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.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelican Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.

What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

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When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.