Steve Nash Trade: Los Angeles Lakers Must Now Move Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol
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In a stunning turn of events, Steve Nash is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, as reported by Mark Stein of ESPN.
Though they were able to retain Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum despite the deal, this cannot be the franchise's final big step.
Keeping their Big Three intact while upgrading Ramon Sessions with Steve Nash is an absolute coup for the Lakers. That it only cost them a handful of low-value future draft picks is truly amazing.
While Sessions' play at the point-guard spot was solid, if unspectacular, last year, he was average enough to hold down the position.
The Lakers' real problems did not start or end at the point-guard spot, and acquiring Steve Nash does not necessarily fix too many of them.
Sure, the offense is going to run more smoothly. Kobe Bryant isn't going to have to create or take so many shots. Pau Gasol could have a field day running pick-and-rolls with Nash.
However, Nash may be an even worse defender than Derek Fisher, Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions were at the point last year. L.A. still has a gaping hole at small forward, and they still have one of the league's weakest benches.
While they still have their mid-level exception money to play with, they need to think bigger.
L.A. Lakers Featured Columnist Hadarii Jones is a guy who really has his ear close to the ground when it comes to the Lakers. He suggests the Lake Show should swap Bynum for Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol for Josh Smith.
Great minds think alike, as his big-picture shakeup was immediately on my mind when I heard the Nash news too.
However, I think I can kick this up one notch further.
Moving Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts and Metta World Peace for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu is a great place to start. The Orlando Magic would get out from under Turkoglu's contract, while building around a young center who wants to lead his own team.
Howard is more mobile, cleans the glass and can play off the backside lob better than Bynum. What's more, Howard's superior shot-blocking ability is needed for a Nash-Kobe backcourt that will get burned by extremely fast guards like Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.
Hedo Turkoglu, for all his faults, would be a clear upgrade over Metta World Peace. Turk can still shoot the ball, but it's his size and passing ability which would further make this offense hum.
Especially with my next step.
Trading Gasol for the Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith is a fantastic idea, but it still creates too many mouths to feed. Just as the Lakers are currently constructed, a "Big Four" is one too many, especially if the bench still sucks.
I like revisiting the Houston Rockets' love for the Spanish big man instead.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey has never given up his dream of acquiring Gasol, though they had balked at giving up Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola in such a deal.
However, trading Gasol for just Martin and Scola would be too good to pass up for either party at this point. The Rockets would be getting their coveted prize while also clearing space for all those rookies they just landed on draft day.
So far, the Lakers have been offered mostly crappy packages for Gasol. Acquiring a very tough and skilled power forward like Scola and a high-quantity scorer like Martin is probably the best they're going to do right now.
Most importantly, it's absolutely perfect for the new-look Lakers core.
While moving Bynum and Gasol would be both audacious and bittersweet, the 2013 L.A. lineup would be pretty tough to beat.
Suddenly, the Lakers would trot out a starting backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Their scoring ability and veteran know-how would be unparalleled.
The front line would consist of two very good passers and shooters, with Hedo Turkoglu and Luis Scola. Nash, Kobe and Turk could run pick-and-rolls in any combination with Scola and Howard, while the other weapons wait on the wings and cuts.
Scola and Bryant's toughness would help cover up the group's defensive deficiencies, and having Dwight Howard in the middle would hide a multitude of weaknesses.
What's more, the offensively limited Howard now becomes the fifth option in that lineup, having only to feast on the putbacks and alley-oops on which he thrives.
But it gets better.
Considering that Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill have yet to see any real free-agency interest, one can safely assume that they, or any similarly skilled title-hunting veterans, would sign with L.A. on the cheap.
The second unit would then consist of Kevin Martin, Sessions and Hill for the main reserves, with Steve Blake, Robert Sacre and a few minimum-salary signings on the deep bench.
Trading Andrew Bynum to Orlando and Pau Gasol to Houston are both completely plausible moves that create a flawlessly fitting starting lineup along with one of the league's deeper benches.
The team would be built around a clear Big Three of Bryant, Nash and Howard and be augmented with at least four other starting-caliber role players.
The Los Angeles Lakers absolutely need to make these moves, and they can send me a thank-you card when they're hoisting another championship banner next year.
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