Putting The Steve Nash Trade Under The Microscope

Darius Soriano —  July 5, 2012

Steve Nash will be a Laker.

It’s still sinking in so I just keep repeating it to myself. It rolls nicely off the tongue, I must admit.

The Lakers have added one of the marquee players at his position but with the deal there are variables to explore, questions that need to be asked and answered. And, so, lets get to it…

What Did It Cost?
The Lakers used their trade exception from the Lamar Odom trade to acquire Nash. Reports put his salary “in excess of $25 million” over three years. This would have Nash earning upwards of $9 million by the end of his contract at the age of 41. Time will tell if this is an investment worth making but if there’s a player that can still be productive at that age it’s likely Nash – a man that’s highly conditioned, an extremely hard worker, and whose primary skills  (shooting & court vision) don’t erode the way other skills do. That said, there’s obvious risk in giving Nash the three year contract he sought – a length that the Suns reportedly did not want to offer – as players rarely remain highly productive up to that age.

The Lakers also surrendered four draft picks in the deal – two 1st rounders in 2013 and 2015 and two 2nd rounders in 2013 and 2014. The Lakers certainly hope that these picks will be in the last few selections each round but they do run the risk of surrendering quality picks should the team not achieve at the levels they hope to. What also deserves mention is that draft picks should only become more valuable in this new CBA. The draft offers cheap talent and we’re entering into an era where luxury tax payments will punish payrolls that aren’t controlled and revenue sharing will impact the bottom line. This is something to keep in the back of your mind.

I’ve also read that the Lakers sent $3 million in cash to the Suns as part of the this trade. This may not seem like a big deal but the new CBA has capped the amount of money a team can send out in trades in any season, and that amount is $3 million. So, if the Lakers did indeed give the Suns that much cash, they can’t sweeten any other trades this year with cash. This may not end up being important, but it’s also worth remembering when looking at potential trades the Lakers may still be working on.

All in all, the Lakers did exactly what you’d hope they would in acquiring a player they think can be a major difference maker. They avoided using any tangible, in house assets (i.e. players on their roster) and pulled off a major deal. Mitch Kupchak spoke of hitting a home run this off-season and this deal certainly qualifies as that. The trade does limit what they can do in the future but, again, they’re in win now mode and they’ll cross those bridges when they come to them.

What Did They Get?
Stating the obvious, the Lakers just got a lot better at point guard. No disrespect to Ramon Sessions – who played fantastic when he first arrived and then struggled in the playoffs – but Nash is a historically great PG that continues to put up fantastic numbers. He’s one of the best shooters the league has ever seen (5 times he’s been a member of the 50/40/90 club and flirts with those percentages yearly) and was first in the league in total assists for the past 3 seasons. He’s one of the best ball handlers in the league and is a master floor general. He can play both an open court and half court game, is a leader, and is an extreme competitor. Based solely off his offensive production, he’s one of the most impactful players in the league, possessing the ability to prop up an offense the way Dwight Howard can a defense. The Suns were 8 points better per 100 possessions when Nash was on the floor versus when he was on the bench last season, or about the difference between the 1st and 23rd ranked offenses this past season.

How he fits into the Lakers is both obvious and open to question, however. His play making, shooting, and decision making all represent key skills the Lakers need more of. He can lessen the burden on every offensive player simply by being a primary initiator and floor spacer. Post players will have more room to operate when Nash is on the floor and defensive schemes will have to figure out alternative ways to double team the Lakers big three because they can’t leave Nash. Plus, when teams do double team – even when they don’t leave Nash – he’ll still get plenty of open shots simply because when the extra pass is made he’ll likely end up with free shots against a rotating defense.

Nash’s ability to make his teammates better is also a key factor. His passing acumen and skill are nearly unparalleled. He reads defenses as well as anyone and delivers passes on time and on target. This allows big men to finish at the rim easily and allows shooters to better find their rhythm. When watching the game, he makes things that are extremely difficult look amazingly easy. Pocket bounce passes and cross court feeds are executed seamlessly and the confidence that pumps into an entire offense can be devastating to an opponent.

There will be an adjustment period too, however. Kobe’s never played with such a ball dominant guard before and even if you’re someone that thinks he’s more than willing to share, it will still take time for both players to get used to one another. Great players often find a way to work well together but that comfort comes from reps – both in practice and games – where mistakes can be made then corrected. These two will need to get things sorted out, find ways to work with and off each other, and help raise their collective games. I’m sure it can happen, but right now it’s all only on paper. It will need to happen on the hardwood too.

There will also need to be an adjustment from the coaches. This past season showed that even with a P&R heavy guard in house (Sessions), the team often still went to Kobe-centric and post heavy sets that didn’t capitalize fully on all the skills their non-big 3 players had to offer. More creativity will be needed from Mike Brown and his staff as Nash must be more than a spot up shooter to space the floor. That would be a waste of his floor vision and ability to create easier shots for his mates. Nash will need to be set free on offense, allowed to push the pace when he sees fit, given opportunities to play P&R more often, and be allowed to create in isolation when he has the advantage. For years we’ve gotten the best of Nash because his coaches have given him the keys to the offense and let loose.

That said, this Lakers roster offers more talent and different types of players than the ones Nash has become accustomed to playing with.  This will require adjustments from him and his team in order to strike a balance between the freedom that Nash thrives on and the more traditional structure that will play to the strengths of his teammates. Basically, Nash won’t be handed the keys to the team but will be integrated into the team that’s here. All sides will then need to mesh and find a style of play that suits everyone. The talent is so great that it’s difficult to see them failing, but the coaches must make this work.

What About The Defense?
The common perception is that Nash is a bad defender and in looking through the stats, there’s more than a little bit of truth there. Per My Synergy Sports, Nash ranked 147th in points allowed per play, proving especially poor in guarding spot up chances where his limited athleticism made recovering to the perimeter to challenge shots an issue. Nash also has issues defending in isolation for the same athletically challenged reason. Defending on an island against some of the best players in the league (as PG’s are asked to do nightly) is a difficult task for any player, but it’s especially so for an aged player whose athletic peak is in the rearview mirror.

