To say that Raptor fans have felt agony amidst disappointment after disappointment is surely an understatement.
From Damon Stoudemire to Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh, there have been many former Raptor stars who all went on to (or what they thought were) greener pastures. In recent years, the annual question here in Toronto has been why can’t we keep or sign elite, star level athletes? Now that Steve Nash has signed with the Lakers, what does the rejection of Canada’s own say to other prominent future free agents?
If you sit down and think about it, maybe another question should be asked too: Did the Raptors dodge a bullet by Nash deciding on the Los Angeles Lakers?
There’s no doubting the impact Kid Canada would have had on and off the court. There’s no other NBA player who receives a louder ovation when they play here. He is the only Canadian MVP and by far the best Canadian ever to play in the NBA. He’s also a future Hall of Famer.
Nash is revered amongst his teammates and peers. He’s the consummate professional. He is also 38 years old, has known back issues and has never been known for his defensive abilities. Not an ideal fit in coach Dwane Casey’s system.
Much has been made about Toronto’s team not having an identity. When you think of Raptor playoff teams, the version that won the Atlantic Division doesn’t come to mind. The team that had tough grinders such as Alvin Williams, Charles Oakley and Antonio Davis; those past Raptor teams come to mind. They were driven and motivating task masters to their younger stars, like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.
Less than 24 hours after the embarrassing Steve Nash debacle, Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo swung a deal with the Houston Rockets for point guard Kyle Lowry. Instead of selling the farm for a player who does not make you better long term, they managed to pry Lowry from the Rockets for a lightly protected first round pick along with the seldom used Gary Forbes.
Lowry is known as a scrappy, defensive point guard with great all around game. Before his illness last season, he was on a borderline all star pace. Throughout the month of January, Lowry averaged 20 points and 10 assists and finished the season at 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. Throw in the 1.6 steals per game and you can see the intangibles here.
Heck, at 12 million owed over the next 2 seasons, ($5.75M this year, $6.2M next year) his contract is manageable too. Lowry is the epitome of a tough, defensive minded point guard who gets to the rim at will. All qualities that will ultimately assist Dwane Casey in changing the culture and bringing an identity to a team that has lacked one since Vince Carter missed that last second shot in Game 7 in Philadelphia.
Perhaps the faceless team is starting to create an image.
Steve Nash didn’t choose the Raptors, they weren’t the best fit for him. That much we know. But I believe that the Raptors dodged a bullet that day – Nash wasn’t the best fit for them either.