Although Steve Nash has a Ph.D. in the pick-and-roll, he’s spending this month as a freshman in Princeton.
The Princeton offense, that is. After 16 seasons and two MVP awards, the Los Angeles Lakers’ new point guard is learning a new way to play.
The Lakers are incorporating major elements of the sophisticated ball-movement schemes collectively known as the Princeton offense into their game plan this fall, and Nash is largely in charge of making sure it works fluidly.
Along with new teammates and a new city, it all adds up to a busy October for a sharpshooting playmaker who’s not coasting on his credentials as one of the greatest pick-and-roll artists of his generation.
“It’s going to be a big transition for me, but one I’m excited to take on and be open-minded about,” Nash said. “I think that the beauty of this team is that we have a lot of guys that can make the defense pay. If we play together, and we space the floor, and we read and react, we can be a difficult team to cover.”
Eddie Jordan, the veteran coach who joined Mike Brown’s staff as an assistant last month, is working with Nash to make it happen. Jordan is watching over every offensive drill in the first few days of training camp, consulting frequently with Nash and Kobe Bryant while correcting missteps by Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard.
“I don’t think it’s something that we’ll really have to struggle through,” Bryant said. “It’s a pretty seamless transition. ... I kind of relate it to the first year that Phil [Jackson] came here and put in the triangle offense. You had a lot of players that had high basketball IQ, and we just picked it up right away.”
The Princeton plan has similarities to the triangle offense, particularly in the read-and-react mentality necessary to make it work. Triangle veterans Bryant and Gasol already recognize much of what they’re supposed to do, and everybody has played against the offense before.
Brown realizes he’s taking a risk by installing the Lakers’ third new offense in three years, but believes they have the veteran personnel to make it work.
“There’s going to be some aspects of what we did last year involved in the offense,” Brown said. “But there’s going to be some Princeton things that Steve Nash will have the ability to go to, with certain ball movement, or a pass, or a player movement, or a hand signal. We feel like all the pieces of it really flow, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”
Knicks sign Wallace
The New York Knicks signed forward Rasheed Wallace, a four-time All-Star who is ending a two-year retirement. Wallace, 38, last played for the Boston Celtics in the 2009-10 season. Terms of his contract were not announced. Wallace averaged 14.6 points in 15 seasons.
Grizzlies exec dies
Dana Davis, vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, was found dead in his apartment. He was 56. The Grizzlies confirmed Davis’ death in a statement Wednesday night without elaborating. He oversaw player development programs.