That said, where Nash was better than expected was in defending ball handlers in the pick and roll. He was 80th in points per play when his man took a shot in the P&R, and his man only shot 40% in these situations. Don’t get me wrong, these numbers aren’t stellar but they speak to a certain level of effectiveness that surprised me. It’s also important to note that from a team perspective, the Suns’ Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) was 3 points worse when Nash sat versus when he was on the floor. This stat, along with his P&R stats, tell me that while Nash may struggle as an individual defender he’s better within the team concept. This is another area where the Lakers’ coaches will need to find creative ways to work Nash into the defensive schemes while finding individual match ups that limit his exposure.

(Sidenote: I was long under the impression that Nash and Sessions were similar defensive players but that opinion appears to be selling Nash short. Sessions Synergy numbers are much worse in every defensive play type and from a team perspective, the Lakers performed better on D when Sessions sat versus when he was on the floor. I don’t want to bury Sessions here, but Nash looks to be the superior defender – even at his advanced age – and one can only assume that with better defenders flanking him, it will only help Nash further.)

A Risk Worth Taking?
This is certainly a gamble. Nash’s age, the contract he’ll be paid (and its affect on payroll), and the potential for it to not work out are all risky. But, the Lakers have a history of taking chances and swinging for the fences with a success rate that a lot of franchises would envy. They want to win now and they just got a piece that can help them do so. Nash is a star player who’s still incredibly productive. There will need to be adjustments on his end and from his teammates/coaches, but with a proper training camp and practices throughout the season I don’t see why they couldn’t get on the same page.

Beyond this, though, with this trade the Lakers have given themselves a shot in the arm. The team, as constructed, had grown a bit stale. And while there were changes made last year, they came in the form of subtractions (Odom, Fisher) rather than an addition that the team (and the fans) could rally around. Acquiring Nash has changed that. His pedigree, reputation, and hunger are all big additions to this team and these intangibles will be meaningful just as his tangible production will be. In that regard, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss just gave the Lakers a dramatic makeover and did so with the acquisition of a single player. There’s an excitement in the air again. Steve Nash is a Laker. Wow.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com

Darius Soriano

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91 responses to Putting The Steve Nash Trade Under The Microscope

  1. Warren Wee Lim July 5, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Well as you know, any PG you would have signed or traded for would have cost you assets or your own players. For instance, not that it was ever in consideration, a Deron Williams for Bynum deal.

    The Lakers are not getting the perfect PG, but they are getting the perfect deal. Surrendering virtually nothing (more on this in a bit) and the addition is just simply too good to be true. Except it is.

    The acquisition of a top flight playmaking PG, particularly HOF-bound and 2-time MVP Steve Nash does these for us:

    *improves team playmaking
    *improves team chemistry
    *improves ball distribution
    *improves the mediocre bench into a reasonably effective one
    *extends the life of one named Kobe Bryant
    *improves the ability of our twin towers to be effective
    *improves the obviously-offense-deficient Mike Brown offese
    *improves the team depth by making sure Steve Blake is a 2nd string PG and not starting

    Overall, the process is simple. Nash, Bryant and Gasol combine for 3 geniuses on the hardcourt. They all are proud players and respective team captains for their countries. Age, defense and “fit” are all debatable weaknesses that can be mitigated. After all no single PG would have solved all this. I don’t see CP3 stopping Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook either.

    Lets not over-analyze.

  2. Very well said Darius! This is a gamble, but one worth taking imo.

  3. Very well written post. Putting aside all the concerns and considerations for a moment, I just want to say how much I love the fact that the Lakers, as an organization, constantly strive to make winning a reality. I love the rings, but I also love the process of getting there as well. The culture itself sets such a tone for all of its fans and I appreciate that. It’s truly amazing being a fan of this club.

  4. We weren’t going to improve in a noticeable way without taking a gamble.

    EVERY trade or signing or move is a gamble to some extent. If Nash didn’t have at least some issues and worries, he would have been completely out of our price range.

    Getting Nash without having to give up Kobe, Bynum or Gasol is a home run. Those two first round draft choices that were given up may as well be high second rounders given how low they are going to be in the draft in the next three years.

    The Lakers are title contenders again. At this point, if I was them, I would seriously look at doing the following:

    1. Trade Pau for Iggy or Smith or multiple pieces.

    2. Resign Jordan Hill.

    Right now the biggest weaknesses remaining on the Lakers are, in no particular order, three point shooting, athleticism, and depth. The right Gasol trade could solve all, or at least two of those, in one swoop.

  5. Warren Wee Lim July 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

    LA Lakers depth chart: (as of July 11th)

    PG: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Darius Morris
    SG: Kobe Bryant, A. Goudelock, C. Eyenga
    SF: Metta World Peace
    PF: Pau Gasol, Josh McRoberts
    C: Andrew Bynum, Robert Sacre

    Own Free Agents:
    Devin Ebanks
    Ramon Sessions*
    Matt Barnes
    Jordan Hill

    Possible Acquisitions:
    Brandon Rush (mini MLE)
    Rashard Lewis (mini MLE)
    Grant Hill (vet MIN)

  6. Good post, Darius. As you said, the team had indeed grown stale and was in need of a shake-up. This feels right on a lot of levels. I’m excited about the coming season, now. The Show could not afford to stand still.

  7. Signing Jordan Hill just became a no brainer in my eyes. He would add some speed and athletism the other bigs don’t, and might just be the one that benefits the most from playing with Nash.

    Getting and athletic, floorspacing SF also seems to be the top priority now. It is no longer a necessity for that player to be a shot-creator.

    Even if no more players are moved, Nash could just prove to be the motivator and reinvigorator that this team needs.

    Damn, my favourite player joining my favourite team!!! So happy.

  8. Warren Wee Lim July 5, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Dane, Steve Nash is my wife’s favorite player, ironically Dwight Howard too. As to why I don’t know. Now it seems like 2 pipe dreams have suddenly become realities.

