Summers in Los Angeles usually mean two things: blazing weather and shocking news that involves someone with celebrity status. The summer of 2012 has not disappointed. Although the weather has been hot and not scorching, the news involving the sports celebrities in Los Angeles has created its own heat.
On their quest to change the dynamic of a Lakers team that has been put out of the second round of the playoffs in each of the last two years, the Lakers have agreed to a deal in principal to acquire two-time MVP Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade for a myriad of future draft picks.
The deal cannot be approved by the league until July 11th.
The Lakers needed to make a move in personnel to keep pace with the improving San Antonio Spurs and the young and very talented Oklahoma City Thunder. These two teams faced off in this year's Western Conference championship. The Thunder defeated the Spurs in six games. The Thunder eliminated the Lakers this season in five games.
The move to land Nash is an improvement from the experiment with Ramon Sessions, even though Sessions only played half of a shortened season with the Lakers, but it does not directly solve the major problems the Lakers had while facing the Spurs or Thunder. Both of those teams expose the lack of perimeter defense, which now has gotten slower. Sessions was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers and is now an unrestricted free agent.
Both point guards for the Spurs and Thunder, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, respectively, have continuously had major success against the Lakers. Adding a 38-year-old point guard who is now a step slower than he was in his MVP years certainly does nothing to fill that hole. The Lakers have tried many options like putting Kobe Bryant on Westbrook or Parker, and in both cases Bryant's age was exposed.
Nash has a basketball I.Q. that reads off the charts, mostly offensively, and rivals that of the highly intelligent Kobe Bryant. But Nash has always been in an offense where he dominates the ball and makes most of the decisions concerning the offense. He has been in a high paced pick-and-roll offense and has never had a shooting guard with the skills of Kobe Bryant.
On paper, this seems like a great pairing, but on the court it will be very challenging. Bryant is also used to dominating the basketball and making decisions. One of the two will have to sacrifice the way they play.
Recently, Nash has had problems with his back and was frequently spotted on the sidelines laying down and getting treatment whenever he came out of the game. Expect those sightings to increase as Father Time hovers around Los Angeles and the Staples Center.
There are obvious positives that come from this deal. Nash is a dead-eye shooter from three-point range, something the Lakers desperately need. The Lakers will have to run a lot of pick and rolls to get Nash into the lane where he can utilize his exquisite passing skills. He is still one of the best passers in the NBA but can no longer break down his defender on a consistent basis and get into the lane without the aid of a pick.
This may open the door for a better package to offer the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard. Although Howard has said that Los Angeles was not a place that he'd prefer to come to, some think the addition of Steve Nash may help in changing his mind.