Steve Nash says context key to understanding his comments

PHOENIX — Steve Nash created quite the national stir yesterday, when a Dove Men’s Care promotional media blitz ended in what appeared to be a bold statement to the Phoenix Suns’ organization.

Nash told some media bigwigs that he wouldn’t return to the Suns unless the team showed that they’re serious in improving upon this year’s roster, the result being somewhat of an Internet freakout. True, it was the first time he was so blatant in stating his intentions, but from what the local media has heard over the course of this season, it wasn’t anything surprising.

Did you really think he’d return if the Suns, for some reason, decided to stand pat? After many Suns fans wished he’d been traded to a contender for his own sake, is it all that surprising he would consider joining the Miami Heat, an established threat to reach and win the NBA Finals?

It was quite fitting that Nash’s open and brutal honesty came during a soapy — mind the pun — promotion of feeling comfortable in his own skin. At this point, there’s no reason he shouldn’t say what he did.

We shouldn’t be surprised he did just that.

“Even the clips … the truthful clips, you know, if they don’t try to improve the team, you think I should say, ‘Yeah I want to come back?’” the two-time MVP said on Friday. “I think everybody wants to win, wants to improve.”

“We’re a team that’s in transition,” he added. “I thought everybody knew we were waiting for the summer to improve the team. There was a context to it. The context was somewhere along the lines of, ‘So you’re just going back to Phoenix no matter what?’ There was context to it, but the statement was a truthful one.”

In the end, his rotations of interviews with the likes of Dan Patrick, Bill Simmons and Jim Rome became somewhat of national headlines, some stories taking his quotes a little out of context and some not. Throughout this season, Nash has always thrown out the obligatory comments to remind us all this is a Suns roster lacking in the talent department. He’s said, time and time again, that the team needs to find that something extra if they hope to win games, and he’s often pointed to the detriment of lacking a go-to scorer as evidence Phoenix has little room for error.

He reiterated that stance after Friday’s practice, trying to keep the subject on the task at hand — making the playoffs.

“Overall, we’ve put ourselves in a position I don’t think anybody thought we’d be in,” Nash said, reminding everyone that this team is overachieving. “That’s great. We got to try to close the deal and sneak back in the playoffs here.”

Yet, it’s hard not to look ahead and wonder what likelihood the Suns have in re-signing Nash.

Even with a solid offseason of free-agent signings, it may not be enough to bring back Phoenix’s all-time assists leader if tempting offers come from already-established contenders. If the Suns become a sure-fire playoff team with a couple signings, there’s few circumstances out there to jump them ahead of teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in terms of winning the Western Conference.

Is Nash going to want to join that good of a team, or just one that’s competitive enough to win on any given night, something that this year’s squad is not?

In short, how much must the team do in order to convince Nash that signing what likely will be his last contract should be with the Phoenix Suns?

“If you look at our team, we don’t have a 20-point a game scorer or a go-to guy,” Nash said. “So it’d be great if we could get that. If not, we’ll have to do it by committee and try to sign as many good players as we can. I think that’s why this club has made this summer the summer where they created cap space and flexibility.”

At this point, it’s hard to believe even Steve Nash knows what he’s going to do, or what he’s looking for. But rest assured, however, that loyalty will play somewhat of a factor in Phoenix being his choice.

After that, it’ll all depend on what strings the Suns’ management can pull in convincing him they’re committed to winning.

Tags: Steve Nash

  • steve

    I listened to the Simmons podcast, and I didn’t get the impression from Nash that he is intent on leaving Phoenix. I also didn’t get the impression that he is intent on staying. He was nothing like Melo, Amare, and LeBron have sounded in the days leading up to their respective free agencies. It was obvious none of those players had any intention of staying with their clubs (especially Melo, of course).

    I think the Suns have a better shot than anyone at signing Nash this off-season, especially because it is a near-guarantee that the most money will be here. He is not nearly as valuable to any other market as he is to Phoenix, and I think this FO is going to be forced to offer him 15-20% more than any other team in order to save face. They simply cannot afford to appear as if they lost Steve Nash due to being cheap.

    Right now, I’d put it 65/35, Nash stays. Whether or not that’s a GOOD thing, I won’t comment on right now. But I think he’s staying… or coming back, however you want to look at it.

