The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t likely to be among the elite clubs of the 2013-2014 NBA season. Through five games, Kobe Bryant has yet to return from his Achilles injury, and it could be a few weeks before he steps on the court again. Since the Lakers appear to be in the midst of rebuilding, they could use this year to set themselves up for a big offseason.
Much has been made about the free agency class of 2014. Among others, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade will likely test the open market. The Lakers have been rumored to have a realistic chance to sign one, if not two top stars. Los Angeles will have room under the salary cap for at least one top free agent, but could be able to sign another very good player if they were to cut their payroll even more.
If the Lakers are prepared to sacrifice their chances of making the 2014 postseason, Steve Nash could be available sooner rather than later.
“Steve Nash is another vet who may be traded this year,” tweeted Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. “I've heard Toronto as a possible landing spot for Nash from multiple league sources.”
Before the Lakers acquired Nash in the summer of 2012, the Raptors were interested in acquiring the point guard. Nash could be very popular with the team, in large part because he grew up in Canada.
If the Lakers were interested in sending Nash to Toronto, they might want to receiver Rudy Gay in exchange. Gay could provide scoring that the team lacks in Bryant’s absence, and he could play at small forward -- a position where the Lakers are lacking. Most importantly, Gay will be a free agent in the offseason, freeing up the more cap room for the Lakers when his contract comes off the books in July.
A potential deal, however, probably has too many road blocks to get done. While the Raptors were high on Nash at one time, the veteran has proven to be a much different player than the one that was winning MVP awards with the Phoenix Suns. He was hurt for much of last season, and is battling nerve damage in his leg, which is related to last season’s leg injury. That condition could improve, but right now it seems to be affecting his play. Nash is averaging just 23.5 minutes in four games with 6.5 points and 5.0 assists per contest.
The Lakers and Raptors wouldn’t be able to make a trade involving only Nash and Gay. The Toronto forward makes nearly twice as much as Nash, so the L.A. would have to include more pieces in the deal.
It has been a rather difficult season with Bryant out, and Nash ailing. The Lakers have a 2-3 record and are in fourth place in the Pacific Division. Their losses have come by an average of 19 points.