By now, whether here at RaptorBlog or somewhere else on the internet, you have probably stumbled across Chicago NBA writer Sam Smith’s claim that “many people” believe Steve Nash will sign in Toronto for “three years” to “help bring their young players along.”
Most of us think the claim is ludicrous in that “many people” never sounds very convincing and that if Nash leaves Phoenix, he would likely be leaving for the chance to compete for a championship before he retires, not to help a young team rebuild.
Then there’s the fact that Nash is in Toronto right now to announce the great news that he will take over as General Manager of Canada Basketball, which gets me thinking that perhaps Mr. Smith or anyone feeding him “insider information” is simply basing the Raptors rumour/report on Nash being in Toronto, and in and around the Air Canada Centre in May.
Nonetheless, before Smith set the Raptors’ (and Suns‘) blogosphere on fire with his report, Toronto had been rumoured as one of a handful or so of potential landing spots for Kid Canada. And it’s been a scenario people have brought up in the comments section of RaptorBlog often enough this season.
While I still doubt Nash has the Raptors atop his list, I’ve maintained throughout the season that I do think Toronto has an outside chance at his services. You could also imagine that a full time job in Toronto/Canada and in the same organization as Bryan Colangelo, who according to Canada Basketball’s website is on the program’s Board, and Maurizio Gherardini, who was on Canada Basketball’s Council of Excellence last time I checked, would be ideal for Nash if he is going to take on a prominent role within Canada Basketball.
Then there’s the easy thinking that from a “Canada’s Team” marketing opportunity, the acquisition would be one of the smartest business moves Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment can make.
But whatever the chances of Nash actually landing with the Raptors are, the real question to be asked is would he even be a good fit? Unfortunately, the answer to that question for many fans is as murky as the rumours of him coming here in the first place.
Nash turned 38 in February, is obviously past his prime, and isn’t any better defensively at the point than Jose Calderon (he may even be worse considering Calderon’s defensive improvements this season). Those traits don’t sound like they would normally mesh with a young team that isn’t even sniffing contention yet and is led by a defensive maestro in Dwane Casey.
Usually, when it comes to the Raptors’ rebuild, I’m one of the most paranoid fans about taking the patient, careful approach and not doing anything to jeopardize said rebuild. I’m anti-veterans in most cases for the next couple of years, but in the case of Steve Nash, you can’t convince me that signing him for a couple of years, maybe with a third year option, at a reasonable price for his age, would be a bad move. You just can’t.
This isn’t just a former All Star or some average vet who would be taking precious time and development away from the young core pieces. This is a first ballot Hall of Famer, a two-time MVP, one of the greatest players at his position the game has ever seen and a player that has made teammates better and maximized the talent of others more than any player we’ve seen in a generation. Not to mention, while he’s past his MVP years, he’s still one of the better point guards in the game, and you could easily argue that if the Suns had squeaked into the playoffs in the final week of April, Nash would have received some MVP votes somewere.
Nash had two 23-plus P.E.R. seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07, which stand as his most efficient campaigns to date. If you want a clear cut sign that he hasn’t regressed as much as some believe, check his stats over the last few seasons. He’s maintained a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.3 or higher in each of the last three years, and has only recorded a below average P.E.R. three times in his 16-year career.
But he’s old, he’s got a bad back and he’s got to be brittle, you say? Again, check the numbers, where you’ll see that Nash hasn’t missed more than eight games in one season in 11 years. While it’s safe to assume that Nash can’t play 82 games next season, recent history suggests that with his work ethic and impeccable training, he should be able to give you 70-plus games barring an unlucky injury.
And about being possibly a worse defender than Jose Calderon, let’s remember that Dwane Casey seems to have constructed a defensive scheme here (and an impressive one at that) that has already had to adapt to a defensively inept point guard.
We don’t know whether the chances of the Raptors landing Nash are virtually non-existent, slim-to-none, or if Sam Smith is right and the Raptors are the front-runners. But I do know that unless Bryan Colangelo offers Nash a ridiculously long contract (he wouldn’t) or offers Nash an insanely lucrative contract (I would hope he wouldn’t), then I’m alright with the Raps being in on the sweepstakes. In fact, I support it.
Having a guy like Steve Nash around on a reasonable, short-term deal can only help the development of the Raptors’ young building blocks, can only help the development of any young point guard that takes on the “point guard of the future” role in Toronto, and can only massively help the Raptors’ reputation, both within their own country and around the NBA.
Some may see my support of this idea as short-sighted, but unless the possibility of acquiring Steve Nash takes away from the possibility of acquiring a younger superstar like Deron Williams (and there’s no chance in hell of that happening), then I’d say you dismissing this as a bad idea is far worse than just being short-sighted, it’s simply being blind.