If you look at previous blogs you’ll learn that I’m a visionary!
For the record, I also lobbied the Hornets to select the Slovenian guard back in the 2004 draft. The team instead drafted high school star J.R. Smith 18th overall. Vujacic went 9 picks later to the Lakers.
Now Sasha is making national headlines after his strong game 3 performance in the NBA finals.
The big question now is….can the Lakers afford him this offseason?
The below article tries to answer that question.
courtesy: The Orange County Register
LOS ANGELES — Sasha Vujacic isn’t just getting more famous here in the NBA Finals after his clutch 20-point Game 3. He’s getting richer.
Vujacic is making $1.76 million this season. And where there used to be uncertainty whether any other club would make him a big-time offer this offseason as a restricted free agent, his strong postseason is making it more of a lock that he can make much more than the $2.6 million he’s scheduled for next season in his expiring contract.
As a restricted free agent, Vujacic can sign an offer sheet with another NBA team, and then the Lakers would then have 10 days to decide whether to match it. The Lakers — facing restricted free agency for Ronny Turiaf this offseason and negotiations with Andrew Bynum on a massive contract extension to begin in 2009 — have high-payroll concerns already since trading for Pau Gasol on Feb. 1.
Vujacic, 24, has come a long way from just the start of the season, when he was healthy but on the inactive list. He bulked up and developed a mid-range offense over the summer instead of playing for the Slovenian national team, and the Lakers developed enough faith in him to trade Maurice Evans to give Vujacic the role of Kobe Bryant‘s backup.
Vujacic has developed into a dependable long-range shooter and a tenacious defensive weapon who guarded Manu Ginobili last round and is on Ray Allen now. Vujacic regularly has been playing fourth-quarter minutes ahead of Vladimir Radmanovic ($5.6 million) and Luke Walton ($4 million), showing a lot of maturity compared to his 2004-05 rookie season, when Vujacic sulked about never playing and was once memorably mocked by a fan in Memphis as being on the team only because he looked like Coach Rudy Tomjanovich’s son.
In Game 3 Tuesday night, Vujacic gave the Lakers what they’d been searching for the first two games: production from the weak side of the offense, away from Bryant’s strong side. Vujacic suggested Boston might adjust to him for Game 4: “What we have to do in the next game probably is we’ve got to play a little bit smarter and take advantage of their defense. Any night someone else is going to step up and help out the team.”
Yet there’s no doubt Vujacic, who can be seen tidying up his eyebrows before taking a free throw, likes the attention. He left the practice court Wednesday to fix his hair before facing reporters.
During the Western Conference finals, when his dramatic style of play was being debated as perhaps overly dramatic, Vujacic smiled and said: “As long as they’re talking about you, good or bad, it’s OK.”