  9. Feels really awesome to have something to post about here in the summer! I love the Nash move a lot. Their 2013 1st rounder will certainly be low. As for 2015, well that leads to be seen, but at worst we’re looking at giving up a mid 1st and a late 1st for a real-deal point guard. I don’t even count the 2nd rounders as part of the trade because there’s always a team trying to sell their 2nd rounder (ala getting our own pick back from Dallas for DJO this draft). Forget about Dwight for a second (I want him on the team too, but let’s imagine that Pau and Drew are here to stay), to me the way we can make this a real title contender is with 3 signings: Grant Hill (a near certainty with Nash in tow), Rashard Lewis (can’t imagine him not salivating at the idea of bombing open 3′s from Nash passes right now) and Gerald Green (took HUGE steps last year, LOVES the Lakers from his summer league tours with us, and has said that he would love to play behind Kobe because who better to learn from than one of the all time greats). I think that Hill and Lewis can be had for the veteran’s minimum with 2nd year player options thrown in and I think it’d be wise to throw the full mid-level at Gerald Green in a fixed salary 4 year $3M per year deal. Beyond that, the Jordan Hill re-sign (around $3.5-4M per year for 3-4 years) is also a must as would be trying to get a vet PG that can come in and back up Nash (Hinrich would be SO perfect here). It’s a stretch, but if we can get those 4 plus re-sign Hill (none of which requires us to part with a single asset on our team), we could be incredible. The money we’d be paying these FA’s can be offset by amnestying Steve Blake (would cover G.Hill, Lewis AND Hinrich vet’s minimums by himself) or MWP (which I wouldn’t be a huge fan of, but it makes sense financially). Realistically, without trading a single asset and with a LITTLE bit of FA luck we could be looking at:

    PG – Nash, Hinrich, Morris
    SG – Kobe, Green, Goudelock
    SF – Ron, G.Hill, D Johnson-Odom
    PF – Pau, Rashard, McBob
    C – Bynum, J.Hill, Sacre

    That my dear friends is insanity.

  10. The starting 5 will be fantastic with Nash, Kobe, and Pau providing forming an offensive power house, and MWP and Bynum as defensive enforcers. Bynum will get some touches but the will be in the flow of the offense rather than direct post ups. Question: Will Bynum accept this role and hustle on defense and the boards or will he pout and lolly gag his way back to the defensive end of the court?

  11. What an exciting day to be a Laker fan!
    A few thoughts:

    - Kobe will be forced to guard PG’s next season, ala Shawn Marion. A player like Iguadala would come in real handy on the defensive end to help out both Kobe and Nash in defending PG’s.

    - The twin tower strategy was a poor fit for Kobe, Artest and Sessions because it limited their full skill set….and the same applies to Nash. The slow pace and crowded paint will limit his P&R, transition, and penetrating opportunities, similar to what happened to Sessions in the playoffs (but to a lesser extent). It’s time to end the twin tower project once and for all, and find the pieces that compliment each other….that can maximize the skill sets of everyone on the floor.

    - P&R and transistion defense will still be a major issue, but getting rid of Bynum (for Dwight?) and keeping Jordan Hill should help in a big way.

  12. kehntangibles July 5, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Rick reilly of ESPN is pooh-poohing the Nash deal on Cowherd’s show which confirms what we all knew – that he is an idiot. And I hate him even more for making me agree with Colin Cowherd.

  13. N0t sure 0n this 0ne. Nash has declined quite a l0t last c0uple of years. LA will be slower more than ever. Its just like re signing fish again with worse defense.

  14. Long time lurker, had to go straight to the source to get some answers (I know someone here must have these).

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Lakers weren’t allowed to trade back to back 1st round first round picks. 2012 and then now in 2013?

    2. Concerning our 2013 draft pick, Cleveland has the option of swapping with pick with theirs from Miami. Would the Suns then be (in all likelihood), be acquiring Miami’s late 1st rounder?

    Thanks in advance.

  15. rr: Yes – there is still a gamble to this. The benefit is now and the price may come later. As you (and Darius) are indicating however – it is a gamble worth taking. With regard to Cuban: I never would have guessed he would have missed out on both DW and Nash, and most likely D12. He is scrambling to resign Kidd.

    WWL: For my part, I think at this point, I will kneel to Jim. I will also now refer to him as Jim, rather than Jimbo. I will kiss the ring if he gets D12, but hey kneeling is a big change for me : ) The key to your list was “cost cutting”. Even netting out RS, we just added about $4 per year plus the associated taxes. I am impressed.

  16. Random thought…

    I wonder when Bill Simmons will write about this.

    Presumably he’s still cleaning his brains off of his monitor after his head exploded when he learned that Nash came to play for the Lakers in large part because of Kobe.

  17. I have mixed feelings about this trade. Nash’s age and the length of his contract bother me, but his play-making ability and the chance to see him on the court with GASOL, KOBE and BYNUM is something that I am very excited about.

    I really hope we resign Jordan Hill and Barnes and get Grant Hill or another savy vet.

  18. Amazing move. The spoiled Lakers fan in me sees the imperfections of this trade, Nash’s age and defensive issues, but this is an amazing get.

    I don’t think we can underestimate the effect having Nash on this team can have for Pau. He handled the situation with last years’ rescinded trade about as well as a professional could but he exuded a certain exasperation with his situation. I think the Kobe System can be grating for most players and having lost some of the more nurturing members of the team (LO, Fish), I think Pau found it hard to contribute as fully as his talents allowed. Frankly he was having trouble before LO and Fish were traded. Steve Nash is a transcendent team leader. He is loved by teammates, respected by his opponents, and his talents nurture both those emotions, of love and respect, in basketball fans. Watching him play is a joy and I think that joy is something these Lakers need to regain. This joy is what made ’08 special, even as the joy was cut short by the Celtics. If any player can prop Pau back up to his levels of 08-10, it is Steve Nash. If any player can get Bynum focused on the right things, it will be Steve Nash.

    Last thing… I would still like to trade Bynum for DH12. I think Howard will do a better job of covering for the continued defensive issues this team will suffer at the perimeter. He covers more space then Bynum on D, will get back to help stop fast breaks, and will himself be flying down the court on a fast break. Bynum blocks shots, but Dwight forces more turnovers, and TOs are something the Lakers need to force. Turnovers are a huge factor in closing games out, as we saw in losing to OKC, and which OKC saw in losing to the Heat. I think this is a more pressing need then 3PT shooting, as Nash’s ability in getting the ball to players in their spots and in rhythm will improve everybody’s 3PT shooting that little bit we need. I also think Gaudlock and Odom can take up spot up duty. It’s the turnovers we need and SF seems to be the spot to hunt for those. Grant Hill is not the man to accomplish that, nor Shard.

