NBA Free Agency 2012: Steve Nash's Top 10 Destinations

Chris O'Brien@@Chris0BrienCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Steve Nash's Top 10 Destinations

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    Steve Nash becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

    On the positive side, Nash is 0.1 assists per game behind Rajon Rondo for the league's lead. He's a great leader, an awesome personality to have—both in the locker room and in the community—and he's still playing 32 minutes a night.

    On the negative, he's 38 years old.

    With two, maybe three years left in his career, Steve Nash is open to exploring his options this summer. I, however, am open to exploring those options right now.

    Here are the top 10 landing spots for Steve Nash next season. These are decided on two criteria: how it fits for Nash and how it fits for the potential team.

10. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Let this idea soak in for a second.

    Imagine the explosiveness, the entertainment and the speed of starting Brandon Jennings, Steve Nash AND Monta Ellis.

    Crazy? Absolutely. But could it work?

    It depends on your definition of "work." If I am the GM of Milwaukee, I see an Eastern Conference with the immovable Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls at the top; the Boston Celtics still with a year or two left; Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks all rising; and the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks both having better pieces than my squad.

    Why not create some entertaining, arena-packing basketball instead of staying put at the ninth spot with a normal roster? Yes, Ellis on LeBron or Nash on Carmelo is comical, but the matchup nightmares work both ways. Imagine playing this Milwaukee team after a back-to-back.

    Hire Mike D'Antoni as an assistant coach/offensive guru and just run, run, run. This Bucks team would dare opponents to score in the 120s and fans would love it.

    However, if I'm Steve Nash, I would not go over to the Eastern Conference unless it's Miami, New York or Orlando calling my phone.

9. Toronto Raptors

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    Steve Nash back to his native Canada?

    The Toronto Raptors have a Steve Nash-styled roster, with a bunch of athletes who can score 10 to 12 PPG. Nash can spread the ball out to Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza and even try sliding Jose Calderon over to shooting guard.

    The Raptors have essentially two high draft picks this year since last year's pick, Jonas Valanciunas, will be coming over for next season. The Raptors could wind up with Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb or Bradley Beal in the 2012 NBA Draft.

    Put all this around Steve Nash and you have a low-ego, high-scoring, fun team to watch in Toronto.

    Problem: Same thing as before; if Nash wants to compete for a championship, this is not the best possible lineup.

8. Portland Trail Blazers

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    This has been a disappointing year for the Portland Trailblazers.

    Raymond Felton has been a surprising step back from Andre Miller, franchise piece Brandon Roy had the heartbreaking early retirement, Greg Oden seems to be in an eternal surgery and big man Kurt Thomas is really, really old.

    Plus, Jamal Crawford will more than likely not take his player option for next season.

    The good news is, they have one of the best power forwards in the game with LaMarcus Aldridge. Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Hickson are all quality players for low cost. Best of all, in what was kind of a bizarre trade with the New Jersey Nets, the Trail Blazers will have another lottery pick (the Nets pick as long as it's not in the top three) in the 2012 NBA Draft.

    This could mean the No. 4 and No. 11 pick. In a best-case scenario, this could be No. 4 and No. 5. The Trail Blazers could land Connecticut center, Andre Drummond. On the perimeter, they could wind up with Doron Lamb, Austin Rivers or Bradley Beal.

    No matter what, the Blazers will have two more solid players after draft night.

    The missing piece? You guessed it. Put Steve Nash with all this young talent and you have one exciting, playoff-bound team.

7. Utah Jazz

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    Remember, with Deron Williams, the Utah Jazz were a Western Conference Finals-caliber team.

    The Jazz quietly have established one of the deepest batches of big men in the league with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Add in the Steve Nash boost (think the difference between Amar'e Stoudemire with Nash vs. without) and the Jazz would be a top-five team in the west.

    Sound crazy? Not really. As I write this sentence, the Jazz are only 4.5 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place. Nash, even at age 38 to 41, is worth 4.5 games.

    The Jazz could also consider trading Jefferson for a quality piece or two on the perimeter and maybe another draft pick.

6. Orlando Magic

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    A year ago, the idea of going to Orlando to throw lobs to Dwight Howard would have appealed to any point guard on the planet.

    A year later, not as appetizing.

    If you look past all the drama, it would be a good situation for Steve Nash. He would be an upgrade from Jameer Nelson and not only would he help Dwight Howard, he and Ryan Anderson would develop a strong pick-and-pop game at the top of the key.

    Throw in all of the Magic's three-point shooters with Nash's assists and you have a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.

    However, you can't really just "look past" all of the drama. This season in Orlando has been a nightmare, which is bizarre considering they are not yet out of the race for a No. 3 or 4 seed. Dwight Howard seems to be having an identity crisis and has shown more sensitivity to wanting to be liked than LeBron James ever did. We still don't know if Dwight even really wants to stay in Orlando long-term.

