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Lakers Report Card: Joe Smith

6a00d8341c506253ef014e86b164b8970d-320wiIn this the 13th edition of the Lakers Report Card we focus on reserve forward Joe Smith.

Grade: D

Everywhere he went, Lakers forward Joe Smith wore a smile on his face.

He smiled when he shook hands with the Laker starters during introductions. He smiled as he wore his headphones in the locker room, shaking his head to various rap songs. And he smiled anytime he interacted with a teammate, team official or reporter.

But a cheerful expression was about all the Lakers got out of Smith, whom they acquired Dec. 15, 2010, from New Jersey for Sasha Vujacic and a 2011 first-round draft pick. All accounts say he practiced hard. He didn't drastically mess up in the 3.7 minutes per game that he averaged. And the 15-year veteran brought the right attitude, getting along with everyone and providing positive energy.

But that won't make a big difference in his grade. What struck me about Smith was that he seemed perfectly content with his lot -- a 1995 NBA Draft pick who became a moving part in the league, holding the NBA record for most franchises played for (12): the Golden State Warriors (1995-98), Philadelphia 76ers (1998), Minnesota Timberwolves (1999-2000), Detroit Pistons (2000-01), Timberwolves again (2001-03), Milwaukee Bucks (2003-06), Denver Nuggets (2006), Chicago Bulls (2007-08), Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-09), Cleveland Cavaliers (2008-09), Atlanta Hawks (2009-10) and New Jersey Nets (2010). Likewise, the Lakers appeared in no rush to get him acclimated with the triangle offense and to be able to eat up serious minutes so that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum could rest. 

From a practical standpoint, the Lakers whiffed on trading Vujacic and the team's first-round pick. The team could've used Vujacic's intensity in practice and ability to be an irritant at defense since the team didn't have much of an edge all season. The Lakers could surely use that first-round pick to bolster their roster following a disappointing playoff finish in a four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. At the time, I lauded the move -- I thought the Lakers would make better use of Smith to help handle their dwindling frontline depth, and also I believed Vujacic had become irritating to many in the Lakers  organization.

There's no denying the Lakers' main motivation in acquiring Smith. The trade, in which the Nets also sent Terrence Williams to Houston, allowed the Lakers to save money. Vujacic was making $5.5 million in the last season of a three-year, $15-million contract he signed in 2008 with the Lakers; Smith's salary was $1.4 million this season. But for all the bemoaning regarding Pau Gasol's increased fatigue level during Andrew Bynum's rehab, the Lakers surely had an opportunity to develop Smith so he could help offset that problem.


It seems that Smith arrived too late. Bynum already had returned to the lineup, diminishing any urgency about getting Theo Ratliff to full health or worries about shelling out an extra $70,000 a week to get a backup center or fears that rookie forward Derrick Caracter would prove unreliable. But it's not as if those issues suddenly evaporated. Gasol still felt a residual effect from the increased minutes he played during Bynum's absence, Ratliff missed nearly the rest of the season, and Caracter didn't take the proper steps to fully prepare for opportunities. 

The problem points both to the Lakers and Smith. He acknowledged that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson never outlined any vision for what his role would entail, and Smith appeared nonchalant in trying to find out.  As much as he gave a good effort in practice and brought a positive attitude, Smith didn't sound too concerned with his learning curve with the triangle. As much as the Lakers liked his positive vibes, Jackson never expressed much urgency in him needing to fit in with the team as quickly as possible.

The Lakers could've gotten away with this gamble had they fixed their more egregious problems, such as the team's inconsistent focus and effort, Gasol's playoff disappearance, Kobe Bryant's late-game unreliability, shooting inconsistency from Ron Artest and Derek Fisher as well as a deteriorating bench. But both the longheld attitude from the organization and Smith in remaining satisfied in skating by proved one example of a much larger picture in trying to cut corners into reaching a championship.

-- Mark Medina

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Top photo: Laker Joe Smith blocks a shot by Hawks center Zaza Pachulia in February. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Associated Press

Bottom photo:  Smith pulls up for a jumper over Detroit’s Jason Maxiell in January. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire

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How do you give a grade to a guy that did not even play for up to 10% of the season? Just give a N/A or better yet don't even bother and thus reduce thread count by one for the day.

PSP Intern

Mark Medina

Do you feel like you are managing this blog well? Attendance is at an all time low (no, this is not because we are no longer playing; even during the dark years of Smush/Kwame it never got this bad).

Take this weekend for example; at one point it was taking over 12 hours for comments to be posted. Half a day!! You can't expect people to be able to carry out a meaningful conversation with that kind of lag.

