Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Sasha Vujacic excited about possible increased duties at point guard

Sasha Vujacic's eyes lit up. His smile widened. And his enthusiasm bubbled.

A reporter had asked him about the possibility he'd play more at point guard next season, what with the uncertainty regarding the future of Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar, as well as Mitch Kupchak's contention that the team's back court is the biggest area of concern during the off-season. Though the Lakers' roster for 2010-2011 is far from complete, the mere chance that Vujacic would assume a greater role at point guard left him giddy and excited.

"I love it; I'm not going to lie to you," said Vujacic, who had also assumed more point guard duties with the Slovenian national team. "It's a big responsibility.... I'm up for the challenge."

Barring the Lakers not making any trade proposals involving Vujacic as they unsuccessfully tried last season, Vujacic doesn't have to worry much these days about free agency. He's taken time to relax, follow the World Cup and travel to Wimbledon to watch girlfriend Maria Sharapova, who was recently eliminated by top-seed Serena Williams. But with one year remaining on his contract worth $5.5 million, Vujacic clearly knows how important it is to ride the late-season success, including the two clutch free throws he made in Game 7 of the NBA Finals with 11.7 seconds remaining to secure the win and the title.

"It's no secret," Vujacic said of his contract status. "Not only for myself but I really want to do good for the team. The team wants it."

That includes the possibility that Vujacic assumes more duties at point guard, something that appeared unthinkable last season after his minutes (8.6) and points (2.8) were nearly cut in half from a season ago. Each time his minutes and production picked up, he suffered an injury, including a right shoulder sprain on Feb. 19 against Boston and a left ankle sprain in the Lakers' season finale against the Clippers.

Each injury halted Vujacic's surge in production. Before his injury against Boston, Vujacic's minutes had picked up during Kobe Bryant's five-game absence because of a sprained left ankle. There was a clear increase in production in those games compared to his season average, including points (2.5 to 4.4), rebounds (1.1 to 2.0) and assists (0.6 to 1.8). Before his injury against the Clippers, Vujacic scored a season-high 13 points against Sacramento the previous night, prompting Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to suggest Vujacic would receive heavy minutes in the postseason. It provided a remarkable possibility, considering Vujacic essentially played himself out of the rotation two weeks earlier after arguing with assistant coaches during the Lakers' 91-75 loss to Oklahoma City.

Even though Vujacic returned in time for the Western Conference finals, Vujacic only played in three of the six games. He surely didn't help his cause when his scuffle with fellow Slovenian Goran Dragic nearly cost the Lakers' Game 6 in the West Finals matchup against Phoenix, prompting Bryant to suggest he wanted to kill Vujacic. But those ill feelings all went away once Vujacic made two free throws to clinch Game 7 against Boston, a moment that caused Bryant and Vujacic to embrace each other. That moment also validated in Vujacic's mind why Jackson remained tough on him all season, and proof that he can prevail when given an opportunity. That includes assuming more time at point guard, which could spur success given that Vujacic plays more within the offense and is composed when he doesn't feel he has to jam a game's worth of production into limited minutes.

"Coach made me better throughout the year," Vujacic said. "Sometimes when you don't play, you get pulled out, whatever happens, it's that mental training that PJ does with all the players. I'm glad I kind of passed the test. He gave me that confidence in the most crucial game, not only when the game was on the line but the entire series, the season, he showed me confidence. He puts me in the game like that, that shows a lot."

--Mark Medina

 
Comments () | Archives (23)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rejoice! Per John Ireland of 710 ESPN Phil is returning! Year amounts undisclosed...

Come to think of it talent wise, Sasha IS SAME AS Steve Blake. The difference is Sasha has not been given the oppurtunity and Steve has been given that starter's minutes at Portland.


Phil and FISHER is LAKERS priority, both have outstanding offer on the table. Jerry BUSS made an offer of what he thinks is fair to them, to the Lakers organization, to the Lakerfans. It is up Phil and Fish if they want to come back. But, Jerry Buss has done a remarkable generous decision by securing the most important FIVE out of seven. Bynum, Gasol, Artest, Braynt, Odom, Phil and Fish.

Hey guys, Mike Bresnahan just put a new post up with news you guys will like to hear. Phil Jackson will be back next season

==========================-
[_|___|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|___\
|____Please Comeback PJ ___\__\__
l__________________________--|
\_(O)-(O)_____________|_|(O)___/

THE PLEASE COMEBACK PJ BUS

LEWSTRS
Jon K
lakersrydeordie
Steve
2Phatt
Magic Phil
Fatty
Tom, Long Beach, California
LAL818
Art - FL Laker Fan
#4
Lalaland
savvydude
SamLL
segeboy
Tom Daniels
isaac
Jeannies Bad
Logan
teddy wilson
Rick Friedman
justanothermambafan
LakerTom
Noah
longtimelakerlover
Jay Jay
Nemaia Faletogo
LAKER TRUTH
Mamba24
LakerLass
mud
KB Blitz
dave m
FAN
Scott
Hügö Böss
tata
Steve
DOC4daLakeShow
E
Rocky
J-Dizzle
phred
D(erek)J(eter)
VMan
NewMexicoLakerLifer
HalosAnt
WintonDupree (seat 1)
WintonDupree (seat 2)
Benjamin
Tim-4-Show
rdlee


Hop aboard and show PJ some love....

NEVER DOUBT THE POWER OF THE BUS...

Great Job All....

And never doubt the power of the Buss.

Who was it who asked: What is Phil Jackson the best at?

