Sasha Vujacic is playing with a bone bruise in his shooting hand, the type of injury that he knows won’t just go away overnight. It didn’t stop Vujacic from contributing seven points and two steals Sunday night against Sacramento.
In what could linger as a significant development, Phil Jackson has gone with Vujacic for the final stretches of the past two games, freeing up Kobe Bryant to play more of an attacking position at small forward. Part of the logic was to get Vujacic out there to defend small guards Leandro Barbosa and Beno Udrih (or Bobby Jackson). It’s the same five who would finish games for Jackson last season: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Bryant, Vujacic and Derek Fisher.
Vujacic hurt the hand in a collision with Amare Stoudemire on Friday night and said he’s learning to deal with it. He had 15 points in 19 minutes in that game against Phoenix to break out of a prolonged slump that has been tied in part to a series of minor injuries Vujacic has suffered after a serious ankle injury the first day of training camp.
Vujacic last season would inherit the spot on the floor that small forward Vladimir Radmanovic held at the start of games. Now Luke Walton has started in Radmanovic’s place the past two games, but so far it’s Vujacic playing the late-game minutes, not Walton.
Asked if he had spoken directly with Radmanovic about demoting him from the starting lineup to outside the rotation, Jackson said he had.
Then Jackson laughed and said: “He’d like to assassinate me, but …”
Jackson then segued into a ridiculous tale about Radmanovic — who is from Serbian and Montenegro — being part of the Serbian Pink Panthers, the thieves who just struck Harry Winston jewerly store in Paris and made out with $105 million worth of jewels.