The words “Steve” and “Nash” and “Toronto” sound right together, but a report suggesting that the struggling Los Angeles Lakers star could find his way to Canada’s lone NBA franchise has little in the way of substance, according to a pair of league sources.
“There is no meat on that bone,” said one source.
The Raptors pursued Nash fiercely in free agency in the summer of 2012 but lost out despite making a richer offer when the Canadian basketball icon opted to play for the Lakers, accepting a three-year deal worth $27 million.
It made sense at the time given the Lakers were loading up for a title run, eventually adding Dwight Howard to a returning core that already included Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. Playing in Los Angeles also meant Nash was a 45-minute flight from his three young children in Phoenix.
But after a disappointing season in 2012–13 the Lakers are in transition. Howard signed with Houston as a free agent while World Peace signed with the New York Knicks after L.A. used the amnesty provision to get out from under his contract. Bryant’s return date from surgery for a torn Achilles tendon remains uncertain.
The Lakers’ interest in trading Nash is obvious. They will owe him $9 million next season when he’ll be turning 41 years old—a hefty bill as they try to get as far as possible under the salary cap in order to be players in next summer’s free-agent market, which could boast the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who all have early-termination options in their contracts. Meanwhile incumbent Lakers Bryant and Gasol will need new deals.
But just as obvious is that the Raptors would have little practical need for an expensive, veteran point guard—his passport aside. While it’s believed the Raptors would be open to moves that would land them picks in the 2014 draft, the Lakers can’t even offer that as they traded their 2015 first-round pick to the Suns to acquire Nash from the Suns and NBA rules prevent teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years.
In his 18th season, Nash is averaging 7.0 points and 5.3 assists in 24.3 minutes per game. Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry—earning $6 million in the final year of his deal—is currently averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 assists in 34.3 minutes.