The biggest storyline this NBA offseason, aside from the ongoing Dwight Howard saga, centered on prized free agent Steve Nash and the Victoria native’s next destination. Despite being at the age of 38, the point guard proved last season that he still has some gas left in the tank and can consistently contribute to his team. The competition for his signature seemed like it was down to the interest from two candidates: the Toronto Raptors, which provided an intriguing side story with the potential of Nash signing with the NBA’s lone Canadian team, or the New York Knicks, where Nash spends his offseasons.
In the end, however, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who were able to secure the services of Nash. This was seen as a shock since the Lakers are a division rival of the Phoenix Suns, and these two teams have encountered some fierce playoff battles in the past.
As he initially started considering where he wanted to take his talents next season, Nash said he never expected to end up a Laker. When the Lakers entered the picture though, he realized Los Angeles could be a great fit considering his children will still be living in Phoenix. Nash opted to head for L.A. to be closer to them rather than be over on the East coast in Toronto or New York. The Lakers also presented Nash with an excellent opportunity to win that championship that has eluded him so far in his career.
The major obstacle that had to be overcome in order to send Nash to the Lakers was the tight salary cap situation the Lakers had. This required the Suns facilitating a sign-and-trade deal for Nash so he could end up in the Laker gold that Phoenix fans loathe the most. The Suns management and ownership ultimately consented to the sign-and-trade deal due to the effort Nash had put into the franchise and the Phoenix community over the years, despite the expected backlash from fans.
Once the deal to L.A. was completed, Nash revealed that he had spoken to Laker superstar Kobe Bryant about the possibility of him coming to L.A. and they immediately put their past heated competition behind them. The two realized that they possess complementary leadership styles and linking up on the Lakers provided Bryant the opportunity for another championship, and for Nash the chance to capture his first.
Nash’s arrival in L.A. created buzz around the league about how Nash and Bryant will cause nightmares for opposing defences. Both these players are known for their tireless work ethic and how they strive for perfection from themselves as well as from their teammates.
As Nash landed in L.A., Raptors fans saw the dream of Canada’s basketball hero playing in Canada fade away. While Toronto offered the most lucrative offer to Nash, they didn’t check the box on his two most important requirements: being close to his children in Phoenix, and playing for a championship contender.
Would Toronto fans have given the two-time league MVP this warm of a welcome?
With Nash now a Laker, the hype leading into next season surrounds whether Nash will be as effective as a Laker as he was leading the Suns. It would seem as this new partnership would be beneficial for both players, but there is sure to be a feeling out period which should be resolved in training camp.
In Phoenix, Nash never had an elite scorer in the guard position who he could easily rely on and instead had to use his playmaking talent to get the most out of players such as Shawn Marion and Jared Dudley. For the Lakers, Nash is an upgrade at the point guard position. Derek Fisher was a solid point guard who boasted a tough work ethic and came up with clutch shots continuously but he can’t compare to the natural talent of Nash.
The addition of Nash sets up the Lakers as one of the NBA’s offensive powerhouses and a team that will certainly deploy an exciting brand of basketball to watch. While Laker fans are excited about Nash’s arrival, only a championship during his time in L.A. will prove this move as a success. Having said that, there will be no one more determined to land that desired championship than Nash and Bryant.
For a day-by-day breakdown of NBA teams courting of Nash, check out this story from ESPN. It gives an interesting inside view of how a team covets and tries to land a high-profile free agent.