Nash goes to Lakers in sign-and-trade deal

He is one of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history at 90.4 percent. His 9,916 assists rank him fifth in NBA history behind, in order, John Stockton, Kidd, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson.

The Suns resisted trading Nash during his final season and insisted they were interested in bringing him back, but they never seriously were in the discussion. Toronto and New York dominated the talk until the Lakers came on with a flash on Tuesday.

Nash’s arrival should rejuvenate the Lakers, who lost in the second round for the second straight postseason after their back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. The Lakers struggled to move from departed coach Phil Jackson’s triangle offense to new coach Mike Brown’s system during the lockout-shortened season, with four-time All-Star forward Gasol particularly failing to fit in while getting pushed to the third option on offense most nights.

Nash’s peerless playmaking abilities and veteran presence could smooth over those problems, particularly after a full training camp to define the Lakers‘ roles in Brown’s offense.

Los Angeles hasn’t had an elite point guard alongside Bryant for several seasons, failing to address Derek Fisher’s gradual decline while the rest of the West got better. The Lakers got sub-par play last season from the 37-year-old Fisher, who was traded to Houston at the deadline.

The five-time NBA champion was replaced in the starting lineup by journeyman Ramon Sessions, who provided speed and scoring but struggled badly in his first career playoff run, nearly disappearing from the Lakers‘ lineup. Sessions’ decision last month to decline his player option for next season means his career with the Lakers is finished unless he’s interested in returning as a backup, an unlikely prospect.

The draft picks probably don’t mean too much to the Lakers, who have traded away their first-round picks the past three seasons. They haven’t drafted a regular starter since 2005.

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AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham contributed to this report.

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