Knicks, Raptors meet with Steve Nash

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash leaves the court after

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash leaves the court after an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs. (April 25, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Steve Nash spent Sunday in Manhattan, meeting with teams that have made signing him their top priority, and the Knicks were one of them.

But Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald likely will need a major assist from Nash and maybe the Phoenix Suns to work out a deal for the perennial All-Star point guard.

ESPN reported that the Knicks and Raptors -- in no order -- are Nash's top two choices. But it's early in the process, and Nash is expected to meet with other teams, including the Nets, Mavericks and Suns and perhaps the Heat.

The Raptors were the first team to meet with Nash, and according to multiple reports, they offered him a three-year, $36-million deal. The Knicks can't offer that.

Toronto also tried to pull on the Canadian's heartstrings. The Raptors offer Nash the ability to return to Canada and be a hero in his own country, where he recently became executive director of the senior men's national team. Nash also has a good relationship with Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, who was the Suns' GM.

Part of the Raptors' sales pitch included a video message from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Reportedly, Gretzky was expected to call in to speak to Nash during the sitdown.

For the Knicks to approach Toronto's numbers, they would need to make a major deal to shed salary or execute a sign-and-trade with the Suns.

The Knicks could give Nash the taxpayer midlevel exception of about $9.5 million for three years. If they can use the full midlevel, it could be as much as $21.4 million for four years. It's unlikely those figures will get it done, even if Nash has a better chance to win with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and former Suns teammate Amar'e Stoudemire than the younger Raptors.

Yahoo! Sports reported that the Suns would have interest in restricted free agent Landry Fields. But the most he could make is about $5.3 million, and that's on the high side for Fields. The Knicks could include other players such as Dan Gadzuric, who has one non-guaranteed season left on his contract and would come off the books if he's waived. But the Suns likely would want more in a sign-and-trade for Nash if they can't re-sign him.

Calls and texts to Nash's agent, Bill Duffy, were not returned.

Besides meeting with Nash, the Knicks put their contingency plans in place, reaching out to the representatives of other free agents, including Jason Kidd and former Knick Raymond Felton. The Knicks also expressed interest in small forward Rashard Lewis (waived by New Orleans on Saturday), Celtics power forward Brandon Bass and onetime Knick Marcus Camby.

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