CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Adam Morrison will be getting a new start with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Charlotte Bobcats traded managing partner Michael Jordan’s first draft pick on Saturday, sending the struggling forward who starred at Gonzaga and reserve guard Shannon Brown to the Lakers for forward Vladimir Radmanovic.
Jordan’s first major decision after becoming part owner with the final say on all basketball decisions was taking Morrison with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft over Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and others.
The 6-foot-8 Morrison never lived up to expectations and had fallen out of favor with first-year coach Larry Brown. He was dealt for the 6-foot-10 Radmanovic, who was averaging 5.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game with the Lakers.
Sources told the Charlotte Observer that Morrison was unhappy with the Bobcats and said he wanted out. He met with Brown recently to express that, according to the Observer.
“It wasn’t going to work here because of the way he felt,” Brown told the Observer. “He needs a new start. The expectations were really high, as they should be for the third pick.”
Brown said recently that Morrison never showed the competitiveness or creativity in games that he did in practice.
“We definitely wish him well,” Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said of Morrison in an Associated Press report. “He’s a good kid and hopefully he gets an opportunity to play. You never know, he might get a chance to win a (championship) ring.”
Morrison, 24, averaged a respectable 11.8 points a game as a rookie out of Gonzaga, but missed the entire 2007-08 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in an October 2007 exhibition game against the Lakers. He has played 44 games this season, including five starts, and averaged 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes a game.
Morrison and Brown were never a good fit. Morrison’s defensive deficiencies didn’t mesh with Brown’s style. Morrison also had failed to hit shots consistently, struggling in a starting role the past four games for the injured Gerald Wallace.
Morrison will get a chance to crack the Lakers’ rotation and become an outside scoring threat.
“He was a prolific scorer in college. After a devastating injury, he really hasn’t had a chance to develop as a player yet.” Lakers coach Phil Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s a real good spot-up shooter.”
Morrison was due about $5.3 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract and the deal gives the Lakers some salary-cap relief. Radmanovic is owed $6.5 million next season and $6.9 million a year later in a player option.
“We feel we picked up two players that could have upside,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the Times. “We pick up some flexibility down the road with a shorter commitment versus Vlade’s commitment.”
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