Should the Lakers Look to Move Nash?

Steve Nash went to the Lakers with the hopes of winning a championship.  This does not seem likely now.

Steve Nash went to the Lakers with the hopes of winning a championship. This does not seem likely now.

Last season Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak had good reason to be excited about the team’s prospects for the upcoming season.  As he put it, the Lakers had two MVPs in the back court, and two DPOY in the front court.  The season, as we know, was a debacle.  The Lakers, who were flirting with the lottery all year, made it into the playoffs, but were swiftly swept out of the first round.  Since the exit, they have seen Dwight Howard sign with the Houston Rockets, and have used the amnesty provision on Metta World Peace.  Pau Gasol will be returning, but given his performance last season, it is unclear how effective he will be.  Lamar Odom may return, but his best years are behind him.  Chris Kaman has arrived, but the team he started for last season didn’t even make the playoffs, and Kobe Bryant will be returning from a severe injury.  Both Gasol and Kobe’s contracts will be coming off the books next season to clear some cap space, but it is likely much of that cap space will be used to retain Kobe.  The question that remains is: What is to be done about Steve Nash?

Eliminating the contracts of Nash, Bryant and Gasol, along with Metta World Peace, would clear about 65 million dollars of pay roll for the 2014 offseason.

Eliminating the contracts of Nash, Bryant and Gasol, along with Metta World Peace, would clear about 65 million dollars of pay roll for the 2014 offseason.

Nash was brought in under the assumption that the team was a contender.  The Lakers gave up three draft picks to acquire Nash, but nothing has come of it.  Nash went to the Lakers with the hopes of winning a championship, but that will not be happening this season.  Nash’s contract is also ample in that it will cost the Lakers about 10 million dollars next year, and the year after.  Nash will likely be retiring come the end of the contract, and his chances of winning a championship will have passed him by.  It may be in the best interest of the Lakers to move Nash whilst he still has some value and take back expiring contracts that might allow the team to retool via free agency and the draft next summer.

Russell Westbrook's injury and Kevin Martin's departure suggest that the Thunder could really use some help in the back court, and Nash may be the ideal candidate.

Russell Westbrook’s injury and Kevin Martin’s departure suggest that the Thunder could really use some help in the back court, and Nash may be the ideal candidate.

But where would be a good fit?  The Oklahoma City Thunder are in dire need of a back-up point guard, and with the departure of Kevin Martin could actually afford to play Russell Westbrook at shooting guard for stretches and have Nash play more minutes at point guard, but the Thunder have little to offer the Lakers and the Lakers likely don’t want to help another team in their own conference.  The Heat could use a point guard that can shoot as well as Nash, but again, the Heat have little that they would be willing to give up or that the Lakers would want.  The Raptors would be the sentimental favorites, but the acquisition would make little sense for any of the parties involved.  The Golden State Warriors could likely use Nash, but again, there is little they would be willing to part with.  Houston could use an upgrade at point guard, but Nash and Howard didn’t work well together last season, so it would be fair to expect that they wouldn’t work much better together next season.

Josh Smith will be joining the Pistons along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and European star Luigi Datome.  Should Nash be added as well, it could put the Pistons into contention.

Josh Smith will be joining the Pistons along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and European star Luigi Datome. Should Nash be added as well, it could put the Pistons into contention.

There does seem to be a legit option for Nash though.  The Detroit Pistons have put together one of the most impressive front courts in the league, and at shooting guard they have both drafted a promising young player and signed an sharp-shooting guard from Europe.  The question mark for the team is the point guard spot.  Chauncey Billups has returned to the team, and Brandon Knight is still under contract, but Billups likely won’t be able to contribute many minutes and Knight still seems very much like a combo guard whose play making skills are a little lacking.  The acquisition of Nash would be a coup for Detroit, who has future draft picks to offer, as well as a couple of expiring contracts in Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, and can even afford to let go of a promising young shooter in Kyle Singler if need be.  With the combination of talent, youth and veteran experience, the Pistons could offer Nash a chance to win, even if the team didn’t make it to the playoffs last year.  The additions of a first round pick, an effective shooter from Europe, an All-Star caliber forward in Josh Smith and a HOF point guard like Nash could put Detroit in contention. 

It would be nice to see Nash win a ring before he retires.

It would be nice to see Nash win a ring before he retires.

The question will be, of course, what does Nash want?  Nash may wish to stay close to his family and may be content simply playing the game.  If that is the case, he may finish his career with the Lakers.  But the Lakers are looking to rebuild fast.  Next season will be a wash, but if Kobe, Gasol and Nash all came off the books, along with Metta World Peace, it would take a whopping 65 million dollars off the books for the Lakers and allow them to offer a great deal of money to a number of potential free agents.  Keeping Nash would only allow 55 million to come off the books, much of which would go to Kobe and the players still under contract.  Moving Nash may not only be the best option for Nash and a team like the Pistons, but also for the Lakers.

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