Watch: Raptors could have had Nash, Dirk

Captain Canada and Disco Dirk together, in Toronto?

Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki at the Air Canada Centre?

That’s three NBA most valuable player awards, if you’re counting.

According to former Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd. executive John Shannon, that was an offer considered by then Toronto Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald.

Shannon – now a hockey insider with Sportsnet – related the story on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown Friday.

Grunwald said he had a chance to trade Vince Carter and Antonio Davis the Dallas Mavericks for Nash and Nowitzki, but rejected the deal.

Grunwald, now the general manager of the New York Knicks, declined comment.

However, acccording to sources close to MLSE, Grunwald did investigate trading Carter for Nash, but not until late in the 2003-04 season.

At a presentation to the MLSE board, Grunwald recommended trading Carter for Nash and another player, possibly Michael Finley.

The MLSE board rejected the recommendation and Grunwald was fired soon after, paving the way for Rob Babcock who eventually did trade Carter to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round picks on Dec. 17, 2004.

While the idea of Nash and Nowitzki together in Toronto may be a heartbreaking notion now, in hindsight it would have been a very unlikely trade at the time.

Carter was coming off his second straight all-star season at age 23 and had taken the Raptors to within a missed shot of the Eastern Conference Finals. He was one of the biggest stars in basketball, while Nash had yet to make his first all-star game and neither had Nowitzki.

By 2004 Carter’s star had fallen somewhat after missing 70 games to injuries the previous seasons, but by that time Nash and Nowitzki were emerging as elite players and had led Dallas to 169 wins over three years.

Whether Nash could have been had then no one knows.

Bill Duffy, Nash’s long-time agent and also the representative for Davis, said that he wasn’t aware that the Victoria-born point guard had been offered to the Raptors, but allowed that Nash had been being shopped by the Mavericks at one point.

One possibility?

“The Vancouver Grizzlies could have had Nash for Steve Francis [the No.2 pick in the 1999 draft who refused to play in Vancouver],” Duffy said. “[Then Grizzlies general manager] Stu Jackson turned that down flat. If he makes that deal there would still be a franchise in Vancouver today.”

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