Today you are back and we have had 3 ( maybe 4?) threads already of mostly useless info, or stuff that could be merged into a couple of threads at most WHILE still having moderation on and thus completely ensuring no continuity in conversations.

PSP aside, I'm speaking as one that has been around here for over four years and seen the quality of the blog go down the drain recently. I am not saying you are to blame 100%, but to be honest you are not helping matters much. You really should listen to what the bloggers say because ultimately we ARE the blog. Anyway that's just my 2 cents, hope some of it makes sense to you.

After flaming out in the second round, Lakers fans have been pretty quiet as they anxiously await any news about who will be the team’s new head coach and what roster improvements will the team make.
What jumps out at me as I watch the Bulls vs. Heat and Mavs vs. Thunder in the Conference Finals is that none of these teams are really better than the Lakers when we bring our A-game. While that may sound like sour grapes to the trolls, it is something to keep in mind when looking at roster moves.
It’s looking more and more to me like the Lakers are going to surprise everybody with their selection to be the team’s new head coach. The Lakers slow and steady approach to choosing Phil’s successor probably works against Brian Shaw or Rick Adelman being chosen since both are also being talked about as prospects for other NBA head coaching positions. The delay may well mean that the Lakers will make a surprise move. Hopefully, it will be picking someone like Jeff Van Gundy, whom I would greatly prefer, instead of a former Lakers’ coach such as Mike Dunleavy, whom I really dislike.
The fact that we now have a second incident where an NBA player used an anti-gay slur during a game surely indicates a league wide educational effort is needed to teach professional basketball players that such slurs are a serious matter and something to which they need to pay attention. You would think that a league dominated by African-American players would be more sensitive to the damage and hurt that can be caused by using off-color slang and crudities that demean any minority group.
The more I have thought about it, the more I think the team’s top priority in the offseason is going to be to get a new starting point guard, regardless of whether the team opts to stick with Brian Shaw and the Triangle Offense or goes a different direction and hires a new head coach outside the organization. We just cannot continue with Derek Fisher as the starter. We need a point guard who has the speed and quickness to help cut down on penetration and the leadership to intelligently direct the offense.
There are three reasons which I specifically believe demand that we upgrade the point guard position. First, we need a playmaker who can push the ball in transition to get easy baskets. This is where we really miss Jordan Farmar’s contribution. Second, we need a playmaker who can get the ball to our bigs in the post. You cannot play inside-out basketball if you cannot get the ball inside. Imagine how many dunks Andrew Bynum would get if he had CP3 or DWill feeding him the ball in the post.
Third, we need a point guard who can get the ball to Kobe Bryant in position to make easy baskets. The way that teams are guarding Kobe on isolations and pick-and-rolls make it very difficult to isolate him the way we have in the past, not to mention how such isolation plays bring the offense to a halt. It’s time now to begin to run plays to take advantage of Kobe’s midrange jumper much like the Celtics run plays for Ray Allen, using screens and motion to get easy shots from within the offense. Kobe will much more effective as a focal point WITHIN the offense rather than always GOING outside it.


why are you giving grades to people who didn't play?


you wrote: The more I have thought about it, the more I think the team’s top priority in the offseason is going to be to get a new starting point guard, regardless of whether the team opts to stick with Brian Shaw and the Triangle Offense or goes a different direction and hires a new head coach outside the organization. We just cannot continue with Derek Fisher as the starter. We need a point guard who has the speed and quickness to help cut down on penetration and the leadership to intelligently direct the offense.

my response: Perhaps this is a semantic issue. I disagree w/ how you've
written this. Maybe we mean the same thing. Allow me to clarify.

The loss of Farmar, Ariza & Sasha made the Lakers older, slower & less
athletic. This needs to be addressed. Right now, the Lakers are slow at the
PG, SF, PF & C positions. Our SF, PF, & C have other attributes which offset
their slowness. If you are paying attention to the playoffs, now that the
Lakers are done, you are seeing quite a lot of speed. Whether or not we
*NEED* a speedy pg is debatable depending upon other things that happen,
such as do we keep our PF/C positions intact.

Jerry West said that Bynum & Pau would have a problem playing together
and he was right. They're both slow footed. [ note: Bynum did run faster
w/o the second brace. ] [ note: Bynum still needs to concentrate more on
defense and run back. he doesn't. neither does Gasol. ]

re: the leadership to direct the offense. You've got this wrong. Kobe is
directing the offense. We need another perimeter shooter/player to take
stretch the floor and who can get to the rim. I would prefer to see Barnes
as starting SF over Artest. He's faster & more athletic.

