log jam at the position.
All that aside, let’s talk about why it makes sense to pursue Harris.
To begin, he instantly adds two things the Lakers have sorely lacked. First and foremost Harris is a solid defender at the point. He’s got good size for a lead guard and has world class speed on top of it. This brings us to perhaps his most important contribution – open court speed.
Harris is a blur on the court. We’re talking Tasmanian Devil type movement here. Allen Iverson thinks Harris has wheels. Get the point? Considering the Lakers’ inability to slow the more elite and much quicker point guards of the NBA it’s time to adopt the if you can’t beat em join em philosophy.
With the insertion of Harris the Lakers can finally begin to play a more up-tempo style when necessary while also adding a perimeter player capable of getting into the lane thus creating open looks, easy buckets and causing general bedlam.
Now there are some drawbacks. Harris has improved his shot since entering the NBA but has never been known for as knockdown shooter. Still, career marks of 44% from the field, 30% from three and 80% from the line are nothing to be ashamed of. Mix that in with 5 dimes and 1 steal per NBA outing and you’ve got yourself a new and improved backcourt.
As great as this all looks on paper it is very much a fantasy right now. There’s no telling if we’ll even have a season in 2011. If we do then who knows what the new CBA will dictate relative to player movement. No matter what comes of this labor strife the fact remains that a change must be made. No offense, D-Fish.