Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan - teammates soon?

With Steve Kerr’s departure and Amare Stoudemire sure to leave Phoenix, the Suns are looking to rebuild. They’re looking to shed salary, retool, and do it as soon as possible. With his age being the main factor, Nash doesn’t factor into Phoenix’s long-term plans, especially with the emergence of Goran Dragic. The price to get Nash is not high, Phoenix is looking to get a first round pick, and if possible, decent young talent.

In order to start the retooling process quickly, Phoenix will not be uncompromising at the bargaining table as shedding Nash’s $22M over two years is good enough return. The two-time MVP has spent the last six seasons in Phoenix and guided the Suns to three Western Conference finals, winning none. The window on Nash’s career has often been closed, but the feisty guard continues to silence his critics through stellar play, much of it in the clutch.

Now at 36, and with the grind of 13 NBA seasons under his belt, can Nash still perform at the highest of levels? This is a gamble Bryan Colangelo is more than willing to take, and could be one of the reasons why Jay Triano was retained as head coach. Nash is an admirer of Triano because of his relationship with the Raptors head coach when he served as the coach of the Canadian national team. When Triano was dismissed, Nash had a falling out of sorts with Basketball Canada, and hasn’t played for the country since.

Acquiring Nash could be Bryan Colangelo’s last-ditch effort to convince Chris Bosh to re-sign with the Raptors. Colangelo has remained silent since giving his end-of-season press conference where he reiterated his desire to keep Bosh. “I would still embrace the notion and fully intend to talk about him staying a Raptor and talk about the things that might happen with this thing should he stay. And talk about the possible success we can have here and why Toronto’s the right place for Chris Bosh”, said Colangelo.

Whether playing the pick ‘n roll with Steve Nash will be enough incentive for Bosh to stay remains to be seen, but given Nash’s age, it is no doubt a short-term fix than a long-term plan. Whatever the trade may be, it would have to come before the draft, since the Raptors intend to use the 13th pick to draft a player they can use right away. Depending on whether the point guard position is shored up with Nash, the Raptors could opt to draft a defensive minded big to play alongside Bosh. Colangelo and Triano’s affection for Nash is such that they would be willing to trade Andrea Bargnani if that is what it takes.

The Raptors wouldn’t be alone in trying to secure the services of Nash. The veteran playmaker’s pass-first philosophy, toughness, leadership and clutch play has made him a favorite of many GMs, who would bring him in to strengthen a title bid. From the Raptors perspective, the question remains whether this move comes two years too late. Those who had doubted Nash’s so-called declining ability two years ago were made to eat their words, but can history repeat itself or is Nash finally done?

Importing Nash could arguably leave the league-worst Raptors defense in an even more vulnerable state, but there is something to be said for trading away a perennially weak help defender such as Andrea Bargnani and drafting a center who can deter would-be penetrators from driving to the rim and carving open the defense.

Trading for Nash is no doubt currently being discussed amongst the Raptors brass. As he has shown over the last two summers, Bryan Colangelo is not gun-shy about acquiring players and installing them as key pieces on the team, despite their best days being behind them. The failures that were the O’Neal trade and the Turkoglu signing have not deterred Colangelo from giving it a third try. It is tempting for Colangelo to give himself a chance at seeing a Nash/Bosh combination have the same success as the Nash/Stoudemire combo, but Phoenix’s style is more than just a two-man game. Last year’s edition of the Suns flaunted Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Channing Frye, players with excellent athleticism and either great mid-range games, or three-point shooting ability. The Raptors feel that they can match Phoenix’s talent level in role players, and believe that Marco Belinelli can provide the sniping ability, and DeRozan and Weems can bring the athleticism to complement Nash on the break.

As for the draft, Raptors Republic is sticking with its early prediction of Avery Bradley, if the Texas guard is on the board at #13, he will be a Raptor.