Drew Packham
Monday February 4th, 2008

Only one active rookie was directly involved in the Pau Gasol deal, but the trade could have long-term effects on several first-year players.

As part of the swap with Memphis, the Lakers included rookie point guard Javaris Crittenton. At first look, Memphis might appear to be an even more difficult spot for Crittenton, as the Grizzlies already have two young point guards playing big minutes in second-year player Kyle Lowry and rookie Mike Conley. But Crittenton sees it as an opportunity for increased playing time -- something he wasn't getting behind Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar in L.A. Crittenton, the 19th pick in the 2007 draft, averaged only 7.8 minutes in 28 games with the Lakers.

"It was a shocker, but now that I look at it, I think it is a blessing to be here," Crittenton told The Associated Press. "It's a better opportunity for me. In the Lakers' organization, you had a lot of veterans, and it was tough to get playing time. This is a better opportunity for me to get out and experience the NBA."

While Crittenton gets a fresh start in Memphis, the Grizzlies' other two rookies -- Conley and Juan Carlos Navarro -- could also benefit from the absence of Gasol. With Memphis trading the face of the franchise, the young players can be assured that management believes in and will emphasize its youth movement.

"It's almost a new organization trying to get back on its feet," said Conley, who hopes to return soon from a chest injury. "We're definitely up to the challenge. We think we have the pieces to start rebuilding. Hopefully, we can get that done and get back on our feet."

(Send comments, complaints or hype for your favorite rookie to Drew Packham at drew.packham@turner.com.)

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