It’s now almost been ten years since the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals in 2010. For most NBA franchises, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. For a franchise that has won the second most championships of all-time, it is a very big deal. That team (that repeated as champions from the year before) was led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and had players that are almost all either retired or just out of the league. Gasol is the one lone player from the team that was in the NBA last year, but isn’t the only one from that team who is trying to return to the NBA next year. No, the other player isn’t Kobe Bryant, it’s Sasha Vujacic (reported by the L.A. Times).
Sasha Vujacic, who played in Italy last season, is working out daily in Los Angeles with an eye towards playing in the NBA next season. “The Machine,” who played for the Knicks in 2017, won two championships with the Lakers and said it would be his dream to play in L.A. again.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 10, 2019
Vujacic (who has one of the best nicknames for a role player ever) last played in the NBA for the New York Knicks in the 2016-17 season. That year he averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.2 APG in 9.7 minutes per game.
The last time he was on the Lakers was during the 2010-11 season, when the Lakers traded him very early on to the New Jersey Nets as Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes had started to take all of his bench minutes. Vujacic was a fan favorite in his years with the Lakers because of his personality and 3-point shooting ability, but also possibly because of his unique relationship with Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant elbows Sasha Vujačić in practice and tells him: "Get your hands off me, don't touch me the rest of the scrimmage" and then winks at the sideline. #MambaMentality pic.twitter.com/75fu6UvQ7y
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) October 11, 2018
He only averaged 4.8 PPG in his seven seasons with the team while not playing much, but in his short amount of time in the playoffs, he would deliver. During five playoff runs with the Lakers (including both championships in 2009 and 2010) Vujacic only averaged 5.0 PPG, but shot 38.4% from three.
Now when it comes to the chances of him taking the last roster spot on these 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers, I’d say they’re slim to none. Vujacic is a guard, and the Lakers currently have plenty of those in Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, and Danny Green. Not to mention that all those players I just mentioned were in the NBA last year, while Vujacic hasn’t played in the NBA since 2017. Expect the Lakers to hold onto that last roster spot, or use it on a veteran who will maybe be waived such as Kyle Korver or Andre Iguodala.