#FreeSteveNash: ESPN's big guns weigh in

As the Phoenix Suns seemed destined to spend this season in the NBA no-man’s land of “not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to contend for the No. 1 pick,” the #FreeSteveNash movement got some national attention this week. Prominent NBA analysts such as ESPN’s John Hollinger and Grantland’s Bill Simmons weighed in with their thoughts on Captain’s Canada’s future with the Suns and some potential trades for Phoenix to pursue. Let’s examine these proposed trades and evaluate them on both feasibility and potential benefit for the Suns.

Editor’s Note: If you as a Suns fan are squeamish or are prone to hysterics at the thought of Steve Nash leaving the desert, the following trades may prove too much for you, so you may want to save yourself the mental pain and anguish and just look away.

On Tuesday, John Hollinger wrote in his PER Diem about a Nash-to-Portland deal. Here’s the link to the deal on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine. The crux of the trade is Phoenix receiving Ray Felton, two young prospects, and a pick in exchange for Steve Nash. Hollinger puts this trade forth despite the fact that based on the involved players’ current PER numbers, this trade would drop Phoenix’s projected wins by 10 games. This is partly due to the fact that neither Nolan Smith nor Elliot Williams have played enough to have PER data.

There is no reason to think that a deal such as this one wouldn’t happen outside of both Nash and the Suns front office’s vehement denials of the possibility of a trade. For the purposes of the column, we’ll ignore that. As the Suns sink deeper and deeper into irrelevancy and mediocrity, it’s entirely possible both sides might relax their view on a trade.

The deal makes sense for Portland as Felton’s contract is expiring just like Nash’s. So in essence, the Blazers would be renting with the possibility of re-signing Steve Nash for the price of two prospects and a pick. For the Suns, the prospects will inject some youth into an aging roster. The pick, which will likely be in the 18-24 range, will still be a valuable asset in a draft this deep. In the offseason, the Suns could stand pat with their two picks and two prospects to start a serious youth movement or package some combination of them to move up into the top five or trade for a solid veteran.

In his NBA Season Review: 20 Questions, Bill Simmons also mentioned the possibility of a Nash-to-Portland deal. His version, however, had the Suns receiving Nic Batum in place of the guard prospects. Batum, a favorite of VotS overlord Michael Schwartz, was not extended by the Trail Blazers before the deadline, possibly indicating that Portland is willing to part with him for the right price.

By Hollinger’s prediction this version of the trade would only cost the Suns one predicted win, and thus seems far more beneficial to the franchise (especially when you consider that Felton and Batum’s PER numbers undoubtedly go up in Phoenix as each would play a bigger role than they currently do in Portland.)  In Felton, the Suns would get a point guard who isn’t awful and was extremely productive under Mike D’Antoni last year in New York. In Batum, the Suns get a player who is young, energetic, and efficient, three things Phoenix sorely needs right now. Batum is also a restricted free agent, so acquiring him now would put the Suns in prime position to sign him to a longer deal as Phoenix could match any offer made for him in the offseason.

Whether or not Portland would do this deal depends on the likelihood of Nash re-signing with the Trail Blazers in the offseason. Because he was extended two years ago, Nash’s current contract isn’t eligible to be extended again as outlined in this piece by Mark Stein. Thus Portland would have to hope that another trip to playoffs is enough to entice Nash to give the Blazers his remaining years.

Simmons also proposed a possible deal with Indiana. The deal, outlined here, would swap Nash for Darren Collison and a 2012 No. 1 pick. This pick would probably be slightly worse than Portland’s as Indiana’s schedule is Eastern Conference heavy, but again in a deep draft any pick can help.

For Phoenix, this trade would give them a young, still-developing point guard to replace Nash. Collison is considered to be one of the fastest players in the NBA and has shown flashes of brilliance in his short career, particularly in place of an injured Chris Paul when both were still in New Orleans. Nash is definitely the superior point guard, but Collison with his speed could mature into a strong distributor and team leader under the right tutelage .

Whether or not Indiana would pull the trigger on this deal would again depend on its ability to re-sign Nash in the offseason. Also, the Pacers’ willingness to trade for Nash would definitely depend on how close they believe they are to title contention. It makes little sense for Indiana to trade a young asset who should continue to improve if the Pacers’ ceiling is anything less than a Finals appearance with the addition of Steve Nash.

Bill Simmons posed the question, “Why hasn’t #freestevenash evolved into a social media campaign along the lines of #occupywallstreet?” The answer, as always, is Nash’s fierce loyalty to his teammates and the Suns’ franchise.

“… I just feel that I owe it to my teammates to stay committed to them. I feel that I owe it to the fans and the organization to fight,” Nash said in an interview with ESPN’s Marc Stein. Fight as he may, what happens if the Suns continue to toil in no-man’s land? Could the situation arise where the best thing for the fans and the organization is to move Nash and get some pieces to build around in return? Will Nash and the Suns’ management see the writing on the wall before the March 15 deadline? There is no way to know. For now the “Phoenix Revolution” will remain untelevised.

But it will be on Twitter. #FreeSteveNash

Tags: #FreeSteveNash ESPN Indiana Pacers Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Analysis Portland Trail Blazers Steve Nash Trades

  • And1

    I would definitely trade Nash for both Derrick Williams & Rubio. I think the Wolves wouldn’t mind it as well knowing they have three good solid point guards to spare & good wing players. Plus Love would benefit from playing with STeve and the Wolves would then be a legit contender with that trade. Suns then will have a future point guard, a solid wing, and a center in Gortat. Everyone should be happy with that trade. I would definitely push for that trade if Nash decides to leave.

