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Phoenix Suns still hope for big return on Nash trade

Two years after the Steve Nash trade, the Phoenix Suns have little to show for it. But the list of future draft picks, which get more and more important each season, is still a long one.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When Steve Nash was unceremoniously traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in early July 2012, the package of draft picks looked like a mixed bag.

The Lakers planned to be very good in the coming years, so their offer of 2013 and 2015 first rounders plus second round picks in 2013 and 2014 seemed like a trade of quantity over quality.

Look, Phoenix, we don't have any young assets on our roster. So how about a bunch of draft picks that won't be very high? We'll even throw in $3 million to help you pay the dead salaries you're likely to accumulate in the near future.

What the Suns got for Steve Nash..

2013 late first round pick

The pick that eventually became 18 year old Archie Goodwin was a complicated asset never likely to be a high pick. The Lakers had control of Miami's first rounder but had already promised their own to another team, as long as they made the playoffs.

To entice the Suns to close the deal, the Lakers offered whatever they were going to have in the 2013 Draft. If for some reason a lineup of Bryant, Nash, Gasol and Bynum missed the playoffs, the Suns would get an unprotected lottery pick. Otherwise, the Suns would receive the HEAT pick. In other words, the Suns expected the HEAT pick (projected 28-30 overall).

The Lakers later traded Bynum for Dwight Howard and the HEAT pick looked even more likely. And while the Lakers unexpectedly struggled, they eeked out a playoff position in the final week of the season. Nash played 50 mostly ineffective minutes that year with Bryant dominating the ball and Howard refusing to play Amare-ball. He instead clogged the lane as soon as his feet could carry him.

Final outcome: Archie Goodwin.

Archie hasn't done anything yet in the NBA, but he's still just 20 years old and may yet become a solid NBA player.

2013 2014 second round pick

This second rounder was parlayed a couple of weeks later in the Robin Lopez trade.

The Suns traded the rights to Robin Lopez (who wanted to leave for a starting position anyway), the contract of Hakim Warrick and the Lakers' second rounder in a three-way deal that netted Wesley Johnson and a more-heavily-than-we-thought protected first round pick.

The Suns were losing Lopez anyway. He didn't want another year of being punked by Marcin Gortat, getting 20 minutes a game against second units. He wanted to start.

So really, they turned part of the Nash trade into a $8 million savings on Warrick and potential mid-first rounder in the coming season or two. In addition, by being able to keep their own 2013 second rounder, the Suns were able to acquire Marcus Morris from the Rockets eight months later.

The Minny pick was protected within the Top 13 for 2013 and 2014, then Top-12 for 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, Minnesota never did make the playoffs and the Suns are still waiting for a payoff. If not conveyed by 2016, the Suns get their 2016 second round pick (by definition, in the Top 12 of the second round) and 2017 second round pick.

Final outcome: incomplete, but so far helped get Marcus Morris (yes, I stretched there)

The worst that can happen is a relatively high second round pick in 2016 and another in 2017.

Three million dollars

Some of this money was used in the Lopez trade to encourage New Orleans to take on Hakim Warrick's final $8 million in salary. According to the Suns, the rest of it helped to fund directly or indirectly other enhancements such as the affiliation with Bakersfield and additional resources for our training staff and analytics department.

Final outcome: helpful in the rebuild effort

2014 2013 second round pick

Originally, this late second round pick became Alex Oriakhi. The burly big man never did make the NBA that season, but he was used a couple months ago as the throw-in on the Isaiah Thomas sign-and-trade.

While Oriakhi wasn't the difference-maker in the trade, he epitomized the Suns trove of assets that could be used here and there without any negative impact on the team's core. The Suns were able to give the Kings a throw-in without sacrificing any other draft picks. Alec Brown may yet turn out better than Oriahki, you know.

Final outcome: helped get Isaiah Thomas (I know, that's a stretch)

2015 first round pick

Now here's the cherry on top of the cake. The Lakers gave the Suns a Top-5 protected 2015 first round pick as part of the trade. While it wouldn't pay off for at least three or four seasons, the Suns got something potentially special in that deal.

The pick is protected Top 5 in 2015, Top 3 in 2016 and 2017 and then completely unprotected in 2018. Even if the Lakers completely bottom out this year, they will still owe the Suns what should be a good pick.

Sure, this could end up as very little. The Lakers could bottom out, keep the 2015 pick, rebuild quickly and turn this into a late first in 2016. But the greatest likelihood is that the Suns will eventually turn Steve Nash into a lottery pick.

Final outcome: incomplete

Two years after the Nash trade, the Suns have Archie Goodwin to show for it. But in the coming years, they will add another 2 first round picks, or 1 first and two high-ish second rounders.

The Nash trade keeps on giving.

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