Steve Nash won’t be playing, but he has a new job with Team Canada, which will compete in Venezuela this summer in an effort to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Canada Basketball on Tuesday announced that Nash is to take up the newly-created position of General Manager of the Senior Men’s Team, to provide “the leadership and inspiration for a program that is blessed with a wealth of emerging talent.”
The 38-year-old Nash, an unrestricted free agent after playing this season for the Phoenix Suns, who doesn’t know yet where he will play next season in the NBA after spending the last eight seasons with the Phoenix Suns, is looking to bring a spark to a national side that lost all of its games at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and then came in sixth at last year’s FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina.
“I’m thrilled to be able to take on this challenge,” Nash said. ”We have lots of work to do and I’m excited to get started.
“With the talent we are developing in this country, Canada has an opportunity to become one of the top basketball nations in the world.”
Some of that young talent was on display in Mar del Plata last year at the FIBA Americas Championship, where Argentina and Brazil reached the Final to take up automatic berths for the London Games, with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico andVenezuela coming in third, fourth and fifth, respectively, to gain passage to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
Cory Joseph of the San Antonio Spurs represented Canada in Argentina, as did center Kelly Olynyk, a 21-year-old who played at Gonzaga. Tristan Thompson averaged more than 23 minutes per game this season as a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and among the standouts at last year’s U19 FIBA World Championship in Latvia were Kevin Pangos and Dyshawn Pierre.
“There is no reason why, if we nurture and support these great young players and give them the tools they need, that we can’t be a medal contender at the Olympics,” Nash said.
Canada Basketball still must hire a new coach following Leo Rautins’ decision to step down after seven years in charge.
“We could have just gone out and hired a head coach – we’ve had overtures from a number of world-class candidates – but we really wanted to take the time to review our overall approach to the program,” said Wayne Parrish, the president and CEO of Canada Basketball. “In that process, we came to understand that in order to compete at the highest level internationally we needed to strengthen the entire structure, from both the personnel and financial perspectives.”
Rowan Barrett, who played with Nash at the Sydney Games, has also taken up a new post with Canada Basketball as the assistant general manager/executive vice-president of the senior men’s program. Both will work with Maurizio Gherardini, the managing director.
Nash plans to meet with players later this year and look at the options for the staff, including the appointment of a head coach.
“If all goes well, I’d like to get the group together for the first time late this summer,” Nash said. “We are looking for a long-term commitment, to Canada and to the program. Playing for the national team was a major element in my development into an elite player and I believe it can be for a lot of our guys today.”