Steve Nash and Vince Carter

When the Phoenix Suns traded Goran Dragic and a lottery-protected first round pick for Aaron Brooks yesterday, they made a statement that they didn’t believe Dragic was fit to succeed Nash as an eventual starter. This issue becomes more pressing as it becomes more likely than ever that the Suns will trade Nash after the season to start a true rebuilding process.

It’s hard to believe that a 37-year-old point guard could be one of the hottest commodities in the off-season trade market, but there’s no doubt that any contender looking for an instant upgrade at the position will be giving Suns management a call or two. Meanwhile, Nash has a teammate who is three years younger and an eight-time All-Star who will be a free agent after the season and probably won’t have any interested suitors unless he’s will to sign for around 25 percent of the $17.5 million he’s currently making — that would be Vince Carter.

I don’t know if this has been suggested elsewhere, but it wouldn’t shock me if Vince retired after this season. He’s in obvious decline and the Suns barely use him late in games anymore — he’s played just nine fourth-quarter minutes in his last six games. He’s made an incredible $130 million (give or take a few million) over his career, so I doubt he needs any more money. Maybe a contender will see value in him as a scorer off the bench next season, but they’ll have to overlook his porous defence because that part of his game hasn’t aged as well at it has with 38-year-old teammate Grant Hill.

I know it’s a weird thought, but what if this is Carter’s last game in the Air Canada Centre? I’ll be very interested to see what kind of effort he puts out tonight. If he seems to have an unusual spring in his step, that might be something worth reading into.

Injury report

Toronto: Joey Dorsey is out and Jerryd Bayless is a gametime decision. Reggie Evans will resume practicing tomorrow.

Phoenix: Zabian Dowdell (who?) is questionable for tonight due to illness

Five questions

1. Do you think James Johnson should be the Raptors’ starting small forward for the rest of the season?

2. If Steve Nash, Vince Carter and Grant Hill had played on the same team in the 2004-05 season (think Jersey Vince, not Raptor Vince), would that team have contended for a championship?

3. If this is Vince Carter’s last season in the NBA, do you think he belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

4. Now that Steve Nash has publicly announced, “If they want to move me, I’m open to that,” should the Raptors go after him this summer?

5. If you could choose to have either Nash or Carter wearing a Raptors uniform next season, who would you pick?

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Liveblog:
Natasha Alibhai on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups

Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Phoenix: Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Robin Lopez

Tonight’s pregame song is “I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre and Eminem because… do I need to explain why? It’s a new song from Dre and Em. Jeez.