NBA Draft coverage has taken center stage in Rip City, and for good reason, June 28th is less than a week away. The talk of the town has been how Portland can replicate that legendary draft of 2006 which brought LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy into the fold. For now, free agency has been put on the back burner. But it's about to heat up.
Back on June 4th, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Trail Blazers were among three teams chasing Steve Nash
Sources briefed on the matter told ESPN.com that the three teams with salary-cap space best positioned to make a credible run at the 38-year-old, at this early juncture, are Portland, Toronto and Brooklyn (should the Nets lose D-Will).
New York and Miami are also frequently mentioned as potential Nash destinations, but neither the Knicks nor the Heat have the requisite cap room to make a serious bid. The Blazers, by contrast, have coveted Nash for years in trades and will finally have the financial flexibility to chase him, offering the closest proximity to Nash’s Vancouver roots than anywhere else on the NBA map. Sources say that the Raptors, meanwhile, will be determined suitors in the Nash Sweepstakes, with a serious offer forthcoming to try to bring the newly installed general manager of Canada’s national team back to home soil after 16 seasons south of the border with the Suns and Mavericks.
For fans, the thought of the two-time MVP finishing out his career in Portland would be a dream come true. However, the following evening when the Trail Blazers hired former Clippers General Manager Neil Olshey to captain the ship, Olshey appeared to make it evident in his introductory press conference
that he was all about sustainable success for the long-term; no temporary solutions in the Rose City.
I think rebuild is the wrong word. I think retool. I think that the organization is in a great position. It takes a lot of time and effort, we did it a couple of years ago to have basically all three elements converging at once. Two lottery picks, cap room and then flexibility with your own and other free agents. So I think as those things converge as long as we make the right decisions in the draft and free agency and with the guys we retain on our roster we can accelerate our curve back to where we want to go. But I want to make it clear we’re not looking for quick fixes. We’re not looking for aging veterans that can slide us into the eighth spot and then we’re right back here a year from now trying to figure out what to do.
Two phrases: quick fixes, aging veterans. All signs seemed to have pointed in another direction. But did Steve Nash get the memo? Toronto Raptors radio analyst and 590 The Fan host, Eric Smith reported the following
"I heard from national-media types from around the U.S., and at least one prominent agent as well, that believe that Steve Nash has a shortlist," Smith said.
"From what I have heard from these people, and they could be wrong, but these are coming from some pretty legitimate sources, it is a three-team race for Steve Nash in free agency: Portland, Phoenix and Toronto," Smith explained.
Swap Brooklyn for Phoenix and these declarations line up with Stein's report from 18 days ago. Maybe Olshey's remarks were a smokescreen? Maybe he doesn't classify Nash as an "aging veteran" as the 38-year-old point guard has averaged a double-double
over the past three years and shows no signs of slowing down. Or maybe we all dissected his words too much? I'm leaning towards the latter.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the team is very high on Weber State point guard Damian Lillard
. But would they be comfortable handing over the keys to the Trail Blazers' offense to a 22-year-old rookie?
Of the teams he's worked out for, it sounds like the Blazers are the highest on him. He had a very strong workout in Portland that ended with a dinner invite from Paul Allen. The question is whether the Blazers take him at No. 6 or No. 11.
Would Nash, likely seeking a three-year deal at most, be just the man for the job? Personally, this is the perfect scenario for me. Lillard, one of the most lethal scorers in all of college basketball and one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, is knocked for not being a "true" or "pure" point guard; whatever that means. There's no denying his strength lies in putting the ball in the basket, more so than making plays for others. So, what better point guard to learn under then the NBA's 5th most proficient passer
And it's not as if Lillard, or any young point guard, wouldn't get any run behind Nash, either. Nash hasn't logged more than 34 minutes per game over each of the past four years, which would allow any apprentice plenty of practice running the team before it was time for him to replace the master.
What do you think, Rip City? Is Nash/rookie point guard, the solution at point for Portland? Or would you go another route to find the answer? Tell me your ideal way to find the elusive Point Guard of the Future!