Lakers Team Steve Nash with Kobe Bryant, Is Dwight Howard Next?

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Steve Nash will be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

The Phoenix Suns and Lakers have agreed to a sign-and-trade that will team Nash with Kobe Bryant, ESPN's Marc Stein reports. Nash fits into the trade exception that was created when the Lakers dealt Lamar Odom last year, and the Suns will receive a handful of draft picks.

This move comes as a bit of a surprise, as the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks were thought to be the leaders in the chase for Nash.

The point guard position has been a glaring weakness in Los Angeles for years, so adding one of the greatest players at that position of all time can't hurt—even if he is 38 years old.

Nash is a devastatingly efficient scorer. For his career, he has shot 49 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line. The Lakers were in dire need of perimeter shooting last season, and Nash is arguably one of the best in the league in that regard.

The future Hall of Famer's passing abilities need no introduction. Even with a fairly ragtag roster around him in Phoenix last season, Nash still managed to average 10.7 assists a game. He's averaged double figures in that category in seven of the last eight seasons, and he's led the league five times.

This is a big move for the Lakers, but you can't help but wonder if they're only getting started.

Dwight Howard wants to play for the Nets, but Brooklyn essentially tapped itself out financially by taking on huge contracts for both Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. The Nets may not have the flexibility to add Howard to the mix.

On top of that, the Magic have made it clear that the only player they have much interest in acquiring in exchange for Howard is Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

A trio of Nash, Bryant and Howard could instantly put the Lakers back into title contention. If the Lakers could land another floor-spacer in a deal with Orlando, they'd be nearly unstoppable offensively.

Ryan Anderson isn't officially with the Magic right now, but the teams could work him into a sign-and-trade in which the key players would be Howard, Anderson, Bynum and Pau Gasol. Such a deal would be a slight upgrade for the Lakers in the frontcourt.

More importantly, this deal would create a potentially devastating balance between Nash and Anderson outside, Howard inside and Kobe everywhere in between.


Follow Andrew Bailey on Twitter.