Did Steve Nash play his last game as a Sun?


Steve Nash may have played his last game as a Sun if the lockout wipes out the 2011-12 season.

That’s the question we will all have to ponder if the NBA lockout wipes out the 2011-12 season and along with it the final year of Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns contract.

Ever since Amare Stoudemire announced his plans to revive New York basketball, the question of what to do with Nash (and by proxy the rebuild or reload debate) became Phoenix’s most important future roster decision.

With the Suns seemingly headed for rebuilding mode, Nash trade rumors swirled for much of last season, although Suns management did all it could to quell such talk with Lon Babby proclaiming Nash is the “sun, moon and stars” of the franchise.

With seemingly one season left to make a decision on Nash’s Phoenix future, I laid out three potential resolutions to the Nash dilemma: trade him for picks and prospects, let his contract expire and rebuild with cap space (thus forgoing the inevitable fan revolt from trading Two Time) or sign him to an extension.

I am still optimistic that the players and the owners will come to their senses and negotiate a new CBA to its conclusion being that they have come so far. Since they have agreed on the BRI split, it’s asinine to allow systems issues to cripple a $4 billion industry. It makes no sense on any level.

But if both sides dig in and the entire 2011-12 season becomes a casualty of the fight, Steve Nash may very well have played his last game as a Sun.

Presuming 2011-12 contracts will expire even if the year isn’t played, Nash would forfeit his $11.7 million salary and hit the free agent market, which of course takes the trade route out of the equation.

This is the direction I have advocated so the Suns could add a young asset to their future core and be bad enough to have a shot at one of the numerous 2012 studs in next year’s draft (ESPN’s David Thorpe sees the Suns as Anthony Davis’ best fit, but Phoenix would have to be pretty putrid next season to make that happen).

Without a labor deal that is all out the window.

Even with a shortened season the odds of a Nash trade seem to decrease significantly compared to what might have happened with a full offseason.

It would be difficult to make a major move during an abbreviated offseason period in which everybody is just trying to digest the new rules and fill out their roster in the chaotic environment we saw in NFL free agency.

On top of that new rules could prevent or hinder sign-and-trades to certain capped-out teams and Nash’s value figures to decrease with a couple months of the season already canceled.

If you believe the Suns, none of that matters because he was never going to be traded to begin with. But in the event of a canceled season Nash would now be a free agent who can sign anywhere he pleases whereas before Nash and the Suns would have had a whole season to work out a new agreement.

If it gets to that, this could end up being a blessing for Suns management as they could say goodbye to Nash mutually and amicably as this contract expiration could allow both sides to move on from an era that sadly has already come to an end. Nash would be free to find his best fit personally and the Suns would have tons of cap space to start rebuilding in earnest with.

Still, it’s jarring to think that Steve Nash may have played his last game as a Sun without any hint of a farewell party at the end of last season when such a situation seemed unfathomable.

A canceled season very well may lead to the retirement of Grant Hill as well. Hill would be 40 by the time play resumes if this season is wiped out, and although he would be a young 40 due to all the games he missed to injury and the lockout year, that seems like a lot to ask.

If this were to really happen, the way the league determines the 2012 draft would be franchise-altering as well. I’ve long written about the Suns’ need to pluck a star from this draft and thus being bad enough next season to put themselves in a position to do so.

According to ESPN’s Ric Bucher, the league has discussed different ways to handle the draft without a season, including aggregating winning percentages from the past three to five regular seasons and putting the bottom 14 into the lottery.

Such a method figures to hurt the Suns, since they barely missed the playoffs twice in the past three years and won 54 in the other. The great Suns teams of the recent past would really come back to bite the current Suns if the past five years were to be weighted.

I don’t feel that’s entirely fair when you consider how much teams change in five years (you think Cleveland will be in favor of this?), but at the same time I don’t necessarily see a better way to do it.

At this point Suns fans can only hope these are questions that never have to be answered.

Tags: Lockout Steve Nash

  • shazam

    a real suns fan should want this season to just go away…if not…then trade nash and lose baby lose…go 4 the lottery..rookie deals are all sarver will spend for..a quality vet wont come to the suns these days anyway.

  • shazam

    i wish they would make a decision on the season one way or the other…there isnt enough suns news during the lock out..i have almost stooped to reading the bleacher report

  • Steve

    I would be in favor of a league-wide lottery if the season is lost. I know some people will get screwed and others will get lucky, but so be it. It’s their own fault for botching this so badly.

