By Sam Amick
July 04, 2012

Just as the NBA's Eastern Conference seemed to be nudging the balance of power its way, the Lakers pulled off a stunning sign-and-trade for point guard Steve Nash that turns them into legitimate title contenders again in the West.

Nash's agent, Bill Duffy, confirmed reports that Nash agreed to join the Lakers for a deal that will be worth three years and approximately $27 million while his former team, Phoenix, will receive two future first-round picks, two future second-round picks and $3 million in cash. The move came one day after the Brooklyn Nets reached an agreement with point guard Deron Williams to return to a Nets team that will also now include shooting guard Joe Johnson and small forward Gerald Wallace, but Brooklyn and most other teams will be hard-pressed to keep up with the Lakers as they're now constructed.

Nash, who had so many memorable battles with the Lakers during his eight seasons with the Suns, is said to be ecstatic to be getting the best of both worlds in this scenario. According to Duffy, the fact that his three children live with his ex-wife in Phoenix means he'll be able to see far more often than if he had signed with other suitors like Toronto, New York or Dallas.

"The whole predicate was to put him in position to be as close to his family as possible and in the most competitive situation possible," Duffy told "Both were accomplished, and then he wanted to make sure that the Suns got value for his departure because (Suns owner Robert) Sarver has been good to him and they've had a great relationship. That was very important to Steve. In his mind, it's a win-win-win."

And while Nash certainly never envisioned himself wearing the purple and gold, Duffy said he's thrilled to be making the counterintuitive jersey change.

"It'll be very interesting, very emotional," Duffy said. "As a fan, the NBA is about rivalries, but stories and storylines. Here's another major storyline in a major market city."

The move took place mere hours after the Knicks believed they were in the lead to land Nash, who could have gone to New York by way of a sign-and-trade as well. But according to sources, the Lakers came on late to do the deal while Knicks' higher-ups were still contemplating a possible offer that would have included promising young shooting guard Iman Shumpert. As for the Raptors, they fell short in their pursuit despite an aggressive push that, according to sources, including a three-year, $36 million offer.

For the Lakers, Nash's salary reportedly fits into the $8.2 million trade exception that was part of the Lamar Odom trade to Dallas last season.

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