NBA PM: Steve Nash Becomes a General Manager
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a player/coach in the NBA (Last instance I can think of is Tree Rollins serving as an assistant while playing with the Orlando Magic in 1994-1995). But now we’re going to see an even more unique dual title: player/general manager.
Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, a Canadian citizen who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, has agreed to become the GM of Canada’s national team. He officially accepted the position at a press conference in Toronto.
“This program has meant so much to me,” Nash said at the Air Canada Centre, as quoted by The Canadian Press. “I owe a lot of my development to the program and feel that the success I’ve had in my career is in large part due to my time with the national team.”
The deal is being described as similar to what Wayne Gretzky had with the Canadian hockey team leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“Obviously I love the program,” Nash told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, who originally broke the story. “It was a huge part of my development as a player. Going to the Olympics (in 2000) was the best experience of my career.
“So if I can help other Canadians experience that, it would be pretty amazing,” he continued. “I want to try to lend my hand to help develop our system and change the image and reputation of this country internationally and be a resource for as many of our good, young kids as possible.”
The Canadians had failed to qualify in basketball for the 1992 Summer Olympics and the 1996 Summer Olympics, but with Nash leading the way at the 2000 Games in Sydney, the Canadians nearly upset a heavily favored French squad to make it to the medal round.
Canada finished 22nd out of 24 teams at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, but that was without Nash, who hasn’t played for the squad since the qualifying rounds in advance of the 2004 Olympics.
Nash’s hiatus from Team Canada has coincided with the program’s downfall. Former coach Leo Rautins was recently dismissed after clashing with players such as Samuel Dalembert.
Like Nash, many of Team Canada’s players were actually born outside of the Great White North. Former Team Canada forward Rick Fox was born in Warsaw, Indiana and Dalembert is from Haiti (but he is no longer with the team). Rautins’ son, Andy, who famously starred at Syracuse before playing one season with the Knicks is actually from Jamestown, NY and is a good bet to continue playing with the team.
However, thanks to an influx of young, native talent, Canada’s roster is set to become far more competitive. St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson, Syracuse forward Kris Joseph and Texas Longhorns guard Myck Kabongo (who was actually born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) are joining NBA first-round picks Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.
“Maybe the timing of this will seem a little bit odd because I’m still playing (in the NBA), but this is about trying to impact a bunch of kids, trying to be a good resource and a source of some good,” Nash said. “We have a lot of developing talent in our country and I’m excited to help them.”
Canada didn’t qualify for this summer’s Olympics in London, which means they won’t play competitive games until 2013 when they qualify for FIBA’s Basketball World Cup (former the World Championships).
The 38-year-old Nash has said he wants to play professionally for three more seasons, so he should be a member of next year’s qualifying effort. As Stein reported, Nash will be assisted in his role by former Olympic teammate Rowan Barrett, who played at St. John’s and was briefly under contract with the Raptors and 76ers, although he never appeared in an NBA game.
Of course, Nash will be dealing with other GMs this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“I’ve been so busy with this that I haven’t had much of a chance to start thinking about it,” he told Stein. “In the coming weeks, I’ll definitely start to think about what I’m going to do.”
Suns owner Robert Sarver insists he wants to keep Nash in Phoenix, telling local radio station KTAR-AM last week that if “the situation’s right, both parties would like to continue working together.”
Woodson nearing deal with Knicks?
As we discussed in Monday’s NBA PM, interim Knicks coach Mike Woodson may have saved his job by guiding his team to a Game 4 win over the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on Sunday.
It was the Knicks’ first postseason win since April of 2001 and it came on a wave of negativity ranging from torn ACLs (Iman Shumpert in Game 1, Baron Davis in Game 4) and Amar’e Stoudemire’s self-inflicted left-hand laceration that kept him out for the Game 3 loss.
Two stories by the New York Daily News strongly suggested that Woodson will be staying beyond this season, but now he’s denying that any talks have taken place.
The first was written by Frank Isola, who has learned that the team has initiated talks with Woodson’s representatives on a new deal. Isola described the talks as being in the “preliminary” stages, but the overall message is that owner James Dolan and general manager Glen Grunwald (Woodson’s teammate at Indiana) are “convinced Woodson is the right man for the job and will not pursue either Phil Jackson or Kentucky head coach John Calipari.”
And that brings us to our second story, which was penned by Dick Weiss.
For the umpteenth time, Calipari is telling the media that he doesn’t want to leave Lexington.
“Mike Woodson is a dear friend of mine and he is doing an unbelievable job and he has gotten Carmelo (Anthony) to be the Carmelo he needs to be to win,” Calipari told Weiss. “And I got the best job in basketball, in my opinion. You don’t need to make decisions financially, which I did the last time when I went to the Nets. Fifteen million back in 1996, when you’re a kid, is like $30 million now. At Kentucky, you can win championships. And you have a stage that really helps the young people.”
Calipari has told many different outlets that he doesn’t want the Knicks job, but for some reason, the media keeps checking in to see if his mind has changed.
It looked like Woodson, who was 18-6 in the regular season after taking over the 18-24 Knicks in March, would remain with the team, but at practice on Tuesday he denied that any talks have taken place.
“That’s not true at all,” he told the media, as quoted by Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.
When asked to clarify if he was denying that talks had taken place, Woodson said, “Absolutely… We have not.”
So that leaves the door open for Jackson or Woodson to be the coach of the Knicks next season, but it’s looking less and less likely that Calipari would be a candidate.
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