NBA Free Agency: The New York Knicks Should Be Cautious About Signing Steve Nash

New York is not a city where things go under the radar, and the Knicks are not a team that believe in the under-the-radar approach. The Knicks’ flare for the dramatic, desire for grandeur, most notably began when then-GM, Donnie Walsh, planned to spend big for free agency in 2010 when they came away with was Amar’e Stoudemire, they did not settle. Within months, they broke up a core of young, quiet but steady role players (with a big helping hand from owner James Dolan) and traded for Carmelo Anthony.

This previous offseason, with very little money to spend and presumably no big tricks up their sleeves, the Knicks managed to surprise everyone by using the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups and pulling off a sign-and-trade for Tyson Chandler, a well-known, respected center. The franchise reveled in causing one of the biggest free agency splashes in the league.

This summer, the Knicks once again shook up the headlines when they were awarded the Early Bird Rights for Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak. It was assumed the Knicks would re-sign both players, while bringing back fellow free agents J.R. Smith and Landry Fields. To top it all off, the Knicks would have $3 million to spend on an additional player, perhaps a veteran point guard to bring off the bench.

But once again, the Knicks have set their sights high: this time on Steve Nash.

Nash, one of the all-time great point guards the NBA has ever seen, is one of the prize free agents of this year’s class. He would do wonders helping to mentor Jeremy Lin, running the offense, finding a balance between the Knicks’ Big Three of Stoudemire, Anthony, and Chandler. Nash would bring potency from behind the arc. He would become a guiding voice in the Knicks’ locker room; a player that everyone respects. Yet signing Steve Nash outright will be nearly impossible for the Knicks.

Thus, sign-and-trade rumors between the Phoenix Suns and Knicks have emerged.

Steve Nash is being courted by a number of suitors, but it’s been suggested that the Toronto Raptors and Knicks are the two front-runners. The Raptors have reportedly offered a whopping 3-year/$36-million deal to Nash, which would make the opportunity to play in his home country difficult to turn down. However, some sources say that Nash prefers New York. The sign-and-trade with Phoenix would allow Nash to receive more money, and still land in his preferred location without sacrificing over $20 million by taking New York’s mini mid-level exception over Toronto’s gargantuan offer.

Where the problem lies, however, is what the Knicks would have to give up in order to get Nash. The Suns aren’t in a position to bargain since in almost all other scenarios, Nash would leave for nothing. However, Phoenix would likely want something in return. In the most preferable, but least likely situation, the Knicks would send Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, and the non-guaranteed contracts of Jerome Jordan and Dan Gadzuric, in which case Phoenix could waive the last two players, and retain two young, cheap players of the Knicks’.

But common sense says that Phoenix would like something a little meatier. Iman Shumpert’s name has been thrown into the mix, but Alan Hahn insists that he’s been given no indication that anyone in the Knicks’ front office would be willing to part with Shumpert. Landry Fields could be signed and then packaged with some of the players mentioned above.

Steve Nash is an all-time great, but in any of the above scenarios, the Knicks are sending away almost all of their developing youth. Though they’re all fairly modest players now, Shumpert, Fields, Harrellson, Jordan, and Toney Douglas (if he ever regains his confidence) are all nice, young players that could be stepping stools when the Big Three’s contracts expire in three years.

The Knicks’ pursuit of Nash also could be rubbing some of their current free agents the wrong way. Jeremy Lin believes he’s ready to be the floor general for a contending team now, and he’s currently waiting in limbo for the Nash issues to be sorted out. The Knicks can match any offers towards Lin, but the longer the Knicks wait, the antsier Lin could get. He could demand more money from the Knicks, or match an offer sheet to a “poison pill” contract, forcing the Knicks to match. Lin did just drop out of the U.S. Select Team yesterday due to contractual issues.

Other free agents like Fields, Novak (the Knicks can match offers on both), and J.R. Smith are waiting around too, and could be more likely to bolt, ask for more money, or sign offer sheets from other teams the longer they’re forced to wait.

Likewise, Steve Nash has a chronic spine issue that he’s dealt with over the past few years. His achy back often causes him to leave games early, or be attended to on the sidelines. Without the Phoenix training staff – a group has commendably extended the careers of Nash, Stoudemire, Grant Hill, and Michael Redd, to name a few – how well would Nash hold up? Especially considering he’d be in New York where the weather is harsher on bones and muscles than the dry heat of Phoenix.

This isn’t to say going after Nash is a bad move – if it’s a step towards a championship, and perhaps to the Knicks’ front office, the step to a championship. Yet things aren’t always as simple as they seem, and signing and trading for Steve Nash could come with some consequences.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire Dan Gadzuric J.R. Smith Jeremy Lin Jerome Jordan Josh Harrellson Landry Fields NBA Free Agency NBA Free Agency Rumors New York Knicks Phoenix Suns Steve Nash Steve Novak Toney Douglas

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