- Last Updated: 10:36 AM, July 5, 2012
- Posted: 1:25 AM, July 5, 2012
The Fourth of July is now officially the annual holiday the Knicks get used by a prominent free agent, even one who calls the West Village his summer home.
It won’t be Steve Nash’s winter home. Nash ditched the Knicks Wednesday as their sign-and-trade talks were extinguished when the two-time MVP told the Suns he wanted to be a Laker. The Lakers’ unexpected sign-and-trade bid was consummated Wednesday night — despite general manager Glen Grunwald’s willingness to thrust prized combo guard Iman Shumpert into the mix with the Suns.
Indications are the Knicks never were a major option for Nash. His agent, Bill Duffy, told The Post that though Nash felt he could have helped the Knicks compete for a title, the Knicks were hurt by their location. Nash’s No. 1 priority was playing in a city close to where his three kids live — Phoenix. (Nash is divorced).
“That was 90 percent of it,’’ Duffy said of the location. “And I say that respectfully to the Lakers. He would rather retire than be so far away from his kids, and it was very important the Suns got value out of it.’’
So it’s on to Los Angeles for Nash, and the Knicks go to Plan B in which ex-Knicks point guard Raymond Felton is very high on their list, especially if Jason Kidd re-signs with Dallas. If there was any doubt, the Knicks almost have to match any offer Jeremy Lin brings their way. Lin was in Houston Wednesday night, and the Rockets were to offer him a four-year, $31 million package, with the fourth year a player option.
A source close to Felton, who visited Phoenix Wednesday, said he may need a sign-and-trade with the Trail Blazers, also to get more salary. As for Kidd, he was being courted by the Mavericks yesterday and reportedly said, “I always loved playing with Dallas and I’d love to finish my career here.’’
Duffy said the Knicks made “a great presentation and did nothing wrong.’’ In fact, Nash liked the roster.
“He relished the challenge,’’ Duffy said. “He felt he could help the Knicks win a championship. He was kind of motivated because people called it a clumsy roster. He relished that challenge.’’
The Lakers may have returned to title contention in adding the 38-year-old star point guard, and the Suns received two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $3 million in cash. The Lakers fit Nash into a $8.9 million trade exception they had from the Lamar Odom-to-the-Mavericks deal that was ironically originally created by the Knicks in the Tyson Chandler trade. Nash’s package was three years, $25 million — a similar wage the Knicks could have given in their talks with the Suns.
Nash said in a statement the Suns were “apprehensive” to deal with Lakers, their conference rivals. But Nash insisted, with Kobe Bryant helping sell him on the move. Nash’s decision could mean Mike D’Antoni becomes a Lakers coaching candidate after this season, because Nash and Bryant revere him.
The Lakers also sneaked past the Raptors and Mavericks. The Raptors look like they were used worse than the Knicks. Toronto was so sure the Knicks had a big chance to land Nash in a sign-and-trade it agreed to terms with Landry Fields on a three-year, $19 million offer sheet to block Phoenix from getting him. The Knicks have until July 11, when the free-agent signing moratorium ends, to match the Raptors offer for Fields.
The Knicks replaced Fields in a bold maneuver, adding prized but rehabbing Shumpert. But in the end, Nash didn’t want to play in New York, though he lives in the West Village in the summer when he can see his kids periodically since they are out of school.
The Post reported two weeks ago a Nash confidant saying the Knicks weren’t high on his list and D’Antoni’s absence was a factor. Phoenix radio host John Gambadaro, a Nash confidant, first tweeted the Lakers’ news in which he added in a tweet, “New York was never really a serious option for Nash.’’
Shumpert, Dan Gadzuric’s non-guaranteed contract, Toney Douglas’ expiring deal and young center prospect Jerome Jordan were pieces to a package. The Knicks were trying to find a third team until Nash told them he was heading to Los Angeles.Follow @NYPostsports