Under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, expiring contracts had a real value, teams with them could dump them for young players, picks and things to help speed a rebuild (and give the team that took them on future flexibility). However, under the new CBA things are different — shorter contract lengths, the amnesty that let teams dump a bad contract, the stretch provision, plus a different philosophy on assets from younger GMs have made expiring deals far less valuable.
Which means the report from Marc Stein of ESPN that the Lakers are going to shop Steve Nash’s expiring deal may be true but likely end up fruitless. But they will try.
As ESPN.com reported last month when Nash was ruled out for the 2014-15 season because of recurring nerve issues with his back, Lakers officials are planning to explore the trade market for potential deals between now and the February trade deadline with Nash’s $9.7 million expiring contract.
It’s worth a shot, but don’t hold your breath on it working out.
If a team takes on Nash’s salary, they are going to want a sweetner — they are going to want a pick or a player, not to give one of quality back to the Lakers.
Make no mistake, Lakers have put themselves in a position to try and be a player in the trade market as we move through the season and toward the deadline. Why do you think they gave Jordan Hill a $9 million salary this season (with a team option for next year)? His play? No. Because then he’s a more valuable trade chip. With Nash and Hill, the Lakers have plenty of salary to move (any player not named Kobe could be moved in the right deal).
However the trade deadline has been slow the past couple years, a trend likely to continue this season. The new crop of GMs is less likely to make big mid-season deals unless pressured and they are not just going to absorb big contracts. And who is out there and likely to be moved? Rajon Rondo’s name comes up but there is a risk as he will be a free agent next season, plus the Celtics’ price is high. There are a number of guys who can or will be free agents next summer (Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard) that their teams plan to re-sign, not move.
But the Lakers are going to pay Nash anyway, might as well try and move the deal.