Steve Nash isn’t your typical NBA superstar. On the court, he uses his brains to make up for his lack of athleticism. In post game interviews he wears clothing that can be found at your local department store instead of the beloved oversized eyeglasses and expensive designer clothing that adorn so many of his peers. Oh, and at a wiry 6’3” and 178 pounds, he looks more like a kinda tall white guy from around the block than he does the franchise player of an NBA squad. Despite his low-key demeanor, every-man appearance, and laid back attitude, Nash has managed to become one of the most popular athletes in the world. Or perhaps, his popularity is because of these characteristics. His relatability makes him interesting. At 38, Nash’s story is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
In the past eight seasons, Nash has won two MVP awards as the starting point guard for the once high octane Phoenix Suns. During this most recent stint in the desert, he has electrified fans with his crafty passing ability and has helped changed the culture of the league as the orchestrator of Mike D’Antoni’s “7 Seconds or Less” offense. One could argue that he is the chief reason that NBA basketball is a beautiful game once again — as ball movement and artistry have replaced the era of clutch and grab defense. Unfortunately, a lot of critics see his career defined by aesthetics and individual greatness. His only team accomplishments are three failed trips to the Western Conference Finals. Luckily for Nash, he now has a chance to write a happy ending to his career. See, for the first time in almost a decade, Nash is an unrestricted free agent. As one of the more coveted players on the market, there’s no doubt that he will have several options. Each option listed below offers something different — cultural familiarity, nostalgia, maximum money, a chance to win a championship, or a chance to play near home. Each one offers a slightly different glimpse into Nash’s soul. It is safe to say that his decision will alter the legacy of one of the most unique superstars the NBA has ever seen. Here are the five most interesting options from which Nash can choose.
This would be the feel good story of the NBA summer. There’s no doubt that basketball fans in Canada are praying and hoping that Nash is keen on the idea of returning to his native country to help bring the Toronto Raptors to prominence once again. While this would be an amazing addition to a city that absolutely adores Nash, there are several reasons why it may not happen. Any avid basketball fan knows that the Toronto Raptors are far from being contenders. Yes, the team currently has Jose Calderon on their roster. However, the talented, fiery Spaniard plays the same position as Nash and the Raptors likely won’t be able to afford both of them anyway. After 16 years in the league, the 38-year-old Nash has championship aspirations. Yes, Toronto will be able to offer lots of money, but if “Hair Canada” goes there he WILL retire without a ring.
Now things are getting really interesting. Let’s be clear. Dallas will be going after Deron Williams, the most coveted free agent out there, to be their next starting point guard. Since Williams is younger and much more explosive than Nash is, nobody can really blame them. However, if Williams decides to resign with the New Jersey Nets (which I predict he will) then Nash is definitely not a bad consolation prize. Here’s why this situation makes perfect sense for both parties. Even though Nash left Dallas for more money in 2004, he now potentially has a chance to reunite with his best friend Dirk Nowitzki. This is also one of the few teams that can satisfy Nash in all facets of free agency. They can pay him more than the veteran mid-level exception and they can easily challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference crown with Nash as a starter. Which brings us to another option for “Nashty”.
Oklahoma City Thunder
I really don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about this as a landing spot for Nash. If he really wants to win a ring and still have a challenge, then the Thunder should be at the top of his wish list. Of course other powerhouses such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic may make a run at Nash, but none of them are as attractive as OKC. After falling short in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant and the young Thunder squad will be more driven than ever next season. Just think about it for a second. With Nash at the point guard position, it will allow Russell Westbrook to move over to shooting guard – the position that his score-first mentality is best suited for. It will also make life much easier for Durant and front court beast Serge Ibaka in pick and roll situations. If “MVSteve” somehow ends up in a Thunder uniform, I wouldn’t be surprised if they raise their first ever championship banner next season.
New York Knicks
After dishing out big bucks to Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, the New York Knicks is a team with a lot of weapons and little financial flexibility. But let me tell you why Nash may actually be considering playing for the Knicks. First off, he loves New York. Not only does he spend his summers there in his SoHo home, but he has expressed his love for the fans there on numerous occasions. Secondly, playing for the Knicks will give him a chance to reconnect with Stoudemire, the one player who he found his greatest success with as part of the Suns. If that’s not enough, throw the allure of passing the ball to the dynamic Anthony and the uber-athlethic Chandler into the mix. Even though the Knicks are not ready to contend for a title, they may just be able to convince “The Great Assistman” that they are.
Even though no true NBA fan wants to see Nash suffer another season with a sub par Suns team, this is always a possibility. If the Suns can offer Nash a ridiculous amount of cash and somehow show that the team will get better fast, he may just stay put. However, I really don’t see this happening. All signs point to “Stone Cold Steve Nash” packing his bags and leaving the Suns for one of the aforementioned teams. One thing is certain. No matter what happens, it is going to be fun watching it all unfold.