What does Nash bring to the Lakers?
He gives them a pass-first point guard who’ll make things easier for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. He could make the reserves comfortable by creating easy opportunities for them.
He’ll also serve as a mentor for the Lakers' younger guards, especially Darius Morris, who could be the team’s point guard of the future.
His shooting will make defenses think twice before doubling Kobe Bryant, who—like Nash—is entering his 17th season. The Lakers have long needed another proven scorer on the perimeter, and Steve Nash fills that void.
Now for the bad news.
Everything I mentioned is limited to the offensive side of the ball, and that’s not exactly the only thing the Lakers need in a point guard.
Last year’s playoffs showed that the Lakers still have a weakness in defending point guards. If Ramon Sessions and his speed couldn’t stop Russell Westbrook last year, imagine Nash—an infamous defensive liability—trying to stop him, Chris Paul or any top-flight guard.
Mike Brown had the Lakers focusing on defense last year, and it’s an emphasis in the right direction. With Nash now being the first line of defense, there’s going to be a greater urgency for Gasol and Bynum as defensive anchors to rotate and compensate for Nash's deficiency.
Also, Nash will be 38 starting the season, 39 by season’s end. He’ll make the Lakers’ starting lineup (presumably Bryant, Bynum, Gasol and Metta World Peace) even older, as all but Bynum will be 32 or older.
The Lakers are once again gambling the future on the present, and you can’t blame them.
Who knows how much longer Bryant will be a top-10 player? But at some point, you need to think ahead and groom the future in a way similar to how the Spurs have done it. Trading away low draft picks might not seem like much, but it says the Lakers are willing to ride with what they have instead of adding to it.
We all saw how that turned out last season in Oklahoma City.
I’m reserving my judgment on this trade, at least for now. Nash could have a similar impact like Chris Paul did on the Clippers last year, but at his age, and with the Lakers troubles at guarding opposing point guards, you have to wonder whether it’s worth the gamble long-term.
I will say that next year just became more exciting to watch for Laker fans.