Steve Nash headed to Lakers in sign-and-trade for picks

Well Suns fans, at least it wasn’t San Antonio.

Yet many Phoenix fans’ Fourth of July was ruined this evening when reports surfaced that the Suns will trade Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade involving multiple draft picks.

Nash will sign a three-year, $25 million deal and be absorbed into the Lakers’ trade exception created by the Lamar Odom trade, as originally reported by KTAR’s John Gambadoro and later corroborated by ESPN’s resident Nash correspondent Marc Stein.

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported that the Suns will receive either a Heat or Lakers 2013 first-rounder (whichever is worse), a 2015 Lakers first with minimal protection, a 2013 second-rounder from Denver and a 2014 second-rounder from the Lakers as well as $3.1 million in cash (the max allowed).

Wow.

With all the talk of the Raptors, Knicks, Mavericks and Nets in recent weeks, the Lakers slid right under the radar. Gambo tweeted that “New York was never really a serious option for Nash” and that “Nash never wanted to go to Toronto he wanted to be closer to home in Phoenix.”

Stein reported that a “determined push from Bryant,” the Lakers’ status as a contender and the city’s close proximity to his three children in Phoenix ultimately sealed Two Time’s decision.

Suns owner Robert Sarver originally opposed the idea of trading Nash to the Suns’ fierce rivals, according to Coro, but he “had a change of heart Wednesday.”

Boy oh boy is that first Lakers game in US Airways Center going to be a spectacle.

Many Suns fans must be hoping this is April Fools Day rather than the Fourth of July, especially since Stein reported that Nash will now predictably try to recruit Grant Hill to Los Angeles, but I don’t see this trade being such a Doomsday scenario.

If you can ignore the name on the jersey for one second, the Suns have now gained two first-round picks (albeit low ones) as well as the seconds in return for a player many thought would depart for nothing a few days ago. I would very much rather have those four assets than nothing.

Sure, it would be better to have acquired Iman Shumpert from the Knicks, but ultimately this was Nash’s call. It also would not have been great to have to take on some of the flotsam the Knicks were offering to make the money work and really it did not matter once Nash said he preferred LA.

The Suns could have played hardball and I don’t think they owed it to him to necessarily send him wherever he wants, but really he’s doing them a favor as well by getting them the two firsts when he very easily could have fled for nothing.

Some Suns fans have said on Twitter they would have made Nash fend for himself with a mid-level exception rather than help him get to the Lakers, but if he’s gone anyway management is right to make the rational decision of adding picks to their war chest, especially when it helps out your former “sun, moon and stars” get where he wants to go.

That brings us to our next point in that it is baffling that Lon Babby has made such a big deal out of what Nash means to the franchise yet in the end the Suns hardly made a play for Two Time.

If the Suns were going to play free agency this way, why not make a bigger push to trade him at last season’s trade deadline when Phoenix was going nowhere anyway? It’s debatable whether they could have gotten much more than two first-rounders and two seconds at the time — and Babby has emphasized the importance of loyalty in how they handled his situation as well as the fact Suns fans got to watch their Hall-of-Famer play out the season — but one would think making a bigger push to trade him would have made sense in hindsight.

Based on what I’ve seen on social media, many Suns fans would have preferred Nash to go anywhere but the Lakers, and were particularly aghast that the Suns would help him get there.

Aside from the Spurs, there’s no team Suns fans hate more than the Lakers, and frankly the thought of Nash in purple and gold makes me a bit queasy.

Even Nash himself said on an ESPN radio affiliate last week that he would not make such a move.

“The truth is I am a bit old-school,” Nash said. “I think for me it would be hard to put on a Lakers jersey. That’s just what it is. You play against them so many times in the playoffs and I just use them as an example with the uttermost respect for them and their organization. I think it was Larry Bird that like he-wouldn’t-play-for-them-type thing. I kind of have that tendency. It is strange but as a free agent, you are free to go wherever you want and I’d have to consider everything regardless of the past or future. You have to evaluate that moment.”

Many Suns fans see him as a traitor, but this is what happens in free agency. Eight years ago Suns fans were jubilant and Mavericks fans were crestfallen. There’s a reason why Jerry Seinfeld made the joke that in essence we’re rooting for laundry.

As emotional as this decision is to Suns fans, we can’t forget about the eight seasons Nash gave to the franchise and how he is perhaps the best player to ever don purple and orange. To me this decision changes none of that, as difficult as it is to take.

I think Suns fans are also so disappointed because it’s been kind of a foregone conclusion that wherever Nash goes will instantly become everyone’s second-favorite team. Everybody in Phoenix wants him to win a ring so badly, yet it’s impossible to stomach rooting for the Lakers.

Now the Suns possess five first-rounders and five second-rounders in the next three drafts, and it’s time to go to New Orleans and see what kind of business can be done on a Gordon sign-and-trade.

The Nash era is over, so now it’s time for the Suns to finally begin the rebuilding process in earnest that has already started through their courting of young free agents. Now they can clear their cap holds to Nash as well as Hill and Shannon Brown and focus 100 percent on youth with the rest of their free agency dollars.

That first Lakers visit to Phoenix will surely be painful, but I hope the fans still applaud him for what he has meant to this franchise. After all, as deplorable as it might be to think of Nash as Kobe’s teammate, at least he gave the Suns franchise one last assist as he walked out the door.

And 1

JMZ took to Twitter to provide his take on the Nash trade:

1st off wanna thank @SteveNash for everything he’s done for me as a player.He’s def made me better and shown me how to be true professional

@SteveNash has not only been a the Best but the most unselfish player I ever played with. I only wish him the Best. He’s deserves everything

@SteveNash has made many players millions.Only fitting to trade to a team that has a chance to win the ship and pay what he deserves

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