- (PHOTO:REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
The Lakers went in with the new and out with old Thursday, letting go of two longtime veterans to cut their budget and make room for some new faces.
As trading ended on Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed in point guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga. Making deals that cut dangerously close to the 3 p.m. deadline, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has accomplished an impressive feat.
"He pulled off the rare trifecta of shedding payroll while making his team younger and more talented at the same time through two deadline deals," ESPN sports writer Dave McMenamin wrote.
In the first trade, Jason Kapono and Luke Walton were traded away to Clevland, in addition to the Lakers first round draft pick, for Sessions and Eyenga. The second trade, however, was a more difficult decision to make.
The Lakers' co-captain, 37-year-old Derek Fisher, was traded, along with another player, to Houston for center Jordan Hill.
Although the youthfulness may help the future of the team, Kupchak admitted that it was difficult to let Fisher go.
"I'm concerned, yes," Kupchak said in a news conference Thursday afternoon. "I'm not sure that it will translate into a team that performs any less ... but, you can't underestimate Derek's contribution from a chemistry point of view and on the court that he's given to this organization. It can't be underestimated, and you can't say that this team is going to wake up tomorrow and play as if he was never here."
Kupchak also admitted that it would be awkward to suggest that Fisher play the sidekick to 25-year-old point guard, after being accustomed to years of starting.
"I know he would have been professional," Kupchak said. "Personally, I think it would have been a tough position to put a player like him in ... It's just hard to do."
The trade is likely to have caught Fisher by surprise. Although he may have heard rumors of being traded away, Kupchak admitted that he did not have a personal conversation with the 16-year veteran and has failed to talk to him since.