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Steve Nash traded to Lakers; Knicks must look elsewhere

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash leaves the court after

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash leaves the court after an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs. (April 25, 2012) Credit: AP

The Knicks' hopes of landing Steve Nash blew up on them on the Fourth of July. The Lakers swooped in and acquired the future Hall of Fame point guard in a sign-and-trade with the Suns.

Nash spurned the Knicks, Mavericks and Raptors, who offered him a three-year, $36-million contract, and took less money to chase a championship with Kobe Bryant and be closer to his three children.

The Lakers will send two future first-round picks, two second-round choices and $3 million to the Suns for Nash, according to multiple reports. Nash will sign a three-year deal worth roughly $27 million.

The Knicks, who tried to execute a sign-and-trade for Nash Wednesday, are expected to up their pursuit of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. A league source said Wednesday night that Kidd to the Knicks still was a possibility, but a report from Dallas said the Mavericks were closing in on a deal to re-sign him after losing out on Nash and Deron Williams. A source close to Kidd, however, said he hadn't decided yet.

Felton would like to reconnect with the Knicks, but the veteran point guard is receiving interest from several teams and is scheduled to meet with Nash's old team, the Suns, on Thursday..

Unless the Knicks can do a sign-and-trade --a source close to Felton said that's what it might take to get him -- they might be able to offer only the $3.09-million mini-midlevel exception. It's possible, though not likely, that they will have the full $5-million midlevel, depending on what other moves they make.

This also should cement matching all offers for restricted free agent Jeremy Lin. He is expected to receive one from the Rockets, who met with him Wednesday in Houston. The Raptors also could give Lin a back-loaded offer for four years and more than $36 million.

Earlier Wednesday, the Knicks and Suns were involved in discussions on a sign-and-trade, and one report said the Knicks had emerged as frontrunners in the Nash sweepstakes.

The package the Knicks would have sent Phoenix could have included Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Dan Gadzuric and $3 million. They could have added Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan and paid Nash between $27 million and $30 million over three years.

The Knicks were reluctant to deal Shumpert because they see him as a big part of their future. One report said they were trying to include a third team so they could keep Shumpert, who had a strong rookie season and was their best perimeter defender. But because the Knicks are in win-now mode and thought Nash would have been the missing piece for a team with a front line of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, they had to consider giving up Shumpert.

The Knicks likely won't match the three-year, $18.7-million offer sheet Toronto gave Landry Fields in part because the Raptors hoped to block the Knicks' sign-and-trade possibilities for Nash, given that the Suns were said to be interested in Fields. If they can pull off a sign-and-trade for a point guard, they will have the mini-midlevel exception to use on Marcus Camby or Rashard Lewis. They are expected to re-sign J.R. Smith to a one-year deal, and Steve Novak remains a part of their plans.

The Knicks agreed to terms on a guaranteed one-year deal with 6-7 forward James White, according to his agent, Bill McCandless. White, a 2006 second-round pick, has played 10 games for the Mavericks and Rockets. He has spent most of his career in the D-League and overseas, including Italy this past year.

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