  • casey

    I think Jared Dudley could be a 15 to 20 point scorer with Nash feeding him the ball if he just became a lil more selfish, Hes one of the few players in the NBA that I think is too unselfish especially on his team. Dudley has one of the most pure shots in the League. He may not be the best at creating for himself but thats what the suns have Nash for. Have Dudley come off screens like a Ray Allen, and he should be averaging 16-20 points a game… Nash, Dudley as the vocal points w Gortat as a 3rd option… could be a good team if they got some depth and a lil more athletism

  • Tony

    Ok Steve, so tell all of us what you’re basing your 65% chance Nash stays on…..

    Interesting development on why Nash decided to air his frustrations with the Suns FO. HoopsHype reported that apparently Nash was doing his best to recruit Diaw, as he really wanted another playmaker and ball-handler on the team. Well, when Sarver and Babby sat down to talk with Diaw’s agent, allegedly Diaw was informed by his agent that neither Sarver or Babby was thrilled with the idea of bringing him back. In fact, allegedly Babby said in regards to bringing Diaw back that he didn’t want to revisit the past. As if the past was so much worse than the current Suns situation.
    This report then disclosed that Nash was fed up that the two of the Three Stooges, Sarver and Babby, were apathetic in trying to sign Diaw and that, the FO’s failure may have been the last straw for Nash.

    If all of this is true, I do not understand the FO’s thinking in not bringing Diaw back for the rest of the season. He certainly would have been a nice addition and the very fact that Nash, the so-called Sun and Moon of the Suns or whatever Babby labeled him, would be slighted by these two morons who supposedly hold him in such high favor is further evidence for how incompetent and arrogant Sarver and Babby are.

  •!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    The thing is, Diaw doesn’t solve any problems really. He would still pass up open shots because he’s unselfish. He’s not nearly the player, (cardio wise), he was when he was in Phoenix. He wouldn’t upgrade the second unit, because there are no parts on the second unit to work with.

    The only guy that would pair beautifully with Diaw is J-Chil, and he doesn’t play – ever. He probably won’t play even with Hill out.

    I keep looking at the league contracts after this season is over, and there are a lot of people hitting the open market, but none of them make the Suns a playoff threat.
    We keep talking about these restricted free agents, but there are prices to be paid for them. This ownership will not pay those prices.

    I hope Nash leaves. Not because I hate him. He is my second favorite Sun of all time and I was furious when they gave up on him the first time and it’s the same with Dragon.

    I want him to leave because him being around is making the rebuilding process longer and longer. It’s at the point now where, if he does leave and the Organization wants to jump-start the rebuild, they’re going to have to shop Gortat. Insanity in the sense that the dude is nice and is really only in his “second PLAYING year” and can only improve as a starter, and it would be painful to have to give him away as his prime approaches.

    If Nash leaves, you don’t need “Nash players.” If Gentry remains, you could begin stocking the fridge with rounded ingridients. People reference the bench mob from the WCF run. That was a balanced team top to bottom. More importantly, Gentry had what he needed to attack in various ways.

    I’d rather them build through the draft and smart, YOUNG, cheap contracts where Gentry can actually use what makes him a good coach instead of being caught trying to fit pieces around a star that just won’t fit while at the same time crushing his second unit.

  • grover

    I’d disagree that the FO won’t pay for free agents. The Suns FO has somehow gotten a bad rap for being cheap, but they’ve been over the salary cap quite often. They have made some really stupid decisions and grossly undervalued their draft picks. Being cheap and being dumb are not the same thing.

    My worry isn’t that they won’t spend money. My worry is they will, but on average talent.

  • steve

    I spoke with nash earlier this afternoon, and that’s the figure he told me. That’s where I got the 65/35 number.

  • Scott

    Nash said, “If you look at our team, we don’t have a 20-point a game scorer or a go-to guy. So it’d be great if we could get that. If not, we’ll have to do it by committee and try to sign as many good players as we can. I think that’s why this club has made this summer the summer where they created cap space and flexibility.”

    Gortat is averaging 16 points. That’s close to the 20 Nash is asking for, yet clearly Nash isn’t thinking Gortat’s output is the solution. The problem is that Nash has to work so hard to get Gortat those 16 points. What he’s saying he wants is someone who can create a lot of points on a regular basis without Nash running all over the place to create each play.

    Dudley is not the answer, either. Yes, Dudley has been steadily evolving into a better and better player, but he’s not a star yet. His game is too inconsistent. He’s not all that different from Frye, or Brown, who can put up numbers on occasion, but can’t really be counted upon to do so each game, let alone in crunch time.

