Moments after the Phoenix Suns’ disappointing 2008-09 season ended, Steve Kerr sat in an interview room and proclaimed that extending Steve Nash was his No. 1 offseason priority.
We now know that was more than just lip service, as confusing as it sounded at the time for a Suns team heading in the direction of youth to be committing dollars and years to a 35-year-old point guard above all other offseason duties.
Although I have previously written a warning as to why it could backfire, there’s just something comforting about knowing that Nash will be around for the next three years and likely the rest of his career.
I couldn’t stomach the thought of Nash finishing his career in a place like New York or Toronto, places he hinted he would be interested in going, even if signing Nash to an extension that takes him to 38 doesn’t make perfect sense for a team otherwise (besides Grant Hill) going toward a youth movement.
As TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz writes, it’s fairly interesting that Nash decided he would be better off taking a fair deal than testing his value on the open market.
That’s against everything that free agency has always been about, and especially everything that the much-hyped Summer of 2010 was expected to be. It could end up being the Summer of Disappointment instead, though, as the money well dries up. Sure the LeBrons of the world will still get paid, but that next tier of star may end up being disappointed when teams just don’t have as much cap space as they thought they would.
In light of Jason Kidd’s $8 mil deal, $11 mil a year should be viewed as more than fair from Nash’s perspective, although I thought $10 mil should have been able to get a deal done. An Arizona Republic graphic shows that only Reggie Miller and John Stockton have received comparable extensions at this age.
I have always thought Nash’s career would end much like Stockton’s did, with him remaining effective to his final days only with diminished minutes as another point guard steadily takes on more responsibility (with Dragic playing the Howard Eisley role).
To get a gauge on what we might be able to expect out of Nash, Stockton signed an identical two-year, $22 million extension at age 37, a year older than Nash will be when his kicks in, and he played every game over that span while averaging 11.8 and 8.6 before signing another extension.
Unless he gets hurt, I would expect Nash to far and away surpass those figures. I certainly hope he would for $11 mil a year in this economy, especially considering the steroids-like effect Alvin Gentry’s system has on a player’s stats.
Before the extension, there was a school of thought that said the Suns would be better dealing Nash for a younger point guard who can lead them into the next era.
But the reality of the situation is, that guy just isn’t out there.
With the way the Suns plan on playing, point guard is easily the most important position on the floor. It’s the reason why we’ve seen such a drop off in their play over the years when Nash rested or was hurt.
Sure, there were rumors of dealing Amare for Stephen Curry or Nash for Jerryd Bayless. Those players may turn out to be fine point guards one day, but as combo guards trapped in a point guard’s body neither of those guys could realistically run the Suns’ record-breaking offense right now.
Since an established star like Chris Paul isn’t coming here anytime soon and neither is a run-and-gun prodigy like Ricky Rubio, the Suns wouldn’t be the Suns anymore without their engine. And nobody plays run-and-gun quite like Nash anyway.
For those who like to look toward the future, the Suns now have three years to acquire that guy or pray Dragic does indeed become that player capable of taking the keys from Nash.
For now, Suns fans can enjoy three more years of the master at work.