You didn't really think the deadline would pass without a poddy, did ya? You know us better than that. Among the talking points...
- The Lakers are officially different than at March 15, 11:59 am PT. The key new face arriving is, of course, point guard Ramon Sessions. We both think he was a nice pickup, and can really help this team. He's not an elite point guard, but he can get to the rim, run a quality pick-and-roll and move the ball well. I don't expect him to start for at least a couple of games, but eventually, he should help make life much easier for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
- Of course, the day also resulted in a pair of longtime Lakers, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton, exiting L.A. Walton, human punchline/punching bag that he became for most Lakers fans, was a popular teammate and respected in the locker room (by, among others, Kobe). But to be perfectly honest, any on-court utility offered has long-since expired and his contract represented money deader than any presidents on the bills he pocketed. Moving Walton was a no-brainer if possible.
Fisher, however, still brought tangibles to the table, even with his production in decline. Dude's still got a knack for big shots, and it's fitting his final bucket as a Laker was a go-ahead score against New Orleans in OT. More important, as I wrote yesterday, his presence, character and leadership was a major component of the success this team's enjoyed since 2008. His absence will be felt -- not that the team can't move forward, but that's simply a fact -- especially as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.
But ultimately, BK and I think the Lakers made the right call. With Sessions on board and Blake backing him up, Fisher would become a resident of "DNP-CD County," which undercuts his powerful voice and could fuel sour feelings, professional that he may be. Mike Brown also would be placed in the horribly awkward position of having to bench an influential member of a locker room still perhaps not entirely in his corner. Both risked becoming "the bad guy," which isn't fair to either, and from a financial standpoint, the Lakers are allocating their resources much more efficiently. The move had to be made, even if from an sentimental standpoint, it wasn't pretty.
- Gasol is among the more charitable fellows in the NBA, and among other organizations has been involved with UNICEF. Thursday night, he attended a benefit, and sang a, shall we say, weepy song to help inspire some giving.
On one hand, BK and I have spent a lot of time defending Pau against the "Gasoft" label we don't think is fair or accurate, and warbling this particular song does our battle no favors. I get the thematic fit. It's called "How to save a life." The very important message is being driven home. But he might as well been singing "The Rose" or something by Tori Amos. There must be a "tougher" sounding song that inspires giving. Although on the other hand, if you're actually secure enough to sing that in a crowd and Tweet out pics, knowing the snickers that could follow, by definition, how soft can you really be?
Either way, good on Pau for getting behind a good cause, and while I'd label him a better piano player than singer, he's not terrible. Better than me, that's for sure.