Found March 28, 2012 on Fox Sports West:
A few weeks ago the Lakers cast aside their starting point guard and co-captain, a fan favorite and locker-room leader, Kobe Bryant's best friend on the team and a guy whose clutch shots helped secure five championships for the franchise. It was a tough, emotional decision, but it had to be done. Now, when Derek Fisher returns to L.A. with his new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, for Thursday's game at Staples Center, he may be extra-motivated to beat his old team. After all, it surely hurts to feel like you're no longer wanted. But the Lakers did what they needed to do. To compete for a championship this season, the Lakers needed a younger, more athletic point guard who could help take pressure off L.A.'s Big Three of Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol on both ends of the court. They got one in a trade with the Cavaliers just before the deadline, and 25-year-old Ramon Sessions has been just what the doctor ordered. Sessions is averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 assists in seven games with the Lakers, the last three as a starter. He's shooting 52.8 percent from the field. Compare that to Fisher, who averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 assists in 43 games for L.A. this season while shooting 38.4 percent. But it's not just numbers. Sessions adds a totally different dimension to the Lakers. He's a fast point guard who can push the ball in transition, get off his own shot in a halfcourt offense and really put defensive pressure on opposing point guards. The Lakers haven't had a point guard like that since maybe Norm Nixon. There are ancillary things that stream from that. Because of what Sessions can do, it's easier for everyone else to play their game. Gasol and Bynum get easier shots because Sessions can penetrate, draw defenses and get them the ball. Matt Barnes is a big beneficiary because he runs the court and moves well without the ball, so Sessions can find him in transition and in open spaces. Then there's Kobe. Let's face it, opponents haven't really had to guard Lakers point guards recently, so Kobe's had to basically work against 1 defenders all the time. There's been pressure on him to initiate the offense, create all the shots and be the only real perimeter threat. It's very taxing to do those things every game. With Sessions, Kobe can still lead the league in scoring, but he can be more efficient and take easier shots. There don't need to be as many isolations. He can play off the ball and come off screens or spot up. I know Kobe really liked and respected Fisher. Fisher was someone he could talk to and who made him calmer and more relaxed. But I think he'll really like playing with Sessions. They can make each other better. That's the other side of it. Sessions makes the game easier for his teammates, but these are also the best teammates he's ever played with. They'll make the game come easier to him. He'll have more driving lanes and better outlets when he penetrates. They don't need him to be great. They just need him to play a role. Of course, that's what Fisher did so well for so many years with the Lakers. He never tried to do too much, but he was somebody who could hit big shots and be a leader. I think the Lakers will miss that. He's somebody who everyone respected and he unified the locker room. If they wanted, the Lakers could have kept Fisher even after trading for Sessions. But that would have created a strange dynamic, I think. Fisher wouldn't have been getting many minutes. Sessions would have been looking over his shoulder. It was better to make a clean break. Trading Fisher was the right decision. And look, Fisher obviously landed on his feet. The Rockets bought out his contract and Fisher signed with Oklahoma City, a team that really needed a backup point guard and a guy with playoff experience. Most of their best players are 22 or 23 years old. They're a young team, extremely talented, and they have a great coach in Scott Brooks. What they don't have is a ton of playoff experience. Kendrick Perkins gave them some of that last year. Fisher gives them a lot more. Derek can really help the Thunder as long as he can also still play a little bit. The intangibles are great, but you also have to be able to help on the court. So far, he's missed 17 of 22 shots with Oklahoma City. He'll have to be better than that, but they don't need him to play a big role. Just basically what he did in L.A.: a spot-up shooter who can spread the court. The Thunder have almost everything else. Kevin Durant keeps getting better and better. Statistically, he's the best closer in the game. Russell Westbrook is an outstanding scorer who is also a tough, gritty defender. Serge Ibaka is the best shot-blocker in the league. James Harden is the best sixth man. This is a really, really good basketball team. They're the best team in the West right now. Down the road, I wouldn't be surprised if the Thunder and Lakers meet in the West finals. That would be a great matchup. Getting Sessions helped narrow the gap between the teams. Point guard was a huge advantage for the Thunder; now it's less so. I think Sessions was the biggest trade-time acquisition in the NBA. It's the move that will pay the biggest dividends if everyone stays healthy. But the Thunder also helped themselves by getting Fisher. If the Thunder and Lakers are in a tight game Thursday or in the playoffs, wouldn't it be fun to see Fisher take the last shot?
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Kobe Bryant just bought a $329,000 Ferrari