    I don’t think we are in a position trade Hill for Brandon Rush. We need Hill as much as we need a backup 3. I might suggest that we could have that player in house with Ebanks but I haven’t seen him with enough consistent minutes to gauge. Who else could that player be?

  19. The only thing that worries me the most will be how will Nash find space when we basically have two big space eaters in Pau and Bynum and no reliable outside shooters. Teams will still be able to pack the paint daring anyone other than Nash to shoot.
    Last year LA got plenty of open jumpers, but couldnt connect, with Steve they will get that many more +. It will not matter how great the passer is if the team cant hit the side of a barn. I will have to agree for the cry of shooters and athletes to truly take advantage of his skillset. If that means one of the bigs has to be pitched for said players, I will miss them, in order for this team to really be dangerous I can live with that.

  20. Old teams don’t win championships. Would have preferred Lakers use creativity to acquire a young pg. Defense is the biggest PG problem and this doesn’t help.

    On balance, don’t like this move.

    This is win now and by itself it won’t

  21. I am of two minds on this. This will either work great, or it will blow up in their faces. A calculated risk definitely.

    True, Nash has declined, but to say it’s like re-signing Fish is way off the mark. Nash is a far more multi-faceted talent, and plays a completely different style of point guard than Fish. The big question is will that style mesh with the current Laker talent pool?

    One concern is that watching the Suns play all last year here in Phoenix, it seemed like Nash wore out some towards the end of the year. There were many instances in the Sun’s unsuccessful playoff drive where the 2nd unit spearheaded by a younger and defensively tougher Sebastian Telfair was more effective than the starters. In fact, when Gentry put the starting unit back in, leads were often lost.

    Personally, I still think the Lakers need to make a few more moves to find more complimentary talent. But moving Pau is definitely not one of them, as I believe he and Nash have the best potential to gell chemistry-wise.

  22. Just throwing this out there…

    How does this look as a depth chart? Achievable with just two trades and re-signing Sessions and Hill.

    PG: Steve Nash, Ramon Sessions, Darius Morris
    SG: Kobe Bryant, Danny Granger, Andrew Goudelock
    SF: Danny Granger, Grant Hill (Rashard Lewis instead of Hill?)
    PF: David West, Jordan Hill, Josh McRoberts
    C: Dwight Howard, Jordan Hill

    Achievable with some of the trade rumors we’ve seen thrown out there/reported in the media.

    We’ve seen rumors in media reports that the Lakers have expressed interest in a Gasol for David West/Danny Granger trade, with Blake thrown in to make the salaries work. Pacers are viewing Granger as somewhat expendable now that Paul George is playing so well.

    Similarly, the Dwight Howard for Bynum/MWP trade has been floating around for what feels like decades now.

    With Blake moved out in the Gasol trade, you now have money to resign Sessions. Alternatively if Indiana is not willing to take on his salary, you can still amnesty him and offer that money to Sessions since you don’t have to use the amnesty on MWP as he would depart in the Bynum/Howard trade.

    Granger is a excellent three point shooter. David West is a more than serviceable big man, but not a top-tier one that can also play center that Indiana has been looking for.

  23. That third yr is not that big a problem if his body fails during the second yr.(A big if,still…)
    The Lakers can stretch buyout that last yr and spread the Cap hit over three yrs,just over $3mil/yr,the last yr of which would be under expected massive new National TV deal that will raise the Cap.

  24. At this point, we’re going to need to stop on the trade speculation. There will be threads for that, but this isn’t one of them. Unless talks are being reported, I’m going to delete/moderate the comments. Jim C’s above is the perfect example of where this can go quickly.

  25. As I’ve said… Nash is an average/above average starting PG (making him a very good NBA player) but Vegas sees this as I do… A marginal upgrade. Vegas kept the Lakers 4th behind the Heat, Thunder and even Bulls. The realities is Steve Nash will be a little or a lot worse next year as a 39 year old PG. Everyone on this site was over the top angry at the FO yesterday morning and are now over the top extatic this morning. The Lakers are not getting a 34 year old Steve Nash. Don’t romanticize this. I am excited to see Nash run the offense and get Bynum the ball and Kobe off of it but I know at the same time this doesn’t make the Lakers a championship team. Having said that we are very close and this does make the Lakers a more attractive target now for FA’s. People love playing with PGs who get them the ball. The Lakers still need to move Pau and get a SF and floor spacing PF. Btw… Grant Hill will make for an adequate at best bak up SF. It’s too bad they are a package deal… I would have liked Gerald Green there or even Ebanks. We need athletisism and shooting. Hill doesn’t shoot three pointers.

  26. Darius, haven’t both the trades I mentioned in my comment been reported on in the media?

    We know for sure about the Bynum/Howard talks are ongoing.

    I’d heard talks about Gasol for Josh Smith, Gasol for Iggy/pieces and Gasol for West/Granger all reported on in the media.

  27. The NBA guys on First Take are killing this Lakers trade as “a disaster” and “terrible”. I don’t think it’s as bad as they are making it and I don’t think it’s as good as everyone on this site are making it.

  28. This makes them noticeably better on offense, and no worse on defense. On the whole, they are more susceptible to health issues, but that’s a reasonable trade-off.

  29. Funky Chicken July 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I’m in agreement with what seems to be the majority view that this is a good move, but not enough by itself. And while I also share the sentiment that the Lakers need to get a shooter to help space the floor (for Nash and for whoever the main low post big guy is), let’s not lose sight of the fact that by obtaining Nash the Lakers just DID get one of the best shooters in the NBA.

    Having a PG who can see the floor, make great decisions and passes, beat guys off the dribble AND consistently knock down jumpers is something the Lakers haven’t had in decades. Nash’s ability to make shots will, by itself, open up the lane more than it has been for years….

  30. exhelodrvr:

    I agree with that comment. I had assumed that the reports on Sessions’ defensive shortcomings were exaggerated, but having actually watched him try and play it…we may have actually upgraded defensively with Nash as well.

    At the very least, we certainly didn’t get any worse than we already were on defense and had a huge offensive upgrade.

