Steve Blake to the Lakers

By Jason Wojciechowski on July 2, 2010 at 4:20 PM

I was going to twitter a bunch of Steve Blake thoughts, and I even started down that road:

I like Steve Blake. I think he'll be a useful player. I like $4M for him. I'm not sure I like four years, but winner's curse, I guess?less than a minute ago via web

This does surely, as @daldridgetnt just pointed out, take Mike Miller off the table. He's not coming for the remaining MLE or the Bi-Annual.less than a minute ago via web

Then I realized that I could probably do better just saying some stuff in a blog post.

As I said, four years seems a bit rich for a guy turning 30, but it's probably the cost of doing business. As Migs and I have discussed many times, 2013 isn't even a concern for the Lakers. You win as much as you possibly can while Kobe is still healthy and productive and you just punt everything else down the road. This could lead to some nasty 49ers-style teams, as they took exactly that strategy in the late '90s, but Flags Fly Forever, so I'll take it.

Blake isn't amazing, but I'll tell you a couple of things he is: a guy with decent size (6'3", though a bit skinny at 172, according to Basketball-reference.com), a very good three point shooter (.393 on his career, just one poor season (2007) from the arc), and a guy who has both come off the bench and played starter minutes. He's also, for those who enjoy making jokes on Twitter (me), making fun of sportswriters using cliches (me), and just generally being exasperated with the state of discourse on race in this country (me), a white guy who has a vague aura of scrappiness ... but who was actually involved, along with Udonis Haslem, in a recruiting scam in high school that resulted in him having to transfer to Oak Hill. (What would we think about a black point guard with that in his past?)

What Blake doesn't have, either in the numbers (DRtg) or his reputation, is much defense. Neither did Jordan Farmar, though, so this is probably a lateral move as far as that goes.

The Lakers have been linked to a few other guys that have got to be out of the question now (if they were ever in the question -- half the rumors in the league are probably started by agents to make their clients look better). It's too bad Mike Miller isn't coming to L.A., but he'd have been five years at even bigger dollars for a guy the same age as Blake (Blake's a week younger) with approximately equivalent three-point shooting. (You don't actually think Miller's going to shoot .480 from downtown again, do you?) Miller does other things, such as play a position that's constantly backupless for the Lakers (Luke Walton will get hurt again) and rebound (about twice as well as Blake, by the percentage numbers), but he's also someone who's used to averaging minutes he wouldn't get in L.A. (He had a solid year as a benchie in 2006 with Memphis, but he was a starter before and he's been a starter since.)

Anyway, the other guy this rules out is Tony Allen, and thank goodness for that. Sure, he played nice defense on Kobe Bryant in the Finals, when his length bothered Bryant a lot. But he's also an utterly useful offensive player. It's not just that he can't shoot, it's that he looks completely lost out there, unsure of where to go and what to do. We already saw the problems a player like that could cause in the triangle this year, but at least Ron Artest, if all else failed, could just camp at the three-point line, where he shot a reasonable 35% on four attempts per game. Allen doesn't have that option. Sure, Trevor Ariza found a way to make it work (don't let the '09 playoffs fool you -- Ariza's really not very good at threes), but Allen's not even Ariza-level at the three-ball.

Anthony Morrow is also out there floating around and the whole point of his availability is that he's a deadeye shooter who, because that's more or less his whole skillset, should come cheap. It's unlikely, though, that he comes cheap enough for L.A. to afford him -- he'd have to take something like two million a year, and he's way too young to be at the "chasing rings" phase of his career. He needs to cash in and square away his family for life on the next contract, or maybe two contracts. He can worry about rings when he's 30.

Even if he were willing to come for that pay, Blake, Morrow, Fisher, Vujacic, Kobe, and Shannon Brown is probably a bit of a crowd. (Brown isn't a lock to come back, but surely the Lakers will try.) Had L.A. signed a small forward instead of Blake, then in theory they could still lure Morrow, but signing a guard (point or otherwise -- it's still Triangle Time in L.A., so the distinction doesn't matter much) probably forecloses this.

This, then, was L.A.'s move, and it was the move the beat writers and rumor mongers had been talking about since about February. Laker fans can nap from now Summer League. The rest of the transaction period is basically going to be dealing with Shannon Brown and filling things out with minimum-salary guys and the two second round picks. Sleep well.

blog comments powered by Disqus