The Los Angeles Lakers have been trying to remake their backcourt by trading away point guards Steve Blake and Chris Duhon in order to make space for Derek Fisher, but this move would not improve the roster.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Fisher is eligible to re-sign with the Lakers, despite speculation that the new collective bargaining agreement did not permit this. Stein also notes that Los Angeles would have to clear space on both the roster and the payroll in order to bring him back and is attempting to trade Duhon and Blake in order to do so.
There have not been any detailed rumors about who Mitch Kupchak and the L.A. front office might be targeting, but fans can only hope that a point guard who can play defense would be involved in any trade that involves Blake and Duhon.
Currently, Duhon is the only PG on the Lakers roster who is not a defensive liability. ESPN’s John Hollinger (Insider account needed) writes:
He retains some value on defense, with decent lateral movement and technique and the advantage of experience. Synergy rated him above average last season, and the Magic gave up 5.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court.
Starter Steve Nash has better vision than any player in the NBA and will certainly dish out spectacular assists on a regular basis, but his defense has been mediocre at best for much of his career.
Blake, like Nash, is not an especially quick player and his defense suffers because of this. He and Fisher struggled last season to guard the talented floor general that are scattered across the Western Conference.
Duhon, while not a spectacular defender, is at least adequate. Lakers fans will not be cringing when Chris Paul or Tony Parker is bringing the ball up the court and Duhon is waiting on the other end of the floor.
This was certainly the case last season when Blake or Fisher was in the lineup, as point guards like Paul and Parker could take the veterans off the dribble at will.
Should the Lakers trade away Duhon and Blake?
Duhon is capable enough to get in the way occasionally, and that currently makes him the team’s defensive ace at the point guard position. Trading him away and not receiving another player who can effectively guard his man would be a mistake.
While Fisher is among the best locker room leaders in the NBA and his presence means more to the Lakers than any other team, players like Nash and Kobe Bryant are capable of providing veteran leadership. A proficient defender at point guard is much more important to the team’s success than another glue guy.
Even with average defensive play on the perimeter, Los Angeles will excel on this end of the floor with Dwight Howard protecting the rim.
If an opportunity presents itself going forward to add a defensive-minded player in exchange for Duhon and Blake, this would be worth considering. However, Kupchak must not ruin the balance he currently has in the backcourt.
This close to the season the Lakers are far better off sticking with their current balance at point guard instead of shuffling the backcourt to try and clear room for Fisher.