Everyone thought the competition for Steve Nash’s services was being fought between the Raptors and Knicks. The Mavericks were seen as a formidable team in the mix once they lost out on Deron Williams.

Earlier on Wednesday, New York looked like the overwhelming favourites.

And then, just like that, news began to break Wednesday evening that the Lakers, who hadn’t even really been mentioned in the Nash sweepstakes until Tuesday, had swooped in to steal Nash.

John Gambadoro, a sports radio host in Phoenix who began breaking the news, had a couple of interesting tweets after the fact:

 

If true, then the Raptors and Knicks have been had, though Marc Stein of ESPN seems to think there were four finalists (I’m guessing Lakers, Mavs, Raptors, Knicks).

It will be fascinating to see how Nash and Kobe fit together in the L.A. back court, and also interesting to monitor if this helps the Lakers’ chances of acquiring Dwight Howard.

From the Raptors’ perspective, the news is tough to swallow, especially considering that just days ago, some believed we might get a Nash/Raptors agreement on Canada Day. Having said that, I can live with Nash in L.A. more than I would have been able to handle him wearing Knicks colours and playing against the Raps four times a season in the Atlantic Division.

So Plan A has gone down the toilet, nobody expects the Raptors to rescind the offer-sheet to Landry Fields since that sort of thing burns some bridges with agents and other players (and the Knicks likely won’t match the three-year, $19 million offer), and for now, the point guard situation in Toronto remains a combination of Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless.

If you believe the reports out there, the Raptors might still pursue Jeremy Lin, although without Nash, you would have to assume the Knicks will literally match any offer-sheet for their marketable young star. The next option appears to be Kyle Lowry, who is a rising young NBA point guard, is a great competitor, and is actually locked into a very reasonable contract for the next two years, which will see him earn about $12 million over that time.

On Goran Dragic, I’ll mention again that while I like him as a point guard in general, I think it’s insane to give him $8-10 million per season when Jerryd Bayless has proven he can put up virtually the same production when given the chance, is two years younger, and will cost the team much less.

If all else fails, starting the season with Jose Calderon would be far from the worst thing in the world. He was surprisingly good last year, and if he can manage to get off to a good start in 2012-2013 and stay relatively healthy, he should have some intriguing value on the trade market as a large expiring contract.

The Landry Fields’ contract obviously looks shoddy without Nash (I’m all good with acquiring Fields, just not on those terms without Nash) and like many of you, I’m incredibly disappointed in how this all turned out. I tried to keep myself from getting too excited and getting my hopes up, but come on, we all thought there was a pretty damn good chance Nash would be running the point come October.

Having said all of that, the notion that this is a death blow for the Raptors or for Canadian basketball is ridiculous. It’s a very disappointing and disheartening day, for sure, but any reason you may have had for being optimistic about what the Raptors were doing pre-Nash still exists.

There are still some nice young pieces in the mix, Jonas Valanciunas is still coming, Dwane Casey is still here and the team still has future financial flexibility, even with a contract like Fields’ present. Though retaining that flexibility going forward is why I wouldn’t want a large, risky contract handed out to a player like Dragic.

It’s okay to be upset right now, because believe me, I am too. But just don’t overreact as if any positive step taken over the last couple of years has suddenly been wiped out.