Nash finalizes deal, deferred money and all

Nash weighed all his options and decided he's best off trying to chase a ring in the desert.

Nash weighed all his options and decided he's best off trying to chase a ring in the desert.

For the past week, Steve Nash’s two-year, $22 million extension has been all but official.

Now you can take the “all but” out of the equation after Nash officially inked the deal on Monday that will likely allow him to retire in Phoenix.

Before we talk about some of the things MVSteve said in a conference call with reporters, I’ve got to say I’m more than a little leery of the $3 mil that will be deferred in each of his two extension years, to be paid out in the subsequent two years.

I don’t remember the Suns ever putting deferred money in a deal, but look at what deferred money has done across the street in Chase Field. In fact, “deferred money” is now a dirty phrase in the building formerly known as the BOB.

Regardless of what it means for payroll even eight years after the magical 2001 season, any D-backs fan will tell you deferring all that money during the D-backs’ championship season was more than worth it.

That team won what every team in sports strives for, doing in four years what the Suns have been unable to do in over 40.

But extending Steve Nash around a core of kids doesn’t make the Suns a championship contender and makes us only wonder what Robert Sarver will be doing to the Suns’ payroll in 2012-13 and 2013-14 when he’s paying Nash an extra $3 mil.

Just a word of caution, my general rule of thumb when you’re not one guy away from a championship is not to mortgage part of your financial future for a deal you can’t afford to pay in full now, especially when that player will be 36 and 37 during the two years of that deal.

I also wonder why Nash feels he needs that extra $6 mil down the road. The Suns would be in such a better cap position in the present and in a better fiscal situation in the future if he would have just taken a hometown discount.

But I digress. Here’s some of the stuff Nash said today on his conference call, with my analysis below (via The Associated Press):

“I definitely was weighing all my options. I definitely looked out there to see what possibilities there were — becoming a free agent next year, asking to be traded. But the truth is, I love the city, the organization. I really like my teammates and coach.

(Those considerations) greatly outweigh the opportunity to search for a title anywhere else. There’s never any guarantees of that sort of thing anyway.”

It seems like Nash almost pretended like he was a free agent this summer. He flirted with the Knicks, name dropped the Raptors and seemed to be preparing for an inevitable departure from a Suns organization that appeared to be heading in the opposite direction.

But Kerr took a red-eye flight to New York to share breakfast with Nash and then jetted before lunch, and he always spoke of a Nash extension being the team’s top priority this offseason. He informed Nash of his plans and almost seemed to be wooing him as if he were a free agent.

I’ve written before about Nash seemingly looking at the 2010 free agency landscape and deciding he’d like to avoid it. In doing so, the Suns have made the first move of the fabled Summer of 2010, taking one of the numerous stars off the board.

“I didn’t want to just chase something fleeting. I wanted to do the best I could for this franchise and these guys. … I don’t have to know how good we’re going to be. I think we can be good.”

The biggest criticism for Nash nationally is that he appears to be giving up his final chance at a title for a little short-term cash.

Then again, what does it say about a player trying to steal a cheap ring like Payton and Malone tried to do with the 2003-04 Lakers? At least for the next three years, Nash won’t be doing that.

You don’t want to say Nash doesn’t care about winning, because he does, but he did say something interesting near the end of last year about being happy if this Suns team would just play with spirit and have fun together like they used to. The assumption would then be that they’d be a pretty damn good team as well, but overall team camaraderie and togetherness obviously are very important to Nash.

I’d also like to think it’s still possible for this Suns team to compete for championships before the Nash Era comes to a close.

They certainly aren’t in the conversation right now, and they don’t seem amenable to making a big-money move, but both of those things could change in the next three years.

And one more from Kerr, via a release:

“Steve is still one of the best point guards in the NBA, and his dedication to conditioning will keep him among the league’s elite for several more seasons. In many ways he embodies what our franchise is all about, and we’re thrilled that he will be the leader of our team for the next three years.”

Pretty standard press release quote. I pretty much agree, although it could be wishful thinking to hope that “his dedication to conditioning” will keep Nash playing at the same level as the other top point guards in the league well into his deal.

But he certainly does embody Phoenix Suns basketball in a way nobody else does, and whether you think the deal is too long, too expensive or whatnot, I think most Suns fans are overall excited that Nash will be staying in town.

Before we leave the topic of Nash’s extension for the offseason, take a look at this except from Mark Cuban’s arbitration hearing about how Nash got away five years ago.

It’s kind of funny (and perhaps scary) that the Suns will be paying Nash more in this extension than Cuban was offering to a then-30-year-old point guard with a pair of MVPs left in him.

My favorite part, though, is Nash explaining the Suns offered him “north of Mike Bibby money,” and then Cuban saying, “Oh my God,” when he gets the details of Phoenix’s offer.

That day when the Suns brought their whole entourage from Sarver to Amare will go down as one of the greatest days in Phoenix Suns history this decade.

Suns fans can only hope we won’t be saying the opposite a few years down the road about Nash’s latest extension when he’s still being paid deferred money.

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