The time is now for general manager Bryan Colangelo to prop up the roster and have them compete for a playoff spot, and at the same time, secure himself a contract extension.
The Raptors are $11 million under the salary cap and can spend up to $23 million this offseason before reaching the luxury tax threshold.
The deal will leave Toronto with up to $8 million on a secondary free-agent target. That number could grow to $18 million if they decide to dump Jose Calderon's contract, but Toronto will likely leave some flexibility for next year when DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson's contracts are due for re-signing.
The addition of Nash will be huge for Toronto. Many fans fail to realize Toronto's goal of making it back to the playoffs and being competitive. The team is not guaranteeing anyone a championship, but is hoping to have a "50-win team" that could raise a few eyebrows come playoff time.
Steve Nash lead the Phoenix Suns and fell short by only one game in Phoenix despite having virtually no help outside of Marcin Gortat. On the Raptors, Nash will have two very talented big men in Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas, and will also have underrated pick-and-roll players in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. Steve Nash has made big men around him play much better throughout his career, and we should not expect anything less of him in Toronto.
Toronto should be playoff bound after signing Nash, but they should also look at at least one other free agent before throwing this team out on the court. The 2012 NBA free agent class is very deep and has many underrated players looking for new deals. Here is a list of the top free agents Toronto should pursue to best complement their (likely) new addition, Steve Nash.
Micheal Beasley had a breakout year two seasons ago averaging 19.2 PPG, but injuries and having to split playing time with former No.2 draft pick Derrick Williams has kept Beasley's production down last season.
This is only good news for Toronto as Beasley will likely be a lot cheaper this offseason.
Some fans may be weary of Beasley because of his off-court antics, but coaches and teammates have always applauded his positive attitude in the locker room. Furthermore, Beasley's coach Rick Adelman applauded his effort on the defensive end last season during an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Beasley's regressed stats should not be a huge concern as the 23-year-old still averaged a healthy 17.9 PPG per 36 minutes of play. His rebounding and energy could help make up for Bargnani's shortcomings on that end of the floor, and his above-average (37%) three-point shooting will be put well to use playing alongside Steve Nash.
Overall, Michael Beasley may be the most talented player available for the price that he will go for. If Toronto could sign him to a four year $32 million deal, they'll walk out of free agency as a playoff contender for years to come.
Jason Terry has the heart, swagger and leadership that every contender wants.
Luckily for Toronto Jason Terry, 34, isn't the youngest of players and shouldn't warrant an eight-digit contract anymore.
While I personally believe that he'll find someone offering him up to $10 million a year, some of Jason Terry's biggest rumored destinations don't have as much flexibility as Toronto.
The Dallas Mavericks are looking to sign Deron Williams and won't be able to sign Terry unless they amnesty Brandon Haywood. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics should aim to re-sign Ray Allen and should opt to Terry only if Allen Walks. The Miami Heat can't pay Terry his due, and the Utah Jazz had recently added scoring guard Mo Williams to their roster.
Toronto's odds of signing Terry aren't any higher than the said teams mainly because Terry is a winner who will want to play on a contender. Still, should Toronto land Nash and offer Terry a lucrative three-year $24 million deal, it would be a great destination for him to play.
Steve Nash has always made the most of finding sharp shooters out on the perimeter, and Jason Terry is one of the league's best at making the outside shot. Terry will be coupled with rookie Terrence Ross and Linas Kleiza who can also help spread the floor for Toronto.
Jason Terry is a very underrated player and like Nash, his age hasn't stopped him from heavily contributing toward his team's success. A perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Terry will be a great fit and smart choice for Toronto.
Nick Young and O.J Mayo are both unrestricted free agents this summer, and both are underrated players who aren't expected to command very large contracts.
O.J Mayo has been an all-star level guard but was sent to the bench in Memphis where he continued to put up solid numbers. Last season Mayo averaged 12.6 points in only 26 minutes of play.
