In an unforeseen twist that could thrust the Los Angeles Lakers straight back into title contention, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash has successfully negotiated a sign-and-trade deal from the Phoenix Suns to the Los Angeles Lakers that will team him up with Kobe Bryant, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
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 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.
The deal can't be officially completed until July 11, when a leaguewide moratorium on new business is lifted, but the Suns will receive a package of future draft picks after initially rebuffing Nash's requests to be traded to the Suns' divisional rivals.
The Lakers are no longer trying to retain point guard Ramon Sessions, who opted out of the final year and $4.55 million of his contract to become a free agent, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne.
Sessions was hoping for the security of a longer term contract, but while discussions with the Lakers were positive, they never progressed toward a multiyear deal, the source told Shelburne.
Difficult as it is on some levels for the Suns to help the face of the franchise get to the Lakers -- especially after years of playoff battles with the Lakers in the Nash Era -- sources say Suns owner Robert Sarver finally agreed to the trade after yielding to a plea from Nash to send him to a destination where he could maintain the closest possible ties to his children and still chase the ring that has eluded him for 16 seasons.
The Lakers clinched the deal by surrendering the package of picks, but sources said that the Suns did decide to reward Nash for all the success he delivered over the past eight seasons.