Moving Kobe to PG would address this issue as well. Jerry West alluded to
this happening as it happened to him as well.

(REPOST) just had to do it.

Well looka here, Lakers on the BEACH. What a SAD and pathetic sight, the 2x champs playing in the SAND why don’t you just put your head it, you did in the playoffs. This is what they've been REDUCED to, a disgusted, dysfunctional cast of under achievers. Remember that slogan “If were healthy NOBODY can beat us 4-7”

Dude...I've been beating the Heat as the new NBA Champs all season, and all you Lakerholics, HATER has to face REALITY. It just makes you SICK...don't it haters.

Six and counting, when you turn on your idiot box to ESPN and behold the KING getting his RING. You can only ask yourself WHY, HOW and WHAT HAPPENED to 0ur team. The bottom line, next year you can'll be the same results. Just be happy that the Heat won't be busting you a new one in the FINALS. Just start a BANDWAGON to say a PRAYER for the Mav's, but how bad can a sweep get? 4-0 with a 36-point @zz kicking to BOOT. SAD, Go Heat

Practice Season Police - I'm managing as well as I had last year given the circumstances. I'm sure there is frustration about the moderation but the minute I turn moderation off, handle jackers come in. I had the same problem last year, but no one seemed to mind it. Obviously I'd like more participation but I've been doing the management the same part last year when there weren't complaints. I agree with everyone that I don't like Typepad, but The Times has their hands tied with it because it's a Tribune operation

@Laker Tom - I've giving grades to every person on the roster. With Joe Smith's post, I used it as a launching pad how the Lakers didn't handle the Sasha Vujacic trade well.

@Ludwig - talking around people is rude, and last time I checked, EUROPE was not the NBA....if Marc Gasol was that good, how come he couldn't even be on the lakers roster?? Weren't they looking for a center? Yet........he could not even get on a roster until he was traded to the Grizz. And if I have something to say to someone, even if they root for another team, I'll be sure to say it right to them and not THROUGH anyone else - that is arrogant and rude!


What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


The Lakers fumbled in so many different ways with the Vujacic situation this year.

I watched the Nets games since the Sasha trade and I saw how he regained his game. Not only he helped the Nets to win some games but personally, he managed to show some old form of himself. The Laker management saved some money in that trade but after we lost in the playoffs, I think the management really lost some playoff earnings than gaining from Vujacic's contract and we lost that draft too. I think, the coaching staff really made a mess when they allowed him to sit on the bench and gave Shannon too many minutes instead of sharing it with him; Sasha is more reliable than Shannon during playoff games, he proved that many times. He could have been used to guard Jason Terry or Stojacovic or chase Barea which Fernandez did during the Portland series...Barea was not as effective in that series as with the Lakers and I wondered why the Lakers did not apply that strategy. Anyway let's hope that the Lakers front office will make necessary adjustment to make our roster more competitive next season...speed really makes sense this current playoff season...Go Lakers......for now I root for the Canucks in the NHL....

@HOBBITMAGE... Hope you are enjoying the extra time we all seem to suddenly have. :-)
Like always, our disagreements are again of degree. First, I do agree that the offseason moves left the Lakers as an older and slower team. Without a doubt, Ariza is younger and faster than Ron Artest. Similarly, most of us originally thought that Blake and Barnes would easily replace the speed we lost with Farmar and Sasha. In retrospect, we probably would have been better off not trading them. At this point, hindsight is not really going to do us any good. Blake and Barnes may shine next year.
While I do agree that the teams left in the playoffs at this point are for the most faster and quicker teams than our current Lakers, I don’t necessarily see that as compelling evidence that the Lakers need to get quicker and younger in order to be competitive. What I do agree is that we can no longer have both Artest and Fisher in the lineup together because of their lack of speed and quickness. The time has now come to replace Fish as our starting point guard. He has now become our Achilles heel and we our first priority has to be to find an immediate replacement as our starting point guard.
I know you believe that part of our problem is that we are playing two 7-footers , which is something Jerry West alone has contended would not work because the Lakers would be too slow. While I surely respect Jerry West’s opinion, I think most objective observers would conclude that we have seen far more evidence that the combination of Bynum and Gasol can work fine when we execute our offense. The issue to me is our NOT taking advantage of our 2 seven footers, which would easily compensate for any easy baskets other teams were able to get against us in by running in transition.
As for my raising the leadership issue, you may understandably attribute my comments as a disrespecting Kobe, who at this point in time is obviously our team leader on the floor. The simple truth, however, is that a major need of the team as Kobe gets older and the rest of the league gets younger is to have a balanced offense that prevents other teams from doubling Kobe and taking the ball out of his hands. This will be especially critical if we do not promote Brian Shaw and retain the Triangle Offense. We will not win another championship with an older and slower Kobe continuing to take too many difficult shots and stopping the offense and ball movement with his isolation plays.
To me, that means having a point guard who can run the floor and get the ball to the player who has the hot hand or has the best matchup advantage. As much as I love the Triangle Offense, it’s time in my opinion to bring in a true point guard and to give him the responsibility of getting the ball inside to our bigs and getting the ball to Kobe and others in positions where they can easily score. A premier point guard is the key to taking advantage of our superior height and length. It is so important that I would be willing to trade Pau or Lamar in order to get a player like Chris Paul or Derrick Williams.
As for moving Kobe to point guard, I am amazed at your bringing this up since I recall your blasting me in the past for a similar suggestion. I like the idea of Kobe at point previously but not unless the problems with his ankle and hands are fixed over the summer. Otherwise, I would be afraid of gross turnovers with Kobe handling the ball more. A better solution against certain teams would be to move Lamar to point as he is much faster and quicker than Fish. The best solution, however, is still to bring is a real point guard for a change. Imagine CP3 feeding Drew, Pau, Ron, and Kobe.


