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Ammo Trade Understandable For Lakers

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A Daily Babble Production

It will take time before one can go ahead and say with much certainty that the trade Mitch Kupchak made this weekend is a good one for the purple and gold.  But it does seem to make a fair amount of sense.

The Lakers dealt Vladimir Radmanovic to the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday in exchange for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown.  Brown is a reserve guard who will be moving to his fourth organization in three seasons.  He will make less than $800,000 this year and has an expiring deal.  He could be gone by season's end, or perhaps the Lakers' coaching staff will find his tools to be more usable than the teams at his three previous stops did.  Since being drafted out of Michigan State in 2006, Brown has appeared in just 74 games, so there may still be plenty of room for growth on his end.  But for now, the major players in this swap remain Morrison and Radmanovic.

Morrison's first three seasons in the Association have been a disaster.  He is only in his second season of action thanks to sitting out all of 2007-08 due to injury, but he hasn't been much to brag about when healthy.  Morrison came to the league after a much-heralded career at Gonzaga with the expectation that he might be lacking the size and strength to play the four and the speed to play the three at the pro level.  Both have held true.  He is a poor defender and not much of a rebounder either (3.6 per 36 minutes for his career).

But the real shame has been his shooting.  Believed by many to be his one major transferable skill when he left the amateur ranks, Morrison's efficiency or lack thereof has been miserable thus far.  He has shot just 33.7 percent from three-point range and has yet to break 38 percent from the field over the course of a season.  His true shooting figures of 45 percent two seasons ago and 45.2 percent this season are disgusting.  At this point, if Morrison isn't shooting the ball, he isn't worth much.

But with all that said, there is something to be said for a change of scenery, especially when that change puts a supposed shooter in a much better offensive environment.  On the occasions that Morrison does see the floor with the Lakers, he'll be playing with the league's most efficient offense (the 'Cats rank 27th), and he might find that the good looks come easier for him.  Further, there was no doubt a ton of pressure for Morrison in Charlotte, playing under the watchful eyes of Michael Jordan and trying to live up to his billing as the third pick in the 2006 draft.

It's my belief that Morrison isn't going to be a very good player in this league in the long run.  But he was a terrific one at the collegiate level, and if he does have it in him to be productive as an NBA player, playing with a terrific group and under Phil Jackson's staff in Los Angeles could be as good a shot as any to help bring out the best in him when he does get on the court.

But really, anything the Lakers get from Morrison may be a bonus.  The definite upshot of the trade is the salary relief the Lakers will gain for the bonanza that will be the summer of 2010.  In addition to Brown coming off the books this summer, Morrison's contract is up at the end of next season.  The two will make less than $10.5 million between them over that span.  In addition to making $12.5 million between this season and next, Radmanovic has a player option for nearly $6.9 million for 2010-11.

The only question mark for the Lakers is how much they sacrifice in the short term with the loss of Radmanovic.  On one hand, VladRad has never been a Phil Jackson favorite.  He doesn't rebound all that well for a guy who stands 6-foot-10 (4.1 per game and 6.1 per 36 minutes for his career), and guarding people isn't exactly his strong suit.  Among other things, Jackson has long enjoyed labeling him "Space Cadet."  Not a compliment.  Radmanovic has fallen out of favor in the rotation, losing his starting job and dropping to a career low 16.8 minutes per game.  In his last six appearances, he has only played double-digit minutes once.

But at the same time, it bears noting that Radmanovic is an excellent marksman from the outside.  He is a 38.6 percent three-point shooter for his career, and he is shooting better than 40 percent from deep for the second straight season, posing a career-best 44.1 percent mark.   Space Cadet may get lost defensively, but his 60.4 percent true shooting represents excellent efficiency and an ability to stretch the floor around Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

The Lakers have been worse at both ends of the floor with VladRad on the floor than off this season, 2.9 points per 100 possessions offensively and 2.3 points per 100 possessions defensively.  They also have several viable three-point threats in Derek Fisher (43.4 percent this season), Sasha Vujacic (36.4 percent this year after 43.7 percent a season ago) and Jordan Farmar (36.4 percent).  None hit with quite the accuracy that Radmanovic does, but each of those players also adds more across the board.

In the short term, Vladimir Radmanovic probably offers more than Adam Morrison does to the Lakers in their championship bid this season, but this team has had little problem with him off the floor.  Meanwhile, they get a player four years younger and with more potential as well as some salary cap flexibility for the most anticipated free agent summer of the decade.  Kupchak's move seems reasonable enough on those accounts.