If you were wondering about the latest thing that Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant decided to purchase, you need to look no further.The good folks over at TMZ did the research and found out that Kobe has purchased a brand new Ferrari:According to our sources, Kobe's new ride is a Ferrari 458 Italia. We're told the Black Mamba paid $329,000 yesterday for the car ... which...

Kobe Drops $329K on a Ferrari

According to a report by TMZ, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant made an expensive purchase recently.  Kobe paid for a new Ferrari 458 Italia for $329,000.  Perhaps this is another one of his bachelor purchases?  Or perhaps this is a purchase to gift to his newly acquired teammate, Ramon Sessions, as a way to say thanks for someone to pass him the ball all the time...

Lakers 104, Warriors 101

Kobe Bryant is back to being the closer. Two days after getting benched late in a home loss to Memphis, Bryant made a pair of jumpers in the final 64 seconds, finishing with 30 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the short-handed Golden State Warriors, 104-101 on Tuesday night. Bryant missed his first two shots in the final period before twice rising over a pair of defenders...

Lakers-Warriors Preview

Kobe Bryant is mired in a bit of a scoring slump, and the Los Angeles Lakers have had some trouble slowing down opponents. A game against the struggling Golden State Warriors could be the answer to both of those problems. Bryant and the Lakers look to continue their dominance over the Warriors Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. After winning eight of 10, Los Angeles has dropped three...

Thunder-Lakers Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the team to beat in the Western Conference, but Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are showing they may have another run in them - provided they stay focused. The Thunder visit the Lakers on Thursday night in Derek Fisher's return to Staples Center. Oklahoma City (38-12) continues to hold onto first place in the West, although San Antonio has...

Report: Kobe Will Push To Bring Odom, Fisher Back To Lakers

This comes a day before Derek Fisher revisits his old stomping grounds: Kobe Bryant is planning a hard push to recruit Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom back to the Lakers as free agents in the summer, a source familiar with Bryant’s thinking told NBA.com as Fisher prepares to return to Staples Center as a member [...]

DEREK FISHER RECEIVES ROUSING L.A. LAKER TRIBUTE IN RETURN TO STAPLES!

A floor general and a gentleman, Fisher was the steadying voice during 5 NBA titles in LA. OKC may be his sixth. I think I speak for most of LakerNation when I say DEREK FISHER has left an indelible impression in the hearts and minds of Laker lifers everywhere. So it was that the 5-time NBA champion returned to Staples Center Thursday night as a member of the OKC Thunder (weird...

Kobe caps Lakers' win at Golden State

Two days after getting benched late in a home loss to Memphis, Kobe Bryant made a pair of jumpers in the final 64 seconds, finishing with 30 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the short-handed Golden State Warriors, 104-101 on Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant: “Keep Yo Muh Fuggin Mouth Shut”

]Los Angeles Lakers and the OKC Thunder are dueling to what could be a Western Conference Finals preview, and Kobe and the rest of the purple and gold squad are playing with their hearts out on the hardwood. So, it’s no surprise when Thunder’s Sefolosha, there were some exchanging of words: You will see Kobe Bryant [...]

Lack of bench scoring could hurt the Lakers come playoff time

The Lakers clearly were one of the trading deadline winners, acquiring point guard Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers for Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. The team also got more frontcourt depth, trading the aging Derek Fisher to the Rockets for Jordan Hill. Sessions in particular was a great acquisition, as he gives the Lakers a true scoring threat at point guard that can attack the...

POTD 3/28/12: Javale McGee or Blake Griffin?

Notice that the title reads or, not on… although I kind of wish it said on.  Anyway, both Javale McGee and Blake Griffin threw down top-notch dunks last night, but you know how the game works.  There can only be one Poster of the Day, and on this day it’s Javale McGee on Jose Calderon.  To summarize the play in a single sentence, Calderon tried to pull a James Jones and ended...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.