The Lakers picked up Joe Smith in the three-team Terrence Williams trade executed with the Rockets and Nets Tuesday night. Sasha Vujacic had fallen out of favor in Los Angeles the past two seasons, slipping behind Shannon Brown, most notably, on the depth chart.
Until Andrew Bynum's return to action Tuesday, the Lakers did struggle with frontcourt depth, however. Will Smith find himself earning minutes behind Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Derrick Caracter? SB Nation blog Silver Screen And Roll thinks the trade could be bad news for Derrick Caracter:
It's not a great day to be Derrick Caracter. Don't get me wrong, the kid is still blessed to have a guaranteed contract as a member of the defending champs, and his future is still as bright as one can reasonably expect from the 58th overall selection, but dude just went from 3rd on the depth chart to 5th in 24 hours. The addition of Smith also indicates that the Lakers have little hope of contribution from Theo Ratliff.
Caracter has appeared in 22 games for the Lakers this season, but has totaled up just 148 minutes. Considering all those minutes came with Bynum out, and the excellent and vital Odom starting at power forward instead of coming off the bench as a sixth man, perhaps the trade will have nothing to do with Caracter's pending disappearance. Gasol and Odom are huge minute-soakers, and Phil Jackson simply may not need to go deeper than three up front most nights.
Smith, the No. 1 pick overall in 1995, hasn't played much since the 2008-09 season, where he split time with the Thunder and Cavaliers. He signed a minimum-value free agent contract with the Hawks last season but rarely played; the same can be said of this season with the Nets. Smith did start the first three games of the season for New Jersey, but was quickly replaced by Kris Humphries and pushed below touted rookie Derrick Favors in the rotation.