The Los Angeles Lakers are back. The NBA's most glamorous team scored a huge coup this week, trading four future draft picks to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for 38-year-old point guard Steve Nash. The addition of the two-time NBA MVP gives L.A. a huge upgrade at its weakest position, and stacks the Lakers with a fearsome quartet of all-stars: Nash, 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and future hall-of-famer Kobe Bryant. Nash will sign a three-year contract worth $27 million, and says he chose Los Angeles so he can play for a title contender and "stay near my children and family." The sharp-shooting point guard, even at his advanced age, remains one of the league's best passers and most exciting players. Are the Lakers now poised to topple LeBron James and the mighty Miami Heat?
The Lakers are clear favorites to win it all: Nash will end his career in Los Angeles the same way that John Elway ended his football career with the Denver Broncos, says Jesse Reed at the Bleacher Report — "with a long-desired championship." Heck, flanked by Kobe and two skilled big men, Nash could nab several titles. He'll take the pressure off Bryant, and effortlessly distribute the ball amongst the Lakers' many talents. The savvy vet will also bring the "stability and leadership" that last year's Lakers squad lacked, and "guide them to the promised land to win an NBA title at least once before he's done."
"Steve Nash is destined to win his first championship with L.A. Lakers"
But the Lakers are still riddled with issues: Don't crown the Lakers yet, says Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo. Bynum is still lazy, and Kobe, who has spent nearly his entire career demanding the ball, may be reluctant to hand Nash the keys to the Laker kingdom. There are major chemistry issues here, and I expect the Lakers to be riven by a "San Andrea-sized fissure." L.A. fans "can bemoan me sprinkling on their latest parade all they want," but the team, which has gone a dismal 1-8 in the second round of the playoffs the last two years, has a lot to prove before I'll call them a contender.
"Putting Steve Nash in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform will be the easiest part of this deal"
And other teams are getting better, too: The NBA champion Miami Heat will be "just as good if not better next year," and the younger, faster Oklahoma City Thunder will be playing with a huge chip on their shoulders after getting embarrassed by LeBron and Co. in the finals, says Brian Kamenetzky at ESPN. The Lakers have clearly improved a lot by scoring Nash, but they're not the only contenders out there. The NBA stands to be "very tight up top."
"Steve Nash, new Los Angeles Laker"
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