On Steve Nash's loyalty and the Suns as a legitimate playoff contender


A recent Paul Coro article reinforced the most interesting aspect of the Phoenix Suns’ trade season: the fact that Steve Nash rumors never came close to being a distraction.

During the week before the trade deadline we heard nary anything about the possibility of Nash being moved whereas Dwight Howard seemed to change his mind about his future every five minutes.

That could just be because the Suns did a superb job of controlling any leaks but it is most likely because there legitimately was no Nash trade talk making the rounds. The Dwight rumors completely overshadowed what the Magic were doing on the floor, but the Suns quietly went about their winning streak before the deadline passed with hardly a whimper.

“I’m proud of it,” president of basketball ops Lon Babby told Coro. “It was my goal and our goal as an organization to avoid having his situation be a distraction all season long. The only way to do that is to be in partnership and Steve has been a wonderful partner all year.

“I suppose there are people who disagree with whether we should have traded him, but the way he’s handled himself validates and reinforces why we decided to keep him. Stability, loyalty and respect are important in laying our foundation.”

Every time Nash was asked the question he gave the same response about being oblivious to trade rumors and just focusing all his energy on the season. The Suns, meanwhile, continued to reiterate that they would only consider moving Nash if he brought a trade request to their attention.

As I have said all along, my preference was for the Suns to at least see what they could get for Nash. I have felt that they owe it to their future to at least consider such a deal if they could get back a package of legitimate prospects and/or picks.

At the same time, Nash and the organization deserve credit for preventing this from becoming the Dwight Howard circus. Only time will tell if the Suns made the right decision by refusing to deal Two Time, but the way Nash and the Suns have handled this potentially tricky situation has been done with nothing but class.

As for whether he will re-sign, Nash’s agent Bill Duffy had this to say, per Coro:

“He will have options and one he will strongly consider is Phoenix, based on what they’re planning to do. They respect him and he likes (Suns Managing Partner) Robert Sarver, (President of Basketball Operations) Lon Babby, (coach) Alvin Gentry and his teammates.

“I know they’d like to re-sign him, but that’ll be his decision.”

That certainly does not sound like a slam dunk so the Suns’ front office must be a bit concerned that they could have just lost their final chance to acquire some value in return for Nash.

Perhaps there is a reason loyalty is so seldom seen in major sports these days.

Meanwhile, with the trade deadline now behind us I will now officially stopped thinking about lottery picks and instead focus my attention on this playoff race the Suns have found themselves in.

Perhaps I deserve blame for being late to this party, but I just did not think the playoffs were an option after the Suns dropped back-to-back home games to Cleveland in New Jersey after falling at home to lowly New Orleans earlier. Even when Phoenix made a mini-run by winning four of five games in early February I thought their subsequent four losses in a row (including three on consecutive days) would bury them, and if that didn’t surely the Golden State loss before the All-Star break would.

At that point the Suns were three games out of 12th in the loss column, and thus it seemed impossible that Phoenix could pass five teams on its way to a playoff spot regardless of how bunched up the bottom of the West playoff picture was.

Today tells a completely different story. The Suns sit all alone in ninth place and could tie No. 8 Houston in the loss column with a victory over the Rockets tomorrow night in US Airways Center. Suddenly, the playoffs don’t seem so out of the question regardless of how difficult Phoenix’s closing schedule is.

Looking at the team’s future and how badly it craves a franchise star, a part of me still really wants the Suns to get a top 10 pick in this loaded draft. This hot streak may just serve to put the Suns in the no man’s land of being not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to get an impact lottery pick either, which is what I fear the most.

But by not even considering trading Nash the Suns are clearly going all in this year while trying to rebuild on-the-fly, and I suppose there would be worse things than an unexpected run to the playoffs even if it makes the eventual rebuilding process a little harder.

And 1

  • Despite the recent run, John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds give Phoenix just a 19.0 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. That is worse than three teams Phoenix leads in the standings — Minnesota, Portland and Utah — and puts them in 12th place in the West with a projected record of 31-35. SCHOENE is not buying the Suns either, projecting a 9-14 finish (including the Detroit game) for a 30-36 final record that would also rank 12th in the last behind the Wolves, Blazers and Jazz.
  • ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh ranks Nash as the fourth-best 2012 free agent behind Deron Williams Brook Lopez and Ryan Anderson. Writes Haberstroh: “Can you imagine if Nash played on a contender rather than spending his time in NBA purgatory (also known as the Phoenix Suns)? The magic is still there even as he approaches 40 years young. He owns the top effective field goal percentage in the league, the top assist rate in the league and arguably the top make-everyone-around-him-better rating the game has ever seen. It’s almost a crime that a talent of his caliber hasn’t played with an All-Star since Amare Stoudemire in 2009-10. Nash won’t play at this level forever (we think), and you can expect multiple contenders will be bidding for his services even though he’s one of the oldest players in the sport.”

