Two years ago in the NBA Finals (’08), Sasha Vujacic was finishing games as one of L.A.’s closers and generally getting abused by Ray Allen. That season saw him average just fewer than nine points a game while shooting almost 44 percent from downtown. This past postseason, Vujacic went from goat to hero, as his free throws late in Game 7 helped seal L.A.’s 16th championship.
Now it appears that will likely be his coronation as a Laker. Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Vujacic will likely be traded — along with a first-round pick — to save money. With that extra cash (“The Machine” makes $5.4 million) Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will re-sign reserve guard Shannon Brown.
Or at least that’s the plan.
Cleveland was linked to Brown as a possible destination, but Windhorst believes that was more of a flirtation than anything else.
Last year, Vujacic averaged career lows in minutes and points. His playoff playing time dwindled all the way down to under eight minutes a game.
Vujacic has value as a shooter off the bench. But Brown is clearly the better overall player at this point, since the Machine hasn’t been oiled in a while. There was speculation that Delonte West could be moved for Vujacic — putting West, Ron Artest and Matt Barnes on the same team — but even if that were to happen, it’s more likely the Lakers would waive West to take advantage of his partially-guaranteed contract.
If they can bring Brown back, the Lakers would have at least one viable backup at every position. They would counter Miami’s top-heavy lineup with one that goes 12 deep if the second-round draft picks stay with the team:
PG: Derek Fisher, Steve Blake
SG: Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown
SF: Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks
PF: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derrick Caracter
C: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff
For a team whose bench became a weakness at times last year, that equates to a pretty good summer.