Can Steve Nash Assist in Lakers Title Hopes?

Idea: Steve. Nash. Lakers.

Lakers fan reaction: “OMG!!! I love Steve Nash, he should definitely come play for the Lakers!!!”

Such is the rhetoric of the typical “valley girl” Lakers fan, amusing for staunch Lakers fans and ammunition for Lakers rivals, giving credence to the deluded notion that the Lakers can acquire any player, at any time, simply on the basis of societal status. But while an idea may be brilliant in theory, the practical implementation of said idea is very hard to accomplish. Such is the case in attempting to orchestrate a trade the brings point guard Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Having already established that Kobe Bryant is still good enough to do much of the heavy ball-handling throughout these first 10 games, the fact that the Lakers could use another shot-creator has not gone unnoticed. As has been stated numerous times in the past few days, Kobe’s usage rate has skyrocketed to record-breaking levels, marking Kobe as a potential MVP candidate but placing perhaps too much pressure on his already feeble knees. Put simply, the guy needs a break, and no one on the Lakers roster is currently capable of giving him one.

Recent suggestions for Kobe’s alleviation have included Gilbert Arenas and the now-Knick Baron Davis; ball handlers who have (had) the ability to create for others on the court. But neither of those options sounded too promising, serving as only minor upgrades over the current point guard lineup of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, and were not deemed worth the risk. The addition of Steve Nash would be a godsend for the Lakers faithful. He shoots 42 percent from deep, works extremely well with talented power forwards, and is insanely competitive. What more could the Lakers want?

Unfortunately however, it would take exactly a miracle for the two-time MVP to don the forum blue and gold.

Above all else, the question still remains whether a trade is even possible under the current cap conditions. Neither the Lakers nor the Suns are under the salary cap, thereby demanding the use of a trade exception.

“Wait a second!” one might ask. “Didn’t the Lakers get a traded player exception from the Lamar Odom trade?!”

Technically, yes the Lakers have that trade exception. Unfortunately, it is not big enough to acquire Steve Nash’s salary. Nash is scheduled to earn $11,689,062 this season, a total that surpasses the $9 million trade exception the Lakers gained from L.O. (a total that begins to decrease starting January 10th).

For the Lakers to pull off a trade that brings Nash to the Lakers, there are two primary ways to go about it. Either the Lakers can ship away one of their bigger pieces in exchange for Nash, or management works out a three team deal that sends smaller pieces to teams with cap space, creating the room necessary for Nash to fit.

Neither scenario seems likely, as the Lakers’ only real trading chip is Andrew Bynum. As talented as Pau Gasol is, I doubt the Phoenix Suns want to rebuild around a 31-year old power forward. Pau and Bynum are the only Lakers (outside of Kobe) whose salaries can match up with Nash’s own, unless for some masochistic reason the Suns decide they’d love to have World Peace and Walton on their bench.

It’s not as if the Lakers are willing to part with a 24-year old big for a 38-year old guard either. In no universe does that make sense, not to mention the fact that they’d be out of the running for any of the other major 2012 free agents before the March deadline (see Williams, Howard). The only option would be for a third team to be involved, a team with young desirables and a significant amount of cap space (the Sacramento Kings come to mind), but even in that case, it’s hard to see what pieces the Lakers can add to the puzzle. The Lakers are overloaded with below average-to-average small forwards, and not too many teams are biting.

Yet, Mitch has pulled off mega-steals before, and if there is a way to acquire Nash, there is no doubt the Lakers front office will have explored the options. As Phil Jackson recently noted, the Lakers don’t seem to be “done changing the personnel”, and with the March trade deadline fast approaching, Lakers fans could expect to see some lineup changes real soon.

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