  • shawn

    Blah blah blah doom and gloom is all I read. These suns yes these suns are in 9th place and you complain about how you wish they weren’t winning so they could have a better draft pick. Are u serious? I love my suns I hope they make the playoffs and pull the upset all throughout their run and please don’t attend any playoff games your negative energy is not needed.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Shawn

    I Agree. This article was blah blah blah indeed. People are so stupid to thing that draft will save their team. Yeah right. These writer and the rest of the Suns fans who quit on this Steve Nash & Team should really be ashamed of themselves. They treat Nash like some nobody. Nash has proved time & time again not to count him out, along with Hill.
    Don’t they understand that with the Suns position next season, they can get 2 max players with the cap they have available?

    Suns have a great shot at that championship, and I stand by that word. Their defense is improving, and if Frye & Lopez continue to play like they are doing defensively, I don’t see why not.

  • Tony

    @Penny,

    not to burst your bubble Penny, but although the Suns will likely have enough cap space to sign two max-level players next season, they’re not going to. In fact, the only max-level player left at this point is D-Will and if he’s not going to sign an extension with a younger team with a billionaire owner, he’s certainly not going to sign with the Suns and play for Sarver. Frankly, I don’t think all that much of Williams anyway, I would take Nash over him any day of the week.

    Michael is just being realistic. As much as I love how this team seems to be jelling at the right time, they still have a brutal stretch of games to end the season and will be extremely fortunate to make the playoffs as an 8th seed. But taking a step further and looking beyond this season, if Nash does decide to leave, that will mean Sarver let JJ, Amare, and then Nash walk and get nothing in return. If Nash does sign elsewhere, it’s probably a safe bet to assume Hill will also sign onto another team as well. Assuming both of those guys do leave, with the Suns playing well enough now not likely to land a future superstar in next year’s draft, and the Suns unable to sign a max-level player this coming off-season, the Suns next year could turn out to be the Hornets of this season,

    Personally, since the Suns are playing much better and since Woodson now coaches the Knicks, I doubt Nash leaves anyway.

  • Watty

    I rarely agree with Tony, but I’d have to say he’s pretty much right on this one. Although I do think the Suns could add some pieces and be frugal with there money and be players next season by having the flexibility at a rental or two. They’ll get a good talent in the draft this year, I think Lopez will take a one year tender, and Nash stays. Like Hill said after the Detroit game last night, the teams getting that same chemestry they had in 09-10. Although I don’t get much hope up for them to go far in the Playoffs it sure makes them easy to cheer on. Gotta give the”three stooges”some credit on assembling high character guys. And just say JJ didn’t leave for nothing in return. Suns got Diaw, and Lopez out of that one, and Amare, and JJ are both untradeable until 2015 when they both become the Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson expiring contracts.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Tony

    If I were Steve Nash and read your comments, i’d be crying saying to myself, “what would it take for people to believe me?” I don’t think Nash has the years to prove himself more worthy than he already is. I guess we just have to trust Nash. I know he is a winner. And winners stand by their words. That’s all I got to say.

    Back then, I hated Nash. Being a black dude I’d always overlooked him and labeled him overrated. But I observed him carefully, took that color screen off my vision, and I realized just how special the white dude is. He got my respect ill tell you that.

  • shawn

    @Tony and Watts you guys are missing the point. We are in the present and the suns are playing winning basketball and yet all you want to focus on is the future. I want to enjoy what’s in front of my eyes now. We have Nash he is the Max player to sign over the summer along with hill. You guys are unbelievable with this nonsense. If Michael was being realistic then he would speak reality which he is not. He wants the suns to lose for some dream player in his head to come save the day. At the end of the day we are suns fans so its all love enjoy ur Nite bros and penny.

  • shawn

    @penny ur a dude my bad enjoy ur Nite bro

  • shawn

    I’m a blk chick so I was thinking penny from good times not penny hardaway don’t be mad at me lol

  • Watty

    I don’t think we’re missing the point here Shawn. The point is that we’re fans. Tonys fan creds can’t be questioned, he wants to see the Suns raise a championship banner, and that’s no doubt what I want. We love watching our team win! 9th place I’d hate to say is not a winner. That means 8 teams in the conference have currently won more games than the Suns and only 5 have won the same amount or less. We’re supposed to just be happy, drink the cool aid and not dream of ways for the Team to get better cause they made it to 500!? Hey I hear ya, I’ve enjoyed watching and cheering them on, and will support them to get as far as they can, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop wondering what next steps the franchise will take to get better and eventually get an NBA championship.

  • steve

    I think the Suns probably did shop Nash but they blew their last real shot at getting anything of value for him when they supposedly turned down the number two pick in this year’s draft. Keeping him now was the right move. There’s no telling what the future holds.

  • neurotic steve nash fan

    I’m with you Shawn. It always annoys me when fanatics start complaining about the “not good enough to make a playoff run, but not bad enough to get a lottery pick.” These are the same bozos who will be saying “i told you so” if we do sneak into the playoffs and get bounced in the 1st round. Imagine that. They would rather see suns go 20-62 and land a top 3 (unproven) pick. So bush league. Afraid to live and die with their teams.

