Lakers move on after trades
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers' practice court looked a little less crowded than usual Friday morning as familiar faces Derek Fisher, Luke Walton and Jason Kapono had been jettisoned out of town in trades the day before and the three new Lakers -- Ramon Sessions, Jordan Hill and Christian Eyenga -- had yet to arrive.
While everyone in the gym was aware of the transformative moves the franchise went through at the trade deadline, the team went about preparing for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night in their normal fashion.
"We know it's a business," Matt Barnes said. "After losing L.O. (Lamar Odom) earlier in the season, losing Fish was definitely a big shock to everybody on the team, but we know that we have to keep it moving."
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Lakers coach Mike Brown said he did not address the team about the trades, nor did he confer with Kobe Bryant to hear his thoughts about losing his longtime backcourt mate in Fisher.
"I didn't speak to him at all about it," Brown said.
Bryant did not speak to reporters after shootaround and was already off the practice court by the time the media was allowed in.
Sessions realizes many people are wondering whether he's the right choice to replace Fisher on the roster. He's probably even aware Bryant might be among those people.
But if Sessions feels any pressure about following the five-time NBA champion point guard in purple and gold, he didn't acknowledge it in his first few hours at Staples Center.
"It's just a dream come true," Sessions said Friday after his first visit to the Lakers' locker room, where he saw his new No. 7 jersey.
"I've been a basketball fan all my life," Sessions said. "I know a lot about the history of the Lakers, and it's just an honor, a privilege. ... There's no secrets. You come in here and look up at the banners, and you know history has been done in here."
Sessions formally joined the Lakers on Friday night and was cleared to play against Minnesota, but Hill is not cleared to play yet, as his trade to the Lakers from Houston is still pending. Eyenga has yet to join the Lakers in L.A., as he was on a D-League assignment with the Canton (Ohio) Charge when the trade occurred.
"I wouldn't have a problem (playing Sessions and Hill if they were medically cleared)," said Brown, even though neither player has gone through a practice with their new teammates. "Will I do it? I don't know."
Barnes said he spoke to Fisher on Thursday.
"He was just shocked like the rest of us were and he was just praying that things worked out for us and for him," Barnes said.
Fisher is expected to pursue a buyout with the Houston Rockets. He would be able to re-sign with the Lakers come July 1, but a reunion with the franchise is unlikely to be pursued by either Fisher or the Lakers.
"He's going to do great wherever he goes," Steve Blake said. "He's that type of guy."
Blake, whose name was linked to several trade rumors in the days leading up to the trade deadline, will start at point guard against Minnesota. The Lakers also recalled rookie Darius Morris from the D-Fenders, the Lakers' D-League affiliate, on Friday to give the team some depth at point guard on the bench.
The Lakers' plan is to get Sessions up to speed and into the starting lineup as soon as possible.
"I think I would be very off-base if I said Steve was going to be my starter for the rest of the year," Brown said.
Brown said he believed the Lakers are better a day after the trade deadline than they were a day before it, mainly because of Sessions.
The coach reached out to contacts around the league, including one of his former assistant coaches as well as Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant, a friend of Brown's, to "do his homework" about the fifth-year guard out of Nevada.
"He's a pick-and-roll player that can get downhill, get into the paint, get to the free throw line," Brown said. "He's strong. He's got some size. He's got some speed to him, some athleticism to him. So, from that standpoint, he'll be different than what we have."
While the Lakers were shocked to see Fisher go, Pau Gasol was certainly happy to have the trade deadline pass and still be with the team. Gasol celebrated Thursday by singing a karaoke version of The Fray's "How to Save a life" at Unicef's A-List for the Playlist event at the El Rey Theatre. Gasol was named the Lakers' new co-captain Friday, joining Bryant.
Hill will wear No. 27 and Eyenga, who is expected to be assigned to the D-Fenders, will wear No. 88.
Said Brown: "It's a business. I think we all understand that. There's nothing that's forever and ever in anything."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.