Not all that long ago, Steve Nash was a hot commodity on the trade market. Now, though, those days are all but over.
Nash has looked like a fraction of himself to start the season, and that's probably being kind. Health concerns have already arisen just three games in, which isn't all that surprising when you remember that Nash will turn 40 later this season.
While he's still capable of brilliant moments, sustainability is a real issue. When considering his trade value, Nash's $9.3 million dollar salary that runs through the 2014-15 season has to be a major deterrent. What's he going to look like after another season of wear and tear?
Is Nash's hero status and legacy as one of the game's greatest point guards enough for a team to look past all the warning signs?
Steve Nash is another vet who may be traded this year. I've heard Toronto as a possible landing spot for Nash from multiple league sources.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 4, 2013
Maybe sentimental reasons and the need to put fannies in seats would be enough to make Toronto consider a trade for Nash, but this rumor feels outdated, as too much has changed with both teams to believe that interest still lingers.
A New Direction
Maybe a trade for Nash would have made sense last season, at least from the perspective of former Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo.
The trade for Rudy Gay felt like a desperation move to save his job, and bringing in Canada's most revered star to play out the end of his career would have likely served the same purpose.
That's all moot, of course, because Colangelo is no longer calling the shots in Toronto. Masai Ujiri is in charge now, and there's nothing in his background to suggest that Nash would be a desired trade target. Ujiri prefers to move declining assets on long-term contracts, not acquire them. This would be completely out of character.
Took about four minutes of work to debunk Nash to Raptors myth; gonna be a loooooooooong season of misguided connect-the-dots crap— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) November 4, 2013
What would the primary objective of a trade for Nash be at this point? It's hard to find any real incentive for Toronto, and that's before factoring in any motivations from the Lakers' side.
No Better Home
A return to Canada may be alluring, but there's no better place for Nash to be than Los Angeles right now. One of the primary reasons the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni in the first place was Nash's presence, and it's hard to imagine either coach or player finding a better systemic pairing. This is a comfortable fit.
More importantly, the Lakers will always be in "win-now" mode so long as Kobe Bryant is around. Even if Toronto really was interested in Nash, the Raptors don't have any pieces to give up that would keep the Lakers in that mode and still be a fair trade for both sides.
While Nash is the only significant player on contract next year for the Lakers, it's hard to envision a scenario where the Lakers could get an expiring contract back in return to create more cap space for this offseason, which would almost certainly be a priority in any deal for Nash.
The only viable expiring contract would be Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, but Lowry is younger, better and cheaper. With no exciting young players to attach to Nash, the Lakers would have to sweeten the deal with a future draft pick, which seems unlikely given the draft picks the Lakers forfeited to the Phoenix Suns to acquire Nash.
Truth be told, Nash would be more of a salary dump candidate than an actual asset who could bring back a valuable piece in return. His age, health and declining production make his contract extremely dangerous for any team to acquire without being compensated in some other way to take the risk.
Toronto may have seriously coveted Nash in the past, but the days of Nash being a highly-sought after point guard are coming to a close. So long as D'Antoni and Bryant are with the Lakers, you can safely expect Nash to be as well.
Getting real value back for Nash while maintaining cap space and not upsetting D'Antoni or Bryant is going to be almost impossible to do. With so few teams needing point guards, let alone expensive ones on the tail-end of their careers, Nash is a safe bet to stay in Los Angeles this season.