According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash could be traded by season's end. This comes just one year after L.A. acquired the future Hall of Fame floor general from the Phoenix Suns.
The question is, what are the pros and cons of potentially trading Nash?
Nash, 39, is currently in his 18th season in the NBA. He spent six years with the Dallas Mavericks, 10 with the Phoenix Suns and is in his second year with the Lakers. He's also three months away from 40.
With all of these factors weighed, it's not surprising to learn which team is interested in Nash's services: the Toronto Raptors.
If nothing else, it makes sense for the Raptors.
Nash, a native of Canada, is the general manager of the Canadian national basketball team. He's immensely popular in the Toronto area and was offered a contract by the Raptors prior to the 2012-13 regular season.
As strong of a fit as it may be, there's only one question that matters in Los Angeles: what would this trade mean for the Lakers?
Pro: Clearing Cap Space for 2014
No matter how well Los Angeles plays in 2013-14, it will be making dramatic changes during the 2014 offseason.
As brilliant of an era as those two players led in Los Angeles, re-signing both to max contracts is downright dangerous.
Having both on the roster ensures that the Lakers will be contending for a postseason berth, but both players are aging and battling injuries.
Even if they are to part ways with both, the key will be adding depth, and that's where Nash comes in.
Nash's contract is too heavy for the Lakers to surround those two—or any other two stars, for that matter—with the necessary support. Nash will make $9,701,000 in 2014-15, which is the same season that he'll turn 41 years old.
Love Nash or hate him, the Lakers need cap space and his contract makes the most sense to be moved.
With a 2014 free agent class that includes LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers will inevitably offer max contracts to one or more superstars.
Whether or not those players sign the dotted line has yet to be seen, but for the sake of keeping their options open, L.A. needs to create financial flexibility.
By parting ways with Nash and receiving expiring contracts in return, the Lakers would create the opportunity to re-sign Kobe, negotiate a deal with a star big man and still go after the Carmelos of the world.
Con: Critical to Contending and Developing
Regardless of what you may believe about the Lakers' ceiling in 2013-14, no one within the organization is entering the season with the mindset that a championship is out of reach.
Nash, Kobe and Gasol are still competing for a title, and that means the rest of the organization is, too.
By trading Nash, the Lakers would essentially give up on two things: contending and developing.
Even if the Lakers aren't going to win a title, the youth that is currently on the roster is promising. The likes of Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson are commonly referred to as draft busts, but both are still young enough to turn things around.
Nash's leadership and facilitating ability is a key to those players' progression, and without him, much would be lost.
With all due respect to Bryant, he's never been one to develop a young player in need of improving his game. That's what Henry is for the Lakers, as the 22-year-old is shaking his draft bust label by scoring in double-digits in three of his first four games in 2013-14.
He topped 10 points three times all year in 2012-13.
Henry's potential isn't a reason to keep or trade Nash, but the Lakers haven't committed to a youth movement in the better part of a decade. General manager Mitch Kupchack has avoided the reality that L.A. is too old to compete by pulling off monster trades, but the magic appears to have run out.
It's time L.A. acknowledges the facts: it's poorly managed its roster over the past five years and is now in a lose-lose situation. Thus, it's time to either develop or rebuild.
That's where the decision lies.
When Los Angeles rebuilds, it usually means that it will pool all of its assets, pull off a trade for a superstar, or offer an attractive enough deal for any All-Star to sign.
If the Lakers are hoping to pull that off in 2014, it'll need to free up cap space. That makes Nash expendable.
If this were any other organization, I'd vote to keep Nash on board to help develop the young players on the roster. This is the Lakers, however, and their commitment to bringing along inexperienced athletes has rarely been expressed.
For that reason, I'm inclined to believe a trade will happen.
The most ideal scenario would be for the Lakers to hold onto Nash and look to swing a trade this offseason, but that may be too late. He's due to make more than $9 million in 2013-14, and he'll do so while playing at the age of 41.
If there'll ever be a time to deal Nash, it'd be now.
Trading the two-time league MVP would be a dramatic blow to the Lakers' title odds in 2013-14, as his locker room presence is as invaluable as his court sense. For a Lakers team that lives by the motto of, "Title or bust," however, a trade is the only option.
L.A. can't go wrong with keeping Nash, but if you're a betting person, put your money on his departure by season's end.
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