If the Toronto Raptors hope to lure free agent point guard Steve Nash to his native Canada, they’re going to have to use the amnesty clause to jettison Jose Calderon to free up money under the salary cap. If the Lakers hang onto power forward Pau Gasol, they could have an inside track on signing Calderon, his Spanish countryman.
That’s a lot of ifs, and there are a few more to consider before you could see Calderon dressed in a purple-and-gold Lakers uniform next season.
ESPN.com was the first to report the possibility of a union of the Spaniards, pointing out the Raptors strong desire to sign Nash to a three-season contract worth $36 million. Toronto would have to dump Calderon and the Lakers would have to wait until all the teams below the salary cap take a pass on him, per the NBA’s amnesty rules.
The Lakers would then be free to sign him, although it would be for far less than the $10.6 million he’s due to make if the Raptors keep him next season. The Lakers have only the so-called mini-midlevel exception to offer him, at $3 million for 2012-13.
The Raptors and New York Knicks are going after Nash, starting with meetings Sunday. The Raptors reportedly put together a promotional video with hockey great Wayne Gretzky telling Nash that he could do for basketball in Toronto what Gretzky did for hockey in Los Angeles when he was traded to the Kings in 1988.
The Lakers also planned to pursue point guard Ramon Sessions, who opted out of his contract with them next season in order to test free agency. The free-agent negotiating period was set to begin Saturday at 9:01 p.m., Pacific time,