But what if the Lakers could wipe that off the table as well? What if they're so far out of the playoff hunt by the time the trade deadline comes around that they think about shipping Nash out?
That kind of fresh start might be exactly what the Lakers need. And while having only $9.7 million against the cap is basically that, it's still not quite that nice, round $0.
That would give team management the freedom to go in literally any direction it chooses. L.A. could throw the kitchen sink at LeBron James (thought he's not likely to take it). It could make a play for Carmelo Anthony, whose wife is already in show business. Or it could try to grow organically like the San Antonio Spurs, OKC Thunder or Utah Jazz—building around whomever it lands in the star-studded 2014 draft lottery.
And no matter which one of those paths the team ends up taking, it should still have the money to be able to re-sign Kobe Bryant for the last few years of his career as well (whether he'd be down for a complete restart right now is an entirely different topic).
Regardless of how Kobe feels or what kind of trade value Nash has, I don't think there are many people who would argue that the Lakers don't need to try something. At least shake it up.
To think that this core will compete for an NBA championship now or in the future is beyond hopeful, bordering on delusional.
Kobe and Pau Gasol were a great combo when they first joined forces, but they've been surpassed by a number of competitors in the last five-and-a-half years. They're not LeBron and Dwyane Wade, or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook—not even close.
The time to go in a completely different direction is now, because the opportunity is here.
It's an opportunity that might be even bigger if the Lakers can get out from under the one contract they're tied to beyond this season—that of Steve Nash.
The tricky part might be finding a team that wants to part with an expiring contract in exchange for a 40-something point guard who was never known as a defender even in his prime.
Dallas is already pretty deep at both guard positions with Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris in town, but who wouldn't love to see a reunion of Nash and Dirk Nowitzki?
Even if they had to scratch and claw into the postseason, that would have to be one of the feel-good stories of the season.
Dallas could offer Shawn Marion—whose contract expires after this year—in exchange for Nash. It'd have to be pretty confident in Vince Carter or Jae Crowder as a replacement for Marion at the 3, though.
As for the Pacers, they have Danny Granger's expiring contract, and Nash could raise the level of everyone's offensive game there.
For evidence of what Nash could do for Indiana's big men, just look at the way he helped guys like Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye or Marion in Phoenix. All had their most productive offensive seasons when Nash was setting them up.
So why don't the Lakers just hold on to him? Well, they might if they're anywhere near contention this year. But let's face it, you and I both know that's probably not realistic.
It doesn't happen often in Lakerland, but it's time to hit the reset button.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
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