  31. Everyone on this site was over the top angry at the FO yesterday morning and are now over the top extatic this morning

    People are excited, but with one or two exceptions, I think everyone knows that this does not by itself make the Lakers the favorites to win the title. Basically, this is a CYA post since the “no one wants to play with Kobe” stuff blew up in your face less than 24 hours after you said it. Like people told you: money, PT, situation, role. I am sure you will have some “haha” reason you are still right about that, but players make decisions about where to play based on multiple factors, and Kobe, selfish or no, apparently reached out to Nash. Nash then decided that the Lakers were the best situation for him.

    As to Nash, here are some of his metrics from last year:

    PER 20.3
    TS% 62.5
    EFG% 58.1
    AST% 53.1 (lead NBA)
    3p% 39.0
    FT% 89.4
    ws/48 .144 (Williams .099, Paul .278, Westbrook .163)

    Yes, the Lakers are very old, and they will need to add/retain some athleticism to support the starting 5. Even if they do that, they will not be favored over OKC and MIA. Even getting Howard would not make them favored over OKC and MIA. What Nash does is make them a threat, and makes them a lot more interesting. That is what people are excited about.

  32. Quick thoughts on the Nash deal

    1) Losing Odom and Fisher last season left a leadership vacuum and created chemistry problems. Beyond the great things Nash will bring on the court, he will fill that vacuum and create a tight-knit group.

    2) People saying the Lakers should now deal Gasol need to get their heads examined. Pau and Nash were made for each other, it will be a joy to see them run the pick and roll.

    3) Will be fascinating to see how the FO fills out the roster. The Lakers don’t need to get younger per so, but they do need to get much deeper. Nash, Kobe and Pau should only play 30-35 minutes a game. Jordan Hill should be a huge priority now.

    4) If Bynum could play with the kind of defensive intensity he has against Denver in game 1 of the playoffs (10 blocks) 75% of the time he’d provide just the right balance to the offensive punch we can expect from the Nash, Bryant, Gasol trio. But I don’t think he can. Howard is still the logical move. But it the price too steep?

  33. lakers got older and slower. they’re still planning on keeping the core? smh…no depth, no athleticism, no wcf again. yay…go team AARP.

  34. DB:

    The question that I’d be asking on the Howard situation is whether or not the Lakers still have enough pieces to make that trade. The centerpieces were always going to be Bynum and Howard.

    But presumably, Orlando would also want things like draft picks thrown in as well.

    I’d agree with your comment that Nash and Gasol can work well together, but I just think that the paint is too crowded with Bynum, Gasol and Kobe ALL wanting to operate down low. As we saw in the playoffs, Gasol is just not a good fit as a floor spacing big man. It doesn’t maximize his talents.

    He’s too expensive to be used as a third or even fourth option.

  35. Jim C,
    I’m looking for reports on substantive talks. Can you show me the Lakers and Pacers are talking about the players you’re discussing?

    The Dwight stuff has been reported my multiple respected media people. I follow the Lakers as closely as anyone and haven’t heard a peep about those two teams *talking* about making a deal.

  36. Agree that retaining Jordan Hill is a high priority. But team can only offer him 3+ mill a year max due to Houston declining his option. Which I think the team was willing to do anyway.

    Reports are that he is desired by other teams and may command close to regular MLE of 5+ a year.

    The only way the team might be able to sway him is with a longer contract and higher total salary. Hill’s agent is probably trying to drive up the price right now.

    Mitch may be willing to give Hill a 4 year contract for about 13-14 total (after raises). But will that be enough? If Hill gets a 15-16 3 year offer it’s going to be a tough choice.

  37. Darius:

    Fair enough. I recall reading about such a trade being rumored but I don’t remember when that was or happen to have a link handy/saved.

    I withdraw the post with my apologies. I’m excited today. :)

  38. Jim C:

    Why is Pau not a good fit as a floor-spacing big man? He has range out to 3, has great handles, and no big man is a better passer. What we objected to last season was that too often Pau was *only* used as a floor spacer, and when that happened we also say too little ball movement in support of that spacing. That is sure to change with Nash in the fold.

    Pau, like Nash, is the ultimate team player. When the Lakers played iso ball with either Kobe or Bynum ball-stopping his game suffered. If Nash is running the show, Pau’s value will become much more obvious.

    But in any case, the idea that Pau needs to be traded because he can’t space the floor with Bynum in the post makes no sense. The only reason I could imagine the Lakers dealing him would be financial.

    Does anyone know if it would be possible to trade Bynum for Howard straight up? Would the salaries be close enough? (too lazy to go to ESPN trade machine)

  39. Agree that Pau should get the nod for playing with Nash. Please also keep Sessions and Hill and either Barnes or Grant Hill. Bynum will get nice touches with Nash, but can he motivate, mature, and play consistent D so we can win another couple and surpass the loathsome beantowners? If there’s a question (how could there not be?), put a back specialist on payroll and add DH to SN Lakers.

  40. It is being reported that the Magic are desperately trying to get Andrew Bynum but the Lakers are concerned about the long term effects of Dwight Howard’s back surgery. That’s great news because the Lakers are very smart… If they decide to trade for Dwight (which I’m confident they won’t because his back is a big problem) it means his back will remarkably be okay. So whatever happens trust the Lakers FO and doctors on this one. If they don’t trade for Dwight we know Howard will probably never again be the same player.

  41. DB:

    I phrased that poorly, but what I was trying to say is that Pau is a poor fit as a floor-spreading big man for $19M per year because if that’s all you want him doing, then you can find someone with a Udonis Haslem type skill set, pay then a quarter as much, and use the savings elsewhere.

    Pau is GOOD as a jump shooting big man, but not $19M good in that role. It doesn’t maximize what he brings to the table. The problem that the Lakers have had the last couple of years, and in particular last year, is that Bynum, Kobe and Gasol are ALL at their best operating in post-up situations.

    So since Kobe and Bynum are better players than Gasol at this stage, Gasol was shifted out to be a jump shooting big. Which is fine, but not optimal for the amount you’re paying him. You’re paying him “stud low post option” money to stand around and shoot jumpers off of kick-outs.

    If you could get a Jordan Hill type player to shoot jumpers from 12-15 feet, play defense, and rebound for, say, $5M per year and then use the remaining $14M to add talent, depth, and youth elsewhere on the roster, isn’t that a decent trade off?