    I can’t think of any star FAs who would be allowed to come to Phoenix this summer. Most of the star players are going to be locked into their current teams; for obvious reasons, the teams don’t want to let their stars go.

    The one clear exception, so far as I can see, is D-Will, in that it is quite possible the Nets can’t keep him. He has no loyalty to the fans, and he already has a foot out the door, complete with honorable excuse (ownership failed to sign Howard). That’s why I wrote up my speculative trade involving him.

    It’s not that I think D-Will is pining for the fjords of Phoenix. It’s just that he’s the only star who wants out and is likely to get out, and Phoenix CAN sign him, and Phoenix CAN play him with Nash, and D-Will CAN score 20 a night without Nash lifting a finger.

  • Scott

    Reading between the lines on Blanks’ visit with Aaron Brooks in China: “Yes, if Steve leaves, I’d be happy to take over in Phoenix.”

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    Keep in mind that Gentry did not build that bench mob. It came about by accident, as they were the squad that went against D’Antoni’s starters.

    I see nothing in Gentry’s behavior since then that indicates he is willing to work with or build up a bench. It appears he has no perception or understanding of the situation.

  • Zak

    D-Will is going home to Dallas when this season is up. The main reason that Cuban let so many players go in FA from last year’s championship team was to clear out enough salary so that they could make him a max offer if he became a FA at the end of this season. Given a choice between Dallas and Phoenix, there just is no argument that anyone can come up with that could convince me that D-Will would pick the Suns over Dallas (especially since Dallas is his home town).

  • steve

    Yeah, I’d say that’s the most likely scenario as well, Zak. However, I won’t be completely shocked if Williams goes somewhere else (even phoenix). I don’t know if anyone really knows what makes the diva superstars of today tick.

  • Zak

    Honestly, I don’t think that the Suns need to add an “elite” max contract player to make this team competitive next year. But I do see a lot of restricted and unrestricted FAs that would be a great improvement over some of the players already on the team. The Suns don’t need one great player to be competitive, they need several really good players to do it and hopefully they can get at least one gem out of the draft this year. If they can get at least a few of those players during the off season, I see Nash coming back. The Suns still can amnesty one player during this summer which would open up even more cap space. We can’t count on the FO making good moves this summer but I’m not convinced that they can’t make good ones yet.

  •!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @Rich -

    Keep in mind that Gentry did not build that bench mob. It came about by accident, as they were the squad that went against D’Antoni’s starters. (1)

    I see nothing in Gentry’s behavior since then that indicates he is willing to work with or build up a bench. It appears he has no perception or understanding of the situation. (2)

    Okay this comment was kind of bad.

    (1) D’Antoni had been gone for awhile. Gentry had talent. He balanced that squad out, and not only did he give them an identity, he actually coached the second unit differently.
    He had the talent that, on a grander scale, he would want to find success. He molded them into a well rounded crew with players he could expand responsibilites of. This is something he simply can’t do with the starters as long as Nash is on the team. It was a glimpse of what Gentry COULD do if he had proper pieces.

    (2) that leads me to that next set of words from that post of yours.
    Gentry had Dragon, Lou, JMZ, and RoLo coming off the bench. He had TALENT coming off the bench. He had a point guard that COULD man up defensively which helped keep that second unit so frisky.

    This year, Gentry’s bench? Shannon Brown, Telfair, Warrick, Price, Morris –

    Lots of players who play one way or are not mature enough yet, (Morris), to contribute on a nightly basis. He can’t even come up with a set 5 man bench rotation. He can’t even come up with a set FOUR man rotation. The pieces DON’T WORK. That is not his fault.

    All of us, at some point this season, have screamed at him for leaving the bench in there too long. Really, though, what is too long? If he played Nash and Hill more, they’d die. Hill is done now anyway.

    If you give Gentry a fresh squad with players who can do various things, he can get you results. When you give him a roster full of players who are there to try to compliment Nash, you get this year and last year’s Suns.

  • Tony


    I agree with everything you said about Gentry but I completely disagree with your last paragraph about Nash.

    Firstly, other than Frye, which player on the Suns team suits Nash’s style best? Answer: there isn’t any other player on this team that is an ideal fit in a system tailored towards Nash. In acquiring players to compliment Nash, you need altheticism, outside shooting, and a secondary option to run screen and rolls with and who can also make a mid-range jumper.

