The Los Angeles Lakers should grab the first legitimate offer they receive from a team willing to trade for Steve Nash. Name recognition alone is enough to get teams interested to land the veteran point guard.
According to reports, the Toronto Raptors are interested in arranging a reunion for Nash to his home country this season itself. If the Lakers franchise goes ahead with the trade, it might not be the most popular decision among the friends and fans of the 2-time regular season MVP but neither was trading Derek Fisher two years back.
The Lakers have a win percentage of .500 with a record of 8-8 so far which is respectable considering they are without superstar Kobe Bryant but Nash’s contribution to the Lakers performance and success this season can be considered non-existent as compared to the team’s bench.
At 39 it isn’t easy to make a quick recovery from injuries and nobody would know it better than Nash. First it was a non-displaced fracture in his left leg and then a right hip injury, which also caused nerve damage in his right hamstring, made him miss a career high 32 games last season. This season has gone along the same lines with him already missing 8 games of the 14 the Lakers have played so far due to nerve root irritation.
In his 18th season, Nash’s minutes and production have been on a steady decline and he isn’t getting any younger, so there stands no possibility of his return making a huge change to the Lakers game.
Last season, to save him from unfavorable match-ups with younger and faster point guards, he was moved off-ball to make him more of a spot up shooter with Bryant playing the role of team facilitator. So along with averages of 12.7 points and 6.7 assists with the Lakers, his lowest stats in those categories in 10 years, he also had one of the worst defenses in the league.
He isn’t getting any younger and most of his time with the Lakers has been battling injuries and trying to perfect a role with the team when he can’t get on the court to perform on a consistent basis.
In such a physical condition, the Lakers could still keep on the roster to help mold a young rookie guard as a mentor, but the Lakers don’t have a point guard who is playing in his first couple of years.
Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar are the present point guards in the Lakers roster. While Blake is setting career high stats in assists (7.3), steals (1.1), minutes (31.9) and percentage from downtown (46.4) at the age of 33 and has been running the Lakers offense well with double figure assists in 6 of the last 8 games, Farmar is coming off a stint in Turkey and is pretty experienced and well-travelled at 26 to be mentored or molded by Nash.
So why do the Lakers have the soon to turn 40 guard on the roster?
Mike D’Antoni’s role as the coach could have something to do with it and as mentioned earlier it might not be the most popular decision to take so it needs to be taken with a lot of thought.
But what sense would it make to start a physically weak Nash over a Blake who is setting career highs? With a slumping offense and probably team worst how exactly can Nash create a positive impact on the floor? Finally, Is Nash really worth 10 million that he is set to earn this year?
These are the questions that need to be raised by the Lakers management and a decision needs to be taken before the end of the season. Why the hurry?
Well, that’s simple. 10 million is a lot of added cap space to work with heading into the 2014-15 season. For the Lakers each season is a championship or nothing and added cap room would help them land potential free agents this summer possibly Carmelo Anthony or with a long shot maybe even LeBron James.
Nash is at a point in his career where he is far beyond his primes. In the games played this season he has failed to even play the new and friendlier job assigned last season to him of spot up shooter.
His playing time average has gone down by almost 10 minutes. His 49.7% shooting from the field is only 26.1% this season. His 44% shooting from distance also went downward to 38.5%.
Even if he was to return successfully from his nerve root irritation problem, nobody on the Lakers bench deserves lesser minutes given their contribution on the floor as compared to the constantly slumping performance of Nash.
With added cap space and the possibility of acquiring a more productive and healthier player in return for Nash in a trade, the writing is on the wall for the Lakers. The trade might indirectly fast forward the Lakers rise to prominence.