    By the way, a straight up Bynum/Howard trade doesn’t work unless it’s a sign and trade to make the salaries match. Bynum makes less than Howard and the Lakers are over the cap.

    Bynum + MWP for Howard works though.

  42. Great Post. Lakers always make the move you don’t see coming.

    Mitch is Mr. Stealth.

  43. ESPN reporting that the Raptors are about to acquire Kyle Lowry for a protected first round draft pick.

    I’m a little speechless if that’s all the Rockets are getting back for Lowry. Yeah, the Raptors pick will likely be a good one, but Lowry’s a stellar PG.

  44. Aaron,

    Where are you seeing that report that the Magic are “desperately” trying to get Bynum???? I’d like to check it out myself.

  45. DB,
    Bynum – $16.4 and Howard – $19.2 – i.e. Bynum’s salary is 85% of Howards.

  46. Craig W.

    You’re right. You can do a straight swap now. My mistake.

  47. I have a buddy who owns a limo service, and his client last week was Dwight Howard. He drove Dwight around for 10 hours. Dwight’s agent was in the car for part of that time, and he was pushing Dwight to go to the Lakers, suggesting that LA was his only logical choice. Keep in mind, this was before the Nash acquisition. Keep your fingers crossed, but all signs point to Dwight becoming a Laker.

    Some of the major weaknesses on this team last season was – transition defense, P&R defense, and giving up offensive boards. Dwight will help resolve these issues. The days of worrying about whether your starting center will hustle in a playoff game will be a distant memory once Dwight comes to town…..and can you imagine the Nash/Dwight P&R? YIKES!

  48. BTW, Lakers still got about $1.3 million in Fisher’s and Kapono’s Trade Exceptions. Saw it on the espn trade machine when i was playing around with some unbelievable trade scenarios hehehehe ;)

  49. while we are having a party for 1996 draft class, why dont we go out to get Ray Allen too?:)

  50. Great post as usual, Darius, I probably don’t say that enough.

    @Kevin 42-Mitch is an excellent covert operator and he’s not done yet.

    Kobe and Steve will get in the gym together this summer and work on their continuity. Finally a player that’s obsessed with his physical condition and skills as much as Kobe.

  51. Lakers….please do the following:

    1) Acquire the Hills (Jordan and Grant)
    2) Flip Bynum for Howard (add Eyenga as filler)
    3) Pray that Metta continues to keep his body in shape during the offseason.
    4) Find a way to sign Farmar to come off the bench along with Blake and the Hills).

    Those offseason scrimmages with Kobe/Nash/Metta/G.Hill would be ultra competitive.

  52. #14. Greg,
    Since the 2012 draft has already passed, that rule doesn’t apply. If the Lakers were trying to trade future picks that were in back to back years, it would not be allowed. It’s why the 1st rounders the Lakers are giving up are spaced by a year (2013 & 2015).

    For your 2nd question, yes the Suns will receive the Lakers’ pick next year & that will either be LA’s or Miami’s, whichever one the Cavs don’t choose. So, the Suns will get the lower of the two picks, I’d assume.

  53. Jim C:

    I agree that it was/would be silly to pay Pau 19M just to shoot open jumpers. But the fact that he was relegated to that at times last season speaks more to a poorly executed offense than it does to Pau being easily replaced. For example, I think we forget how well Pau and Bynum were running the big to big lob toward the end of the season. Reason that worked so well is Pau’s passing.

    I actually think you and I are agreeing here in the sense that the only reason to trade Pau is a financial one because the Lakers decide the can’t afford his salary. My point is that the basketball reasons for doing so just aren’t there. I would have said that before the Nash deal, now this just amplifies all the reasons to want to keep Pau.

  54. With the addition of Nash I think Pau is a far better fit than Drew. Nash Pau Kobe MWP have very high BB IQ’s, Drew seems to be the odd fit here other than age. Also Nash does provide a HUGE up grade as a shooter and floor spacer. For Kobe on drive and kick, for Pau on P&R offensively the options are exciting. Plus you gave up nothing for him. I dont see how any Laker fan can say that they arent shocked thrilled and excited about this deal. Mitch props to you and the FO once again dropping the hammer and bringing the noise

  55. any_one_mouse July 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Loved this article by Wojnarowski: http://tinyurl.com/7hwwvqd

    Explains why Kobe didn’t recruit Howard as hard.

    For me, the Howard v/s Bynum boils down to this –
    which do you value more: motor(DH12) or skills(Drew)?
    By itself, that is not an easy question – especially since you are talking about a player that will be your bridge to the future.
    Add the uncertainty around Dwight’s back (given how much he relies on his athleticism), and there are no right answers to this question.

  56. Still on my wish list, another shooter.

    Courtney Lee(Also a pretty good defender)
    Brandon Rush
    Jodie Meeks

    Would love to land one of them with the mini MLE.

    Of course Jordon Hill is still very important to resign as well.

    Not counting on a Bynum/Howard trade. Read that Kobe will not recruit him. As for Pau with Nash here they are not trading him. There isn’t a big man in the league that would be better with Nash then Pau. He will have little open 10 ft jumpers all day long. He may not score much more next year but his shooting % is bound to rise significantly. Read some posts that people still want to trade him for Smith. That is not a good fit. With Smith it would be a brick fest.

  57. Max on ESPN made a very good point. If Kobe lobbies Howard to join the Lakers and he doesn’t come how much chemistry do you think Bynum and Kobe would have after Kobe is vocal about dumping him twice.

    Kobe’s learned to keep his mouth shut.

  58. Re Dwight: I think the Lakers know that Orlando knows they can give them the best player in return. And if Lakers were in such a hurry to trade for Dwight they would’ve done it already on the Magic’s terms. They’ve let it be known they have no problem keeping Bynum. So the only way a deal gets done is if it’s on the Lakers terms. Interseting strategy.

    I like McRoberts with a player like Nash his value goes up. Anybody that can get out on the break are a compliment to Nash. Maybe Eyenga too he seemed to have plenty energy in the few minutes he played.

    A Nash/Goudelock/Kobe/Pau/Bynum lineup is awesome for offensive purposes.

    Or a Nash/Goudelock/Kobe/Ron/Pau. Talk about spacing. 1 in 4 out.

