Kobe Bryant was surprised to see Derek Fisher traded to the Houston Rockets on the final day before the NBA trade deadline, but he will be a much happy camper when his team starts winning meaningful games down the stretch toward the playoffs.
Bryant, who has played a total of 13 seasons with Fisher, said he was "shocked" by the trade.
"I think I was shocked just like everybody else...We've always been close and we'll continue to be close," Bryant told ESPN 710 Radio.
But Bryant's shocked attitude will not last long. He knows, and the NBA knows, that the Lakers are a better team without Fisher at point guard. Sessions brings solid ball-handling and good offensive awareness to L.A. He also is a terrific facilitator, one that can set up Bryant for good looks throughout the floor.
That is why Bryant will be happy to see Sessions passing to him and getting open looks. Sessions has the ability to make Bryant look really good and he knows that, especially after scoring 28 points in Sessions' first game. From the LA Times:
"It makes my job a lot easier," said Bryant, who posted 28 points on nine-of-20 shooting, including five of eight from three-point range. "I get a lot of easier opportunities. I sit on the perimeter. I got a lot of spot-up shots tonight both from his break-down penetration and from teams collapsing on Andrew [Bynum]."
Fisher was just that veteran the team wanted to keep around for all the great things he has done for the franchise. He could not facilitate the ball and he was not reliable enough for the team to win with Fisher at point. Towards the end, Bryant was forced to penetrate the ball and create for himself.
Now, Sessions will be able to do that.
Sessions is everything Fisher used to be, without the career-making shots in the playoffs.
The 25-year-old is also having a career year from three-point range, something the Lakers could rely upon in the playoffs to complement the games of Bryant, Bynum and Gasol. Sessions is shooting nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc this season.
I don't blame Bryant for being unhappy or "shocked" that a long-time friend of his was traded before one of the biggest stretches of the season. But the productivity the Lakers got in return is going to prepare this team for a run in the NBA playoffs.
With Fisher, L.A. was no contender in the West, but with Sessions, the Lakers now have a facilitator that can help the team challenge the top seeds.