So much of the Lakers’ off-season has focused on unknowns.
What will Dwight Howard decide? When will Kobe return and, when he does, what type of player will he be? Will Pau Gasol still be on the team? If so, how will his role change? If not, what will he net in a trade?
Due to their importance as centerpiece players on the Lakers’ roster, these are natural questions. However, one player whose name hasn’t much come up when talking about the transition to next season is Steve Nash.
Nash was added nearly a year ago, seemingly out of nowhere. At the time, there were questions about how Nash would fit next to Kobe, how much he had left as a player, and how the team would compensate for him defensively. But even with those questions, his signing was almost universally hailed as a win for the Lakers.
What transpired wasn’t the win that many imagined it would be. In the 2nd game of the year Nash broke his leg, ultimately starting a season of regretful injuries and lost chemistry that served as the dark cloud over his inaugural campaign as a Laker. Further, when he was healthy enough to suit up, he had to adjust to a shifting role that took him off the ball more, becoming more of a spot up shooter when Kobe handled the ball and a diligent screener when Pau facilitated from the elbow.
When he did have the ball in his hands, Nash showed more and more of his 39 years, lacking that extra burst to shake free from defenders or turn the corner out of his favored pick and roll set. This made it harder to escape hard traps defenses threw at him and harder for him to create the separation that he typically uses to do damage in isolation.
That said, Nashe’s numbers were eerily similar to the ones he posted his final year in Phoenix. While he showed the affects of a drop in usage statistically, his efficiency mostly held up with his career norms, just missing another 50/40/90 shooting season by .03% on his shooting percentage from the field. Where you saw the biggest dip was in his assists, but he still averaged 6.7 per game while posting an assist percentage of 32.8 (which is in line with his early career numbers with the Mavs). Some of his missed shots and his dip in playmaking were surely magnified by the decline in usage, but for the most part he played well if you were able to divorce his overall game from his rash of injuries and the fact that he had the ball in his hands less.
Next season, however, Nash has an interesting challenge in front of him. The perception of him is a player in decline. He’s 39 and will turn 40 a week before the all-star break. He’s coming off a season that only saw him play 50 games (and some of those he clearly could have sat out too) and a shift in his role that saw him perform less as the Steve Nash we’ve all grown to love.
That said, though there are clearly questions about how Nash will perform next year, he also heads into this off-season as one of the few certainties. Of the big four, Nash is the only one who’s nearly assured to begin the year on the active roster. With Kobe’s achilles, Pau’s uncertain status, and Dwight a free agent, Nash is the guy who enters the summer most certain that he’ll be back wearing a Lakers’ jersey as a player and a leader.
What will be required of him is more than what he was able to give last year and he’ll need to be ready to provide it. The Lakers will need more production, more leadership, and, mostly, more games. He’ll need to be in the lineup providing the type of game that he was brought to the team to provide. Whether or not he can give it is still an open question, but if you listened to him in his exit interview he more than implied that he would be able to provide it, noting that with a full summer to get healthy and train he could get back to not only feeling great, but playing that way also.
The skeptics will be out in full force and after some of the troubles he had this season it’s hard to blame them. However, the as the lone star whose role next season is already clearly defined, Nash will need to blow those skeptics away and play at the level that reminds those of us were so excited about his arrival why we felt that way to begin with. Nash has made a career out of defying expectations, but this upcoming season may provide his biggest test ever in that regard.
Been a while Darius, im just on a holding pattern on the Lakers until we know whatever goes down in July but i believe that if his minutes are closely monitored Nash could be a huge asset for the team that 50-40-90 line cant be ignored. Well see what happens.
Chris J says
Nash was a bad acquisition. I said so on July 4 and still feel the same today. It was the sexy play, a “name,” but still wholly wrong for the team.
Age catches up to everyone, and if there was $8 million to $9 million a year to throw at a point guard, I would have preferred to see the Lakers front office attempt to spend it on a summer 2012 free agent like Goran Dragic, who’s 12 or 13 years younger and at this stage a better player than Nash — and one who’s more likely to play, rather than spend time on the sidelines in a nice suit.
But what’s done is done. At this point, Nash’s best assets are his spot-up shooting and leadership. Hopefully whomever coaches the Lakers next season will find a way to maximize what he still brings to the floor.
