Return of the Machine: Can Sasha Vujacic Play a Vital Role for the Lakers?

Many observers who follow the Los Angeles Lakers probably thought last season would be guard Sasha Vujacic's last with the team. That feeling only increased in the face of a very active Lakers' offseason.

The defending NBA champion Lakers bolstered their roster with the acquisitions of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Theo Ratliff, so it only seemed like a matter of time before Vujacic was spirited away.

Vujacic's expiring contract made him an attractive bargaining chip in any potential Laker trades. But after the dust has mostly settled, Vujacic is digging in for what may be his final season in purple and gold.

The player formerly known as "the machine" is forced to face the prospects of starting the season stuck near the end of the Laker's bench. Not exactly the ideal situation for enticing any potential future suitors.

Vujacic will struggle to garner significant minutes behind Blake and Shannon Brown, and if that's not bad enough, Vujacic still must regain some of the lost trust of head coach Phil Jackson.

Vujacic was recently a valued member of the Lakers' reserves corp, but inconsistency on defense and the inability to find the range on his jump shot made Jackson's decision to increase the more athletic Brown's minutes easier.

Relegated to mop up duty, Vujacic found minutes even harder to come by during last year's playoffs. But when he was presented with an opportunity to make an impact in the Finals, Vujacic responded by hitting two huge free throws in Game Seven.

Is there any chance Vujacic can build on that success and become an important piece for the Lakers in their quest for a three-peat?

Vujacic will be entering his 7th NBA season and at 6'7" he offers the Lakers great size in the back court. He is also a good enough ball-handler to provide some relief at the point guard position.

Vujacic's best professional season was 2007-08 when ...

About the Author