What do Steve Nash’s teammates think he’ll do?

PHOENIX — Approximately 12 hours after the Phoenix Suns had wrapped up their season with a game that will be remembered more as a celebration of Steve Nash than as a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, a grey sky and on-and-off drizzle hung over US Airways Center as players cleared out their lockers and went through exit interviews with Alvin Gentry.

Nash wasn’t to be seen, but it didn’t stop us media hounds from asking what everyone wants to know.

What’s in store for the two-time MVP?

The media has talked about it without much basis. By the tone of the “We want Steve!” chants of last night, fans either fear he’s leaving for his own good or actually want him to be gone for his own good.

Yet, they would hope that Thursday’s weather wasn’t telling of the future ahead for the team, one that could be without the face of the franchise.

But what about Nash’s teammates, the guys who he led to a 33-33 season? They know him best, after all, and Thursday’s postseason media session was the first real opportunity for his boys to toss out their guesses of whether their 38-year-old leader would return.

The consensus is unsurprising in that the man who brings out the best in his teammates is wanted back with the Suns. It’s also not eyebrow-raising to hear that he’s earned the right to ship out to a championship contender if he chooses that route.

But there was a surprising amount of optimism in his chances of returning to Phoenix.

Obviously, roster improvements are needed, but don’t think Nash’s expectations won’t be tempered.

“I don’t think he expects — I mean, obviously I’m not Steve, I don’t know — I think he won’t expect that we’ll have a summer like the Heat did and bring in LeBron and D-Wade,” Jared Dudley said. 

No, the Suns won’t reload to become a title contender in a year. Considering his loyalty, that fact might not be as bad for retaining Nash as you might think. Dudley referenced the 1993 NBA Finals team led by Charles Barkley as an example of a team the city would love to watch, hinting that being competitive might be all it takes to lure Nash back to the Suns.

“I think from knowing him he wants to, at minimal, make the playoffs but have a chance to contend like we did for the Western Conference Finals that year and give yourself a shot,” Dudley said.

Put on the spot, backup point guard Sebastian Telfair said he thinks Nash will stick around. So too does Marcin Gortat, who teamed with Nash to become the best assist-to-score duo in the league this season. That hasn’t stopped the center from applying some recruiting pressure upon the two-time MVP.

“To be honest with you I didn’t talk to anybody, I didn’t talk to him, but I’m quite sure he’s going to stay,” Gortat said. “I started a whole campaign yesterday with him, during the game, where I was telling him where it wasn’t good for his kids to change their school at this age. I told him he’s always going to look good in orange. I mean, you got to worry about the weather, the weather’s the main factor here. And I also told him, ‘Listen, you might end up on a team where the five who is fat and slow.’ You got this five man who is running the floor with you.”

“At the end of the day, Steve is a great guy,” Gortat added. “Wherever he’s going to go, I’m going to wish him all the best. If he isn’t here in Phoenix, I really hope he’s going to a team where he will win a championship. Like I said, my opinion is he’s going to stay.”

More on Nash

Ronnie Price: “For me as a point guard, I’ve played behind some great point guards — Deron Williams, Mike Bibby and Steve Nash now — Steve is the ultimate professional. Being able to learn and watch him every day as a player, as a fan was a blessing. It gave me a sense of fresh air to see him, how he works at this age.”

Josh Childress: “I know we all want him back, but this situation is unique. Steve is such an integral … he is the Suns. The city loves him, the world loves him. He has to do what’s best for him. I think people will respect that because of the type of guy he is and the type of high character guy he is.”

Tags: Steve Nash

  • steve

    Think gortat can work his polish charm to lure a scoring machine or two this way? Haha. I, for one, am excited to see the outcome of this situation in either case. Nash stays, nash goes, it’s going to be fun to see what’s next.

  • Tony

    Nice to hear Gortat’s sentiments. Despite his softness, he has a good sense of humor.

    Personally, Nash has been and will continue to be my favorite player so my perception is probably a little biased. With that being said, Nash deserves so much better than the Three Stooges. Remember, prior to the start of this season, Babby was lecturing to the media that they were only willing to take on 1-year contracts so that they would land us a star player this off-season…? Funny how the only elite player left to be signed is D Williams, and clearly he has no intention of signing with the Suns. The notion that other NBA franchises wouldn’t resign their star players was just plain stupid. But I guess, when your own organization allows its star players to walk, I guess it becomes reasonable to assume other organizations will naturally allow the same thing to happen.