Nash has made a career out of defying expectations, but this upcoming season may provide his biggest test ever in that regard.
Last season was an anomaly in every regard for Steve and the whole organization as well (that´s putting it mildly), so there´s nowhere to go but up!
I believe he´s got it in him –
just banking on one thing we didn’t have this season: health.
Nash is smart enough to funnel players into help, and he can still spread the floor and deliver the ball to the post. That alone should be enough even if he loses a few steps and the ability to go around people.
Interesting story that backs up what I have been saying every time claims Dwight will lose $30 million
According to Forbes, Dwight Howard stands to make more money if he signs with the Rockets as opposed to staying with the Lakers.
Tony Nitti breaks it down. On the surface, the Lakers can offer more money and can pay more money up front: Five years, $118 million. The Rockets, on the surface, can only offer four years, $87.6 million. So Howard would obviously make more money with the Lakers, right?
Not so fast.
Considering that Howard could very well earn another max contract, he could opt out after the fourth year. Comparing the two four-year deals, the Lakers would essentially be paying Howard $91 million. The Rockets, their $87.6 million. Here’s the kicker: there’s no state income tax in Texas. There’s a 13.3 percent state income tax in California. When all’s said and done, after taxes, Howard could actually walk away with around $8 million more if he signed in Houston as opposed to staying with the Lakers.
Stephen: from prior thread: “Dwight is unhappy w/D’Antoni. (Duh!)” To me – this is indicative of how most people out of LA see things. The typical NBA fan outside of LA: Phil vs Dantoni? (duh), Should the Lakers sign Dwight? (duh), Should the Lakers play slower tempo? (duh), and is DH happy with KB and MD? (duh) I sent one of my last posts to someone out of town, and he responded with – “there are actually Laker fans who do not want Dwight?” Further, I have yet to meet a Celtic fan who isn’t rooting for us to lose DH, Not saying this carries the entire argument, but if people who hate the Lakers don’t want us to get DH, then it has to make you go hmmm. We are an interesting bunch indeed.
We need SA to lose tonight else they will be well rested for the Finals.
Darius Soriano says
I too have read that report by Forbes. However, what it ignores or, rather, assumes is that some team will actually sign Dwight to another “max” deal when he does opt out. As I’ve written — and Bill Simmons wrote this too — is that Dwight isn’t just a “max” player, he’s a “mega-max” player where his contract is already above what the league considers the max. Basically, Dwight is set to earn $30 million in his final deal with the Lakers. I’m skeptical that any team will sign him to a deal that has a starting salary of $30 million in the first year of his next (next) contract.
Said another way, I don’t doubt that Dwight will want to opt out of any deal he signs this summer. However, from a business standpoint, it’s still an open question if he’ll be giving up earning power in the process of opting out or taking a shorter contract. The contract he signs after the one he inks this summer may have a starting contract of under $20 million simply because the new CBA will still be in effect and teams will likely want to build a roster around him and not just want to have him taking up 40% to 50% of the salary cap with a $30 million per year contract.
These are the additional details Dwight will need to contemplate.
Warren Wee Lim says
I am prepared to move on without Dwight as well. Its not going to be easy, but its going to have some sort of impact as to how to approach the season.
1st, assuming Dwight goes, will the Lakers participate in a sign-and-trade? I would hope so, even if its merely taking back an expiring salary + 1st rounder in the process.
2nd, with a full blast 2014 plan in place, do you trade the other star guard?
3rd, will MDA stay for this season to finish the team’s rebuild or will he go on his own terms? Who would replace him?
Kenny T says
I think that if Steve Nash can have a great off season of conditioning and avoid injury, he is still going to be 40 next year. I think Nash would best serve as the Lakers’ backup point guard moving forward, simply because that at his age, it is asking a lot for him to start and play 30 mins. a game.
Darius i read that Simmons piece, great read from him for a chance and he is totally right, i want Dwight back but if hes not i wont shear any tears over it. I just dont think he have the intestinal fortitude to deal with the expectations of THE marquee team in the league, i believe he rather will go elsewhere (cough cough Houston) and hide behind another superstar so he dont take the blame. I just dont think he have the “it” to be a Laker, i hope im wrong but thus past season is not very encouraging to say the least.
