As the Steve Nash sweepstakes continued on Wednesday, sources confirmed that the Knicks have emerged as a serious threat to land the free-agent point guard.
New York seemed unlikely to remain in the running after Toronto's power play Wednesday, when the Raptors -- which sources say have offered Nash a three-year, $36 million deal -- agreed with Knicks' restricted free agent Landry Fields on a three-year, $20 million offer sheet, railroading one of New York's plans to land Nash in the process. Sources say Fields was the player that the Knicks originally hoped to send to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade for Nash. The Knicks wanted to use that deal (or something similar to it) to pay Nash more than the midlevel exception they would otherwise be limited to (four years, combined $20 million max).
But a source with knowledge of the Knicks' strategy say they have now expressed a willingness to deal a player who would be even more attractive to the Suns: 22-year-old shooting guard Iman Shumpert. The deal being discussed, according to the source, would ship Shumpert -- recovering from an ACL injury -- and a number of Knicks' expiring and non-guaranteed contracts to Phoenix in exchange for Nash, who would receive a three-year deal paying between $8 million and $10 million annually.
The total still wouldn't be as high as the Raptors' reported offer, but money isn't believed to be the only determining factor for Nash. The Knicks offer a better chance to play for a contender and New York is Nash's offseason home. It's long been known that he was intrigued by the idea of playing there.
Playing for the Knicks would mean a reunion with former Suns teammate Amar'e Stoudemire, though that's not the only reunion being considered by the eight-time All-Star and two-time MVP. Sources say a Nash signing in Dallas remains possible as well, though the Mavericks don't have as much to sell him on as the Knicks or Raptors. Super sixth man Jason Terry is expected to sign with Boston, and his departure would be the latest in a list of recent exits: Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and DeShawn Stevenson left town after the Mavericks' championship run in 2011. Nash played with Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks from 1998 to 2004 before signing with Phoenix.
A source also said that the Suns have shown no willingness to engage in a sign-and-trade to send Nash to the Lakers, their longtime Pacific Division rival, "for obvious reasons."
It's also worth mentioning that the Knicks' pursuit of Nash changes nothing about their situation with point guard Jeremy Lin, according to sources. New York remains likely to match competing offers for the restricted free agent, and he is expected to receive a hefty one on Wednesday during a visit with the Rockets. The Knicks view a potential Nash-Lin pairing as the sort of one-two point guard punch that could help Nash limit his minutes and allow Lin to continue developing while still playing a significant role.