The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Analyzing the Lakers' Acquisition of Steve Nash
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Fourth of July is a day of red, white and blue, which we patriotically celebrate as Americans.
For Lakers fans, this Fourth of July was a day of purple and gold, celebrating the acquisition of a Canadian.
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired veteran point guard Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade deal, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported yesterday. The 38-year-old will earn an estimated $27 million over the next three seasons.
The news came Wednesday as a pleasant surprise to Lakers fans, especially considering the lack of hype and build-up surrounding the deal.
With few pieces to trade, an aging team and Dwight Howard looking more and more like he was snubbing L.A. for Brooklyn, there wasn't a lot of reason for optimism this summer. Nash's arrival has—literally overnight—given the Lakers and their fans reason to believe again.
But is it all good?
Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Steve Nash trade:
It's Steve Nash. Two-time MVP Steve Nash. That Steve Nash. Anyone remotely in tune with basketball over the last decade is familiar with the dark-haired, fair-skinned Canadian. Here's what Lakers fans can look forward to.
He's an elite point guard. The Kobe-era Lakers have never had a point guard of Nash's caliber. Fisher will undoubtedly live on in Lakers fans' memories, but he was never an elite point guard.
Sure, we'd rather Nash be 28, not 38, but he's still one of the best point guards in the NBA. His basketball IQ is as close to Kobe's as they come.
He will have "bigs" to pass to. Twin towers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will benefit from the amount of passes that will come their way with Nash at point guard. The thought of the Lakers' potential in pick-and-roll situations is mouthwatering. Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions have never really been pass-masters. Nash's superior passing ability should get Gasol and Bynum (and everyone, really) more scoring opportunities than before.
He can shoot three-pointers. Besides the quality—or lack thereof—of their bench, this was the Lakers' Achilles heel last season.
When Steve Blake is your second-choice shooter behind the arc, there's improvement to be made.
Steve Nash is one of the best jump-shooters the NBA has seen in a long time. He takes smart shots, and his presence on the perimeter will make teams reconsider simply packing the paint when defending the Lakers. Finally, Kobe doesn't have to be the obvious go-to in crunch-time situations.
He is a leader on the court.
Other than Kobe, the Lakers have lacked leaders on and off the court since the departure of Derek Fisher. Nash's experience and ability to control a game ought to have a positive effect on his teammates, especially in times of trouble. It'll be even better if Nash can learn to check the unstoppable force that is Kobe's ego.
Finally, he's just a good guy.
I've never heard a single person say they hate Steve Nash. He oozes class, he's respectful and he's an example of good sportsmanship. What's not to like? The Lakers, with Bynum's immaturity and the unpredictability of Metta World Peace, will benefit in the public eye thanks to the good-natured Nash.
Steve Nash is 38.
That the "aging" Kobe Bryant is five years younger than Nash is a bit worrisome. Even the greatest athletes slow down over time. It's expected. Nash's knees have seen almost four decades of service, not to mention the athleticism he's lost over the years. As smart as Nash is, his age will be a problem—he's only human.
In his third year of his contract, he'll be 41. Ouch.
He won't be able to defend the most athletic point guards.
The Lakers have struggled with fast point guards recently—remember all the complaints about Fisher being too slow? The Roses, Westbrooks and Rondos will simply blow past him, as they have in years past. Sure, he's a smart defender, but the younger, more athletic point guards will give Nash all he can handle and more. The Lakers are gambling on offsetting their defensive frailty with attempting to boost their offense.
Let's hope they're right.
Nash's arrival hurts the Lakers financially.
Nash will make twice as much as Ramon Sessions, who will likely be on his way out this summer. The Lakers' roster is terribly inflexible, thanks to their flirtations with the salary cap year after year. Signing a more expensive player to replace a cheaper one does nothing to help solve the Lakers' cap space problem. As a result, their bench and depth (obvious problems in years past) will suffer.
The Lakers are Kobe's team.
Kobe controls the Lakers' offensive tempo—sorry Ramon and Steve, he does. It will be critical for Kobe and Nash to not only figure each other out as quickly as possible but for them to get along. Kobe respects Nash and vice-versa, but if Kobe is intimidated by Nash's leadership on the court, it could backfire. Nash seems too smart to let something like this occur, but it's not out of the question.
Nash is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
The Lakers are already an older team. Other than Bynum, the Lakers have no solid players under 30. The postponement of the inevitable mass-exodus—due to aging players—doesn't inspire much long-term confidence in Lakers fans.
There are more goods than bads or uglies on this list, but the bads and uglies outweigh some of the goods.
Overall, Steve Nash will add to the Lakers already impressive offense, but won't improve their defense.
He will give them a more streamlined offense, as opposed to a collection of talented scorers. Even though he's a short-term solution to a long-term problem, the Lakers' acquisition of Steve Nash is a big step towards Kobe getting his sixth ring. To most Lakers fans, this is perfectly acceptable. For Kobe to get his sixth ring, or possibly more, would far outweigh the impending collapse that lies in wait a few years down the road.
This is clearly a move to get Kobe the personnel he needs for a sixth ring—but can it work?
Let's hope so, Steve Nash.
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