  • http://www.moderntimesmagazine.com Modern Times Magazine

    We wrote this story in July…did you steal the idea or are you just a victim of coincidence. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you give us props.

    http://www.moderntimesmagazine.com/page18/Sports_SunsLoseNash_070611/Sports_SunsLoseNash_070611.php

  • Steve

    Hahahahaha, someone thinks they’re the first one to write an “Is this the end of the Steve Nash era?” article for the Suns. Cute.

    Modern Times. Ha. Laughable.

  • PHX suns fan in LA

    lol modern times magazine , vots is like the 1,000,000,000 place to write about this.

  • http://www.moderntimesmagazine.com Modern Times Magazine

    “One of the problems the internet has introduced is that in this electronic village, all the village idiots have internet access.”
    Peter Nelson

  • Steve

    Does no one on the internet realize that THEY are on the internet? You are the village idiot.

    Btw, that’s an excellent way to gain readers. Insult potential customers. It’s just crazy enough that it might work.

    Go back to your corner of the intarwebs.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    Yes, hardly a novel concept nor the first time I’ve written about it on this site so I think it’s safe to say I didn’t steal this from something you wrote five months ago. Hell, every time ESPN does a 5-on-5 with any Suns topics it always centers around this. I brought the subject up again because it has become more realistic than it was in July after the lockout took a turn for the worst last week.

  • sun-arc

    I would much rather prefer the league wide lottery than to do it by multi-year records. That would hurt us and the Cavs, and help the Heat, which would really suck.

    And, yeah, this story is very apt for us to think about. We have many reasons to hope there is a season. Seeing Nash play even just a few more games for the suns would be so nice to see. Hill too. I kind of hope they trade them both for some high draft picks. Hate to say it, and see it done, but it’s really the best decision for the future of the team.

  • http://www.moderntimesmagazine.com Modern Times Magazine

    “If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.” Groucho Marx

  • Scott

    I can very easily imagine no season this year, and Nash having played his last game with the Suns. :(

    I remember the first time I saw Nash play, as a rookie in a pre-season game. All year I was like, “Why don’t they play this guy more?” lol

  • Tony

    Michael,

    so long as Sarver runs the Suns organization, the team will be at best, a mediocre team. The only reason the team had any success under Sarver was due to Colangelo putting together the core of the Suns. Sarver has ruined this franchise and there is hardly any reason to all of a sudden be optimistic that he is going to turn the franchise around. This Suns team that is currently put together, including Hill even though he might desert this sunken ship, is just awful. Just looking at their starting lineup, they have two legitimate starters in Nash and Gortat, but Dudley and Frye hardly qualify as starters under any good team, and because of Hill’s age, Gentry is going to have to monitor his minutes very closely. The same goes with Nash obviously. Thus, Nash and Hill will probably play fewer and fewer minutes as the season progresses.

    My point is that, regardless of whether there is a 2011-2012 NBA season, this Suns team is going to be pretty awful for at least several years and to pin hopes on Sarver spending a lot of money when many of the Suns’ players’ contracts end to recruit top talent is just silly. It’s doubtful any elite players would even want to play for him anyway. Sarver is such a comical baffoon, whose stinginess is outweighed only by his incompetence at running the Suns organization.

  • Daniel

    @Tony,
    Don’t sugarcoat it, tell us how you really feel.

  • sun-arc

    @Tony-
    I respectfully disagree with some of your assesments.
    Though you are right that we aren’t very good as currently set up, we are set up to do very well in the 2012 free agency with one of about 6 teams with tons room to spend on lots of good prospects. Plus, if we bomb this year (if there is a season) we’ll likely have a good pick. And we can trade for more, as we have good mid-range assets to trade (Warrick, Pietrus, Childress, Lopez, and possibly Brooks- not to mention Nash).

    We also still have Carter’s expiring contract. If you look at teams needing to shed a TON of money because of a a potential new luxury tax system or teams that need to make room for 2012, we could get a great trade for him for, say, Pau Gasol. (The lakers are so far over the cap, they might want to ditch him. Think of Gortat and Gasol as a front court.)

