Nash enters twilight of career

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

With the sun beginning to set on Steve Nash's career, Canada's most famous and most productive hoopster is taking stock of his future.

As last spring's post-season showed, Nash relies more on guile and guts, watching as Chris Paul and Deron Williams take centre stage as the NBA's top point guards.

No one is saying that Nash is done, but even the Phoenix Suns attempted to address an obvious need by trying to give Captain Canada some help, an effort that went fruitless when a bona fide backup could not be lured to the desert.

Under new head coach Terry Porter, the Suns aren't likely to run as much and Nash isn't likely to play as many minutes.

The two-time league MVP always has privately pined to play in Canada, a thought that grows more unlikely with each passing year, but it remains an intriguing possibility.

Vancouver could have taken Nash in the 1996 draft, but decided on Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who now is an assistant coach with the Sarcramento Kings in the wake of chronic knee injuries that curtailed his career.

The Raptors took Marcus Camby with the second overall pick.

"I know I want to play four more years," Nash, who turns 35 in February, told reporters in Phoenix. "That's my goal ... After that, I'll evaluate where I am and how I feel.

"I know I feel great right now and I think I have a lot left."

As long as general manager Bryan Colangelo continues to operate the Raptors and as long as Jay Triano remains with the club, there always are those slimmest of chances that Nash could end his career in Canada.

Of course, Nash is going to say that he wants to finish his career in Phoenix and said as much when his future was broached.

"My No. 1 priority would be to stay here, but I'll think more about that when the time comes," he said.

But let's face it, Phoenix's window of winning an NBA championship is over.

The Suns had their chance, they actually had two, but the West is so good that Phoenix will be hard-pressed to even make the playoffs this season.

THE HEAT IS ON

Toronto native Jamaal Magloire is trying to revive his career in South Beach, where the Miami Heat is short on big bodies. In Miami's pre-season opener on Sunday, rookie head coach Erik Spoelstra used nine players off his bench.

The Big Cat was the last sub to emerge, seeing the floor for 7:38 in Miami's 95-91 overtime loss to Detroit.

Magloire missed both of his attempts from the charity stripe and hauled down two rebounds.

This season is shaping up as a critical one for the one-time all-star who accepted the veteran's minimum to play in Miami.

The Heat left for Europe yesterday, where they will play two pre-season games in Paris and London against New Jersey, a team that basically gave up on Magloire last season.

If Magloire doesn't step up this season, Europe may come calling down the road.

V.C. A LEADER?

Vince Carter and leadership never have gone hand in hand, but the former Raptors franchise player finds himself on a team that clearly is rebuilding.

The Nets traded Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson in an obvious attempt to get younger and clear cap space.

Carter will be a one-man show, but insists he's prepared to handle the expected losing and shoulder the burden of leadership, something he refused to embrace in Toronto.

"I'm okay with that," Vinsanity said. "I would love to win a championship.

"To take a team that is considered rebuilding and become a playoff team, there's a lot of satisfaction in that for me."

So he says.

Coming off ankle surgery, the spotlight will be on Carter in the Jersey swamps.

Whatever game Carter has left, it certainly will be put to the test, as will his patience.

"I don't care," he said in a typical Carter-esque retort. "People are going to say whatever they say.

"I worked my butt off this summer. I said I'm going to do whatever I need to do to be ready."

What he'll be getting ready for is a rather long season.


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