NBA Trade Rumors: LA Lakers, NY Knicks and 5 Best Suitors for Steve Nash

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2011

NBA Trade Rumors: LA Lakers, NY Knicks and 5 Best Suitors for Steve Nash

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    Lack of any progress regarding the NBA lockout has fans worrying about whether or not there will be basketball played at all next season.

    As dark as the outlook is now though, we must try and stay positive, and salvage the situation as best as possible.

    Yes, the lockout is a hindrance and stands as a symbol of what is wrong with the professional sports market today, but despite this, there are other pressing matters to be discussed.

     Like Steve Nash for instance.

    While Phoenix maintains that they have no intention of unloading him, and Nash has pledged his allegiance to the Suns on countless occasions, a trade, should business ever resume as usual, is a very real possibility.

    The Suns are entering rebuilding mode, and Nash really has not future there.  Phoenix may want to move him to a contender or a team that becomes a contender with him, as a reward for the loyalty he has shown the organization. 

    Additionally, it may be in the Suns’ best interests to get value for Nash while he is still a commodity.

    His 14.7 points and 11.4 assists per game would be welcomed by any team, no matter how old he may be on paper.

    And without further ado, let us put the lockout on the back-burner and take a look at the top five teams who may be interested in pursuing a trade for Nash.

No. 5: Orlando Magic

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    While the Magic are at the bottom of this list, they could be a serious candidate for Nash.

    Orlando is going to try and do everything it can to keep Howard, evident last season when they took on both Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas’ bloated contracts.

    Nash may not be the young, upcoming player Orlando would prefer to pair Howard with, but he would give the best center in the league a capable floor general.

    Jameer Nelson is a good player, but Nash is a better point guard.  His court vision exceeds that of Nelson’s by far, and so does his experience.

    The downside remains that should Orlando get Phoenix to accept a first rounder and someone like J.J. Redick, Nash is only a temporary solution.  However, his contract does come off the books next summer, and if the Magic can find a taker for Turkoglu, they will open enough cap to go after Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

    Phoenix most certainly will not take on Turkoglu’s contract, and the Magic would be hard-pressed to find a team that would, unless they were getting Howard as well.  A team like the Hawks though could value Turkoglu’s talent and be willing to take a chance though.

    If Turkoglu moves, than Orlando can make a serious play for Nash, who is undoubtedly talented enough to make Arenas play a lot better.

    Normally, in such a situation, the Magic would not even make the list, but because of Dwight Howard, they remain relevant in every possible trade talk that involves any player with a higher than average skill level.

    It’s simple, the Magic want to keep Howard.

    And with a little maneuvering, trading for Nash could be a step in that direction.

No. 4: Golden State Warriors

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    The Warriors have been, well rather had been pre-lockout, shopping Monta Ellis.

    Though Golden State would prefer to get someone younger than Steve Nash in exchange for Ellis, if there aren’t any substantial bites, a backcourt of Stephen Curry and Nash could be quite a tandem.

    All indications are that Nash has plenty of good basketball left in him, and he could be just the veteran to push the young, inexperienced and underachieving Warriors, and rookie coach Mark Jackson into the playoffs.

    Golden State has a solid young core, and with Nash as a mentor, the Warriors could prove to be a team transformed next season.

    This trade also has its positives for Phoenix. 

    In Ellis, the Suns get a budding young star that they can further build around. Ellis is one of the best shooters in the league, and one of the best passers too, when he wants to be that is. 

    Last season, Ellis averaged 24.1 points and nearly six assists per game, and seems on the cusp of super-stardom.

    So why would the Warriors consider such a trade?

    At 25, Ellis definitely has much more basketball left in him than Nash, but Nash’s expiring contract gives the Warriors flexibility next summer to pursue some top notch free agents to improve their team further.

    Additionally, while Ellis may be more agile, Nash plays better defense, which would surely be taken under consideration by Jackson, a huge defensive advocate.

    And lastly, the San Francisco IB times reported that just after the draft. Ellis and his agent requested a trade, citing the fact that while in his prime, he wished to play for a contender.

    Phoenix is not a contender just yet, but with Ellis, they would be taking a step in the right direction, and Ellis may be happier being the unquestionable go-to guy for the Suns.

    Should no team come to the table dangling a young prospect or an abundance of draft picks, a deal such as this could come to fruition.

No. 3: Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Lakers need to make some major adjustments should they want to be return to their championship caliber status, and Nash could help them do just that.

    Kobe Bryant is aging, and while Nash is too, the two could form quite a tandem in their remaining years in the league.

    Nash specializes in facilitating, and there are few players in the league who can finish like Bryant can.  Additionally, Nash would be an instant upgrade over Derek Fisher.

