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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Steve Nash headed to Lakers in sign-and-trade; can he make them a title team?

A week ago Steve Nash said on the radio that it would be hard for him to put on a Lakers jersey because he’s “old school.”

It didn’t take him long to overcome his feelings.

The Lakers and Suns reportedly have agreed on a massive trade that will send four draft picks (firsts in ’13 and ’15; seconds in ’13 and ’14) from LA to Phoenix in exchange for Nash, who will sign a 3-year deal worth more than $25 million. Nash will join one of his chief rivals over the past eight seasons (his Suns went 2-1 against the Lakers in the playoffs). He had to beg Suns owner Robert Sarver to send him to the Lakers because Sarver was reluctant to send the two-time MVP to Phoenix’s enemy.

The big move is expected to convince the Lakers to keep its core trio of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Pau Gasol together to make another title run. The question is if it will work.

Nash is 38 years old and will be 41 in the final year of his contract. The 8-time All-Star is still one of the top distributors in the league and an excellent shooter. He’ll make the Lakers better next year and probably the following season, but will he be enough to help them beat the Thunder? Probably not.

Russell Westbrook ate the Lakers alive in the playoffs. They had nobody who could guard him. Steve Nash’s weakness is defense, so he won’t be able to help them in that department. The only thing he can do is make them more efficient on offense so that they can hope to outscore Oklahoma City, which won’t be easy. The Lakers would probably need one of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, or James Harden to be hurt in order to beat the Thunder in the playoffs, and that’s tough to bank on. But we can’t fault the Lakers for making the move.

The Lakers only have a few more years with Kobe Bryant as a top player, so they had to do something. Their rebuilding plan was thwarted when David Stern overturned the Chris Paul trade, so this is their temporary answer. They did well. Nash is arguably the top point guard on the market, and he makes them better. But he won’t be enough to make them better than the Thunder or Heat.

It’s also going to be funny seeing Lakers fans cheer for Nash after they disliked him all these years. It’s funny how you can dislike a guy but be so excited when he puts on your team’s jersey.

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