Steve Nash Kobe Bryant

Steve Nash traded to Lakers for package of picks

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The Los Angeles Lakers just lost out on getting Chris Paul just before last season, but it looks like they now have the point guard that turns them into a contender again. They are now the West Coast superstar team to compete with the Miami Heat.

Multiple sources say the Suns have come to a deal to send Steve Nash to the Lakers for L.A.’s 2013 and 2015 first-round picks and 2013 and 2014 second-round picks

First to report this was John Gambadoro, a Phoenix area radio host who tweeted:

Nash to LA for multiple picks all but done!!!

ESPN’s Marc Stein confirmed and added this is a story:

 Sources told ESPN.com that the Nash, with the New York Knicks also pressing hard to complete a simiilar sign-and-trade deal, was swayed to join the Lakers after a determined push from Kobe Bryant and because the move not only keeps him in the title hunt but will allow Nash to stay in close proximity to his three children in Phoenix.

Nash will receive a three-year deal in excess of $25 million, sources said, because the Suns ultimately agreed to sign-and-trade him to the Lakers, who can absorb Nash via the trade exception they created by dealing Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks in December.

Being close to his family that is in Phoenix while still being with a contender was “90 percent” of the reason for the decision, Nash’s agent Bill Duffy told Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Nash wanted this and the Suns relented because he stayed with them before, because of the good relationship they had for the past eight years.

Frank Isola, a New York Daily reporter we trust (and NBC Sports Network regular) tweeted this:

One of Steve Nash’s close friends is convinced that he’s ending up with the Lakers. So there’s that. (Will they let him wear Wilt’s No. 13)… I promise to listen to Steve Nash’s friend from now on. He was saying Lakers all day.

We told you recently that the Lakers wanted to get in the Steve Nash sweepstakes. And you can see why the Lakers would want Nash — they have about a three-year window with Kobe Bryant, and you put Nash with Kobe and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and suddenly the Lakers are right there with the Heat (and the Thunder). After two years of second round exits the Lakers are title contenders.

By moving their picks the Lakers have sold out to win now. Which is the smart play for them. They are maximizing a championship window.

This deal seemed like a long shot because we knew Suns fans would want to hang owner Robert Sarver in effigy. At least. And reports had the Raptors offering $12 million and the Knicks closing in on a deal. The Lakers seemed to be on the outside.

However, it is a reality. Nash likely steps into the nearly $9 million trade exception the Lakers had from moving Lamar Odom a year ago.

And somewhere, Kobe Bryant is smiling.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.