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After A Few Days Of Ball-Tickling, Steve Nash Turned Down Canada And Went To The Lakers
Last night, the Lakers filled their gaping need at point guard by acquiring Steve Nash, a future Hall-of-Famer who probably has another two good years left in him. And while it initially sounds like they gave up a lot to get a guy entering his 17th NBA season (first-round picks next year and in 2015, second-round picks next year and in 2014, and the trade exception they got when they dumped Lamar Odom on the Mavericks), they really didn’t.
Draft picks don’t mean much to a team that hasn’t had a first-round pick since 2007 and is obviously still in “win now” mode. They extend that “win now” window for another two years (three if you’re going by the length of Nash’s contract), and essentially swapped Lamar “The Melancholy Saboteur” Odom and some picks to do so. Plus, they only have to pay Nash $27 million over those three years, giving them cap flexibility while also making them more attractive to players like Dwight Howard.
On the court, the move is an absolute win for the Lakers. Sure, Nash is about as effective on defense as, well, a laterally-challenged 38-year-old with back problems could be. But who cares? With him at the helm, the Lakers will be able to run the type of hyper-speed offense that allows them to stick with the Oklahoma City Thunders and Miami Heats of the world. And, as Bill Plaschke points out, it takes some of the crunch time pressure off of Kobe Bryant (something that was beginning to take its toll on Kobe). Bryant now has a trusted vet alongside him to take some of that 4th quarter burden, and he also gains a teammate who will understand whatever pop culture references old-as-balls men make to each other in the locker room. Everyone wins.
Yep, Canada, you really got screwed on this one.
Raptors’ GM Bryan Colangelo has been quietly trying to engineer a Nash-to-Raptors scenario for years, dating back to when he hired (then gently fired) Nash mentor Jay Triano, and put sports science expert Alex McKecknie (another Nash friend) on the payroll. But yesterday, the pitch to Nash — a reported $36 million worth of guaranteed money, and promises of nightly adulation few other players in the NBA could hope for — wasn’t enough to keep him from agreeing to a sign-and-trade with L.A. (Not even a taped plea from Wayne Gretzky was enough. Outrage!)
Which has some folks up north crying foul, since you can see Nash’s flirtation with Toronto as a tool he used to drive up his market value. And you’d probably be right, at least in part: the Raptors offered him $10 million more than L.A. did, and promised him a hero’s welcome. He turned it down, and stayed in America. To add insult to injury, they’re now stuck with Landry Fields, a role player who’s coming off a shitty sophomore season who they acquired solely to keep another team from getting Nash.
But for Steve Nash the person, the move makes a lot of sense. He goes to a serious title contender, and is only an hour away from his kids, who live in Phoenix.
The kids, in fact, were a high priority in his decision, and SportsNet’s Michael Grange shed some light on this important point:
Nash has shared custody of his three children with his ex-wife. The terms of their custody arrangement are shaped by the NBA season. When he’s at home the kids are with him, when he’s on the road they’re with his ex-wife; they split the summers.
So, yes Canada, I would be pissed too. You had an opportunity to bring your most important basketball player ever to your NBA team, and a few flirty days later, he decided to go to Los Angeles. If you want to boo him a little bit, go right ahead. This is worth a few boos, because, again: Los Angeles.
But to say that this wasn’t the right move for Steve Nash — who gets to play for a title and see his kids — would be a lie. As much as that sucks to hear, it’s the truth. Nash-to-the-Lakers was the right move for everyone. Except Canada.
Headline photo via, designed by Ishaan Mishra.
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