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Steve Nash was supposed to go to either the Toronto Raptors or the New York Knicks, but the Los Angeles Lakers swooped in and acquired the veteran point guard from the Suns for four draft picks (including two first round picks) and cash. Nash will get a three year deal worth around $27 million, and it's a move that could elevate the Lakers to the top in the Western Conference.
There are certainly risks involved with the move. Nash has a bad back and will no longer have Phoenix's vaunted training staff at his disposal. At 38-years-old, investing three years at over $9 million per is definitely a gamble, especially for a player that could experience a decline after all the wear and tear. Also, Nash is still a liability on the defensive end and likely won't get much better. Last year he posted a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 110, which was better than the previous season but still not great.
The positives, however, far outweigh the negatives. Nash is still one of the elite offensive point guards in the game. He led the league in assists (664), was second in assists per game (10.7), and led the league in assist percentage (53.2). The Lakers need an elite distributor like Nash to help facilitate their offense. Andrew Bynum will be the biggest beneficiary of Nash's arrival, since he often was neglected in the post by players that couldn't enter the ball. Nash will be able to find him, and Bynum can now become a bigger part of the offense. Nash will be able to get everyone better looks with his playmaking abilities and turn the Lakers into a potential juggernaut on offense.
Nash will also benefit from better shot opportunities. Nash is an incredibly efficient shooter, knocking down field goals, threes, and free throws at high percentages. With attention being paid to players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Bynum, Nash will get the open looks that players like Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake were getting (and not always converting). Nash can still knock down shots, and he will take pressure off the rest of the offense.
On defense, the interior presence of Bynum and Gasol (plus strong perimeter defense still from Kobe and Metta World Peace) should be able to offset any of Nash's deficiencies on that end. And even though not every team can enlist Miami's defensive principles against teams like OKC, the Lakers have enough interior defense to help force teams to beat them from the perimeter.
When all it costs to get a playmaker like Steve Nash are late-round draft picks and cash, it's a no-brainer for the Lakers. The Suns get something for Nash instead of losing him for nothing, but the Lakers might make out like bandits. Nash won't be much help on defense, but he could elevate the Lakers' offense to an extremely high level, one that could challenge the rest of the Western Conference.