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.

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