In perhaps the most surprising move of the young offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired point guard Steve Nash on Wednesday.
The Lakers completed a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns to bring the two-time MVP to Los Angeles to possibly form the best backcourt in the NBA with Kobe Bryant. In the deal, the Suns received L.A.'s first-round picks in 2013 and 2015, as well as their second rounders in 2013 and 2014.
The Lakers had not been considered a frontrunner to land Nash, as the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks were reportedly the favorites to acquire the veteran playmaker. Most of the rumors surrounding Los Angeles have involved Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Instead of trading for arguably the best center in the game, the Lakers acquired one of the best guards.
The question that now arises is how the addition of Nash will affect the team's pursuit of Howard.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, the Nash deal could take L.A. out of the Howard Sweepstakes. A source tells McMenamin that the Lakers plan to move forward with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
L.A. would have to almost certainly give up Bynum in any potential deal for Howard. The Lakers have shown reluctance to deal Bynum, who is considered the second-best center behind Howard, and is only 24. Orlando, meanwhile, may not have a better trade offer than the Lakers' offer.
Bynum has also been a favorite of Lakers executive Jim Buss for years. The possibility of Howard joining the Lakers was floated around at the last trade deadline, but the deal didn't happen, and that had something to do with Buss's interest in Bynum's potential.
Another stumbling block to the Lakers' interest in Howard, is the Magic star's lack of interest in playing in L.A. Howard reportedly isn't interested in signing a long-term contract with the Lakers. Should the Lakers move Bynum, they would need a long-term commitment for the player in return.
Since acquiring Nash, the Lakers may not feel it's necessary to make a blockbuster trade to acquire Howard, or any other player. Nash strengthens the Lakers' chances of going to the NBA Finals, after losing twice in the Western Conference semi-finals. Since the retirement of Magic Johnson, the Lakers have lacked a pure distributor, and Nash may very well be the missing piece to the Lakers' title hopes.
One of the biggest reasons that Nash agreed to go to Los Angeles was Bryant. The future Hall of Famer recruited Nash to play with him, as both players are strongly intent on winning a title.
Bryant is the face of the Lakers and has a certain amount of influence on moves that the Lakers make. It's possible that Bryant may not want the Lakers to concede Bynum for a player like Howard, who appears to need a lot of prodding to leave the East Coast.
At age 38, Nash has continued to produce. He averaged 12.5 points per game average in the 2011-2012 season to go along with 10.7 assists.