Sasha has got your answer right here: "Coach made me better throughout the year," Vujacic said. "Sometimes when you don't play, you get pulled out, whatever happens, it's that mental training that PJ does with all the players. I'm glad I kind of passed the test.

Sasha, back up PG, maybe the starter by January with Fishy off the bench.
Hey, not too shabby, could do worse.

Bynum/Gasol/Kwame
Gasol/Odom/Caracter
Artest/Ebanks/Walton
Kobe/Sasha/J-Critt
Blake/J-Critt/Sasha


Kwame better Mbenga, Caracter better Powell, Ebanks better Adam, Blake/Jcritt more Triangle fit than Farmar/Brown...


That's 12 players. I would like to see another SF and FISH.

Yea!!!!, LeWho????? Don't matter, cause the the friggin trophy is stayin' in LA

excited? he's lucky! no one wants him AND he will be instructed not to shoot the farking ball from the stands! as we all know: the triangle doesn't require a conventional PG and at 6'7", he's the ideal fit at the position for PJ. $5Mil to bring the ball upcourt and then pass the ball to Kobe. Only in America folks! all we can wish for is that whoever remains from last year's team is that they will not take the season for granted. they owe it to the buss family, to coach and to each other to dedicate one lousy season from thier lives to nothing but basketball. that means stay in shape, no partying, no bs music, rap, movies or reality shows and just focus because this will be the end of the triangle after pj is gone. other teams have tried it and no one else can coach it - shaw included - as well as the originals: winter and jackson - PERIOD!

wooooot THE ZEN MASTER IS BACKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!

LEWSTERS!

THE LAKERS ARE A CLASS TEAM EVEN IN THE UPPER ECHELON. I THINK FISHER, BROWN AND V WOULD WORK WELL WITH KOBE. THANK GOD PHIL SIGNED FOR ONE MORE YEAR. I BELIEVE BYNUM WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR THIS TIME. PSALMS 50

Staples24...

please. Take a deep breath with me...

(pause)

and think about what you've just written.

Were you not alive in the Kwame Years? Have you forgotten all the fumbled passes, the horrific lapses on both defense and offense, and the overarching, mind-numbing stupidity of the man?

What could possibly compel you to want to bring him back!?

Why bring back Kwame Brown? HE SUCKS! Did you remember Chris Mihm used to start over him? Do you remember how lazy and unconcerned he seemed on the court? No Mbenga over Kwame any day. We really do not need steve blake as Sasha is a better shooter. Is J Critt really better than Shannon? c'mon. Lamar, Shannon and Farmar were our bench this season. Shannon had 8.1 ppg and he can only get better. I say we offer JJ Redick a deal along with shannon and use shannon more as a 1 with Redick having the combo role

Sasha days are numbered. Lakers are reportedly offering 30 mil 5 years to Mike Miller. That would be really hard to refuse.

Sasha you suck. Can't wait until next year when we get to dump your overpaid butt. I wish someone would take your expiring contract this year so we can make some moves to make this team better. No way you are the answer for the Lakers at PG. Stick to coming off the bench and providing energy minutes. This article is stupid dumb to even suggest such foolishness.

Sasha Vujacic: I haven't see another player committing this many dumb fouls since Travis Knight.

It's unfair to ridicule Sasha. He has NEVER been given a legitimate opportunity to develop as a player in the NBA. He puts up one bad shot and he's pulled out of the game. That's not how one develops his skill-set. The guy can play pesky defense. He's fast, with the all important quick feet. He's a very good shooter, specially from down-town. He's not lazy, always gives 110% every minute he's on the floor (= the anti-Kwame Brown). True, he has made plenty of bone-headed mistakes in the past, but let's hope he has ***learned*** from his mistakes.


It would be a real shame to let him go now -- now that he may finally be more polished as a player. Why should we let some other team now benefit from his growth when the Lakers were the were the team that experienced 100% of his growing pains?

Like I said Sasha sucks and he ain't worth $5.5 Mil, especially when we are paying Shamwow $2.2 Mil. He is not starting material. Its too easy for other players to get in his head. The guy he's guarding does a couple of fantastic things on him, now he's taking a dumb shot or making a dumb foul. This is Kobe's team so it ain't gonna be a situation where he is shooting 15 shots a game. On this team you get your shots when we come to you and you better be ready to knock it down. He has not been no where consistent in doing that. I have not followed Mike Miller, but if he can do that then maybe the Lakers should make the move. If the opportunity is there to get rid of his butt so that we can retain players we need and bring to fill some need then get it done. When did Sasha become a more polished player? I seem to recall that dumb tech he got in the Phoenix series when the game was all but over and he gives them a six point play. Sasha sucks!

That "dumb tech" was a classic "euro flop," text-book stuff, even though I agree that Sasha was not smart in raising his arms. I never said he's a "polished" product, but one would hope after 5 years, he's getting there.


Plenty of "stars" in this league would have CHOKED those two critical free throws with the game on the line in game 7, plenty of them, and some on our own team, including Gasol, Odom, Bynum, even Kobe. I've seen it plenty of times.


Without those 2 critical free throws, Boston would be only down 2 points with the ball and 10 seconds to play. Did you see how many 3's they hit in the final 3 minutes? Just the fact that Sasha hit those free throws, icing the most important game of the season against the hated Celtics (after having sat in the entire game), is enough reason to keep him around for at least one more season.

the article doesn't say anything about sasha starting at pg. it just says he could play more there. try reading LakerFanInATL.


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



Categories


Archives
 

About the Bloggers


Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:


In Case You Missed It...