Sasha Vujacic might want to have his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, put her “friends and family” tickets up on StubHub or something, because the 26-year-old guard might not be playing much this season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite making two insanely clutch free throws that endeared him forever to Lakers fans in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals, Vujacic doesn’t seem to have a spot with the 2010-11 version of the Lakers.
The Lakers went out and signed Steve Blake to be Derek Fisher’s backup at point guard, and with the re-signing of the more athletic and reliable Shannon Brown, Vujacic is currently the fifth guard in the Lakers rotation.
When asked about the situation on Tuesday, Vujacic said all the right things: “We have five guys and everybody can play. We’ll see what happens. I feel confident. I have to play the basketball we all know, and that’s winning basketball.”
Anyone else think Vujacic sounds a little Phil Jackson-esque with that quote?
When asked about possibly sitting on the end of the bench all season, Vujacic continued to say the right things: “There’s no drama. I’m not going to start something with my teammates in the media. It’s going to be good for us this season.”
Interesting. Maybe “The Machine” has grown up a little.
After having a bit of a breakout season in 2007-08, scoring 8.8 points per game, hitting 43.7 percent from three-point range and proving to be a pest defensively in 17.8 minutes per game, Vujacic’s play has dropped precipitously.
During the summer of 2008, he inked a three-year, $15 million deal. And, frankly, he earned it with his growth and maturation as a player. Since that time, his play has dropped off. During the 2008-09 season he averaged 16.2 minutes and 5.8 points per game, while hitting just 36.3 percent from three-point range. He subsequently lost his spot in the rotation to Brown, who proved far more reliable at both ends of the floor.
During the 2009-10 season, Vujacic averaged just 8.6 minutes and 2.8 points per game, while his three-point percentage dropped to 30.9 percent.
This year, Vujacic will not only be playing for his next contract, he’ll be playing for his future in the NBA. Is he going to be the reliable sharpshooter her was in 2008, or Adam Morrison? Only Vujacic can decide what his future holds. He needs to relax and just play basketball, continue to be a major annoyance on defense and knock down open three-pointers when he gets the chance.
The Lakers will likely attempt to move Vujacic’s $5.475 million expiring contract at some point. They don’t seem to need any pieces right now, but if they suffer any injuries, The Machine’s expiring deal could be an attractive trade chip.
Los Angeles could also keep the contract as it will help lower the team’s luxury tax obligations following the season. It will be interesting to see what happens with Vujacic and his deal.