On the Raptors, Mayo will be brought in for his shooting touch, but he could prove to be much more. The No. 3 overall pick in 2008, Mayo was expected to be much more than a role player, but did not fit well in his situation in Memphis. In Toronto, Mayo will have a change of scenery and could find the motivation to step up his game. Mayo is still only 24 years old and has good potential.
Signing Mayo could also help Toronto in other ways. Demar DeRozan has been a corner stone to this franchise but his stats have been heavily inflated by his situation. By adding Mayo to the mix, DeRozan's production will likely drop, making him easier to re-sign next year. If DeRozan breaks out despite having to compete with Mayo, we will know that he's the real deal and we can avoid overpaying another average starter.
Like Mayo, Nick Young is another underrated player. Toronto signed a Nick Young clone in Terrence Ross, but signing Young himself wouldn't be a bad move depending on the cost.
Last season, Young signed with the Washington Wizards for a measly $3 million before being shipped out to Los Angeles where his stats took an ever greater hit.
Young proved last year in the playoffs that he could contribute to a winning team, and that his stats in Washington were not just a product of his situation.
Young is from the Los Angeles area and is a good friend of Demar DeRozan. At 6'7" and 210 pounds, Young could play the small forward position and his defensive tools could be put to use under Dwane Casey.
Both Mayo and Young will likely cost Toronto at least $11-14 million annually, but the signings could be a smart move toward building a contender. This scenario will require Toronto to ship away Jose Calderon to cut costs, but it will also give Toronto the green light to re-sign Jared Bayless.
Jeff Green was a part of Oklahoma's former big-three but was shipped off to Boston for big man Kendrick Perkins.
Before his season-ending injury, Green struggled to find a suitable role in Boston but still managed to provide hustle and double digit scoring.
Jeff Green is now an unrestricted free agent and is a great target for the Raptors.
While Jeff Green may be a tweener, it doesn't necessarily make him a bad fit for Toronto. This is because even though Jeff Green won't be able to knock the outside shot and score like your average small forward, Andrea Bargnani is able to do all of that and compensate for Green's offense. On the other hand, Green will be able to make defensive stops and pull down rebounds where Bargnani fails to do so.
The Boston Celtics have shown the desire to keep Jeff Green, but they've recently re-signed Kevin Garnett to a $12 million annual salary and could keep the cheaper Brandon Bass. By signing Green the Celtics will eat up a good portion of their remaining salary cap space, and will have a hard time keeping Ray Allen or adding another impact player. Is Jeff Green really worth that? It became apparent that Boston wasn't a great fit for green last year, so maybe it would be in Boston's best interest to sign a more productive big man such as Chris Kaman.
Jeff Green is still only 25 and if Toronto could sign him to a four-year $30 million deal, they'll solidify their starting lineup and could pull off a steal right before Green enters his prime.
This free-agency class is filled with savvy veterans who were paid scraps despite being solid role players. Toronto will still get great value by signing such veterans to slightly larger contracts then what other teams have to offer. This approach does not give Toronto an immediate big-name free agent after Nash, but could turn out to be better for them in the wins column.
Veterans such as Marcus Camby, Reggie Evans, Andre Miller, Carlos Delfino, Kenyon Martin, and Kirk Hinrich are all solid options that could slip to us without each individual player having significant impact on our cap situation; this will allow Toronto to sign up to three solid veterans for the price of one expensive free agent.
Toronto should make a push for Marcus Camby whose production remains solid despite being 38 years old. Camby will be a very reliable backup to Valanciunas and could be insurance for our big men in case unavoidable injuries set the team back.
Andre Miller is another seemingly-ageless veteran who hasn't missed the playoffs in years and is the leagues reigning iron man. Miller would be a great backup behind Nash and could cost half the price of Calderon.
Carlos Delfino and Reggie Evans are two guy's that have propelled Toronto in the past, and their fans will appreciate them joining the team in time for Toronto's next big playoff push. The addition of these two will be more of a PR move though, as Delfino can still knock it down from beyond the arc, and Reggie Evans can still rebound with the best of them given minutes.
Overall, signing a couple of veterans could go a long way in helping Toronto win now, and with a 10-man deep roster, Toronto might be able to surprise someone in the playoffs too.