  59. My feeling is that Brooklyn and Atlanta have the inside track on Howard. The Lakers need a SF who can shoot the 3(Wright-Rush) and a PG to relieve Nash for 18-20min. This takes advantage of the offensive lift Nash brings to the team.

  60. Everybody don’t forget we have Ebanks to guard the smaller more athletic point guards as well! Otherwise I’m happy with the team as is other than bolstering the bench. I would love to see us get Grant Hill and or Rashard Lewis. We need to keep Metta to guard the likes of Pierce, Lebron and Durant.

  61. Ed: A sign and trade for Sessions and Wright makes all kinds of sense.

    Brooklyn is a possibility but they have to have everything go their way. Brook Lopez is coming off a broken foot nobody is taking a flier on him. Don’t see Atlanta they’re not a winner. Houston may just take that chance he leaves. Lakers are the realistic possiblity with the only real asset.

    I’ll leave the speculation alone now. Too excited with lineup possibilities right now. Wish Kobe and Pau weren’t in the Olympics for more time to practice with Nash.

  62. A Nash/Kobe PnR will be lethal. When does the season start?

    Having a smart vet like Nash opens up some many possibilities on offense. Brown better not screw this up.

  63. My biggest concern is that Mike Brown sucks at limiting player minutes. In the past few seasons, Nash’s minutes have been limited to roughly 30mpg, even when the Suns loses. Will Mike Brown limit it that way? Even with 30mpg, Nash was more or less out of gas towards the end of last season (yes, it’s a shortened lock-out season, but still). The hope is that Mike Brown will hold on to his urge and still limit Nash to 30mpg (even if Steve Blake is playing horribly), so that Nash will be ready for the playoffs.

  64. I am still not sold on this deal, though in fairness let’s see what else the front office has up its sleeve.

    At present, I do not see the addition of Nash putting this Lakers roster over the hurdle that the Thunder now present. Even the much-longed-for Bynum-for-Howard deal would not accomplish that.

    The Lakers still need a good spot-up shooter for Nash or others to feed via kick out passes – he can’t pass to himself – and they still need someone who can stay in front of burners like Westbrook/Tony Parker, or at least be quick enough to rotate out to guys like Harden.

    If Pau or Artest could be dealt for a player or two who could fill those voids, then the Lakers are in better shape. Until that happens, this team is no closer to winning the west.

    The Nash move reeks of a “name over need” deal, like when Gary Payton came in and ultimately added nothing back in 2003. I wish they’d have focused their resources on Dragic instead, as there’s more to gain long-term, and he’d be no slouch right away. Oh well.

  65. I’m with Kenny. Mike brown rode the starters hard this year. I don’t know if he’s capable of saving minutes for anybody at this point.

  66. DB:

    You and I are in definite agreement. Regardless of the chemistry/fit shortcomings, Pau is a tremendous borderline all-star caliber player, even at his age, mileage and diminished capacity.

    I actually think that if his minutes were managed better during the course of the season, he wouldn’t have looked so awful in the last couple of playoff years.

    If money wasn’t an issue, then I’d agree that we just make some adjustments and get him down on the blocks more or even bring him off the bench with the second unit so that the offense can run through him in a way that maximizes his talents.

    But if money IS an issue, and if there isn’t really a lot of room to have the offense run through him if it has to run through Bynum or Howard, then I think you get better “bang for your buck” by spending that $19M per year a little differently. This doesn’t reflect that I don’t think Pau is a great player.

    It does mean that I think that his talents aren’t going to be utilized to their maximum with the current composition of the team with either Bynum or Howard being the primary low-post big man.

    Recall that Pau was at his best when he was the primary low-post big man in lineups that featured Odom playing Power Forward. Now that he’s been moved out of his comfort zone, he remains a VERY GOOD player but not an ELITE player.

    In other words, I think we can get better production by allocating that $19M in a way that fits the overall team dynamic better.

  67. Nash will be worth it for the comedy alone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uRQwGy1KAo

  68. Kevin

    Keep and eye on Johnson-Odom. He is a shooter like Goudelock but with a 41″ vertical and is suppose to be a solid defender.

  69. I am still wondering if Sessions can’t find a starting gig if we would bring him back for the 2nd unit.

  70. Can’t say enough that with these very skilled and very unique pieces, Lakers’ offense could,be overpowering. BUT it will take smart offensive coaching ( I.e, not Brown). Otherwise they will just get in each others way.

    Need a smart offensive minded assistant to maximize this opportunity.

  71. ESPN interview by Steve Nash:

    “If, I retired today and didn’t win a championship I wouldn’t be haunted, I gave it a heck of a shot.”

    Awesome statement.

  72. Crawford to clips mean Allen to the. heat…damn, the champs are going to be a bit stronger now.

  73. Michael H,
    I can’t imagine the Lakers pay Nash all this money till he is 42 if they dont intend to resign Ramin Sessions (the ideal back up PG) to play almost half the game behind Nash. After all… Id rather have Ramon play 90 percent of the game than Nash play half and Steve Blake play the other half!

  74. If Ray Allen were to sign with the Heat it would be for half of what the Celtics are offering.

    Ray’s going back to Boston.

  75. Jason Kidd is going to the Knicks. The Mav’s are a very good example of why you DO NOT choose the nuclear option when you still have the pieces to compete. They have been shot down with every move. Now all they can do is hope Howard or Paul will sign with them next year. Both very unlikely.

  76. if Allen wanted the money he would’ve signed with Boston already.

  77. Sessions backing up Nash would be great. Lakers have 5 guards already don’t know if it’s possible to resign him.

    MichaelH: Was impressed with the few clips I saw of Johnson Odom. Really hoping he makes the roster.

  78. Already? If I was in Ray’s position, knowing that I had a unique skill set that would bring a lot on the open market, I’d take my time and get my price driven up a bit even if my preference was to return to where I already was.

  79. why would Allen want to come back with Avery as starting sg and now Jason Terry coming off the bench. i don’t think he wants to sweat out another trade deadline after nearly being moved in the past.

  80. any_one_mouse July 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    How is Boston going to find time for both Allen and Terry? Unless they plan to go small a lot with Pierce at the 4.

