Steve Nash, the two-time MVP point guard, is going to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Nash spent the past eight seasons with the Suns, was a free agent but a sign-and-trade agreement was necessary for the Lakers to afford him. He agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract. In return, the Suns get four draft picks — first rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second rounders in 2013 and 2014.
The deal was finalized Wednesday evening. Reports say a main reason for Nash choosing the Lakers was to remain close to his children, who live in Phoenix. There had been sign-and-trade talks with New York and a lucrative free agent offer from Toronto.
The deal will put Nash on the floor with the team he tried so hard to unseat as a Western Conference power, teaming him with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and at least for now, Pau Gasol.
The Suns at get something in the loss of their longtime leader and one of the city’s most popular athletes, although no one to help immediately, unless some or all of the picks are used in future trades.
Nash’s Phoenix teammate Jared Dudley tweeted that Nash “has not only been the best but the most unselfish player I ever played with. I only wish him the best. He deserves everything. Steve Nash has made many players millions. Only fitting to trade to a team that has a chance to win the ship and pay what he deserves.”
Nash has never made it to the NBA Finals. He was last in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers in 2010, when the Suns lost in six games and Los Angeles went on to win the NBA title.
The sign-and-trade agreement was first reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Suns resisted trading Nash during his final season and insisted they were interested in bringing him back, but they never seriously were in the discussion. Toronto and New York dominated the talk until the Lakers came on with a flash on Tuesday.
Nash’s arrival should rejuvenate the Lakers, who lost in the second round for the second straight postseason after their back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. The Lakers struggled to move from departed coach Phil Jackson’s triangle offense to new coach Mike Brown’s system during the lockout-shortened season, with four-time All-Star forward Gasol particularly failing to fit in while getting pushed to the third option on offense most nights.
Nash, 38, has had a stellar career but he’s obviously an older player. The Lakers have been trying to maintain a balance of experience and youth while trying to remain competitive year after year. With Nash, age is less of a concern because he is well known for keeping himself in great shape both on and off the court. Who knows, an athlete like Nash probably benefitted from a top-notch home exercise program? Nash’s peerless playmaking abilities and veteran presence could smooth over those problems, particularly after a full training camp to define the Lakers’ roles in Brown’s offense.
Los Angeles hasn’t had an elite point guard alongside Bryant for several seasons, failing to address Derek Fisher’s gradual decline while the rest of the West got better. The Lakers got sub-par play last season from the 37-year-old Fisher, who was traded to Houston at the deadline.
The five-time NBA champion was replaced in the starting lineup by journeyman Ramon Sessions, who provided speed and scoring but struggled badly in his first career playoff run, nearly disappearing from the Lakers’ lineup. Sessions’ decision last month to decline his player option for next season means his career with the Lakers is finished unless he’s interested in returning as a backup, an unlikely prospect.