LOS ANGELES — An old name and a new one have circled into the Los Angeles Lakers’ off-season plans.
A well-known Orlando Magic center has resurfaced as a trade possibility for the Lakers — welcome back to the fray, Dwight Howard — and so has Steve Nash, the veteran point guard most recently with the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers are trying to land Nash, though it would have to be via trade and not free agency because they can offer him only $3 million next season, the “mini” mid-level exception.
The Lakers could try to acquire him via the $9 million traded-player exception they received from the Lamar Odom trade last season. Trade exceptions are hard to explain, but the Lakers would have to entice the Suns to sign Nash for $9 million in the first season of a new contract and then trade him to the Lakers for a draft pick.
Nash, a free agent after spending the last eight seasons in Phoenix, has already been offered a three-year deal with the Toronto Raptors for about $36 million.
Nash, 38, made $11.7 million last season. The New York Knicks are also trying to sign the Canadian guard, who carries a pass-first reputation and solid touch from three-point range.
Nash averaged 12.5 points and 10.7 assists last season for the Suns, his 16th in the NBA.
Orlando is considering a slew of trades for its unhappy center, who has been rumored to go to too many places to count since last season began.
But the Lakers have a growing list of concerns about Howard if they are to trade Andrew Bynum for him, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
How’s that bulging disk in Howard’s back, the one that required surgery and forced him to miss the playoffs?
Will Howard actually sign a contract extension after indicating privately he does not want to play for the Lakers? They’re reluctant to accept a trade for him without getting more years tacked on to the one he has left for $19.5 million.
The Lakers currently have no desire to take back additional salary in a trade for Howard. The Magic want any trade partner to absorb small forward Hedo Turkoglu (two more years, $23.8 million) or shooting guard Jason Richardson (three more years, $18.6 million). Turkoglu is 33 years old. Richardson is 31.
Finally, Orlando would have to make a financial commitment as well. Bynum wants assurance he is not a one-season rental. He has one more year and $16.1 million remaining on his contract. The Magic better be prepared to pay him now ... or lose him in 12 months.