Steve Nash, FA Grant Hill set tone by returning early for workouts

During a typical season, Phoenix Suns players return to the Valley around Labor Day and use that next month of informal workouts before training camp to build the kind of chemistry that has catapulted this squad to three Western Conference Finals’ in the Nash era.

This year, of course, the squad has no such luxury with the lengthy lockout forcing a severely abbreviated offseason in every way (can you believe the season tips off in three weeks?!?), but the Suns will at least get a week of chemistry-building workouts under their belt with players returning to US Airways Center the past few days.

Steve Nash, Robin Lopez and Zabian Dowdell were the lone participants on Thursday, the first day players could return to the facility, and they were joined by Channing Frye, Josh Childress and free agent Grant Hill on Friday.

Before the magical 2009-10 season, a year that followed a missed playoff season, many players spoke of how important those weeks leading up to training camp were and how good they already felt about the team by camp. Last season, when the team needed to integrate new players such as Hedo Turkoglu, Childress and Hakim Warrick, there was more a sense they needed to build chemistry on the fly at training camp, which of course never happened even by season’s end.

It sends a strong message that Nash arrived bright and early on the first possible day, and also that Hill — even as a free agent — would show up the next day.

It’s no secret that these veterans are the unquestioned leaders of the team, and the example they set speaks volumes. When Nash is already back ready to get to work it tells the rest of the team they better return in a hurry.

The Suns have also initiated a new “Time to Rise” marketing campaign with Nash the poster boy, which as Paul Coro wrote, works on a number of levels from the Suns’ desire to rise in the standings after last season’s disappointment to the league’s similar need to rise about the ashes of the lockout.

Although it wouldn’t be the first time the Suns had to reverse course in the marketing department if a popular player is traded, putting Nash front and center with this campaign would not likely happen if this team wanted to push the reset button. That slogan after all is nothing close to “Time to Rebuild.”

We shall see in due time if this early work and the example set by their veteran leaders can allow the Suns to live up to their marketing hype.

And 1

  • The Suns have officially announced that they will play the Denver Nuggets during their two-game preseason schedule. Phoenix will travel to Denver for a 7 p.m. game on Dec. 20 and then host the Nuggets on Dec. 22 in US Airways Center.
  • Hill told The Republic “good chances” when asked about the possibility of his free-agent return.
  • Coro also wrote about a seemingly healthier and more positive Lopez after his first day back. Injuries clearly robbed RoLo of a good chunk of his athleticism last season and made him a different player than the guy the Suns thought they were drafting. A return to health would give the Suns a real nice center duo.
  • After his first day back, Frye wrote on Facebook, “Feels great to be back in the gym. To smell the court and get back to work. Man did I miss this place!!”

Tags: Grant Hill Steve Nash

  • shazam

    so if nash and hill WANT to be in phx…and its obvious phx is a losing team…what does that say about them?..they like to play basketball but winning isnt the know all be all?..would some one please post a reason to trust these old athletes who dont show a desire to win it all?

  • Daniel

    Good to see Steve and Grant trying to set a tone for the team. Those two really are the heart of this Suns team. I’m also glad to see Zabian Dowdell is still hungry. I personally would rather Zabian be the backup point guard instead of Aaron Brooks. The kid has heart, hunger and talent. With some experience he could be a very good player. Either way, I’m just siked to have Basketball back.

  • Geo

    I think they want to win with the team they have. These guys are not like those other players who want to form big threes or whatever. These guys are old school and play good ol team chemistry ball just like in 09″. Cant blame them for not being selfish and want to just win a ring, no matter what team they have to join just to get it. They are just noble and loyal as it gets. Just saying…

  • sun-arc

    @ Shazam:
    It’s really tough. This isn’t a good time for the suns to get a good trade or pick up free agents because of where they are with money and personel. Though, they still may find a good deal out there for either (trade or FA). We’ll see.

    but for now, seems like they are going to attempt a decent season with who they have. They do have a good, talented, deep roster. They aren’t championship material (or at least, don’t seem to be), but they might pull together fantastic chemistry and have another surprising season like ’09-’10.

    we can hope!!
    (or we can see if they trade Nash/Hill and others for high draft picks and someone awesome, bomb the season, and make a splash next summer)

  • Tony


    did you say the Suns have a good, talented, and deep roster? If you think the Suns have this, then in your opinion, what team in the league is a bad team? I ask that because by far the Suns have top 5 worst starting lineups in the league, and there 6th man at this point will be either Peitrus or Childress. I mean wow, that’s a horrible team. Now I’m sure the front office will sign an over-the-hill once really good player to try and bolster the 2nd unit, especially since Carter is gone and Brooks won’t be back until March. So the Suns might be a tad bit better with a new past their prime signing, but come on, this team has worst team in the western conference written all over it.

  • Tony

    It is good to see Nash and Hill lead by example. I know some people think the shortened season will be good on their health, but playing 66 games in such a condensced schedule has me concerned the season will actually be harder on their health than a regular 82-game schedule. Furthermore, both Nash and Hill have no time to slowly ebb back into basketball shape, but because they only have 3 weeks, they are more prone to rushing their workouts and getting injured as a result. I hope Arron Nelson and Gentry are even more careful with Nash and Hill than usual.

  • ZingsGoTheStrings


  • shazam

    ive been a suns fan since the team started..i wont bail now..but sheesh i havent seen the team look this bad since the greyhound on drugs days…THANKS to all who have bolstered and steadied my least w/ nash and maybe rolo getting hot..we have a shot at something :) go suns

  • DBreezy

    Didn’t the Suns feature Amar’e in season ticket renewal offers when they knew he was on his way out? Rhetorical question as I got the offer. In any case the campaign means little about Nash.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Tony – There are a lot of things to worry about. Steve Nash’s conditioning is not one of them. Grant Hill either. Part of Hill’s motivation is that he simply CAN’T slack off on his conditioning or that left leg will crumble. Those two will be ready to go.

    Also, while we’re all a bit upset about the current roster, seriously, if the front office could land some sort of stud go-to scorer, then the team does become rather deep as all of the parts on the team now would work dangerously well *IF* there were a go-to stud in house.

    I don’t see it happening, but Nene would be an absolute perfect fit. At this stage, though, I can’t see him signing here with Nash on the way out unless there is enough of an attraction with him and Gortat to possibly have one of the two soon-to-be FA guards come in to take Nash’s place the season after.

    I mean really, as constructed now, the team is an average squad. IF a stud could be brought in, especially this season, they *could* challenge for a title

  • Tony


    firstly, the Suns are not landing an elite scorer anytime soon. So your point about if the Suns could acquire one they would be contenders again is pretty much void. I mean, they don’t have the assets to trade for one now, unless they want to trade either Nash and or Gortat, at which point, they would be back at square one anyway. Nor does the team have the cap room to sign one this off season. Next off-season, the Suns will have plenty of cap room, but there will be either no more Nash or a 40-year old Nash, of which I seriously doubt he can be as effective as ever. None of the top free agents are signing with the Suns either, thats for sure.
    Now, even if theoretically the Suns could acquire a star scorer for this season, I still do not think they even make the playoffs. They will still have either Dudley or Frye as starters, and they will still have a weak bench, even if you take Frye or Dudley and put one of them with the second unit.