Lakers News and Rumors: Los Angeles Can Replace Steve Nash With Jeremy Lin, Other NBA Point Guards [Video]
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How do you take a bad situation and make it worse? If you're the Los Angeles Lakers, who are floundering in the Western Conference with a 21-40 record and quickly free-falling out of playoff contention, just add some injured star players.
In this case, the latest in bad news on the injury front comes from future Hall of Famer Steve Nash, who may not be coming back this season.
Nash, 40, who is dealing with knee injuries that have sidelined him for months, may not be ready to come back at all this season, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times who recently spoke to Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni.
"Will Steve Nash return this season? 'I doubt it,' D'Antoni said. Wants minutes to go to younger guards, plus Nash still not feeling right," Bresnahan tweeted Monday.
For a team that finds itself in dire straits at the moment, desperate for leadership, talent and a spark on offense, losing the team's No. 1 point guard and a two-time NBA MVP isn't going to do them any favors in the standings. With their franchise star Kobe Bryant still not ready to return and shooting guard Nick Young still ailing as well, the Lakers find themselves with some big holes to fill in their backcourt–a terrible problem for a D'Antoni-led team. The former Phoenix Suns coach loves to have his offense thrive on fast breaks led by his guards.
While there might not be an instant solution for the immediate future, the questions surrounding the Lakers this offseason are much more interesting, and critical. Nash will be in the final year of his $27 million contract with Los Angeles next season, where he is due for a $9.7 million payday. With the Lakers looking to rebuild for what may be Bryant's last chance at another NBA title, the purple-and-gold squad is definitely going to want to make some upgrades to their backcourt, and that means infusing the point guard position with new energy, talent and, more importantly, youth. That means the Lakers may seriously consider dealing Nash in a trade in exchange for younger talent.
Despite his age, Nash will still see his share of suitors, perhaps from NBA title contenders looking to bring his experience and savvy onto their squads for added depth. But should the Lakers decide to move Nash in the name of rebuilding, they would need the right point guard to be able to fit in their system. There are a couple of names that come to mind, via trade or free agency, when it comes to replacing Nash on the Lakers.
Let's take a look at a few of those candidates:
On the surface, there's a lot of reasons for why this could work. Lin will be in the final year of his contract with Houston next year, and while talented, he's not seeing enough playing opportunities with the Rockets, with coach Kevin McHale benching Lin in favor of Patrick Beverley. Lin and D'Antoni have history, having hooked up in New York two seasons for an incredible stretch of play that helped save the Knicks' season, D'Antoni's job at that moment, and made Lin an overnight star. Athletic and streaky, Lin thrives in D'Antoni's system, and hooking the two up again could give the Lakers what they're looking for. However, there is the matter of whether L.A. wants to eat Lin's $14.9 million contract next season. And with the Lakers coveting big name free agents like Carmelo Anthony this summer, the Lakers may not want to saddle themselves with such a big contract.
Playing in a contract year, Bledsoe has been on fire for the surprising Phoenix Suns, averaging 18.0 points and 5.8 assists this season. Explosive and with a nice shooter's touch, Bledsoe has all the tools to make a big impact for Los Angeles. A backcourt with Bledsoe and Kobe together seems like a recipe for success and gives D'Antoni the elite-level backcourt that he's craved. However, he won't come cheap, which means the Lakers will have to go on a bit of a shopping spree if they want to land him and another big name to pair alongside Bryant.
With 15.7 points and 7.4 assists, Lowry has played a big role in helping the Raptors get into playoff contention this season in a weak Eastern Conference. He might not be the flashiest point guard available, but he can add depth and an offensive punch to the Lakers' backcourt and their starting lineup in general. And there is the outside chance that Lowry might be a tad more affordable than some of the other big names out there. Lowry has seven years experience, so the Lakers would be getting a veteran, but he's also in his prime, so they'd be getting a strong, aggressive point guard that won't back down from challenges, which is the attitude an aspiring title contender needs.
Streaky, athletic and highly-explosive, Robinson can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on what kind of night it is. "Consistency" has never been a word associated with Robinson, but the 5'9" former Slam Dunk champion has never lacked heart, aggression, or tenacity. He showed that with a rather impressive performance in last year's NBA playoffs, when he stepped up to help will the injury-laden Chicago Bulls past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and put up a respectable showing against the eventual champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He's tough and a veteran, but he can be sensational one night and dreadful the next. That kind of unpredictability may not be what an already unstable situation in L.A. calls for.
He's not considered to be a star, but he's a lot better than he's given credit for. Averaging 10.7 points with 3.7 assists this season, Sessions is a quick player with a ferocious drive to the basket. A decent shooter at 41.3 percent, the 27-year-old Sessions is the kind of point guard that can help keep the offense running smoothly and be a good complementary player to Kobe in the backcourt. Top it off, he's also affordable, so getting Sessions wouldn't impact the Lakers' quest to add new stars this offseason too much. He might be a steal if L.A. can sign him.
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