Oklahoma City Thunder: Steve Nash trade stops Laker slide
We saw the Lakers up close in May. Western Conference semifinals, after the Lakers survived Denver in seven first-round games. The Thunder dispatched LA in five games; two blowout OKC victories, in Game 1 and Game 5, and three competitive games that went down to the final minute, with the Lakers winning Game 3 and the Thunder winning Games 2 and 4.
The Lakers looked tired. You still could see the flashes of greatness. The magnificence of Kobe Bryant, albeit in less bulk than the old days. The power of Andrew Bynum, albeit partly neutralized by Kendrick Perkins. The incredible skill of Pau Gasol, albeit marred by the frustration of diminished chemistry.
Watching the Lakers was like watching a stately home slip slowly into disrepair. Or the vibrant look of a classic car slowly pale as weather takes its toll.
The Lakers were in need of a major overhaul. Deals galore were suggested. Bynum traded for Dwight Howard. Gasol traded for Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola. Nobody knew what needed to be done, but everybody knew that something needed to be done.
Then on Independence Day, the Lakers did a most remarkable thing. An old team got even older. The Lakers looked Father Time in the face and raised him. The Lakers traded four draft picks for Steve Nash.
The Lakers found a point guard older than even Derek Fisher, the 37-year-old they cut loose in February. You know, back when the Lakers thought fresh legs was important. Nash is 38 and will turn 39 in February. Which means the Lakers come playoff time in 2013 will trot out Nash, 39; Kobe, 34; Gasol, 32; Bynum, 25 going on 16; and whoever fills the wing position. Grant Hill (40 in October), Metta World Chaos (33 in November), James Worthy, the ghost of Elgin Baylor. Too early to tell. Trade Bynum for Tim Duncan and sign Hill, and the Laker starting five will be older than the Rolling Stones.
So what to make of the new-look Lakers? Well, absolutely the Lakers will be fun. They’ll rank with the Heat and the Thunder as can’t-miss TV. A Laker-Sacramento game on a Tuesday night in January? You’ll have to stop and watch.
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