  81. Easier shots for everybody,

    Fewer turnovers because Nash will be doing most of the ball handling

    An excellent three-point shooter who will make opposing teams pay for doubling on Kobe/Pau/Bynum, and/or cause them to limit their doubling

    Someone who has been quite good at getting the most out of “role players” – Hill, McRoberts, Blake, Goudelock, etc. will benefit significantly (in limited minutes) from that

  82. the great thing about this trade Nash becomes
    a draw for a center like Howard to come to the Lakers imagine a starting line up of Nash,Bryant,World peace,Gasol, Howard,Great offense and defense,=Championships

  83. This sounds fallacious, but anybody who thinks Kobe and Nash are a bad fit because they both dominate the ball can probably look at the 2008 Olympics.

    When Kobe has very high regard for a teammate(s) and he knows what’s at stake, he does know how to adjust his game, defer to somebody else on the team in terms of scoring responsibilities (during certain stretches of the game or in crunch time) and then take up the offensive cudgels when the situation is called for.

    Granted, Kobe has never played with a ball-dominant guard in his NBA career but he’s had a taste of what it’s like sharing the court with Chris Paul, D-Will and Jason Kidd in Team USA. (And we all know how that result turned out.)

    Kobe’s Olympic experience with All-Star guards may be an off analogy to what he’s set to face with Nash coming on board with the Lakers, but what the Beijing Games (and the tune-ups the preceded it) proved is that if push came to shove Kobe will understand what needs to be done for the greater good of the team.

  84. I am a very surprised at the reception that the Nash trade is getting. Nash has been ultra successful because of the system that he has been a part of in Phoenix and Dallas. He doesn’t fit into the Laker system, especially with their roster.

    Kobe Bryant had the highest usage rate in the league the last 2 seasons. Kobe is not changing.

    Also, the biggest weakness for the Lakers the last how many seasons has been their weakness against PG’s, It is what decimates them. Steve Nash is the opposite of the answer in this regard.

    Defense wins championships. There is a reason Steve Nash has none. He is an exceptional offensive general that is the master of offensive flow, but the Lakers system doesn’t function like a Steve Nash offense. It is the opposite.

    I honestly don’t understand the rave reception this deal is getting. I honestly think this gets the Lakers nowhere.

  85. I know I am missing something when nobody else discusses it…

    But have to ask, why aren’t we interested in offering Ray Allen the mini mid level at 3 mil?

    Kobe hates Allen that much? Grant Hill a package with Nash making it impossible for the Lakers to offer him that?

    Nash passing to Allen for a 3 and Allen spelling Kobe as SG sounds good, although that would put just about every serviceable players from the 96 draft on our team.

  86. I honestly don’t understand the rave reception this deal is getting

    Nash is one of the best offensive players in NBA history. He is a great shooter, passer, and ballhandler. He is replacing one guy who was a third-string 2-guard and another guy who is a borderline starter a best. It is that simple.

    One way to look at a trade is to look at how other teams fans react to it. And trust me: other teams’ fans are not thrilled that the Lakers have acquired Steve Nash.

  87. I agree with everything you said about Nash. I love the guy. But it’s a really, really awkward fit.

    I am not a Laker fan, but this isn’t like the Gasol acquisition. That was ridiculous, because it automatically made the Lakers so much better. This trade doesn’t make sense to me.

    I think they just made their system and chemistry issues even more entangled and bloated than before. I don’t think they get better with this trade.

  88. I like this deal because it did not cost the Lakers any of their current decent players. We get to keep Bynum, Gasol, and MWP, also Kobe, but he is not going anywhere, anytime.
    Those picks are going to be the last ones, in the rounds anyway.

  89. Last year, Kobe was our main ball handler, dribbler, play maker. Ramon Sessions had flashes of brilliance every once in a while, but no way is he at the level of Nash. Nash’s offensive ability is going to be staggering.

    One of the biggest issues is Kobe going to the bench. We had to search for someone to be the main ball handler and running the offense. Especially without Lamar Odom to run the offense, the Lakers were without a secondary ball handler. Now… the Lakers have one of the best offensive generals in the league, even at the age of 38. Look at the stats from last year and the year before that. When Kobe goes to the bench, I don’t see how Nash is not on the floor.

    And look at the Suns roster last year. Shannon Brown, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Michael Redd, Robin Lopez. Any one of those guys would have been coming off the bench for the Lakers last year. Just imagine how good Nash will make the bench players when he plays with them and Kobe and Bynum/Pau are on the bench.

    Cons are easily seen of course, and a lot of people are going to harp on them: 1. Age (he’s 38). 2. Defense (or lack of defense). I’m not going to worry about the age thing. Injuries happen to a lot of basketball players (see Bynum) and Nash’s stats are impressive from last year.
    2. Defense: I still don’t understand the idea of a defensive point guard now a days. Stopping elite point guards (or point guards in general) can’t be done one on one. With no hand checking allowed, Point Guards will have the ability to just get into basket/lane. Seriously, name the defensive lock down point guards in the league? I got Rondo. That’s it. D. Rose doesn’t stop point guards by himself, but has a great team concept to stop their defense. I mean, the Lakers were a better defensive team when Fisher was part of the team and worse after he was traded. Defense is a team game.

    I don’t see how this is a bad trade for the Lakers. We’ve been asking for an upgrade at point guard and we got one. He’s the 6th best point guard in Effeciency, number 2 in assists (at 37 years old!!) at 10.7 apg. He’s a top ten point guard. We just got better.

  90. Whoops. Wrong thread.

  91. darius: here we are two days removed from your latest post. what gives?

    besides that, the laker front office appears to have thrown all their chips in for “old school” basketball. not a bad idea ‘cept for the fact lakers have tried that before and failed (circa 2003 -2004). would have worked if the team aged together, circa the 1980′s w.magic johnson’s all star showtime machine and more recent with the kobe/shaq tandem early last decade.

    which brings us to the present and begs the question: can this old school new circus of players live up to the expectations of their enormous fan base? the short answer: only time will tell. the better answer: laker front office will continue to keep a heart monitor on the starting laker player situation and make the right moves and/or not necessarily any moves other than shoring up the small forward position and bench player situation as currently constructed.

    on a personal note, my loyalties have and always will remain to be a laker fan. my admirations however have been to past and present laker greats. never have and never will confuse the two.

    Go Lakers !