Sometimes things we don’t like end up benefitting us in the long run. I certainly believe the fate of the Lakers after the nixed trade for Chris Paul ended up being such a thing.
In the trade of last summer, the Lakers were on the verge of giving up both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in exchange for Clippers point guard Chris Paul. At the time, David Stern felt the trade was too lopsided and wouldn’t benefit the league-owned New Orleans Hornets. Giving up an aged Gasol and Odom seemed like too little to land a perennial (and young) franchise point guard in Chris Paul.
Fans, too, felt the trade would give the Lakers a stacked and unstoppable team…
Fast forward a year later, and it happened anyway.
The thing is, the Lakers are the better for it. By not giving up Gasol, they have now been able to pair a dominante 7-footer in Dwight Howard with the versatile Spanish big man. And they’ve acquired one of the best point guards in NBA history in Steve Nash, one of the few to join the exclusive 50/40/90 club; 50% from the field, 40% from distance, and 90% from the line. He’s also a passer on the level of the all-time greats: Bob Cousy, John Stockton, and the short list of players that basically define the point guard position for what it is.
Nash makes the Lakers an unstoppable force this year, and I basically feel like the Eastern Conference Finals may end up being the “official game of the runner up.”
In Nash, the Lake Show got only better. They obtained a player with roughly half the contract of Paul ($9 million vs. $17 million) and were thus able to obtain Dwight Howard within the ramifications of the league salary cap, despite the fact they are now $30 million over the cap.
It made the team better, and reasonable, and it will help them win a championship.
While I realize Paul represented a long term answer, he is on the last year of an expiring deal, and Nash is signed for two more years past this season. He’ll remain productive for that entire span, because his game isn’t reliant purely on athleticism (not that Paul’s is either). He has the guile and skill to remain effective until the very end, and he will be 41 at that point, one year older than the aforementioned Stockton at retirement.
A Dwight Howard – Steve Nash pick and roll will be nearly unstoppable. Look at what Nash did for Amar’e Stoudemire. Dwight Howard is an even better and more unstoppable player than Amar’e pre-knee injuries, back as he was in his true prime.
And as I said, Gasol remains on the roster. It has given the Lakers a “Big Four.” The Heat have a “Big Three.” Do the math; the Lakers are better off. Granted, neither team has much true depth, but after the Heat taking last year’s championship, we’re seeing that is less important than previously anticipated.
The Lakers are all set, and they have David Stern’s regime to thank.