Age catches up to everyone, and if there was $8 million to $9 million a year to throw at a point guard, I would have preferred to see the Lakers front office attempt to spend it on a summer 2012 free agent like Goran Dragic.
You can’t sign a FA with a TPE. You can argue that they should have traded for a younger guy, but I seriously doubt that PHX would have traded Dragic here.
The problem with the Nash acquisition was that combined with the Meeks and Jamison adds, it gave the team too many old guys/bad defensive players. The O was not good enough to overcome it and Howard was not Superman, at least early. There were many people at fault and some of it was no one’s fault.
Also, the PHX training staff may have been even more crucial for Nash than was believed.
As far as the stuff that Stephen said in the other thread, it is pretty obvious that Houston is the best basketball situation for Howard, as things stand now. I and others said that a few weeks ago. It doesn’t require any insider info to see that. Dallas has Cuban and Dirk. Atlanta has the possibility of teaming Howard with Paul. Golden State has Curry and the SF lifestyle. The Lakers have more upfront money, the Laker brand, and the LA lifestyle,
I’m glad you brought up the issue of Steve Nash. I still think this is an acquisition that could pan out for the Lakers. Think of it–with 3 players such as Nash, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have 3 players with close to the highest basketball IQ in the entire league. That is not negligible. When players are that savvy, they usually figure out how to play together. Furthermore, they’ve now played together for (more or less) a full year. That is not negligible, either. They’ll all be that much farther ahead when they get together on the court again (if, of course, they’re all on the same team again).
I think that Nash’s minutes should be limited to 30 per game. With 2 competent reserves in the wings–Steve Blake and (the developing?) Darius Morris, the PG position should be fairly well covered.
All we need is for the key players to remain healthy.
Rusty Shackleford says
Count me as a Nash skeptic. I know he is a 2-time MVP (JOKE) but who else has received an $8 million dollar contract at the age of 38? Especially because he’s not a 2-way player. Kareem and who else? Speaking of certainties going into next season it will be the continued struggles to defend opposing point guards.
Let’s just hope the Lakers don’t make any moves in attempt to replace deficient personnel that have similar flaws……#Rutgers.
I won’t call last year an anomaly because to me it’s what you get with an old team (injuries). The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics suffered the same fate. Those two teams just handled it better. Yes, our injuries were to all of our key players and for extended periods of time. Yes Dwight missed time and he is younger than most of our players. But Dwight came in as damaged goods and he attempted to work himself back into Superman shape. Then of course, came the labrum.
Nash was not all that bad. I liked him being a spot up shooter. We don’t have anyone better as a shooter. He was almost clutch until teams learned how to play him. They crowded him and he was unable to shake defenders off the dribble. Defensively, “We knew who he was when we go him” to somewhat paraphrase(parody) Dennis Green. With that said, we need both our two guard and small forward to make up for him defensively. That did not happen. Both Kobe and MWP were deficient in this area. Kobe will more than likely be less than he was if and when he comes back so either his replacement has to do better or MWP has to regain form. It is impossible to think that all of these old men will regain previous form so we will need fresh blood that can do the job. Suggestions: start Nash but play him Fisher type minutes; use him for four minute intervals each quarter. Go after Chase Budinger, Francisco Garcia and Dorrell Wright. Blake can remain as Nash’s back-up and give Morris spot minutes so he can learn how to become a viable NBA point guard.
I think the PHX training staff thing is a bit overrated when it comes to Nash, who’s been there forever and should have picked up enough things from them to maintain his health regardless of what the staff there did.
Also, while age is a big thing, last summer’s signing was to give Kobe the best chance he could have in the final years of his contract, and after the CP3 veto, there really wasn’t much else to be done. Besides, you all forget that as bad as Dwight is/was, we could have been stuck with Bynum and would have been asking questions that are far worse than how much Dwight is worth.
All in all, unless we can do a deal that nobody can expect without some serious inside information, our best chances are still with our core group and giving it one last shot this year.
Props to SA. I definitely underestimated them. I thought the Grizzlies would take a long, tough series. The Spurs have definitely evolved from 2011. The series also shows how indispensable shooting is nowadays; no matter how great your interior players or your defensive schemes, an elite-coached team will exploit a lack of shooting any day.
