In a move that could bolt the Los Angeles Lakers back into championship contention, the team agreed with the Phoenix Suns for a sign-and-trade deal that would bring to L.A. two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, pairing him in the backcourt with Kobe Bryant.
Nash, seeking to stay near his young children in Phoenix, initiated the trade idea to the Lakers. The Suns’ management initially declined to do so, but reconsider instead of allowing the 38-year-old floor general to sign with the Toronto Raptors or trade him to the New York Knicks.
And so, Nash will receive a three-year deal in excess of $25 million, sources said, because the Lakers can absorb Nash via the trade exception they created by dealing Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks in December
The Suns receive four draft picks — first rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second-rounders in 2013 and 2014.
Sources told ESPN.com that Nash was also persuaded to join the Lakers by Bryant, who made a convincing pitch. Bryant’s persuasion coupled with Nash’s desire to stay in close proximity to his three children in Phoenix were deciding factors in his decision.
“After talking with (owner) Robert (Sarver) and (president of basketball operations) Lon (Babby) we’ve agreed that it’s time for both of us to move in new directions,” Nash said in a statement. “I approached them and asked if they would be willing to do a sign-and-trade deal with L.A. because it is very important to me to stay near my children and family.
“They were very apprehensive and didn’t want to do it. 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.”
The deal can’t be officially completed until July 11, when a league-wide moratorium on new business is lifted
With Nash, the Lakers could cancel its interest in Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and make another run at it with Nash, Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
In addition, the Lakers are no longer trying to retain point guard Ramon Sessions, who opted out of the final year and $4.55 million of his contract to become a free agent.