PHOENIX — Last year at this time the Phoenix Suns were embroiled in the saga of Amare Stoudemire trade rumors, but this season there has been nary a whisper about any deal involving Steve Nash outside of media members speculating on this very possibility.
ESPN’s Marc Stein spent some quality time with the man known as Two Time this week and produced a featured item in his Weekend Dime that basically says the Suns won’t even consider making such a deal unless Nash comes to them first asking for it, which Nash tells Stein he has no plans to do.
No reporter knows Nash the way Stein does so I would highly recommend reading the whole thing.
Stein also reports that if the Suns were ever to change their minds then Atlanta, Portland, Orlando, Dallas, Toronto and Minnesota have let the Suns know they’re interested, but Stein quotes an exec saying nobody is willing to give up one of their top two players in return for the soon-to-be 37-year-old. Also, if thing were ever to go this way, it’s likely Grant Hill would be involved as well.
Stein quotes Gentry as saying a Nash trade would be his “worst nightmare” as well as saying, “How you gonna get value for him? Unless you’re gonna go get Deron Williams or Chris Paul or somebody like that, tell me how. Why do we have to bottom out to rebuild our team? I don’t see why you would want to bottom out and spend the next five years trying to get good again.”
With the Suns appearing to start to click and with the trade deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 24, there doesn’t seem to be time for everything that needs to come together to make a Nash trade a reality to occur.
I’ve always felt the Suns would be best off waiting until the summer when they could potentially deal him for a package headlined by a high lottery pick, but as things stand Nash should remain the Suns’ franchise player for at least the rest of this season.
Suns producing wins
If Nash does indeed stay in Phoenix the rest of the season, it’s likely the Suns will at least stay in the hunt for a playoff spot the rest of the year.
With that in mind, Andres Alvarez from NerdNumbers.com analyzed the Suns’ Wins Produced numbers since making the Orlando blockbuster trade and he likes what he sees, largely because of Gortat, who is putting up a WP48 of .220 (an average player is at .100). That has led Gortat to produce 2.87 wins in this time, second on the Suns behind only Nash (0.366 WP48, 5.92 wins).
Vince Carter has also been above average (0.112, 1.41), Jared Dudley very good (0.192, 2.69) and Grant Hill solid (0.078, 1.07).
Robin Lopez and Channing Frye have produced below average seasons, so Alvarez reasons that if the Suns could swing a deal for a power forward they could be a tough out in the playoffs.
Alvarez also took a look at how the Orlando trade is working out for both squads and determined the Suns have gotten more production out of the deal (3.93 wins to 3.68 and a 0.132 WP48 to 0.102) because Gortat has been the best guy in the trade by far and Carter and J-Rich have put up similar numbers. Not bad when you consider the Suns also got out from under Hedo’s contract and have a first-rounder coming their way to boot.
Nash on All-Star snub
Nash did not appear to be too worked up about not being selected for the All-Star Game.
“I thought the guys who made it deserved it,” he said. “I know people looked at my numbers and said I could easily be an All-Star this year, but the other guys deserve it as well. They’ve had great years, and I’m happy for them. I think they’re all very well-deserving.”
It will be nice for Nash to have a few days to rest all his nagging ailments instead of being subjected to all the hullaballoo of All-Star Weekend, but it still must hurt a guy as competitive as Nash is not to receive this honor during one of his finest seasons.
“I think the rest part is good, but it would have been nice to have him make the team,” Gentry said. “It is what it is. We’ll see what happens, we’ll see if Deron Williams is healthy enough to play, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Gortat adjusting to attention
After averaging almost 20 points per game on 67 percent shooting through the first four games of the homestand, Marcin Gortat found heavy defensive pressure on his rolls and even double teams at times for the first time in his career Friday against Oklahoma City.
That led him to score just 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting, as the Thunder never let him get into the rhythm he found in previous games.
“Most of these guys were just waiting for me inside,” Gortat said. “They were really waiting for me, and I was forcing a lot of shots and a lot of moves. As an experienced player I should make a different decision.
“That’s something unusual for me, it’s a new experience. You’ve just got to come up with something new, you’ve got to be more focused, make a better decision, take better shots in the game and that’s I guess how it’s going to be the next couple games. You’ve just got to figure out how to play. You’ve just got to play smart and make the right decisions.”
Better than .500
The Suns’ short-term goal is to become a .500 team, a mark that’s long been elusive for them, but Alvin Gentry knows their goals ultimately must be much loftier than that.
“It’s like shooting par on the PGA Tour,” he said. “.500 in the West doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a short-term goal that you set. You shoot part on the PGA Tour, and you’ll be working at Denny’s. That’s just a short-term goal that we have, but we know that we have a lot of work to do if we want to be a playoff team.”
Oklahoma City head coach Scotty Brooks for one at least thinks that is possible.
“Phoenix is playing good basketball, they’re well coached and Phoenix is going to win a lot of games the rest of the year,” he said after escaping the Valley with a victory.
Gentry’s Super Bowl pick
A Milwaukee reporter asked Gentry for his Super Bowl pick before the Suns hosted the Bucks on Wednesday, and Alvin disappointed the poor guy.
Gentry likes the Steelers by the score of 27-24.
The Suns entered Friday ranked third in opponent field goal percentage in their last 10 games, yielding 42.8 percent shooting, before allowing the Thunder to hit 51.2 percent of their looks. They proudly displayed that last 10 games stats on a whiteboard in their locker room, highlighting their jump with a big orange star. For the season the Suns rank 27th in this department.