    And now for the bias in me to speak. I am so glad the trade deadline is finally over. I still cant believe how many so called Suns fans wanted to “at least get something for Nash” If you were one of those people then I have to ask, Do you really think the Suns can be watchable/competitive without Steve anytime in the near future. Or maybe a better question is, would you rather have Nash in his prime or Allen Iverson in his prime. If your answer is AI, then Billy Hoyle was right and I give up.

    And for the super-delusional who think maybe we’ll sign Nash and still lose alot next year and get a top pick…. Nash has no idea what that means. You could put 11 d-leaguers around him and he would still find a way to win too many games for a lottery pick.

  • http://www.dirkmgirk.com StCroixSunsFan

    I’m a homer but after giving the remaining schedule a serious look I don’t think my hopes will be returned. This an extremely rough end of the season coming, in amount of games, amount of away games and caliber of opponents. If however we do get to see the Sun’s in the playoffs by that point they will be a tested and proven contender who could make a serious splash.

  • Scott

    @StCroix -

    On the other hand, if the Suns make headway under these tough conditions, they’ve earned their right to be in the playoffs.

  • Scott

    ^^^ Sorry, you said that, so just take it as underscoring your sentiment. :)

  • Mike

    I Sincrely hope Steve Nash Retires a sun. Call me sentimental but this is the Greatest player to ever wear Purple and Orange. Seeing him retire in any other jersey wouldnt seem right.
    I get that we all love the suns and want to see them win for decades to come, and trading Nash for lets be honest a low draft pick could work, but i’d rather look back one day and say that I was lucky enough to have seen one of the greats on and off the court.

  • Mike

    And if he walks for free then so be it. The suns wont make a free agency splash even with cap space so they need the two C’s (Character and Chemistry) anyway. Not doing everything they can to keep Nash sends out the wrong message to Guys like Jared, Channing and Robin. And hey It got them to the WCF two years ago.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Neurotic Steve Nash fan

    People are stupid and have no honor these days.

    @Mike

    I Agree about Nash being the best Sun ever. To trade him would be so stupid and wouldn’t feel right

    @StCroix -

    You approach the schedule like most of the haters who thought Suns wouldn’t even be in the play-off race. Nash & company, doesn’t need to prove anything to you. Follow another team..we don’t need your negative energy around.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Shawn

    Penny “The original And 1″ Hardaway baby!!

  • http://Www.dirkmgirk.com StCroixSunsFan

    @pennyAnd1 ok troll you’re right Phoenix suns 2011-2012 NBA Champs 20th consecutive year no questions.

  • steve

    It’s not a bad thing to be a REALIST. I agree that it’s a bad thing to be a downer, but acknowledging the fact that the schedule only gets tougher from here and that the Suns have an uphill battle is not being a downer. That falls in the realist realm, in my opinion. The Suns have a shot, but it’s not a good one.

  • Tony

    @Penny,

    you misunderstand me completely. Firstly, in terms of disclosure, Nash is my favorite player and in my opinion, he’s still in the top-3 best pgs in the league. The reason why I get so frustrated by Sarver is because he blew ample opportunities in assembling enough talent to help Nash win a ring or two. Looking at what Nash has done for this current group of Suns, it makes it even clearer how great a player he is.
    Furthermore, I have nothing but respect for the guy because of his selflessness and because doesn’t act like a baby like other star players. With that being said, I do wish he was more vocal in the past about demanding ownership maintain elite talent.

    As I said before, I am ecstatic about how well the Suns are playing now. However, their remaining schedule, especially in April, is a really rough stretch to say the least. I hope they can figure out a way to win enough games to make the playoffs but considering that they will play mostly playoff caliber teams on the road nonetheless, it’s just not likely they do win enough.

    As a Suns fan, you have to look beyond the present to even next season. Nash has not explicitly declared that he is going to stay and retire as a Sun, so there’s a decent chance he does leave in free agency. If he goes, I doubt Hill resigns either. That will mean the Suns best player, the player the Suns system was designed for, will be gone along with the team’s best perimeter defender.

    Without Nash and Hill, without a top-5 draft pick, and with the inability for the Suns FO to sign even one max-level player this off-season, next season could turn out to be extremely brutal for the Suns. This is not being negative but rather realistic instead.

  • PennyAnd1

    @StCroix

    kiss my a$$..no room for a loser fan like you, join LBJ and follow the Heat. As for me & the true Suns fan, we live & die with Nash/Hill & company.

    @Steve

    To be honest, Suns thrives in challenges..that’s why I have a good vibe about this upcoming road trip. Don’t be surprised if they sweep.

    @Tony

    Nash has already said it to the media that he wants to play for the Suns next year and wants to retire as a Sun..so I don’t know how you can get an idea that he will ditch a team he has worked hard on for years, especially in chemistry and the system they are implementing.

    The other reason why I think Nash will NOT jump ship is because he has no plans to play off the bench just yet, or to adjust in a slow-paced game like almost all team in this league. Don’t forget, Suns hire coaches that benefits Nash’s style. So I don’t see him going anywhere next year at all.