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Nash to the Lakers the right move for Phoenix, but a bitter one for Suns fans to swallow

Jul 5, 2012, 11:40 AM EDT

Steve Nash

The Lakers appeared to be a longshot at best to acquire Steve Nash, but unexpectedly pulled off the deal that will send multiple draft picks back to Phoenix in exchange for the two-time MVP’s services.

The sign-and-trade deal will net Nash a contract of three years and more than $25 million to play for the Lakers, while the Suns will receive two first-round and two second-round draft picks that they’ll use to rebuild, all without having to take on any additional salary or unwanted bad contracts in return.

Essentially, this was the very best the Suns could do under the circumstances — which, to be fair, were created by the team when it allowed Nash to play out the final year of his contract in Phoenix without attempting to trade him sooner for some assets that would help the team in the more immediate future.

As soon as the Nash deal went final, the Suns wasted no time in locking up some free agent talent to begin that rebuilding process. Goran Dragic was signed to replace Nash at the point guard spot, and Michael Beasley was brought in to provide scoring from the wing position. There’s still the matter of Eric Gordon, whom the Suns signed to a large offer sheet but that New Orleans is almost certain to match.

The Phoenix front office did what was best for the team in its long-term plans to reconstruct a contender while moving forward with life after Nash. But despite the fact that stockpiling draft picks is the way to enter a rebuilding scenario in the NBA, and that going about it that way doesn’t unnecessarily saddle the team with bad contracts, Suns fans are going to be absolutely livid with the fact that the team helped facilitate the face of the franchise ending up on one of the two teams they absolutely cannot stand.

The Spurs are probably at the top of the list for Suns fans’ hatred, considering they were the ones that kept Phoenix from getting out of the West and into the Finals on more than one occasion. But the Lakers are a close second, and while the rivalry has been more than a bit one-sided, it exists in the minds and hearts of fans of the Suns. Phoenix residents have an angry little brother complex when it comes to their counterparts in Los Angeles, and Suns fans hate the Lakers with the same passion and fervor that you’d expect from that type of dysfunctional, familial relationship.

Simply put, seeing Nash in a Lakers jersey happily playing alongside Kobe Bryant will make Suns fans physically ill. They will have a visceral reaction to the unholy teaming, and will struggle mightily with the fact that this move couldn’t have been completed without the complicity of the Suns organization.

For the Lakers, the outlook is a bright one. The respective ages of Bryant and Nash shouldn’t be a concern, especially when you consider that both played the majority of their team’s games in a compressed, lockout-shortened season a year ago. With the coaching staff having almost four full months to gameplan and scheme for their revamped roster, and with a long, 82-game schedule being more than enough time for the players to learn to play together and work out any kinks, L.A. should be primed and ready for a run deep into the postseason come April.

On the Suns side, things are obviously much murkier at this point. The team brought some immediate free agent talent into the fold, but if nothing else is done beyond Dragic and Beasley, Phoenix will be still be a team near the bottom of the draft lottery stuck trying to develop rookie Kendall Marshall, while waiting for future drafts to come along so they can build a competitive roster over time with young, rookie talent.

The rebuilding in Phoenix was inevitable, and was something the front office had resisted to this point while Nash was still on the roster. The Suns made the right decision in terms of what they were able to get in return for him once it became clear he was no longer in the team’s long-term plans.

But that doesn’t change the fact that seeing Nash play for the Lakers will be extremely difficult for long-time fans of the franchise to stomach.

  1. kpow55 - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Can’t wait to see the Suns new marketing campaign. Nash and to a lesser extent Hill were the face of that organization.

    Between Bidwell’s Caridnals, Kendricks Diamondbacks and Sarver’s Suns, it’s damn near impossible to root for a Phoenix team.

    People bag on the Heat, Angels, Yankees, Celtics, Sox, etc… but you can tell their owners are almost fans 1st businessmen 2nd. The may not get it right 100% of the time but they make an effort which builds a loyal fan-base.

    It’s hard to root for a team that’s always “rebuilding” or with an owner willing to ship off a star at any given moment once championship hopes are dashed.

    I get the Nash trade, old guy for picks, make a trade and we all win or I go as a FA and you get nothing. I just have zero faith the Suns will know what to do with those picks. Trade them for another Josh Childress?

    • hwatt - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      yeah man, i mean what are you going to do in this league without a true franchise player?? They were better off letting nash walk, tanking, and then hoping to get a top 3 pick. That’s how you build a champion in this league.

      The only way out is if they take all these extra picks and continue to give them all to one team in the next few years to trade into the top 3 and hope they snag another Jordan. Otherwise… they can only hope to be the Pacers- lots of above average talent, not winning a championship without a superstar. But I guess as long as the franchise makes money who cares… let’s expand the league and the rosters to make more money

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    As bitter a pill this is for Suns fans, I’ll bet non of them will burn Nash jerseys in the street. Their owner won’t send out any libelous, ridiculous tweets . Extra security won’t be required when the Lakers play the Suns.

    In other words, Suns fans will hurt, but they won’t make a mockery of themselves.

    Just like the Suns, the Cavs got two first round picks and two second round picks from Miami. Just like the Suns, the Cavs did not have to take on any bad contracts. Unlike the Suns, the Cavs owner and fans displayed immature, and in some cases instances criminal, behavior that any reasonable person would find completely emabarrassing and unacceptable.

  3. infectorman - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Drafted the year after KG, who the h*ll is Nash gonna cover on the Thunder? The popcorn vendor?
    Nash’s kids are just about in the same H.S. graduating class as 2/3’s of the Thunder Roster.

    This reeks like a desperation KoME’s window is rapidly closing move.
    After getting schooled and bounced of the 2nd round in 5 games by a vastly superior OKC team, this will change nothing for the Fakers. It’s over LA-LA land

  4. censoredpost - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    The Suns fans may feel conflicted now but can you imagine the love/hate they will feel when Skeletor is lip locking the pyrite ball in Laker blue and gold. We Laker fans don’t feel the same rivalry with the suns, not since Barkley anyways. Maybe with these picks they can change that.

    • acdc84 - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      Yes, I’m sure the Suns will get a lot better with those late-20s draft picks.

      • hwatt - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        yeah there are so many franchise players waiting to give teams championships in that range… just look at the glorious history…

      • censoredpost - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        Rondo- 21
        Tony Parker- 28
        Ginobilli- 57
        Monte Ellis- 40
        Mo Williams-47
        Arenas-30
        Redd- 43

        The list goes on. I said maybe not likely. Considering this is the Suns maybe “maybe” was too generous a word but it is possible to find guys of that caliber or close late and later.

  5. Chris Ross - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Well those later 1st round picks on top of their inevitable lottery picks should allow for some building. If they really decide to suck this year, they might be best off. I don’t even think the Suns fans are mad at Nash. They seemed very happy for him and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them become Lakers fans for the next 3 seasons.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/head-over-head-for-steve-nash/

  6. southpaw77 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Since New Orleans is gonna match on Gordon, Phoenix better fill the huge hole at shooting guard with OJ Mayo.
    Phoenix is stuck with bad contracts with Warrick and Childress, not sure if they can amnesty one of them since they amnestied Vince Carter I believe.
    Then they turn around and give that knucklehead Beasley another bad contract.

  7. lunasceiling - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I’ve been a Suns fan since the franchise was founded…and while I have to admit I had a slight taste of bile in the back of my throat when hearing this, I’ve come to realize I’m actually okay with it. For a while now, being a Suns fan has also meant being a Steve Nash fan, and this deal gives him a legit chance at a ring. I’d love to see that happen, even if he’s wearing purple and gold when it does.

  8. Fan On Fire_Maurice Barksdale - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Steve Nash and Grant Hill can’t play forever. Both are nearing the ends of their careers, so the rebuilding effort had to start in Phoenix at some point. With Nash leaving now, they get to start it earlier than expected, and it’s not as though they were a championship contender with Nash or Hill any way.

  9. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    As bitter a pill this is for Suns fans, I’ll bet non of them will burn Nash jerseys in the street. Their owner won’t send out any libelous, ridiculous tweets . Extra security won’t be required when the Lakers play the Suns.

    In other words, Suns fans will hurt, but they won’t make a mockery of themselves.

    Just like the Suns, the Cavs got two first round picks and two second round picks from Miami. Just like the Suns, the Cavs did not have to take on any bad contracts. Unlike the Suns, the Cavs owner and fans displayed immature, and in some cases instances criminal, behavior that any reasonable person would find completely emabarrassing and unacceptable.

  10. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Oh well!

    And they need to ax that gay friendly commercial, BTW.

  11. icu84bs - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    This simplifies life for me. I have been an LA fan since 1970 when I first started following basketball. Steve is my favorite player as he exemplifies team play and good sportsmanship. Win / win and hopefully a whole lot of wins for the Lakers.

    Kudos to Mitch Kupchak. Mitch’s playing days may have been short in LA but he has been a major factor in their many Championship runs since then. Cheers 8)

  12. Jennie Oemig - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    ugh … tell me about it. As a Suns fan, I’m devastated to see Nash go … especially to L. A. And the rumors that Grant hill may go to the Lakers too are making me sick to my stomach! You’re welcome, Lakers! http://98ontheblack.com/2012/07/06/an-act-of-desperation-steve-nash-headed-to-lakers/

    • infectorman - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      can Grant Hill still reach a 10 ft rim?
      Damn, he’ been around as long as Marcus Camby!

  13. deserthoops - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    I love the Suns and Nash. The idea of him in a Lakers jersey makes me want to vomit, scream, and cry. But I am happy for him to have the opportunity to play for a championship. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be able to actually watch him play next season. Thanks for at least getting the sign and trade deal, Nash.

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