Much of the Phx training staff’s methods involve technology that Nash can’t simply pick up and take with him. I’m not even sure the manual manipulation – using the sensory technology Aaron Nelson uses – is done by all other teams. It’s not as simple as knowing when to stretch your back. Nash could be healthier, but the body of evidence – Grant Hill, Shaq, Nash – tends to favor Nelson’s staff.
Don’t forget Jermaine O’Neal.
So much turnover last few years. From Phil to Brown’s staff, Brown’s staff to a merge between D’Antoni’s and Brown’s and now probably another 3-4 new coaches few if any Lakers are familiar with. And that’s without mentioning player transactions. Off season hasn’t started either.
As long as Nash makes 40% of his threes he brings value. If he starts the season he could get in a rhythm that could carry throughout the season. But as a Lakers fan I’m not comfortable with another year of Nash/Blake back court. Time for give a proven guy some burn at the pg position. 48 minutes of Fisher, Blake and Nash has been brutal.
Person gone. Clifford gone. Crazy how keeping Dwight can come down to another conversation between him and Kobe.
LT mitchell says
The above is a list of the starting PGs in the NBA. How many would rank above Nash on my wish list? Almost ALL, if not all of them. As good as Nash is as a leader, floor spreader and a shooter, he is too much of a liability when it comes to his inability to get penetration on offense, as well as his awful defense, to be a starting PG on a contending team….and to think that one of the main reasons Jim Buss hired MDA was to revolve the offense around Nash…..obviously a big mistake. Hopefully, the front office can make an upgrade at PG….if not, than I hope to see Steve Blake get the bulk of the minutes next season. Blake is better at getting penetration and is the better defender (even though is is below average at both).
Don’t forget Bickerstaff. Both coaches that Dwight felt most comfortable with are gone. FO is stating without a doubt that Mike D will be the coach. I think the FO is preparing for D12’s departure. This is a cloak and dagger salary dump. No D12, amnesty Pau and wait for 2014-2015. If Kobe doesn’t play this team will get under the salary cap and save over $100 million in luxury tax avoidance.
Warren Wee Lim says
I am one in the boat that I would be well-prepared for a team without Dwight. I am not saying we don’t want him to re-sign or that we prefer it if he left. But here’s what I would do if he did:
1. Amnesty MWP. The move brings our payroll from 78M to 71M.
2. Sign Earl Clark – mini MLE starting salary, 4 years duration. Brings back salary to 74M.
3. Trade Steve Nash. Its easy to look at some options.
What we have left, doesn’t mean a rebuild. We just need to get creative with the TPE we get and whatever else in assets we get out of the sign and trade.
They have to pay Kobe regardless of whether he plays; the only way his salary doesn’t count against the cap is if they amnesty him.
I mostly agree with WWL.
I said a couple of weeks ago that the first thing I would do if Howard leaves is talk to Nash, to see if he wants to stay and also to see if there is a market for him. There is not much point in having Nash on the team if Howard is gone and the same could probably be said of Metta.
I think they should keep Clark either way, but if Howard walks, then my guess is that the Lakers will just use Gasol/Clark/Hill + another big body (maybe Sacre maybe another guy) as the 4/5 rotation.
WWL: Let’s see – prepared for a team without DH, trade Pau, trade Nash, amnesty MWP. Sounds like scorched Earth to me.
LT mitchell: The biggest issue with Nash is that his deal runs through 15.
Busboys: Come on – not even I am that skeptical : ) The FO wants DH. Unfortunately, they are not going about it in a very effective way so far. I do not however think their intention is simply to cut salary, although that could be one end result.
Kevin: So we get rid of the coaches who related to DH the best and we have not hired anyone who is a plus in that area. What exactly is the plan here? Oh yea – I forgot – Laker manifest destiny – in other words it doesn’t matter if he stays – we are the Lakers and we will win anyway.
rr: You must have forgotten that sending Pau to Siberia is the certer piece of his platform : ) I do agree with the principal however. If we lose DH, then we may as well take the elevator all the way down.
Craig W. says
I find it funny that people say the front office has no plan.
First: This front office is one of the most ‘closed mouth’ organizations in professional sports. They never talk about strategy, never.
Second: Last year there was absolutely no plan – according to the fans – and they landed Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Everyone was ecstatic at that time – that is what counts, not how things turned out this last year.
