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.

Comments (16)

  1. Unless you are in the camp that says the Raps should be playing for a high lottery pick next year, this is a no-brainer (provided, obviously, the deal is reasonable).

  2. Steve to the Raps, Rick to the Leafs. Let’s go Nash-ville.

  3. No discussion about how Nash would fit with Casey? Slow-it-down, defensive minded coach with a run-and-gun point guard? Sounds like they’d be tempering their strengths to make it work.

    Nash is a great guy and everybody loves him, but I’d rather have Gary Payton 2.0 here. Is there a Gary Payton 2.0?

  4. Give me a break. I love Nash but there are all kinds of legitimate arguments against signing him here.

    1) He is old for an NBA player. The fact that he has played really well the last few seasons doesn’t negate that fact, nor does it negate his back issues. He played in Phoenix, and with a legendary medical staff, 2 factors which very well could have helped lengthen his career, just as it arguably helped Grant Hill. Signing a 39-year old to a lucrative contract is risky. Funny how I don’t see a lot of people saying what they think a reasonable contract offer would be.

    2) The most important argument is that resources are finite. Money spent on Nash means potential lost opportunities spending that money on other players, whether it be through free agency or trades, who might be able to help just as much if not more, and who are younger and could have longer futures with the team.

    3) What rebuilding team goes out and signs a 39 year old as a starter? The only young piece that everyone seems to feel pretty positive about is a guy who hasn’t played a minute in the NBA yet. We’re going to sign Nash before we even feel reasonably good about your young talent?

    It’s not like I’d be upset if Nash does sign here. He’s a personal fave, but if he weren’t Canadian I doubt half as many people would be supportive of the idea. Then you’re left with sentimental and “image” reasons. I can’t fault a sports fan for rooting for something like this, but let’s not jump into some jingoistic frenzy that says you’re blind or rooting for the tank otherwise.

    • “there are all kinds of legitimate arguments against signing him here”

      The negatives are all you’re addressing.

      “Signing a 39-year old to a lucrative contract is risky.”

      He’s 38, takes exceptional care of his body, and thinks he can play at a high level for another 3 years. Signing anyone to a lucrative contract is risky.

      “if he weren’t Canadian I doubt half as many people would be supportive of the idea.”

      He IS Canadian, which is why signing him makes so much business sense. His talent, basketball IQ, focus and drive are why it also makes basketball sense.

  5. Depends on what you thing you might get for Calderon in a trade. If you can sign Nash and then trade Calderon for a significant piece, then it’s a win-win.

    • If we can somehow swap Jose for Nash and have it as a wash salary wise, then you do it no questions asked. But you do have to move Jose for a similar salary, so unless there is a $10M/yr player with only $1.5M guaranteed out there that I don’t know about, on a team that needs a PG, I just don’t see this happening.

      Long shot. Jose agrees to add two years to his contract at $7M/per yr and Nash resigns with Phoenix for 3 yrs at $9M/per yr and then they are both traded for each other.

      Phoenix gets Nash lite at a Nash lite price, fitting as they will be a horrible team without Nash, while Toronto gets the better player, pays more for him, but also assumes the risk of having the oldest PG in the league.

      Then grab Bayless or Dragic, or even draft Marshall, and you are set for a few years at PG. If Bayless, Dragic or Marshall don’t pan out, just grab the next decent PG free agent in 2-3 years.

  6. Anyone who doesnt want nash on the raptors, would not like to win.
    The raptors signing prolly the one of the best pgs in the history of the game is the best thing that could happen for our team and for basketball in our country.

    if its the age thing that bothers you, youre blind to the fact that nash has been among the best pgs in the game and shows no sign of letting up. All despite the fact that hes not the fastest or strongest defensively. Its his experience and iq that your paying him for, in addition to the stellar passing and LEADERSHIP.

    Age is the exact same reason we need him. With TWO rookies being added in JV and our draft pick(MKG!!!), to an already very young roster, this team needs a steady hand running the ship. a pg duo of nash/calderon makes me drool and would be the best in the league. If casey can create another defensive scheme to make it work as the writer says.

    On offense, think about how pick n roll oriented our team is. Amir is already above average in that sense and weve all seen an heard how JV flourishes in the set play. Imagine bargnai picking n popping and demar getting spoonfed open looks and the arguement gets even more validated.

    Money-wise 10-11 mil per year is fair for 3 years max. Jose’s deal is over next year anyways (who id try n resign to a team friendsly extension) but will buy us time to draft a pg of the future. which brings me to myck kybongo. another rising canadian star who currently is already being groomed and advised by nash. In my opinon keep uzoh short term, and aim for a pg like kybongo next year. Two years behind nash will do wonders and we’ll have a pg ready to take the reigns on a team hopefully by that time will be cohesive 2-5 (dd, mkg, bargs,jv)

    Colangelo really screwed the pooch in the past but signing nash would set us up nice. Without really sacrificing cap space or asset flexibility Colangelo actually might have done the imposinle n set us up for long term success. I hate to drink the kool aid but its tasting great…ohhhhh yeaaaaaaa!!!

    • Nash would be great the next two or three years, if they’d like to just be a playoff team and nothing more. But think about after that. The Raptors would be in the same, if not worse situation than right now.

      10-11 Mil per year? Why would anyone pay Nash that much? I don’t even think Phoenix would offer him that much to stay.

      You say Nash would get the team to a winning level, and then you expect them to take Myck Kabongo in next years draft? Kabongo is almost gauranteed lottery next year, maybe even a top-10 pick. How exactly do the Raptors draft him?

      • i don’t see how they would be in a worse situation if they make the playoffs for three years?

        a player of steve nash’s calibre would command that type of contract, and it would be more than fair. consider how much phoenix can actually offer him.

        trade up if we happen to find ourselves out of lottery contention. we’re full of young assets.

        realistically it’s a stretch we’ll get nash but im hoping for it. point guard play is vital in the nba. look at the playoffs. no d rose and the bulls flop. oppositely. look at what george hill and nick collison are doing in indiana.

        nash/calderon, even for one year, would make an serious impact.

      • Kabongo had a pretty lacklustre year. I know Texas didn’t have a great team, but Kabongo didn’t excel. He’s still a project in many ways and if he decides to go next year, he’ll be a late lotto – more likely 15+. If he was the player we had to get next year we’ll still have assets to position ourselves accordingly.

  7. Nash to Raptors is an instant playoff payoff. Take a look at the season he put together with the Suns in the West. He’s still an All-Star. And not just a sentimental tack-on pick. He’s still legit. I don’t think its crazy to say the Raptors have better talent to surround Nash than the suns did. Gortat was a borderline all-star, lets see what Nash can do with Jonas and Andrea. Give him the 2yr/3rd year player option. Give him 8-10 million per if you have to. 3 years buys a lot of time to find a “PG of the future”

    If you say he needs to play limited minutes. Well so does Jose. Nash to Raptors. Keep Jose. Best PG Tandem in the league. Total cap hit for 1 year 18-20 mil for the PG spot. Then Jose is off the books, he might even come back on a hometown discount. Whats the difference between that and signing Deron Williams for a max deal?

    • We may already have the “PG of the future” in Bayless. Once you bring in a guy like Steve Nash in, Bayless goes down to the 3rd string point guard (unless you trade Calderon).

  8. 5 mil. no more.

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