Raptors fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
On Tuesday, when Steve Nash was asked if he would consider coming home to play in Toronto, he didn’t say no.
Speaking at a press conference at the Air Canada Centre where he was introduced as the new general manager of Canada’s senior men’s national team, Nash was asked, in a roundabout way, whether his new duties with Basketball Canada would be easier to fulfill if he were working at his other job in Toronto next season?
“(Basketball Canada) has taken up all of my time recently so I haven’t had time to start thinking about free agency,” Nash responded. “But obviously, the next six to eight weeks is going to be an important time for me and I’m not going to close any options or opportunities.”
Nash said he hasn’t started looking into where he might land after his contract expires at the end of June.
“I am going to obviously have to do my research and see what opportunities fit me best,” he said. “At the same time, when the deadline comes, it could be really simple or it could be really complicated.”
Nash said he’s going to “just dig into rosters and situations and even cities and see what would fit me best and what situation I would fit best. I haven’t even started.”
Of course, Nash has been around the block a few times and is smart enough to keep his comments pretty vanilla until he figures out exactly what his future will hold. But it seems highly unlikely he wouldn’t have already pondered where his future lies.
There are a lot of factors Nash will have to consider.
Money, lifestyle, contract length and legacy are just a few of the factors that need to be considered before he signs on the dotted line
Based on current rosters, the list of teams that will be in the running for the two-time MVP can be narrowed down choices six or seven.
You can knock out every team that missed the playoffs last year except for the Suns and Raptors. That shortens the list by 12 teams.
You can eliminate any of the playoff teams that already have a top-notch point guard. That would eliminate Chicago, the Clippers and San Antonio, among others. Even at 38, Nash is not going anywhere to be an understudy — at least not yet.
I would take a guess that he is not ready to take his talents to Utah or Denver as well.
And there are a couple of teams left like Orlando that may not be able to scratch the cash together in order to make a reasonable offer.
So who does that leave?
Phoenix, New York, Toronto, Miami and possibly the Lakers.
If Nash were to leave Phoenix in search of a ring, it seems like the most obvious destination would be Miami. He might be the final piece of the puzzle for a Heat title if they fail to win it all this spring.
Mario Chalmers is the current placeholder and clearly Nash would be an upgrade. How fun would it be to toss lobs to James and Wade while living in South Beach for the winter?
Another obvious choice might be New York, Nash’s offseason home.
The Knicks have Jeremy Lin but they could always pair Nash and Lin together. That would likely hurt the Knicks’ new defensive style, but the Raptors managed to scheme around Jose Calderon’s defensive shortcomings, so anything’s possible.
Of course Nash could also move to New York’s soon-to-be crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets if Deron Williams decides to leave – although early indications suggest he is leaning towards staying — but they seem a little further away from being a contender.
Does Nash return to Phoenix where he is beloved? This has been his home for eight seasons, the place where the legendary training staff have managed to keep him healthy and on the court for so long. If he were going to leave, why didn’t he leave last season when the team could have dealt him to a contender?
There are a few good reasons why Nash could consider Toronto but it still remains a long-shot. His legacy in Canada would have to be the No. 1 factor since his addition would likely make the Raptors a playoff team, but they would still be a few pieces away from being a true contender. And if he were to leave the Suns, you have to think that a ring would be the No. 1 reason.