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Raptors Rumors Round-Up: Nash to Toronto Gaining Steam, Bulls a Trade Target?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 10:  Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives down court in the final seconds of the game while being pursued by Taj Gibson #22 and Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers won 79-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Brad LeClairCorrespondent IJune 25, 2012

Captain Canada, also known as Steve Nash, is one of Toronto's main free-agent targets as they attempt to spend some of the cap space GM Bryan Colangelo collected over the past couple of seasons.

In those deals, fans saw franchise leader Chris Bosh dealt for a very large trade exemption, and combo guard Leandro Barbosa shipped off to the Indiana Pacers for a trade exemption and a second-round pick.

According to Fox Sports Arizona's Randy Hill, several NBA personnel executives have confirmed that the Nash-to-Toronto rumors may have real traction.

He states:

"I've been hearing that from people that would know," said one Western Conference sharpie, sounding very much like the rest of us. "The Raptors may not be ready to win right away, but with (Andrea) Bargnani, (DeMar) DeRozan and maybe (Jonas) Valanciunas coming over next season, they could be pretty decent right away with Nash. And they could have enough cap space to get something done there."

Valanciunas, the 7-footer chosen fifth overall by the Raptors in the 2011 draft, was the dominant player in last summer's U-19 World Championships. According to reports earlier this month, there's a strong chance he could buy out the last year of his European contract — the Raps are able to pony up roughly a quarter of that price — and play in the NBA next season.

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
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Nash in Toronto obviously makes sense for both sides. Jose Calderon has done an admirable job guiding the Raptors with his steady play, but it's obvious the Raptors need that extra bit of veteran leadership at the point guard position.

 

Nash, when teamed up with high flyers DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson along with big men Ed Davis, Jonas Valanciunas and potential All-Star Andrea Bargnani, gives the Raptors a powerful arsenal.

Toronto would obviously need to make a deal in order to open up space for Nash as a starter.

Mitch Lawrence of The New York Daily News says the Bulls may be looking to unload either small forward Luol Deng or Joakim Noah for a trade exemption and a first-round pick.

This is where I believe the Raptors may get involved.

With Derrick Rose possibly out at least until December of next year, the Bulls could be in line for a replacement point guard.

That's where the expiring Jose Calderon fits in perfectly. Calderon's large expiring contract, coupled with either the Raptors' eighth overall pick or Ed Davis, could net the club either Joakim Noah or Luol Deng.

A deal that was possibly discussed was Deng and the 29th pick for Calderon and the eighth pick. This could be expanded to include Noah and Ed Davis, with the Raptors also giving Chicago the Barbosa Trade Exemption, but I think that would be asking for too much. It's not unrealistic, but I doubt the Bulls would give up that much to get an expiring contract, a young big man and a first-round pick.

The Raptors' roster would look like this...

Steve Nash/Jerryd Bayless

 

DeMar DeRozan/Linas Kleiza

Luol Deng/James Johnson

Andrea Bargnani/Amir Johnson

Joakim Noah/Jonas Valanciunas

Looking at the roster, I think Toronto could easily contend for home-court advantage in the first round. A nice blend of passing, athleticism, rebounding and defense would give the Raptors quite the attack.

The NBA Draft is set to begin Thursday night, so this is just the start of what is expected to be a busy  week in the rumors department.

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