After surviving 16 trade deadlines in his career, Derek Fisher finally fell victim to a deal at the final buzzer. The point guard who has been drafted with and played alongside Kobe Bryant for each of his five championships is a member of the Rockets now, with the Lakers sending him to Houston in exchange for 24 year-old forward, Jordan Hill.
Wow. Was anyone expecting that? I don't think so.
After the Lakers sent Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and a 2012 first-round pick to Cleveland for point guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga, it appeared as though the team would try to complete the widely discussed three-team deal with Minnesota and Portland to bring Michael Beasley to Los Angeles and send Steve Blake to Portland.
Instead, in a deadline-day shocker, the Lakers opted to deal Fisher. Regardless of the reasoning for the move, it's a decision that elicits many emotions and memories from Laker faithful.
While Fisher had brief stops in Utah and Golden State before returning to L.A., it was widely thought that he would finish out his career in a Lakers uniform. In addition to his unwavering professionalism and clutch shooting, Fisher played another vital part for the Lakers. He was the Bryant's biggest confidant on the team.
When Fisher re-signed with the Lakers in 2010, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA described the special bond the Los Angeles superstar has with its former point guard:
Bryant came into the league with Fisher back in 1996, and has won five championships with him and none without him. They are great friends in the way that only men who have grown up together, fought together, lost together and won together could be.
Still, during their 11 seasons together as teammates, Bryant probably has had more arguments with Fisher than almost any other player.
Face to face, voices raised, in front of the entire team, but behind closed doors on the practice court.
You never heard about any of these clashes, because they were always about basketball and never personal.
No one ever had to step between them as they argued. Actually, no one would dare.
Fisher had earned the right to talk to Bryant that way. Bryant respected him enough to listen.
And now, just like that, he is gone.
The Lakers will save the $3.4 million that was owed to Fisher next season, but how does a team that is trying to get back to contending for a championship value $3.4 million over one of their greatest leaders in the locker room?
When a 33 year-old Bryant is gunning for championship number six while being the NBA's highest-paid player, a cost-cutting move that involves trading away the team's greatest rock is a move that the team likely could have done without.
If there was concern of a split in the locker room between Fisher and newly-acquired Sessions, Fisher's professionalism over his 16-year career should have guaranteed him the benefit of the doubt. It didn't though, because this move, more than any other deadline deal, proves that the NBA is a business and that there are precious few situations where loyalty comes into play.
While Dwight Howard waived his early termination option in Orlando and said that he was "too loyal" during a press conference to announce the move, the Los Angeles Lakers were dealing their locker room leader and co-captain to save a few million dollars.
Jordan Hill could come to Los Angeles and fill a void at the forward spot where Josh McRoberts has been struggling and all could end up being well in a Fisher-less La-la-land. We also might be on our way to learning just how much of an impact Fisher had on the Lakers locker room.
Bryant had a radio appearance scheduled in L.A. today. Shortly after the news broke that his co-captain was traded, the appearance was cancelled.
What's the price of loyalty in the NBA? It would appear that $3.4 million is the asking price in Los Angeles.