Phoenix Suns practice report: Steve Nash on team focus, changes could be on the way, and more Nash rumors

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ list of disappointments in the 2010-11 season grew Wednesday night when the Suns lost to the Charlotte Bobcats, their fourth straight against the Eastern Conference foe.

The loss extended the Suns’ losing streak to three games following a five-game winning streak and signs of desperation began to show at Thursday’s practice. The team’s off-day practice, originally scheduled to end at 11 a.m., went an extra hour and some players stuck around even longer.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the season overall and last night was no different,” Suns point guard Steve Nash said. “We had a good stretch, now we’re having a bad stretch. We’ve got to find a way to end this as quickly as possible.”

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and Managing Partner Robert Sarver were on hand for the practice, meeting one-on-one with players and staff to discuss what can be done to turn the season around.

For Nash, getting back on a winning track is a matter of team focus.

“There’s been moments where we get caught thinking instead of fighting,” Nash said. “We don’t finish plays sometimes or we’re not as competitive as we need to be. We lack discipline at times.

“I don’t really care about inconsistency of shots or performance type things. I just want the effort to be there every night and the concentration. If that happens, things take care of themselves.”

Nash didn’t attribute a lack of focus to individuals, but rather the team as a whole. With Wednesday’s loss, the Suns fell to 20-24 overall and sat four games out of the playoffs.

“I suppose it could be attributed to a lot of things, but whatever it is, we’re all capable and we just need to fight for that little bit of extra something that gets us over the top,” Nash said.

Suns coach Alvin Gentry pointed to the Jan. 22 loss to Detroit as a key game in the team’s recent struggles.

“The Detroit loss really hurt us,” Gentry said. “I think it kind of made us take a step back because I think we were feeling good about ourselves. If you win that game and come back 4-1, I think our psyche would’ve been a little bit different, but those are the kind of things you’ve got to put behind you and move on.”

Nash too took a stance of putting the past behind him, refusing to let the team’s rough stretch get him down.

“It’s disappointing and a struggle and a fight when you’re losing, but there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy it still,” Nash said. “I’m not going to sit here and get my head down. I’m going to look forward and it starts with tomorrow night.”

More changes in the works?

Gentry said that while he remains patient, he will not sit by and watch his team’s struggles continue.

“We have to be demanding as far as play on the court,” Gentry said. “If that’s not going to happen, we have to look to make changes.”

The Suns have already used 12 different starting lineups this season and the rotation has seemed to change with the wind, often leaving multiple players out for long stretches.

Gentry said he’s been disappointed with the team’s lack of consistency and constant need for adjustment, but said more changes could be very close.

“I wanted to establish a constant starting five and then a rotation,” Gentry said. “At some stage, if it’s not working out, obviously as the head coach it’s my responsibility to maybe look elsewhere personnel-wise and maybe make some changes in the lineup and our rotations. That’s what you have to do when you’re not getting done what you expect to get done.”

Gentry gave no specifics as to what changes could happen or when.

Nash rumors given new life

Babby has consistently held that Nash will remain with the Suns this season despite the team’s struggles and seemingly endless speculation that he could be moved if the team isn’t contending.

Nash has also said continuously that he is committed to playing in Phoenix, even if it means playing on a rebuilding team.

ESPN’s Chad Ford, however, threw more fuel on the Nash rumor fire Thursday when he put Nash on his list of top 10 players to watch at the trade deadline. Here’s what Ford had to say:

Suns president Lon Babby has been adamant that he’s not trading Nash. That’s why Nash is at the bottom of the list and not at the top. But there are GMs who believe Babby’s stance may soften as we get closer to the deadline.

The Suns are no longer a contender and are on the verge of a major rebuilding project. While Nash has said publicly he’s standing by the Suns, it doesn’t make much sense for either party to keep going this direction.

Nash is still playing like an All-Star and could have a chance at winning a title elsewhere. More importantly for the Suns, he’s their only major asset right now. The other players on their roster don’t have a lot of trade value, but several teams would give up a lot to land Nash. If the Suns are serious about rebuilding, it may be time to say goodbye.

Dowdell gets 10 more days on Planet Orange

Guard Zabian Dowdell practiced with the Suns on Thursday after the team signed him to a second 10-day contract. The Virginia Tech product appeared in two games during his first Suns stint.

