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The Glove Didn't Fit
The Gary Payton era in LA sure didn't last long. The playoff stiff was traded today to the Boston Celtics along with Rick Fox and a draft pick for Chris Mihm, Chucky Atkins, and Marcus Banks. The truth is that "The Glove" never fit in LA. Despite coming to the Lakers knowing they ran the triangle and that he'd be the third or fourth option, he complained relentlessly about the triangle and being the third or fourth option, once saying "I didn't sign up for this s---." But by the time the NBA Finals rolled around even he admitted a lack of confidence as his uncharacteristically porous defense led to Chauncey Billups picking up a Finals MVP Award.
By ridding themselves of Payton though, the Lakers will be left to wonder if Rudy Tomjanovich could have salvaged the point guard's career by running more pick-and-rolls and going back to a system he was more familar with. But then again, maybe Payton is just an old has-been now. Losing Rick Fox is not a big deal for the Lakers either. He may be a fan favorite (and popular with the ladies), but he is really close to retirement.
This could be considered a garbage for garbage trade though. The Lakers get some young depth, but three rather unremarkable players. Chris Mihm has been a stiff his whole career, and the Lakers have to be kidding themselves if they think he can start at center. He could an adequate backup to Vlade. While his new contract hasn't been revealed yet, we can only hope he's not being overpaid. Chucky Atkins is probably your new starting poing guard. He's the definition of a mediocre-to-poor NBA journeyman. Marcus Banks has some potential though, and might be a decent point guard of the future.
Still, LAist now wonders if the Lakers will be using Lamar Odom at the point more often, clearing the way for him to join Kobe, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and Vlade on the floor. It might be an interesting mix. Kobe could also man the point in some way. Overall this trade probably makes the Lakers slightly better, assuming Gary Payton is over-the-hill. We'll see though if Mihm can make Mitch Kupchak look like a genius.