Cuban: In your dreams, T.O.
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Sorry, Canada, but Mark Cuban isn't about to roll over and let Steve Nash go. "Dream on," said Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, last night.
Nothing like letting people down easy. But there's little doubt Cuban can make it next to impossible for Nash to become a Raptor any time soon, even if Nash decides that's what he wants.
Nash, a star point guard with the Mavs and a native of Victoria, B.C., has confirmed he will opt out of his contract at the end of this season. Cuban knows full well that Canadian hoops fans naturally dream of seeing Nash, a two-time NBA all-star and the backbone of the Canadian national team, leading the Raptors to the promised land.
"Well, dreaming is good, you know," Cuban said with a laugh prior to the Mavs-Raptors game at the Air Canada Centre. "But my job is to turn those dreams into nightmares."
Nash endured a mini-nightmare of his own last night, since a slightly dislocated shoulder kept him out of the lone game his Mavs will play in his native country this season. He still was the centre of attention, however, as he was mobbed by reporters before the game. With his leather vest, fake-fur collar, long stringy hair and trendy two-day beard, you might have sworn it was 1978 and Nash was a media-stalked member of Aerosmith.
"It's weird to feel out of the loop," said Nash, who injured his shoulder on Wednesday in Washington. "I guess it's somewhat of a look into the future."
Nash, who was cheered lustily by the Toronto crowd when he was shown on the big scoreboard screen, is optimistic the injury isn't serious. But sitting out galls him. He had played in 195 consecutive games, dating back to Feb. 13, 2000.
"For it to be a shoulder on a nothing play that I can't even remember, it's really frustrating," Nash said.
Equally frustrating for Raptors supporters will be Cuban's determination to keep the 29-year-old Nash in a Dallas uniform long-term.
Nash isn't opting out of his contract to take a pay cut. He is underpaid by NBA standards (about $6 million US this season) and he wants to cash in royally with what he claims might be his final pro contract.
So, Nash wants a healthy raise and Cuban has plenty of money. It seems like a match made in heaven, notwithstanding Nash's strong Canadian roots.
"(All the speculation about the Raptors pursuing Nash) doesn't bother me," Cuban said. "If (Raptors fans) are interested and excited about it, that's a good thing. I mean, there are a lot of good reasons to be interested in Steve Nash. He's a great guy, a great player. But all I can basically say is, dream on.
"Plus, if you look at the situation, the Raptors are not going to have salary-cap room, so the most they could offer is the mid-level exception. So, it's really not even an issue."
Possibly the only way Nash could join the Raptors, while earning anything resembling his market value, would be through a sign-and-trade scenario. Even though the answer seemed obvious, Cuban was asked if he ever would consider such an accommodation.
"Like I said, dream on," Cuban said.
Sense a theme here?
WALK THE FINE LINE
All Nash can do is say the right things, walking a fine line between acknowledging his Canadian pride and not disrespecting his current employer.
"I've felt an unbelievable amount of support from Canadian kids," Nash said. "They always are so excited to see me, encouraging me, telling me they're going to be with me one day. And I believe them."
It just isn't likely to be in a Raptors uniform, if Cuban has anything to say about it.
And he does.