I don’t expect miracles, but to lambast our organization for what they haven’t done this spring, when the playoffs are still going on, the draft hasn’t happened, and free-agency hasn’t started, would seem to be somewhat myopic.
Dwight Howard may or may not sign with the Lakers, but he most likely will do this in July or early August. If you look at what this organization has done in the past – Shaq for example – they are not going to publicly bend over for Dwight. This should leave us talking about the 2 slot or 3 slot players we would like to sign this summer, not discussing Dwight Howard.
Plan: The plan last year and this year are more or less the same and it centers on getting DH (last year) or keeping DH (this year). Last year we succeeded – hopefully we will this year.
Execution of the Plan: We do not know what is fully going on, but the parts we can see: Getting rid of coaches, the exchange with Mitch, and the fact that DH is apparently not happy with MD, are not good starts. We can still salvage this, but we need to counteract these not so good things.
Myopic: Yes totally – it is by far the most important thing other than Kobe’s health. It is more important even than coaching !
I really didn’t like the Dwight pick up. I felt he was an upgrade over Bynum but, I thought he represented a skills overlap with Gasol that existed before with Bynum. Our strong line-up in earlier years had Gasol in the center with Odom at PF who had remarkable ball handling skills and could stretch the court decently or slash to the rim. If Howard leaves we should finally stop looking elsewhere and reward Gasol.
I do not fault the FO for signing Nash. I do not think he has lived up to the hopes everyone had for him but he is still the best PG we’ve had in years. If Dwight walks though I do think the FO should ask Nash if he might want to be moved. If he wants to stay though we are not trading him. No one would want him with the threat of retiring from any location he doesn’t want.
I’m also very happy with the resurgence of Blake last year and I hope he has another great year. We still need to get younger. Morris has forever been touted as having potential. Next year maybe his chance to get some minutes and see if he develops or not. I also really do love Glock. I don’t think he will ever be an elite guard but the man can shoot and any team should be able to find a spot for him on their bench including the Lakers.
jim buss spoke more often last year than jerry buss did in 3. Let’s try to stick to the facts.
the coaching issues last year speak to the disarray in the FO. A seasoned owner would not have made those mistakes.
It would be very hard to say that Kupchak was the driving force behind the coaching fiasco. I see him being more involved with the retention and selection of players.
The decision DH makes says as much about DH as it does about the organization.
If DH leaves, it would be a little unfair to put it all on the FO. Plenty of blame to go around.
rr: I dont think that’s true. I believe that if a player is going to miss an entire year due to injury insurance can cover his salary and the team can file for some or all of his salary to come off their salary cap… Only problem would be Kobe would have to not try to come back this year and if I remember correctly they have to wait until a certain amount of the season goes by (games missed) to apply for it unless they determine at the beginning of the season that he’s not going to play at all this year.
P. Ami says
This Dwight stuff does not get answered on a blog. We can measure the options all we want and take in all the good arguments that are being made. As Darius said of Simmons’ argument, there are lots of factors going into what Dwight’s team is considering. When it is all said and done, Man is not a rational being. We think we are and we try to be, but the part of the brain that triggers decision making is an emotional part of the brain, not an analytical one. We don’t wait to make a decision when we have all the information processed like a computer does. We make decisions when it “feels” like decision making time. Anybody interested in reading a little about the science of this, there is a fairly approachable book called “Descartes’ Error” by Antonio Damasio.
All I’m getting at is that Dwight will decide when he feels like deciding and his decision will be based on the information he feels is applicable. I’m sure his team will try to steer him in a rational direction, but that also assumes they can judge what is best for Dwight. Looking at Dwight’s past decisions, I’m not sure he will make a good decision. This gives me hope he will stay with the Lakers.
Nash… There were no better options at the time. The Lakers were reliant on all the significant trade assets they had and there was no money to lure any FA PG who could significantly impact the team. Nash was it. I think that bringing up Dragic is a bit of an indication that the person being critical of the Nash pick up is being wrongly selective with the information they are basing their thinking on. It was a great move that I would still make today. We still have no better option and there is a chance that Nash delivers this coming season. If Kobe is out for any length of time, and/or requires time to find himself on the court, it’ll be nice to have a guy like Nash there to make pick up the slack.
