Now an unrestricted free agent, Nash will more than likely sign his final contract and play for his final team. Whilst it is still early in the piece, the Toronto Raptors have emerged as somewhat of a favourite to land the point guard with their ability to potentially offer Nash close to $12 million per season. Whilst the Raptors are certainly in no position to challenge for a championship, Nash has shown an ability to make his teammates better.
The Raptors have a rare opportunity to sign a star player with Nash’s Canadian connection, and with a decent young core, Toronto could become a League Pass must watch team. With some cap flexibility, the option of amnestying a player, and the arrival of top draft picks Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, the Raptors could become relevant again. Put these young picks with the young core of Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis and DeMar Derozan and you start to see what Toronto have been trying to do.
The signing of Nash itself could see a playoff push but realistically, they would have to add another piece to guarantee their a position in the top 8 of the East. They could go out and try to sign one of the likes of Jason Terry or Andrei Kirilenko to add some veteran presence to a team that would welcome their contribution. The other route the Raptors could take is that of trading for a guy of Pau Gasol, Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala’s ilk.
Toronto obviously has a strategic decision to make. Do they continue down the long term path they are taking and back their young group in to develop into the high draft picks they were chosen as, or do they throw everything at Nash and go for that short term on and off court gain. Can they do both?
One thing that can’t be ignored is the effect that Nash could have on the development of Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani was playing borderline All Star level basketball in the early stages of last season before injury ruined his year. The Italian’s versatile play would work well with Nash, and providing a player such as Valanciunus could fit in well as a pick and roll guy, the Raptors would have an exciting trio without even mentioning DeMar Derozan.
The signing of Nash would breathe life into a franchise that desperately needs it. The reported $12 million that they are, or can, offer him may sound too much for a 38 year old but Nash is that rare star player that Toronto is actually capable of obtaining. An aging Steve Nash ending his career in Canada assisting the development of a future star in Jonas Valanciunas sounds like a best case scenario to me.