    So, why should Nash trust the FO to make the necessary moves to make this team even a 2nd round playoff team? The best free agents left are all restricted free agents with their respective teams having enough cap space to resign them. Portland traded Wallace for that very reason so that they could use the cap space to lock in Batum. The Hornets, with new ownership coming, are not going to let Gordon sign elsewhere without making every possible attempt to resign their only “star” player. Furthermore, the fact that it was reported the Suns FO plan to make Jamal Crawford as their number 2 priority free agent signing, behind Nash of course, is indication enough that they have no idea what they are doing or how to build a contender. I mean signing a soon to be 33 year old sg who is a volume shooter and doesn’t play any defense is a high priority??

    In all probability, the Suns will be even worse next season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only chance this franchise has of returning to an elite status is with new ownership. We need an owner whose first priority is winning and who will be willing to lose a little money in the short term undoing all the harm Sarver has done, for the long term benefit of the franchise. This is why I advocate not renewing season tickets or otherwise spending money to go into Sarver’s wallet. If Sarver is unable to afford repaying all the interest from all the loans he obtained to purchase the team, maybe we get lucky and he’s forced to sell sooner rather than later.

  • grover

    Nash’s teammates are likely biased and/or may not hear the pure truth from Nash. I’d be more curious what his former teammates and friends might say based on their knowledge of his personality and desires. I’m thinking of guys like Raja Bell, Nowitzki, or Diaw.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    I like nash but I am a suns fan first. Whatever happens I just want our team to be good. I wish nash the best in whatever he chooses. He’s earned the right to do what he wants.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I doubt what you heard about Crawford is at all true.

    @grover -

    I think the teammates expect Nash to return, as Nash has been with the Suns the whole time most of them have been in the league (except Hill), but I believe that Nash hasn’t made up his mind yet, and he won’t make up his mind till the free agency period starts and offers start coming in.

    I’ll be curious about the offers. I can see where they’d be fewer and less impressive than some might think.

    As for his personality, his tendency is to be loyal, but the Suns don’t have his sole loyalty. Dirk has some, NYC has some, and Toronto (Canada) has some. If he’s in a serious relationship, his GF might have a say. But I think we can rule out virtually every other team; I can’t see him going to some random team, like Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, or whatever.

  • steve

    @Scott – I also wouldn’t rule out Miami. I don’t think they have any of his loyalty necessarily, but he himself saying he would like to play with LeBron has got to mean something.

    It’s probably just gamesmanship on Nash’s part, but his choice of words has seemed to indicate to me that he believes that he and the Phoenix Suns will part ways this summer. I haven’t heard him use anything but the past tense when referring to his time here. It’s always, “My time in Phoenix WAS great,” “I HAD a good run here,” “I loveD this city.” Maybe it’s just me, but if I thought I was going to come back, I’d be saying things more along the lines of, “My time in Phoenix HAS BEEN great,” “I HAVE HAD a good run here,” “I LOVE this city.”

    I could just be nit-picking. Maybe Nash is as careful about his words as I would be in his shoes. He’s about to sign his last contract (maybe), and if he wants to maximize his dollars, then he is going to want to convince Phoenix he doesn’t want to come back. Nobody will pay him more than Phoenix. In that sense, if I cared about the money and I were Nash, I would also be referring to Phoenix exclusively in the past tense.

    I don’t know. Time to stop thinking about it.

  • Tim in BC

    I hope that Steve Nash doesn’t leave but if he does please not the Heat or Lakers! The Mavs would be an interesting choice to reuinte him with his buddy Dirk but what would become of Jason Kidd? (another aging but still very talented PG) The Magic is another possibility as he would be a great tandem with Howard but I don’t like Howard anymore after holding them hostage and him being a spoiled brat whiner alot of the season.

  • MKM

    I know many may think I am crazy, but I believe the Dragon + Crawford will be enough for the Suns to contend next year, with the current starting roster intact. If you look at the +/- the Suns starters are actually doing a great job this season. The problem is really about the weak 2nd unit, which can be hugely upgraded by the Dragon + Crawford (6 Man of the Year in 2010). If the Suns could convert 4 of those <3pt losses into wins this season, they would have been the 3rd seed in the West. We were THAT close … obviously Nash's decision is the key and he definitely earns the right to choose the best for the rest of his career.

  • Ty

    I really think Orlando is the most likely spot for Nash if he decides to leave. They can afford to make him a very good offer, they are a few players away from contending for the championship again next season and I think he would work well with the system they already have.

    Miami and NY have been talked about but I’m not sure either team has enough cap room to make him a serious offer unless they’re willing to pay luxury taxes. In NY I think they are still considering Jeremy Lin as their PG of the future and Baron Davis has been playing well since Lin was hurt so I don’t think they’ll make a serious run at signing Nash. Miami already has enough ball handlers and signing Nash would just be a luxury for them which is why I doubt they will make a serious offer either. They also have a much more serious need to find a quality center.

