Lakers trade Steve Blake to Warriors for MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore
The Lakers have traded point guard Steve Blake to the Warriors in exchange for guards MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore.
Blake, 33, is averaging 9.5 points, 7.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 33 minutes per game over 27 appearances for the Lakers, although he has missed time this season with an elbow injury. The 11-year veteran is making $4 million this season in the final year of his contract.
“The acquisition of Steve Blake will provide us with additional veteran depth at point guard as we enter the stretch run of the season,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said in a statement. “He’s had a productive career and is a player who can both run an offense and has the ability to shoot the basketball. On the other hand, we thank Kent and MarShon for their contributions to our team both on and off the court and wish them success as they enter the next stage of their careers.”
Brooks, 25, has averaging 2.6 points in just 17 appearances for the Celtics and Warriors this season. Acquired by Golden State from Boston in a three-team trade that also landed Jordan Crawford, Brooks is earning $1.2 million this season. The third-year guard did not have his rookie option picked up for the 2014-15 season.
Bazemore, 24, is a seldom-used guard most known for his enthusiastic cheerleading from the bench and standout play at the Las Vegas Summer League. The second year guard went undrafted out of Old Dominion and is averaging 2.3 points in 6.1 minutes per game over 44 appearances this season. He is in the final year of a minimum salary contract.
Lakers Grade: B
There’s no question that an excess amount of pride can be a weakness. Cutting ties with Blake signals that the Lakers are: 1) not delusional about their fate this season, and 2) not too proud to save a little money. The exchange reduces L.A.’s cap figure by roughly $2 million and puts them in a position where the right trade or trades on Thursday (Jordan Hill, among others, has been mentioned in rumors) could actually get them under the luxury tax line this season. Even if those additional deals fail to materialize, Blake’s departure will provide additional luxury tax savings. This is a textbook salary dump for a team headed nowhere (except to the lottery drawing).
Moving out Blake’s deal isn’t cause for a gigantic celebration, however, as the Lakers were the ones who initially signed him to an inflated four-year, $16 million back in 2010. They were stuck with the deal until the last minute and are now resorting to simple deck clearing. The return package — Brooks and Bazemore — might make the balance of L.A.’s nosedive 2013-14 campaign slightly more tolerable, but neither is likely to be a home run and neither is guaranteed to stick in Hollywood. Neither player is owed future money, which was surely a prerequisite for their inclusion here. If both move on, this trade will wind up as an afterthought.
Warriors Grade: B+
Golden State has long been on the prowl for a back-up point guard to replace Jarrett Jack, who took the Cavaliers’ money and ran last summer. The Warriors signed Toney Douglas but traded him to the Heat a few months later, landing the score-first Jordan Crawford from the Celtics in that three-team exchange. Needing a more traditional point guard option to support Stephen Curry and run the second unit, the Warriors appear to have found a nice short-term fit with Blake, so long as his injury issues are behind him.
This is a very clean deadline maneuver: Golden State didn’t need to take on any future salary or part with any picks to get it done. The Warriors are simply renting Blake for the duration of the regular season and the playoffs; a decision on what comes next can wait until the summer. Brooks and Bazemore hadn’t proven helpful this season so their departures don’t weigh very heavily on this decision. Even better, Golden State remains just under the luxury tax line despite the additional salary they took on during the move. Again: this was a very clean maneuver.
Blake’s lack of major upside and his injury issues this year are the only nits to pick here. Otherwise, this is a strong, proactive, and logical move for a wannabe contender looking to plug an obvious hole as it gears up for the postseason.