    Sarver has been seen as making a lot of bad moves: letting Joe Johnson and Amare go, for instance. The contract Joe wanted would have crippled our team’s future ability to bring in role players back in ’05. And Amare’s offer was the same as NY’s, just less guarantees. I was mixed about that decision at the time because it made sense to keep such a cohesive team together after being so close- but Amare may have swallowed up the team’s future with a guaranteed 100m contract last summer. And, did you notice, he wasn’t that good in the playoffs AGAIN. So, I’m not sure that was a bad choice.

    The Hedo experiment, Chilly’s contract, trading Raja/Boris away (which now looks pretty good), and all the upheaval the team has been through isn’t necessarily Sarver’s fault. D’antoni and Kerr took the responsibility for those decisions. Same with bringing in Porter, which was a disaster.

    I don’t know that Sarver’s negative legacy is really about destroying the core of players, as much as it seems to be about destroying the administration core. Frankly, I’m much more worried about that side of things.

    And I say that, mostly because I am cautiously optimistic about our chances next summer to get much better quickly thru acquiring players. And maybe the front office will prove to better than our fears. I hope.
    Though I do share a healthy dose of your pessimism too. Just in a different direction.

  • Steve

    “If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”

    *facepalm* Since you obviously missed my point the first time around, I’ll spell it out for you. See: pot calling the kettle black.

    Moving on. Tony, I know you and I have discussed this quite a bit, so I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but what team did Jerry put together that did so well for us in these past 7 years? Colangelo was a great thing for Phoenix in many ways, but I think his successes are exaggerated and his failures are ignored.

    Can we all agree that the most important piece of the great Suns teams of the past decade was Nash? I think that’s pretty obvious. Sarver brought Nash here.

    If you’re going to blame him for his failures, you should at least acknowledge that he played a huge role in the Suns’ successes as well. It’s completely unfair and wrong to ignore the good things he has done.

    QBs take all the blame for a loss, but they get all the glory for a win as well (unless you’re named Tim Tebow, then your defense and the “team” gets the credit for a win). Owners (and GMs or any other administrative role in charge of personnel decisions) should be treated like QBs in that regard. Blame for the losses. Credit for the wins.

    I really don’t like Sarver. I think he’s an annoying loudmouth who only ever finds time to speak publicly when he’s upset about something (which makes him seem like a bigger jerk than he actually is, I’m sure). I don’t like everything he has done as owner, but he hasn’t been even close to the worst owner in league. He’s average. Par for the course. He has made some great decisions, and he has made some terrible decisions.

  • http://letsbeatdiabetes.com JohnVancouver

    speaking of which (Modern Times), they claimed nash’s extension was done under the “Over 36 Rule” provisions of the old CBA. True? Why for only two years then?

  • Scott

    @sun-arc -

    I agree. I think Sarver is maligned for every imagined problem with the Suns, but as I see it he’s done the right thing in about every circumstance.

    Joe wanted to lead a team. Boris wasn’t serious about offense, and Raja was breaking down. Shawn was beguiled by his agent and Rashard Lewis’s contract (an epic worst for the league). Amare wanted the best contract he could get and was hungry for a bigger spotlight. He was willing to move on. Jason Richardson was clearly a rental. The only bad moves Sarver and his GMs have made were trading Barbosa for Turkoglu (which turned out okay later, when Turkoglu was traded back to Orlando), and paying to trade away Kurt Thomas (and even there he showed he was willing to take a hit to try to get the team moving in the right direction).

    I think Sarver was correct in evaluating Joe, Shawn, and Amare. He didn’t sign bad contracts with them. Remember Colangelo’s max contract for Starbury? That could have crushed the Suns. The Suns dodged a bullet when they sent Starbury to NY and then roped in Steve Nash. (Good thing NY had crazy Isiah Thomas as GM.)

    I’d say the verdict is still out on the contracts for Childress and Warrick. They were some of the best talent available at the time. Maybe these guys can prosper if they can get to their optimal court positions (SG and SF). Frye’s contract is pretty good considering his motor and ability to stretch the floor. Turkoglu for Gortat was a steal, and it leaves the Suns with precious cap room.

    The primary weak spot of the Suns under Sarver has been the draft, and I think Sarver is not calling the shots there. It was D’Antoni who was against developing rookies, not Sarver. We’ll see proof of this under Gentry and Blanks, I expect.

  • sun-arc

    @ scott- Agreed.

    @ steve- also agreed with you.