The Los Angeles Lakers thought they were going to become championship contenders again when they completed a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash in 2012.
The Lakers still had Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum (who’d later be traded for Dwight Howard) in place, and adding Nash would give them a facilitator to make their offence hum. The Suns apprehensively agreed to the trade, and the Lakers sent them four draft picks for the former MVP — 2013 and 2015 first round draft picks, and 2013 and 2014 second-round picks.
It was announced Thursday that Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 with a back injury. At 40 years old, in the last year of his contract, it’s likely the end of Nash’s career. For the Lakers, it puts the lid on a trade that’s been an utter disaster, though it’s hardly Nash’s fault.
In 2012-13, the Nash-Bryant-Howard dream team was a total wreck because of bad health; Nash managed just 50 games that season, and Howard was never himself as he recovered from a back injury. Howard left for the Houston Rockets the following summer while Kobe Bryant has since suffered several injuries.
In the two years since Nash signed, the Lakers have a combined 70-94 record, while Nash has averaged just 9.7 points on 44% shooting with 6.2 assists per game in only 65 games — numbers well below his career averages.
But the price the Lakers paid to get Nash has hurt the team even more. The Lakers missed out on a mid-first-round pick in 2013, and though they did get Julius Randle in the 2014 draft, they will miss another draft pick when they’re in the lottery again this season. They could have swiftly been rebuilding for the future, but instead, they have been stuck over the salary cap, signing cheap, ineffective players to surround two old veterans in Nash and Bryant.
The team came into this season optimistic that Nash could start for them, but he sat out several preseason games, and took himself out of another because he didn’t feel right. It was reported that Nash recently hurt his back carrying bags.
It’s sad to see an all-time great point guard go out in an undistinguished way, and it’s certainly not the finish the Lakers had hoped for.
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