Trade Pau Gasol. Trade Andrew Bynum and get Dwight Howard. Amnesty Metta World Peace. Blow the whole thing up.
Lakers message boards and Los Angeles talk radio was filled with those kinds of comments from a rabid fan base from before the Lakers fell in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Los Angeles media fuels this. Even I said the Lakers needed to look at trading a big man.
But from Bill Sharman through Jerry West to Mitch Kupchak, one of the hallmarks of the Lakers front office has been patience. They don’t panic. They don’t make a move just to make a move, they wait for the right move.
That move came like fireworks over Dodger Stadium on Wednesday — the Lakers traded for Steve Nash.
With Nash the Lakers live for the moment — they instantly vault up to the level of the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are contenders.
There are things to find out yet. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will have to learn to play together and play off each other, and not unlike LeBron James and Dwyane Wade that will have some bumps and take some time to smooth out. There are questions about how Nash works with two big men. The Lakers will need to both up their tempo and add a lot more pick-and-roll with the point guard to maximize what Steve Nash can do. Do the Lakers still need to consider moving Pau Gasol to add depth and keep salaries down?
And make no mistake, there is a price to be paid for what the Lakers did on the Fourth of July. There are huge salary cap implications coming (remember Kobe Bryant makes $30 million in 2013-14) the same year Andrew Bynum’s new deal kicks in and Gasol is due $19.3 million. The Lakers also traded away first round picks they may need to help rebuild after Kobe and Steve Nash walk away — which is not that far off, Nash is 38.
But this move was not about the future. It was about the now. The Lakers are a team that judges success by trying to catch the Boston Celtics for how many banners hang in the rafters. They are a franchise about stars and exciting play and players.
In one bold move, they brought all that back to Staples Center for a few more years.
But they only got to do that because they were patient first.