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Steve Nash traded to rival Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Nash, two-time MVP point guard for the Phoenix Suns, will wear a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Steve Nash got a three-year, $27 million contract. In return, the Suns get four draft picks.

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Nash thrived in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system, earning MVP honors in 2005, when he averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 assists, and again in 2006, when he averaged a career-high 18.8 points and 10.5 assists. Nash averaged fewer than 10 assists only once, 9.7 in 2008-09, and topped 11 per game five times in his eight years with Phoenix.

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Despite his age and the fact his team failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, Nash was second in the NBA in assists last season at 10.7 and averaged 12.7 points. His 53 percent shooting rate was a career high.

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 all-time leader 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 quickly 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 on 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.

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.

Nash's deal was part of a busy 24 hours for the Suns, who are looking to get younger and more athletic.

On Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the talks, they agreed to a four-year, $58 million offer with restricted free agent guard Eric Gordon, although the Hornets say they will match it.

After the Nash agreement Wednesday night, according to a source who requested anonymity because deals can't be announced until July 11, the Suns reached a three-year, $18 million deal with free agent forward Michael Beasley. Then, an hour or so before midnight, they reached an agreement to bring back point Goran Dragic in a three-year, $30 million deal that can reach $34 million with incentives. The fourth year is a player option.

Suns fans anticipated Nash's departure. They gave him a roaring standing ovation when he took the court in Phoenix's regular-season finale. They knew he was probably headed somewhere. They doubtless would prefer it was not the hated Lakers.

AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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