Dowdell, along with center Marcin Gortat and guard Goran Dragic, stayed after practice Thursday for about an hour to get in extra work.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Steve Nash Zabian Dowdell

  • Lloyd

    While it would be sad to see great players like Hill and Nash traded, it is time to do so.

    The only two that are untouchable are Gortat (big men that can rebound and play defense are hard to find) and Dudley.

    Gortat is just scratching the surface. He is going to be one of the best big men in the game. It is great to see his hustle.

  • Suns Critic

    Effort, Heart, Focus, Camaraderie… Lou Amundson

  • Juan

    There’s still time to turn things around, not much time though but still go time, I disagree that the Suns trade away there Heart and Soul away (Nash,Hill) if you trade one you might as well trade both because they won’t want to be around without the other so NO on the trade, do trade other players on the team to get that missing piece a real PF because that’s what missing in my opinion, this franchise is known for there PF play since Barkley,Stoudemire, for the pick’n’roll not pick and pop.

  • Derek

    time to put gortat at starter and trade pietrus childress carter warrick frye and lopez for josh smith and stephen curry

  • Ronnie

    Gaahhh… hurts to imagine Nash and Hill staying on such a struggling team, yet it hurts to imagine them being elsewhere. Either way it just sucks, and will continue to however it turns out after the trade deadline.

  • Evan

    As a life long suns fan i must say that the last few years have been fun, and the next few will be dreadful, with no player who realistically can make the all-star team in the next 5 years and the fact no marque player will come in free agency in the foreseeable future, the team will have top picks the next few years and will be in complete re-building mode. First FIRE GENTRY he sucks bad, look at the talent on this team and this is the best we can do its pathetic.

  • shawn

    Coach is not the problem because last I checked he’s not on the court playing. Nash has it exactly right it comes down to a lack of effort its amazing to watch them play and see Lopez stand there like an old willow tree. Why the hell would you trade away the one constant bright spot on your team….Nash

  • shawn

    And who the hell is Chad Ford cuz you must be paying him for his thoughts since you reported them as some breaking news.

  • Petshop

    In terms of talent there is enough on this team. the problem maybe playing time theres only 48 minutes worth on each position and that may not be enough to play all those deserving bench players to make them hot or not even play them at all. Lessen the time of carter on the court I know his good and all but I think Dudley is more deserving and he gives energy also play Pietrus he may be like our next Raja Bell

  • Wince Farter

    I like beans in cookies.

  • Andrew

    Nash can never go that would be devastating I want him to retire here…

  • Zak

    As far a Hill goes I’d say that he would probably retire IF he was traded to a bad team and his salary isn’t big enough to make him a target for a team looking for salary cap relief. Yeah, he’s playing great right now but he IS 38 and he can’t keep playing at this level much longer. Bad teams probably wouldn’t be looking at him because he won’t be playing much longer and I can’t think of any good teams that need a SF for the rest of the season to boost their playoff hopes that would trade for him for just the rest of the season (he’s a real pro so I’m sure he would at least play out the rest of the season before retiring). And I think Nash WILL retire as a Sun. He wants to stay a Sun and without him the Suns pretty much HAVE to change their offensive style which I don’t think the Suns want to do especially at mid-season. Of course there’s always the chance that Phoenix will get involved in some sort of multi-team deal with the Knicks and Denver that reunites Nash with Amare in NY along with Melo. THAT is the only remotely possible trade of Nash that I would feel good about… for Steve’s sake. Doubtful it will ever happen but stranger things have happened with NBA trades before. But considering everything, I doubt Nash or Hill will be traded… but you just never know.

  • King Fahd

    This might sound like a long-shot, but I say trade for Greg Oden. If our medical staff can’t help him, then no one can’t. Imagine a healthy, young Oden on what he can bring to the Suns. Plus, he is cheap right now. I think we need to keep certain players like Nash, Hill, Dudley, Frye and Gortat. And decide on who to still keep with the rest, and the others to trade for some valuable players or draft picks.

  • Zak

    Hmmmm… I did a little experimenting using ESPN’s “trade machine” and a Phoenix/Denver/New York trade is workable in several different ways. All of them help the Knicks out the most THIS season and hurt the Nuggets most THIS season but I think they all have some good implications for the future in Phoenix (and Denver too but who really cares about them!). Unfortunately, VC can’t be included in any multi-player trade so we may be stuck with him for the rest of the season unless a separate trade for him can be arranged. Like I said before, it’s unlikely to happen but who knows.