    This Suns team doesn’t have any of those players with the exception of Gortat, but even with him, his mid-range shot is inconsistent and thus is what distinguishes him big time from Amare on the offensive end. This is one of the main reasons why teams are so successful shutting down the Nash & Gortat pick and roll in the 4th quarters. It’s just so predictable when Gortat can only roll to the basket and doesn’t step out for a pick&pop play.

    So I don’t know who you are talking about that suits Nash’s style best other than Frye, and he’s only one player. You can’t be talking about Dudley, because although he’s a pretty good shooter overall, he is extremely limited athletically.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    Frye was with the 2nd unit, not Robin. In his first years, for the most part Robin was either with the starters or injured.

    Frye came to the Suns as a surplus big man, because at the time the Suns were struggling to acquire size. In his first year with the Suns, it was through his play at C for the 2nd unit that Frye developed his identity as a 3 pt shooter. Likewise, Dudley (seen by many as a throw-in in the Bell/Diaw for JRich trade) showed an unexpected ability to hit the 3. Between the two of them, with Lou blocking shots and inhaling rebounds, and Dragic and Barbosa torturing opposing back courts, the Suns 2nd unit steamrolled opposing 2nd units, and even the starters of some teams. They would run fast and either lay it up or rain 3s, and with Dudley, Barbosa, and Dragic all probing for steals, it was typical that in a matter of minutes the advantage would clearly be in favor of the Suns.

    So yes, the Suns got rid of Dragic, Barbosa, and Amundson, and they boosted Frye and Dudley into starting roles. That 2nd unit was thoroughly looted and destroyed.

    But my points remain. 1) Gentry did not intentionally create that unit, nor did he realize they’d be any good. As he stated in his first press conferences, after expanding the player rotation and deploying the 2nd unit against the Clippers in back to back games, he was as surprised by what happened as anybody.

    2) Gentry did not try to adjust his personnel so as to create a decent 2nd unit last year, yet he continued to make wholesale substitutions as though he had a synergistic unit. He often put Dragic out there with a group of players who did not know the system, were not in their places, and on more than one occasion they were all 2 pt scorers with Dragic as the only player capable of shooting a 3. So the opposition would sag around the basket on defense and Dragic could do nothing but probe and probe and eventually launch a 3.

    This year Gentry again has been negligent about composing a 2nd unit that can play effectively together, yet he has mostly continued with the policy of making wholesale substitutions as though he had a working 2nd unit to put on the floor.

    In many posts I’ve detailed some of the things Gentry could have done differently to be more successful. For example, while he could continue to start Dudley and Frye if he wished, he could also sub them out early, so they could play the majority of their minutes with the 2nd unit. This would be a way of giving the 2nd unit some leadership, some players with experience of the system, plus scoring and defensive punch.

    What we’ve seen for 2 years running is Gentry typically pulling all the starters and replacing them with a non-cohesive unit that would serially lose games for the team.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Scott, you have the right idea!

    That bench unit was even more of a force than our starters were.

    Free agents this year will not only include D-Will, Dirk & Nash, it will also include LB, Louis – he does not like being called “Lou” – & Gogi. Most of my concern involves Babby (a politician-type lawyer), inasmuch as he has wrapped Sarver around his finger, to trade LB for his client Hedo, & refuse to offer Louis a deal & trade away Gogi because he was a Kerr signing & to give huge raises to Babby’s other clients Josh & Hill. Grant earned his raise, but, doubling his pay, as he appoaches 40? Babby is a fox guarding our hen house, nothing more & nothing less. With Babby seeking to do the sleezy lawyer type deal of further entrenching his power, his refusal with Diaw (a likeable teammate) to “revisit the past”, speaks volumes to me & to Nash. Nash now has no hope of the Suns signing LB (Steve’s favotite back court mate & “go-to scorer” when closing out the game with Nash who will give us 20 points per 36 minutes of play time) nor Louis (while lacking in talent is rich in energy & competitiveness) nor Gogi. Kerr would immediately admit & rectify his mistakes. Will Babby do this? Not on your life. Fire Babby & we will have a shot at righting our ship. That is “ship”, as in champion”ship.”

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • steve

    There’s no way Babby is getting fired after only 18 months, and rightly so. Every GM deserves at least 3 years, and it would be even better if they could get at least 5.