Now that Derek Fisher has been traded to the Houston Rockets (as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports), one would expect some outrage over the Lakers trading a guy who has been one of their most loyal players over the past decade. We’ve heard none of that from Kobe Bryant.
That’s surprising for a couple reasons.
First of all, we know that Bryant isn’t shy about giving his opinion on the Lakers, whether it is their management, coaching or his teammates. From earlier this season when he called out management for not making a decision about Pau Gasol’s future, or back in 2007 when he ripped the team for not doing more to help him win, Bryant is not bashful about offering his two cents.
He also just lost a valued teammate who he has played with for many years. Fisher is one of the very few guys on the court that Bryant trusts to shoot other than himself, and he was there with Bryant during all five of his championship runs.
That experience and loyalty is hard to come by these days in the NBA, with players flying around between teams and always taking the better money or better roster over loyalty. Fisher was extremely loyal, but now it appears that Bryant is not returning that loyalty.
The fact that Bryant hasn’t spoken out at all about Fisher leaving is a pretty obvious sign. It means simply that he didn’t have any problem with dealing the aging point guard, especially if it would help him win.
On a team that was trying to get younger and better, Fisher was lagging behind. He’s been a liability of defense for three or four years now and is too small to use his height or length to his advantage in that area.
This season, Fisher has averaged 5.9 points, 3.3 steals and 2.1 rebounds. He has shot 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from the three-point line. Unfortunately, those numbers just won’t cut it on a championship-caliber squad. That’s why the Lakers had to ship him out, because that’s what they want to be.
Bryant’s silence on his departure is a clear message that Fisher wasn’t cutting it and that he knew it. The Lakers star isn’t a dumb guy. He knows the game of basketball because he has lived, eaten and slept it his whole life.
He knew that they needed to make an upgrade. I’m sure he was sad to see his friend and valued teammate of so many seasons go, but it was a decision that had to be made so that he could win. We all know what Bryant’s priorities are: He wants to win championships, and he is willing to change or destroy anything that stands in his way of that goal.
Fisher’s ineptitude was in the way. He’s an older guy, but who knows? Maybe Houston will buy him out and he can head back to LA eventually. No matter what, remember this: Bryant supported this move. He hasn’t said so, but his silence has said it for him.