fwiw, I appreciate the effort you're giving. Yours is a thankless job.

fortunately, you get to cover the Laker girls, so all is not lost. :)

It is interesting to get a tidbit about Joe not really getting into the triangle, but my take on it all is that PJ would not play several vets, so my grade would have to be a legacy grade for Joe for his pregame ritual, since we got to see almost nothing else due to PJ's absurd lack of rotation coaching last season! C

The Sasha transaction was purely a salary dump. The Lakers never had any intentions of playing Joe Smith. They knew what everyone else in the association knew...he had a fine career, but didn't have anything left to offer.

I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. But having said that, based on how the Lakers played in the playoffs, having Sasha wouldn't have made much of a difference.

G. money,
Do the Heat have a blog?Why don't you take your garbage over there.Being down here in South fl,Miami Heat country,i'll tell you there's alot of boasting, and bragging, and rumbling going on down here. I'm sure you can get in on that,and not jump over here messing with us Laker fans.
Where have you been last 3yrs anyway?I guess waiting in the bush for an opportunity so you can pounce on Lakers fans,and run you trash talking i bet.Go over to Miami Herold,or one of those blogs and run that hail to the king mess

Go Lakers.

So how about giving Luke away with 2 first round picks in 2012+ for Shaq? Seems just as good a mindless trade as the Sasha "trade". Then make Shaq retire a Laker, immediately!

STILL waiting for an explanation of how the lakers can get CP3 AND keep Bynum and Odom.....LakerTom?? How does that happen?
If he will play for the MLE, sure, but he is still under contract with NOH right now- if they do nothing, he still has to play with them for this year -if there is one!
Ditto DWill and ditto Howard, although I do agree with you that PG is your biggest concern. I've just been saying it for 3 years now!

We need to rid ourselves of Luke, JoeS, Theo, (maybe Caracter) then trade Pau for someone with heart and guts and growl. No cap room in the current CBA, so there will be less next season, whenever that starts, so MLE is our best bet to pick up a banger/hops rebounder like DeAndre Jordan of Clippers or someone like that, and a decent waterbug point guard. That guard could be a good 3pt shooter also, but if not we need at least one fo those, also. I like L. Aldridge & Wes Matthews of Portland for Pau. Solves two problems in one trade.

OR Pau for Scola & Jeffries & Dragic............ Lots of interesting FAs out there for next seaosn who could maybe sign for a song, also.

Giving Joe Smith a "D" is extremely harsh and unfair, Mark.

Harsh and unfair!

Blame Phil Jackson, he uses an 8-man bench, period. And Smith joined the team in the middle of the season and it's not easy to be thrown into the fire and learn the traingle on the run. It takes a year or two to learn the system, and PJ knew this, which is why he didn't play Smith all that much. This was purely a salary dump, nothing more. This was NOT a trade so as to acquire a back-up for Andrew, NO WAY!

Joe Smith had no chance, no time to learn the system, no real opportunity -- NONE!

Blame Mitch Kupchak or Jim Buss for this stupid trade and its timing, but don't give Smith a "D" -- that's all kind of wrong, bro!

All kinds of wrong!

@GGBHL ... “STILL waiting for an explanation of how the lakers can get CP3 AND keep Bynum and Odom.....LakerTom?? How does that happen?” We trade Pau Gasol to the Hornets for CP3. They both make around $17M and can thus be traded one for one. Odom moves into Gasol’s starting 3. Similarly, we could trade Pau for Deron Williams since he also makes around $17M, same as Gasol.
The other point guard possibility is to trade Lamar Odom for Raymond Felton since he earns around $7.5Mwhile Lamar makes around $9M. That would be another one-for-one trade that works. I think Felton would be a great fit for the Lakers. Not as dynamic as Paul or Williams but it would enable us to keep Pau, whom I would still only trade in return for a top flight point guard. Both trades work.

Less people are posting because it is harder to argue and we are collectively depressed from our utterly shameful exit from the playoffs.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


LakerTom --

I completely agree with you, in that the Lakers, when they play well can beat any of these teams, which is why I think Magic is off his rocker for saying this team needs to be "blown up." That is just pure rubbish. I blame PJ for this team playing so poorly in the playoffs. The 16 point lead evoporation in Game 1 sealed the fate for these Lakers. PJ was a ghost this year. He was the man who wasn't there.

Even facing a sweep, 32 points down in Game 4, PJ had a smile on his face. He even admitted after getting swept that he was "happy" the season was over. Who would say that, in light of having been humiliated in a sweep? Who would say that, but a guy who had already quit after Game 7 against the hated Celtics last year. The man who wasn't there, that was Phil Jackson this year.

AS for this offseason... I really wish the Lakers would acquire JJ Riddick (or Aaron Brooks) and also make a deal for Dorrel Wright, who led the league with 194 3s last year with Golden State.

These are the only two moves I would make, nothing more.



Dorrel Wright


Laker Tom -
Thank you, and while I respect both trades, I think ultimately trading Gasol will hurt the lakers, since you have NO backups. As a fan of another team, Artest, Odom and Bynum doesn't scare me as much as Artest, Gasol and Bynum with Odom as 6th man. It is a very tough call. We face the same decisions with our Aging Big 3. Would you package KG to get Howard, or Rondo to get Paul? Here's the thing:
I think IF you want Paul, they will make you take Okafor, since his contract is an albatross. And IF you take Howard, they will make you take Turkoglu, for the same reason. The owners, in this case, hold all the cards. They could trade them now - wherever the owners want, without an extension. They could trade them at the trade deadline, and get good pieces, without an extension......or they could do nothing and play out the IF they play out the year, Howard and Paul can only go to a team that has cap space, like MN or CLE - all the good teams are over the cap. So, I predict they both stay where they are (plus I predict the new CBA will have some element of "franchise player") or are traded this off-season where they don't want to go.
Thanks again for the response!

We Shoulda Kept Farmar and and the Cic. We coulda used Farmar against Chris paul and Vuyakasha coulda gotten some good descent minutes in there with his tough and pestering defense. C'mon, fish was old and Farmar was asking to Start, I gotta tell you guys, Farmar was right.

But if you're saying that 5.5 million cost us a championship, I would concur. :)

I hate it that Odom Starts of the Bench. Make him a starter Now, the guy was beast as a starter. GIve him Fish's job as point guard and Put fish on the Bench. All the bigs ended up guarding the Point guards in the Playoffs anyways,,, lol Bynum on CP3 , Gasol on Cp3, Odom on Cp3, Kobe on Cp3, everyone on CP3 and then Bynum on Barrera :( o brother.

LIke i said, PUt odom on Point Guard and lets Get his Versatility going and make him an Allstar Next Year. Fisher needs the rest anyways. And Odom is getting at the time where he only has a few or one more good year.

There is no grade for the bench scum - Carracter, Smith, Walton, Ratliff, Ebanks. They did not exist. We had no bench beyond the 3 B's and hardly there. Any summary of 2010-11 starts with the story of a team that ran itself down by being incompetent in renewing itself and supplying depth. Any debate for next year must answer how we are going to deal with our despicable non-existent bench. Both Boston and Dallas are as old or older than Lakers but they did not run themselves into the ground. Their GM got them enough depth to ease the minutes and supply options for different opponents. What did it take to compete with the Lakers? Just deal with their starting 6, that's it, stop them you stop the Lakers. No complications, no other match up issues, only 10 or 14 minutes of match up heaven when the dregs were on the floor. That was spotting teams 10 points or more and a rest for their starters. Riley got depth with nickels and dimes. We got Blake, Smith and Ratman. Not a Class Act was it, so no surprise it finished with no Class. Starts at the top.

If anything Joe gets an "I" for Incomplete...He barely played 10-15 mins all season!!



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