Nash agrees to two-year extension with Suns

Forget the Nash to New York rumors, the Suns' franchise will remain in Phoenix the next three years.

Forget the Nash to New York rumors, the Suns' franchise will remain in Phoenix the next three years.

After weeks and weeks of contract negotiations between Steve Nash’s agent Bill Duffy and the Suns’ front office, Nash has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Suns worth an estimated $22 million dollars. Nash is slated to make $13 million next season with the Suns, but it was clear that both sides wanted to agree on an extension before the start of the 2009-2010 season.

After a 2008-2009 season full of disappointment, Nash made it clear that he wanted to know the future plans of the Suns before deciding to re-up with Phoenix. Nash must have been all for the Shaq trade and the Hill and Frye signings, because he did in fact choose to re-sign with Phoenix rather than test the infamous 2010 free agent market.

“Once he (Nash) became convinced of Kerr’s plan and Steve’s participation in that plan, I think that put Steve over the top,” Duffy told The Arizona Republic. “He sees them as being competitive (this season).”

Phoenix now has its veteran leader locked up for three years and is slowly developing a young core of Goran Dragic, Earl Clark, and Robin Lopez.  The Suns may not be at the top of the Western Conference, but the Nash extension is certainly a step in the right direction.

The Suns were hard-pressed for cash coming into the offseason. However, Steve Kerr made it evident from day one that giving Nash an extension was No. 1 on the Suns’ offseason laundry list.

As of a week ago, all signs were pointing toward a Nash extension. Suns forward Jared Dudley even broke some early news on his Twitter account on July 15.  Although the extension was expected, it is nice to finally have the face of the Phoenix Suns’ franchise locked up.

The question remains, where do the Suns go from here?

The Suns now have a solid mix of youth and veterans, as outside of Hill, Nash, and Richardson (28), everyone on the roster is 26 or younger. Nash finally has the chance to play Seven Seconds or Less with no Shaq or Terry Porter ruining his mojo. The Suns finally get a full season under Alvin Gentry, a full season with J-Rich, and hopefully a full season with a healthy Amare Stoudemire.

Yes, it would be extremely surprising if the Suns were sitting atop the Western Conference at the end of next season, but this wouldn’t be the first time a Nash-Stoudemire duo shocked the NBA world (see 2004-2005 season).

Even if the Suns simply make the playoffs as a five or six seed and get bounced in the first round, at least they will be developing their future in Clark, Dragic, and Lopez along the way. Who better to learn the game from than two-time MVP Steve Nash and veteran stalwart Grant Hill?

The Nash extension gives Suns fans and players a reason to be excited for the future, most notably Goran Dragic.  Dragic clearly struggled as a rookie, but the Suns hope he can become their point guard of the future.  Dragic will be able to mature while playing behind one of the most talented point guards in the NBA in the most high-powered offense in the league. If he isn’t able to thrive as a starting point guard after playing four years under the two-time MVP, there is no one to blame but him.

Aside from Nash’s ability to teach the young players, he is still a pretty damn good point guard. For those who think a 35-year old Nash cannot be as effective as $11 million a year suggests, take a closer look. After the Porter debacle, Nash averaged 19.2 ppg and 9.7 apg and shot 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point range in the second half of the season under Gentry. The scoring average and three-point percentage are higher than any numbers he put up during his two-time MVP run.

If you question his health and conditioning, just look at his diet.  When talking about Nash, Duffy said, “This is one of the hardest-working and most resilient athletes to have ever played in the NBA.”

Nash is a freak of nature and has overcame nearly every obstacle thrown at him in his NBA career. Yes, Nash’s defense is terrible, and he is aging, but I would bet that he will be a top-10 NBA point guard even when his new contract expires.

Outside of the Shaq trade, this offseason started off very slowly.  But now, the Suns have brought back Hill, signed Frye and extended two-time MVP Steve Nash.  The Suns certainly have not added studs as the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavs have done, but I will take my chances with a Steve Nash orchestrated run-n-gun offense any day of the week.

People tend to forget how lethal the Amare-Nash pick and roll is.  With Amare dominating the paint, Frye hitting the outside jumper, J-Rich slashing to the basket, and Grant Hill making plays in transition, this team will surely surprise some people.

In addition, Nash and Hill both hinted that they have unfinished business in Phoenix. Motivated veteran leaders coupled with Amare, J-Rich and some young talent may just be the recipe the Suns have been searching for.

When the offseason began Suns fans had no clue where this team was headed. Was Amare the face of the franchise? Was Nash the face of the franchise? As a result of the Nash extension, Suns fans can finally take a deep breath and start looking forward to the run-n-gun team that should provide endless highlights next season.

The Suns will remain competitive next season with a Nash-Amare-Hill-J-Rich core and will be able to make an easy transition toward the future of the Dragic-Barbosa-Clark-Lopez Suns.

While signing a 35-year-old point guard to a two-year, $22 million contract extension seems irrational at first glance, as has been the case his whole NBA career, Nash is an exception.

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