Steve Nash is headed to the Lakers, to compete for a final shot at an NBA Championship
Steve Nash's agent, Bill Duffy spoke to Toronto's Fan590 earlier today, attempting some damage control following Nash's decision to reject Toronto's offer, deciding to join Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum in L.A instead.
Duffy cited Nash's desire to stay close to his children who attend school in Phoenix as the determining factor in his decision to decline the Raptors and Knicks' offers, and even hinted that Nash considered retiring if he couldn't stay on the west coast.
One would wonder, if staying close to Phoenix was in fact the goal, then why Nash didn't just sign with Phoenix for the two-year offer they put on the table, or why he even hinted that Toronto, the furthest NBA city from Phoenix geographically, was even one of the places he preferred to play.
It seems that Nash indeed played the Raptors for fools. Using the Raptors' reported 36 million over three years offer as a bargaining chip, Nash was able to raise offers from New York and Los Angeles respectively, and in the end, Steve chose the best team, as most speculated he should have done all along.
Simply coming out and saying that he wanted to sign with a contender, most of whom are well over the NBA's salary cap, would have likely yielded a two or three-year offer from teams who would use the NBA's mid-level exception, roughly half the value of the Raptors' offer.
With the Raptors so readily eager to overpay the 38-year-old former MVP, the Lakers bit the bullet by paying well over what they likely would have paid. Let's hope the Raptors get a thank you card from the soon-to-be announced Laker.
The Twitter world and chat rooms exploded following the trade between Phoenix and Los Angeles calling Nash a traitor and Colangelo a fool. Some have gone as far as saying they will boo Nash on his lone visit to Toronto this coming season. Personally, I wouldn't even give him the satisfaction.
Looking at the Raptors' youthful roster, it was clear that the pitch to Nash was all about marketing. Having the best Canadian basketball player ever finish his career with the NBA's lone Canadian franchise was simply too good a headline to pass up. It would have filled up the seats and filled MSLE's pockets.
Instead, the Raptors were forced to turn to plan B; a player who makes half the money they offered Nash, is twelve years younger, and happens to be a vastly superior basketball player at this stage of his career. And yet, I heard about the Lowry trade while playing basketball yesterday, as the player I was guarding expressed that the Raptors had settled for some "random point guard from Houston" after they lost out on Nash.
The Raptors have been blasted for their drafting of Terrence Ross, and their recent offer to Knicks forward Landry Fields. There's apparently even a lingering sentiment that they settled for Kyle Lowry.
Let's examine just how good these three players are before we throw Colangelo under the bus.
For years the Raptors have simply had a random collection of prospects. The system was loosely defined as "Euro-ball" during Colangelo's first three seasons, eluding to a free flow offense, and perhaps "athletic run-and-gun" during the next two years under former head coach, Jay Triano. When they hired Dwayne Casey, a true system was finally in place. When they drafted Jonas Valanciunas, and decided to keep Andrea Bargnani, this system was all but set in stone.
To keep Bargnani, they absolutely needed to compensate for his lack of rebounding and help defense by surrounding him with above-average rebounders and on-the-ball defenders at the three perimeter positions, and an above-average help-defender playing next to him in the post.
To fully utilize Valanciunas' offensive abilities, the Raptors needed to have perimeter players who could penetrate, shoot and run the pick-and-roll offense.
Furthermore, if DeRozan's ability to finish was going to be fully maximized, the Raptors needed a point guard who was willing to penetrate, and was capable of running an up-tempo offense.
In Landry Fields, the Raptors got an above-average rebounding perimeter player who is arguably an above-average passer, defender and shooter as well. In Lowry, the Raptors get an elite on-the-ball defender who will limit penetration into the paint, thus shedding some attention from Bargnani's inability to help defensively.
In Ross, the Raptors potentially drafted an elite perimeter shooter who can play both wing positions while being a passable defender and an active rebounder. Every move, from Lowry to second round draft pick Quincy Acy, has Casey's stamp of approval. The only move, which would have contradicted the team's defense-first philosophy was the defensively challenged Nash.
Perhaps, when projecting a lineup with Nash and Bargnani, the Raptors overemphasized rebounding and defense. By substituting Lowry, arguably one of the best rebounding and defensive point guards in for Nash, the Raptors might actually be challenging for more than just the eighth seed next year.
Perhaps its the Raptors who should be sending a thank you letter to Steve Nash. Lowry is likely to blossom with the young Raptors, and while he may not come with the marketing appeal of Nash, Toronto fans have always supported a winner. With Lowry in the fold, it seems the Raptors will become just that.