Sign Nash ASAP!
Steve Nash gets a standing ovation during a Phoenix Suns game against the San Antonio Spurs in Phoenix, Arizona, April 25, 2012. (REUTERS/Darryl Webb)
Make no mistake, going hard after Steve Nash is a gamble, but it is one the Raptors must take.
Pursuing a 38-year-old with back issues might seem like folly on paper, but, for a franchise that has been relevant for only three or four of its 17 NBA seasons, it is the only play to make at this point.
Yes, it could backfire like the Hakeem Olajuwon disaster, but Olajuwon was acquired to put that team over the top despite being a shadow of his former self, Nash would be inked to put the Raptors back on the map and is still a premier player.
Even if it didn’t work out, it would do wonders to erase the stigma that the franchise can’t land and/or keep big-name players and it would only hasten the already incredibly fast-moving growth of basketball in this country.
And take a second to ponder what would happen if the two-time NBA MVP’s body did manage to hold up should he accept a contract from Toronto similar to the three-year, $34 million U.S. one 36-year-old star forward Kevin Garnett (a guy who has had major knee surgery and looked finished as recently as two seasons ago) just inked.
Consider Nash running the pick-and-pop with Andrea Bargnani or making an art of running the pick and roll with talented rookie Jonas Valanciunas, the way he once did with Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix.
No, it likely wouldn’t be enough to get the Raptors deep into the playoffs (unless Bryan Colangelo can find a way to sign or trade for a second significant talent), but it sure would beat what the city has had to put up with over the years and what would probably be coming down the pike without him (a middling team with decent, but nowhere close to star talent, with apologies to Bargnani and Valanciunas).
Nash told the Toronto Sun last week in Manhattan that he is excited to go through the free agency process for the first time since 2004 and is eager to listen to pitches from interested teams.
On Saturday morning, he told good friend Marc Stein of ESPN that he would like to get something done quickly after hearing what they have to say and for the first time elaborated on the record about a Toronto fit.
“There’s positives to every situation,” Nash told Stein.
“The Raptors would be one of those teams where you’re probably not going there to win a championship in the next three years. For me it’d be going home to Canada, to a great city, and trying to help an organization move forward.”
Nash made it clear that if legit contenders could offer him what Toronto likely will he’d be quite happy, but knows that’s unlikely: “So I’m going to look at every opportunity and Toronto will be one that I’ll study as well and look at the opportunity for them to grow in the next three years and what kind of impact I can have on that team. And obviously from a community standpoint, it’s a special place for me.”
When a player of the magnitude of Steve Nash will consider playing for your franchise, you try to make it happen. You don’t hem and haw, you don’t consider alternatives.
You try your best to turn it into a reality.
Worst case scenarios be damned.