PHOENIX - The Associated Press
Steve Nash. AP photo
Steve Nash is going to the Los Angeles Lakers, a Pacific Division rival the two-time MVP point guard tried so hard to beat, with little success, in his eight seasons with the Phoenix Suns.
At Nash’s request, the Lakers and Suns reached a sign-and-trade deal, with Los Angeles using the trade exception it got when it sent Lamar Odom to Dallas to facilitate the transaction.
The 38-year-old Nash, who spent the past eight seasons with the Suns, was a free agent but a sign-and-trade agreement was necessary for the Lakers to afford him. He agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract. In return, the Suns get four draft picks - first rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second rounders in 2013 and 2014.
Nash’s agent Bill Duffy said the deal was finalized Wednesday.
In a statement released by the agent, Nash said that after he and the Suns agreed to part ways, he re-approached them to ask to pursue a sign-and-trade deal with Los Angeles “because it is very important to me to stay near my children and family,” who live in Phoenix.
“They were very apprehensive and didn’t want to do it,” Nash said. “Fortunately for me, they reconsidered. They saw that they were able to get assets for their team that will make them better, assets they would not have otherwise had and it made sense for them to do a deal that helps their team get better.”Sign-and-trade deal
The deal will put Nash on the floor with the team he tried so hard to unseat as a Western Conference power, teaming him with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and at least for now, Pau Gasol.
Nash has never made it to the NBA Finals. He was last in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers in 2010, when the Suns lost in six games and Los Angeles went on to win the NBA title.
The sign-and-trade agreement first was reported by sports personality John Gambadoro of KTAR radio.
The Suns drafted Nash in 1998 but traded him to Dallas after two seasons because Phoenix already had Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd at the position. Nash played six seasons for Dallas but bolted when owner Mark Cuban declined to spend big money to keep him. Then-Suns owner Jerry Colangelo brought a plane load of team players and officials to Dallas to woo Nash.
Nash thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun system, earning MVP honors in 2005, when he averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 assists, and again in 2006, when he averaged a career-high 18.8 points and 10.5 assists.
Despite his age and the fact his team failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, Nash was second in the NBA in assists last season at 10.7 and averaged 12.7 points.