  • http://godaddy.com Big Daddy

    Let’s be realistic here, Nobody want’s an aging superstar who has maybe 2 good years left in him. He’s the most loyal player around to his fans/teammates he’s not gonna pull a stat move. On top of that, he’s got personal reasons to remain at phx(kids etc.)

  • shazam

    @ tony…dude i wish i could articulate as clearly as you…this one paragraph of yours incapsulates everything ive been trying to say better than my reams and reams of blather…you rock …for those who missed it heres tonys quote ” the draft is really the only hope this franchise has in the immediate future to land its next star player. The team has no tradeable assets that will land a star player and considering how bad this team is and Nash’s age, it’s extremely unlikely any star player signs with the Suns anytime soon, especially since there are so many unknowns about the direction of the team and also Sarver’s reputation doesn’t make it any easier.” = PERFECT

  • Mel.

    … a lot to cover in this discussion, and tons of points that I agree with wholeheartedly. However, I think I’ll relegate my comment to flipping the figurative bird at Chris Palmer, who’s undercut the serious Nash trade-chatter with the crappiest plug-nickel comment conceivable to any self-respecting Suns fan:

    “Suns open to trading Steve Nash. How about for Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace?”

    You know, I thought that the whole “Luke Walton, MWP and a third-round draft pick for D12″ crap was hilarious, but… man. It loses its luster when the Lake Show’s Veruca Salt school of Player Transactions pops up on the doorstep of your OWN franchise.

    I mean… seriously? This is ESPN’s idea of stirring the pot? Swapping Nash for two overpaid, role-playing also-rans who cashed out their chips in 2010 and whose collective stat lines don’t even match up to Nash’s diminished numbers for this season? Based on–I’m guessing–the fallacy that “everybody wants to play with Kobe” and that Nash (like Gary Payton before him) is so desperate to flush his Phoenix role for DAT RING that he’ll go running to a team that isn’t going to make it to the Finals, even WITH him starting at the one?

    Man, I’ve gotta pump the brakes before I fill another six pages with ranting obscenities about how damn stupid that proposal is. Not like I’m not preaching to the choir, here.

  • shazam

    wow mel i just heard about this…must be a slow news day at espn nba…totally rawdickless

  • Mel.

    LOL, shaz. That’s what I said. I tried to plug that trade into NBA 2K12 and the XBox spat the disc at me and started laughing right out of its feed-tray, somehow.

  • shazam

    bwahahahahahha @ “spat the disc at me”

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)


    if you want to make Gortat happy, then he’s going to want Nash to stay a Sun for a while longer. From everything Gortat’s said, he loves playing with Nash.”

    @ Tony, I don’t believe that is 100% accurate.

    I’m sure he does like playing with Nash, but I think even he understands that he has another year, at most, with SNOW and while Two-Time is the face of the franchise, he’s going to compliment him.

    At the same time, Gortat is chained to a system tailored to Nash with Nash as the focal point. I don’t think he’d mind being the new point of focus where his touches skyrocket and [if only for a little while] he is the face of a franchise that is hopefully heading in the right direction.

  • shazam

    rarely does a player say anything that you can count on..especially a suns player.. its like they are programmed to be nice..they dont have a bryant or a jordan in their dna…teams dont have to have that in their dna to make it see mavs,spurs…we arent talking about “making it”…we are talking about what players SAY…think of our suns and most athletes as politicians…they say whats best to keep their job or keep their job easy even if they dont mean it…every sun to a man …even if its their first day will say “i love playing with steve nash”…really price,telefar,brooks and many more for other reasons?…2 time is one of the best in history but he has the ball on average 2o seconds per possession to become that….pretty much unheard of…that has to rankle some players

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)


    I mentioned the Ewing Theory before in regards to Nash and I do believe it to be so for the Suns.

    If he goes, not only would others step up, (meaning those who survive the off-season), but a new system can be put in place that would mesh far better with the personnel in house.

    You could actually groom some youth instead of demanding they fit into a Nash-specific role. Morris is being ruined because he plays with Nash and Gentry keeps him outside like he is Channing Frye. He has some touch but its obvious his game is suited for more than this.

  • shazam

    rich you so nailed it bro..but be careful with that opinion on this site… 9 year old emo fan boys get their panties all up in a bunch…nash is their first crush…they dont understand its just puppy love and a new shiny object will be hyped their way instantly…it will be a very hard transition for them..the thought of having to rip 2 times poster off the ceiling above their bed and having to find a new boyfriend gives them extreme anxiety..they have been known to borrow mommies computer and call people names…be prepared..hell hath no fury like an emo fan boy scorned.

  • Mike L

    When will Suns fans ever learn??? Since when will trading Nash be a smart move? What, no one remembers banging on Sarver for letting Johnson head to ATL and for getting rid of Amare? We can hammer on him for that, but WE’RE suddenly OK to whine and moan about how we need to trade Nash, who is 10 TIMES the impact player either of guys were COMBINED?? COME ON PEOPLE!!! WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!

  • shazam

    mike you WOKE UP too late..this party is over and you didnt read all the threads,,,in short we have no assets because we dont have amare or joe except to surround old 2 time with ..time to re-build….you can go back to sleep now zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz