Steve Nash: A boon for LA or a mirage deal with the Devil?
Posted by: SPQR on Jul 09, 2012 - 04:08 AM
With the Laker’s acquisition of Steve Nash, the NBA world was set on its collective ear. Suddenly ESPN and sporting media was singing the Lakers’ praises and asking: Are they the team to beat next year?|
On the surface, it looks good. Finally we have a real point guard. Not just any point guard, but a hall of fame all time great poinit guard. Surely this can only be a good thing, a salubrious step in the right direction after two failed seasons of disappointment. We struck a bargain, made a deal, gave up a lot, but the price was well worth it. Right?
Well maybe. Or it may end up being a last dying, desperation move that will not bring us a title and help set back if not totally destroy any chance to rebuild quickly for the next few years.
We have made the deal, it is signed in blood. But is the light at the end of the dark two year tunnel or pact with the Devil that brings a price and final resolution that we can’t even begin to tally up?
As many of you know, in literature and film, a deal with the Devil ostensibly looks good, bringing one his or her hearts desires and life’s wishes. One signs such a deal in blood and awaits a new, better life. But in the end, you have to give the Devil his due and when the bill comes, all the good that seemed to come pales and fades away to a new, horrific awakening.
We gave up one hell of a lot for Nash. Two number ones and two number twos. We get a great player in return, but not a 26 year old Nash. He is a 38 year old facsimile of the player who dominated the league for the last decade.
What will this old Nash bring? Passing like we have not seen since Magic Johnson prowled the old Forum. Floor leadership in the extreme. A deadly outside shot. All things desperately needed here. And on the minus side? He is 38. That is old for any player. And for the first time in his career, he will be playing with another man who is used to dominating the ball: Kobe Bryant. Nash can only be at his best if he is given total reign to give what his aging body has left. If it ends up a split between Kobe and Nash, the things Nash does so well will be watered down, attenuated and obviated to a degree. If on this Steve Nash team, Kobe Bryant is determined at age 34 to get his average of 28 points a game, the Steve Nash we see will not be the Steve Nash we really need. If Kobe longs to hold the ball, dribbling forever as is his wont, if he decides to ignore what Nash can do for the offense, too many times, in order to show he can score on double teams or break down the heart of defenses geared to stop him, then Nash will too often become just another spectator to the whim and will of Bryant. This all will be predicated on what Kobe decides to do.
Nash will enable Andrew Bynum, another year older and hopefully even more improved, to receive the ball like he never has before. This should help Drew immensely. In fact, Nash should not only help Drew, but all the players, including Kobe get good, smart, easier baskets, if once again, he is allowed to do it to his fullest extent.
Nash will be a defensive liability. That also is a given. That is why it is vital for him to be allowed to do what he does best, run a team as he sees fit. Because we are getting him for his offense acumen only.
In the end, I have to ask myself, was the Nash deal the right move? I guess if we are trying hard to milk another ring out of the Kobe Bryant era, the answer is yes. If we want to build for the future, then unequivocally no.
So then the equation becomes, will Nash enable us to win a title? For me, the answer, sadly, inexorably is no. Now the core of our team, the balance of power lies with two stars whose ages are 34 and 38. And I ask myself, does this match up with teams like OKC and Miami, whose seminal stars are so much younger? The answer again: No. Are the Lakers improved? Yes. But do I honestly believe a 34 and a 38 year old star will lead us past these two teams? I don’t really see how. It is just a function of great stars in their primes and others long past theirs.
When one looks at this team and the FO, some facts really stand out. In the last year, this team has traded FOUR number one picks and two number twos away. When you step back and think about this, it boggles the mind. You can literally rebuild an entire team with that many draft picks. Yet the Lakers give them away like cheap candy on Halloween. How long can a franchise do this before it comes back to bite them hard? And what have we gotten for this largesse to other teams futures? A 38 year old Steve Nash.
What other team has mortgaged so much for so little. How does Miami, Boston and San Antonio keep replacing and building parts without throwing away so many draft picks for so little return? What does this say about the Jerry Buss, his son and Mitch Kupchak? And what did we get for the number one pick for Ramon Sessions? Nothing. Now some here were for that deal, others not. I don’t recall seeing Sessions play so I had no strong opinion on it. In other words, he never did anything if I did watch him play to make me take notice. But the fact that so many teams let him move on, in a point guard driven league did alarm me. And it should have alarmed the Lakers FO.
But it matters not whether anyone here was for his acquisition or not. Because we don’t make the deals. And we don’t have endless game film to evaluate him, like Mitch and the FO did. It doesn’t matter if fans here were wrong about him. But it matter very much when people like Mitch, who gets paid millions, and our scouts who also get paid plenty are wrong. To the tune of a number one pick we gave away. Those kinds of mistakes are killers. If you wonder why our talent cupboard is so bereft of young talent after Kobe, Drew and Pau, look no further than our front office and our draft.
One could say that giving up all these picks is incidental, since we don’t draft well anyway. But what does this fact say about our FO? We can’t draft well. And we give up tons of draft picks for little return. What kind of front office fails in both regards? You know, looking back on this team, it was truly fortunate that we got Pau handed to us on a silver platter. Imagine if Memphis had not given him to us. Where would Mitch and FO have gotten that player Kobe so badly needed to take us over the top? Would we have won any titles, or even gotten to any finals? As you watch this FO stumble about so badly, both in trading picks like there is no tomorrow (and because of the trades there won't be one) and abysmal drafting, you suspect it would have ended very badly here without Memphis kind help at that crucial moment.
And so here we are. In two years, we have given up four number one picks and two number twos and essentially have a 38 year old Steve Nash to show for it. I wonder how acceptable OKC or SA or Miami or Boston or other franchises would find this if it was all their own brains trust could accomplish? Somehow, I don’t think they would find it acceptable at all.
Anyway, the deeds are done , the draft picks gone and the Nash deal is made. Our draft future is as dry as the Sahara desert. Future drafts and the acquisition of young talent will be the purview of other teams. We will be stuck watching who they take for their new futures as ours grows older by the year. If this trade does not work out, if the gamble on a 34 year old Kobe and 38 year old Nash fizzles and dries out like a leaf in the late autumn heat, falling to the earth to make way for new buds sprouting in Miami and OKC, then the Devils price will be paid in full and the true terms and meaning of a Faustian bargain will be forced upon us for years to come along with many bitter tears for signing that paper in blood.