    There are obviously drawbacks to such a trade, most notably Nash’s age.  A pairing with Kobe is risky because the Lakers do have a need to get more youthful, but it would be worth the risk.

    Sure Lakers fans would prefer Dwight Howard, but he is not a lock to force his way into Los Angeles, and it would be naive of the Lakers organization to believe such a thing.

    Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers should send Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to Orlando for Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick, but such a package may not entice the Magic as much as people believe.

    The same goes for Deron Williams and Chris Paul.  There is no guarantee that any of these stars will wind up in Los Angeles when all is said and done. The Lakers have very few assets to acquire any of the 2012 free agency class by trade, and they also lack the cap space to sign them should they actually enter free agency.

    Nash provides a temporary solution to such a problem.  

    Sure, the Lakers are looking to put some younger players, like Howard, Paul or Williams, in place for the future, but if nothing is actively developing on that front, Los Angeles needs to ensure they salvage the situation they are in.

    Phoenix has stated they are not interested in trading Nash, but the Suns have also acknowledged it is time to rebuild. Nash has been great to Phoenix, and although is contract is expiring at the end of this year, the Suns may consider moving him to give him an opportunity to play for a contender.

    Enter the Lakers.

    What would it take to get Nash? 

    Not as much as one may think.  

    Phoenix would only do such a trade for the draft picks so the Lakers could offer a first rounder and Fisher, and that may get it done.

    Nash passes the rock unlike any other, and as a John Stockton like court vision about him.  And the guy can score too.

    Pair him along side Kobe, and the Lakers become contenders again. 

    At least for now.

No. 2: San Antonio Spurs

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    San Antonio is known to be shopping Tony Parker, and a package built around him for Nash could be a legitimate possibility. 

    Trade rumors regarding Parker began to heat up right around the NBA draft.  Stephen Smith of CBSsports.com reported that he was being offered up to teams like the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors.

    Although, no such deal was made, the Spurs will most certainly remain open to dealing the veteran point guard.

    However, with Phoenix looking to rebuild, the not-so-young Parker may not prove to entice them nearly enough to get the deal done. Especially since the Spurs just gave him a four year, $50 million extension last season.

    If the Spurs were to sweeten the deal with a first round pick though, it is possible. And Parker, while aging, still has at least three years of stellar basketball left in him.

    This past season, Parker averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 assists, which are more than stellar numbers.  He could serve as a capable mentor to the younger Phoenix players, as well as give the fans are reason to buy tickets.

    This also works for San Antonio, who gets a capable point guard in Nash, to run the offense.  

    A trade for Nash works even more so for the Spurs when his contract comes off the books for next summer, leaving them flexible when it comes to free agency.

    Chris Paul or Deron Williams anyone?

No. 1: New York Knicks

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    Rumors have already circulated regarding the Knicks interest in Steven Nash.

    They are so high on the list because they are one of the teams who can actually not add money to Phoenix’s payroll.

    Sure players like Monta Ellis and Tony Parker are great, but their contracts may not suit the taste of the Suns, who may want to start rebuilding some scratch, without any big money contracts on the books.

    Nash would provide an instant upgrade over Chauncey Billups, and make the Knicks contenders for this upcoming season, lockout willing. Additionally, Nash does not destroy New York’s Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard aspirations because his contract, like Billups’ is expiring at the end of the year.

    A Billups for Nash deal has been mentioned because the salaries matchup, but obviously Phoenix only does this if they want Nash to play for a contender.

    However, this scenario, while possible, is highly unlikely.

    Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com reported that to further entice the Suns the Knicks could agree to take on Josh Childress' contract. However, with four years and $25 million remaining on Childress' contract, the Knicks hopes at obtaining Chris Paul or Dwight Howard would be all but gone.

    Another option for the Knicks is including newly drafted Iman Shumpert in the deal along with Billups, whom the Suns had interest in drafting.

    Nash would be a perfect fit alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in New York.  He prefers to pass rather than shoot, complimenting the aforementioned two quite nicely.

    Furthermore, Nash is familiar with Mike D’Antoni’s system, having played for him in Phoenix, and he thrived in it.

    Some may be against the Knicks adding the young Shumpert in any attempt to acquiring the aging Nash, but if it becomes increasingly obvious that neither Paul nor Howard is planning on forcing their way into orange and blue by the trade deadline, this is becomes a very real option for New York.

    Obviously, Phoenix has to accept such a deal, but if an opportunity arises to trade Nash for a young prospect, while sending him to a contender out of the conference, the Suns may just give in.

    A video courtesy of the New York Post has Nash stating that he does not see himself ever playing for the Knicks.

    To be fair though, there was a time when Stoudemire probably said the same thing.

    And look at where we are now.

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