The reality is, the game has sped up. It is almost shocking to go from watching the Lakers play to watching any of the top teams in the league. Even teams like the Grizzlies, who like to pound and slow things down have guys like Tony Allen and Mike Conley. Same can be said of Indiana with Hill and George. This says nothing about teams featuring Westbrook, Durant, LeBron, Parker, Leonard, Green, Chalmers, Cole, Wade… I don’t see the Lakers just dumping assets. With or without Dwight, the Lakers will find a way to make the team more appealing to FAs. I think the model that West used in putting a team together that was attractive to Shaq, or that Morey has made to make Houston attractive, this is the way to do this.
BTW, who else here loves Oladipo? *Self edited for trade day-dreaming*
Check questions 55 and 19 on the Larry Coon CBAFAQ.
One question, Craig: given your clear disdain for the opinions of fans, why do you hang out every day on a fansite? Rather than trying to tell other people what to talk about, and expressing your irritation with people who criticize the FO, it seems that you would be better served by simply logging on and off at the Lakers’ official team site and waiting for Buss and Kupchak to announce their moves, and getting the word on what is going on from the organization’s PR department.
I said that I agreed with WWL’s points in that post. Whether trading Pau is a good idea depends on what they can get for him. There is no “right” answer to that question.
If Howard walks, then the FO and the coach need to talk things over with the key players, and get their input. There is virtually no chance of 2014 contention without Howard. But the “Blow it Up” thing is just like trading Pau: you have to weigh the plusses and minuses of trying to do that now, and of just riding out 2014 with Kobe and Pau and maybe Nash and then having a clean cap in 2014. And as with most things, the keys will be in the details, which are complicated, not in the concepts, which are simple.
On the issue of Dwight: In recent history, only Dwight and LaBrawn have consistently made it to either the Conference Finals and/or Finals without having other superstars on their respective teams. That being said, when healthy, Dwight Howard is force to be reckoned with. The Lakers need him, but he will not sign back with us due to the FO’s allegiance with Mike D. They have gotten rid of Dwight’s comfort zone coaches (Bickerstaff and the Rifleman Person) and backed Mike D. Where is his peace? Why would he want to come to work in a hostile, unhappy environment? Houston is a better situation. There is no way he doesn’t sign there.
The FO knows this. Why not get under the luxury tax at that point? If you can save $100 million, why not do it. Amnesty Pau and trade MWP for draft picks and try and pick up JJ Reddick, someone who can create his own shot, go after the likes of Francisco Garcia, Dorrell Wright and Chase Budinger. These moves gives you quality players at the SG and SF positions. It would be a public relations nightmare if you trade Nash (his kids made it a feel good story) or amnesty Kobe (given all that he has done for the Lakers).
I have never really liked Kobe, but I learned to respect and admire the man. The same can be said for Dwight. I don’t like the guy but if he stays and plays hard and gives it his all, I can (and everyone else will no doubt) learn to respect him. If he leaves I wouldn’t give a rat’s arse what he does in life. He would always be a villain in my eyes.
Nash can be a great asset in the right situation.But you’re going to have to tailor the game to his skills – more like a spot-up guy like Steve Kerr, perhaps. And you’re going to make sacrifices defensively.
And it will depend on how much he can play when he returns. The game might be a step too fast.
I don’t think the current lakers make up is the right situation. And I don’t think MDA has the discipline to monitor Nash’s minutes with the squad as it stands today – DH or no DH.
What does Amnestying Gasol do to help the Lakers ON the court?
Very,very little. It makes it possible to sign and trade Howard for players. Which brings up the small factor Dwight has to agree with it,so he’s not going to accept one that guts his prospective new team of talent. Anyone think the Lakes would give up Howard AND Gasol for Brook Lopez and Marshon Brooks?
It makes it easier to tank hard for 2014.
I can just picture the conversations with Dwight,”Yeah we let go of the coaches you liked and we just got rid of the one player you developed chemistry with and we got nothing for him,but trust us,we’re making you the centerpiece of our team.”
All it does is save the Buss family money.
It has nothing to do with ON the court it has to do with saving money for the franchise. If the Lakers get under the luxury tax threshold, they will not be considered a repeat offender and will not have to pay the 1.5 or 2 to 1 penalties. Throwing a year away to get into position for the 2014-2015 basketball season.