    The upside of this is appealing for Steve Nash, but the downside should keep him far away.

5. Phoenix Suns

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    There is something to be said for familiarity, loyalty and probably the largest amount of money.

    In the Western Conference, if a team falls out of the playoff picture, it's easy to undervalue their ability, lump them in with the rest of the lottery teams and move on.

    But let's not forget that the Suns (as I write this) are 30-27, just one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the No. 8 seed and four games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for second place in their division.

    This offseason, the Phoenix Suns will be well under the salary cap. The Suns will be able to offer Nash much more than cap-heavy teams like the Knicks, Lakers and Heat.

    This is where Steve Nash has called home for 10 of his 16 NBA seasons. Why change something you love?

4. New York Knicks

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    Steve Nash. Baron Davis. Landry Fields. J.R. Smith. Carmelo Anthony. Amar'e Stoudemire. Tyson Chandler. Iman Shumpert. Steve Novak.

    On paper, that is a NBA Championship roster. It has all the right pieces. The superstar (Carmelo), the defensive stopper (Chandler), quality backups (Davis, Smith, Shumpert), the three-point shooter (Novak) and the All-Star point guard that ties it all together (Nash).

    The Knicks have over $60 million invested (no amnesty option because of Chauncey Billups) in Amar'e Stoudemire over the next three seasons. It'd be smart to bring in the point guard that had him playing like a top-10 player in the league.

    The problem? Jeremy Lin plays a whole lot like Steve Nash. Nash is better, yes, but the styles are similar and we saw how that meshed with Carmelo Anthony.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Kobe has about as much time left in his career as Steve Nash. The pairing would be all about winning right now.

    What Mike Brown could do is put Kobe Bryant's minutes at a hard line of 38. Steve Nash he could set at 30.

    That leaves 28 minutes for Ramon Sessions to fill in as shooting guard for Kobe and point guard for Steve Nash. Keep Steve Blake around as a security measure.

    Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would benefit with Steve Nash running the point. Nash would cure those periods of time when Kobe is not shooting well and the offense becomes stagnant.

    The problem? Kobe needs the ball in his hands; Nash likes to spread it around. Would they gel together?

2. Miami Heat

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    There would be so many fights over who gets to play as the Miami Heat in NBA 2K13.

    Steve Nash. Dwyane Wade. LeBron James. Chris Bosh.

    On paper: Awesome. In a video game: Unstoppable. In real life: Definitely championship level.

    Can you imagine being Steve Nash, someone who always averages above 10 APG regardless of who is on his team, dribbling the ball up the court and having the options of Wade, LeBron and Bosh? The Heat offense would be even more unstoppable.

    Chris Bosh would see the biggest boost of anyone on the team from Nash's presence.

    The problem? The Heat already have a distributor in the form of LeBron James. LeBron averages around seven assists per game and, like Carmelo in New York, needs to have the ball in his hands to make something happen. Playing as a catch-and-shoot guy with Steve Nash would not be LeBron's best option.

    Offensively, I think Nash would make the Heat better, but it would take a little while to get the system working effectively.

    Defensively, the Heat have to go against Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and possibly Russell Westbrook or Tony Parker in the NBA Finals. Do you really want a 38- to 41-year-old Nash, someone who has never been a defensive stopper (even in his younger days), guarding these stars?

    The Heat may be better off sticking with LeBron as the key distributor, utilizing Mario Chalmers' defense and inserting Norris Cole as a spark off the bench.

1. Dallas Mavericks

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    Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are best friends. They were fun to watch before and they will be fun to watch again. Most importantly, they won a ton of games together.

    The Dallas Mavericks have been clearing up cap room to (seemingly) try and land Deron Williams. If Williams stays with the Nets, Nash will be able to land more money in Dallas than he would in Los Angeles or Miami.

    Like the Lakers, this is a "go for it right now" situation—no building up for the future. Unlike the Lakers, or the Heat or Knicks for that matter, the Mavericks have a superstar who has proven to work well with a point guard like Nash.

    And it's not just Nowitzki. Remember how solid Nash made Shawn Marion look in their years together in Phoenix? I say bring in Boris Diaw, too, and give him the ol' Nash boost.

    Jason Terry, Vince Carter, Rodrigue Beaubois—these are all the right pieces to have running around Nash. High-flying Brandan Wright would see a huge boost in his game. Jason Kidd could stick around as the backup point guard giving the Mavericks the best (in terms of their whole careers, not their current 40-year-old selves) one-two punch at point guard in NBA history.

    Plus, the Mavericks will still have money left over to bring in another piece.

    The fit works perfectly for Nash and works even better for the Dallas Mavericks.