    I can see Dallas making him an offer if D-Will decides not to become a FA this year or signs elsewhere. Yes they still have Kidd but his stats have been falling steadily for the past too seasons and I doubt they are willing to rely too much on him next season unless they have no other choice.

    And I doubt the Lakers making a hard play for Nash either. Sessions is working out well for them and their main needs are depth at other positions.

    As for the rest of the NBA, I’m sure there are some other teams that I’m sure might make Steve some very good offers but many of them are either worse than the Suns or only marginally better and I doubt Nash would seriously consider moving to another team that he doesn’t have confidence would be any better than the Suns.

    But who knows what might happen. If the front office has one collective ounce of brains, they should sit down with Steve Nash and ASK him which players they should try to bring to the team via free agency, trades and the draft if they really want to keep him in the valley.

  • Brandon

    Steve Nash deserves a shot at a title. One player can only do so much. Kobe didn’t start winning them until the Gasol trade, and Dirk got his when the team signed Chandler and caught fire.

    Steve has had less and less talent is seems each year since 05′ and he’s made the absolute best of it. How many games do you think they’d win without him? 13-15 is my guess. If I was him I wouldn’t trust ownership and the FO to bring in enough talent. He is fiercely loyal but I dont think he gets the same loyalty from the FO.

    Of course Gortat wants him to stay, Gortat is a solid player, he needs to become more agressive and up his bball IQ but he is a constant hustler. But more importantly, his game is based off Nash.

    I could see Nash going to the Heat, although if they win this year they might not feel as if they need him. NY? Maybe, depending on Lin.

    If I was Steve and the front office came to me about resigning, I would say, “make the moves first.”

    Here is my wishful thinking. Trade for Howard, despite all the negative press, the guy can play and would feast off Nash. Trade Gortat, his value is high, try and get a sold 3 or 4 who can create their own shot. Draft Kendall Marshall who can be groomed by Nash. Frye, Lopez, Redd, Dudely, make a solid bench. I’m not as high as I was about Brown anymore. Morris has some upside.

    Anyways thats wishful thinking, in all reality its time for a rebuild. I don’t want to see Steve on a team struggling to make the playoffs. If he goes, I will wish him the best.

  • Mel.

    Given the history of trades between ORL-PHX, I’m actually seeing them as being Nash’s most likely direction, as well. Pulling the trigger on it probably ensures Dwight’s full participation for at least another season or two; likewise, Steve remedies their major offensive problem, which has been a consistent lapse in urgency and the ability to execute basic, shot-making plays.

    Which… you know, pretty much describes what the Suns are going to look like in his absence. Run the ball around, run the ball around, run the ball into a trap, try to force it into the post, and–when that fails–bounce it to someone for a contested three-pointer. For as talented a coach as SVG is, I’ve seen few offenses that are so prone to completely breaking down in terms of fundamental ball as Orlando’s been, this season.

    But on the upside, a supporting cast of Howard, Richardson, Redick/Anderson and Davis is a hell of a lot more than Nash has to work with here in the Valley. I think it’s a good fit, and would definitely nudge the Magic towards the Heat/Bulls and away from their current Atlanta/NYK level of “implied contendership.”

  • Tim in BC

    I can see Steve going to Orlanda like you said as he would make them better and a contender to win it all. I wonder if Howard goes to the Nets if they would try and land Nash but maybe not because they already have a quality PG? I also agree that he should tell management to go after some good players before signing again but he is a smart guy and will likely do that. I love his loyalty but could understand if he left the Suns if management still expects him to hold up the team and make everyone better.

  • grover

    Anyone remember how this works… I know there is some way the Suns could still see value from Nash in a trade. It has something to do with the Suns being able to sign him then trade him to a team over the cap. I don’t have the tools handy or the time to research it, but if my memory is right its possible the Suns could trade with teams like Orlando or Miami and get RFAs back that have a cap hold preventing them from signing Nash directly. It was one of the reasons the Suns were willing to hold Nash to finish this year rather than trade him for close to nothing before the trade deadline.

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

    The Rant-Train goes, chuga-chuga-chuga-WOOWOO!


    Dragon yes, because dude is a stud and not so pencil-point specific, so Gentry and the staff can be more flexible putting a team together for the future.

  • grover

    I don’t get this, and I’ve heard it repeated many many times here – the theme that Nash required very specific personnel here for the Suns to compete.

    Using this year as a perfect example, Nash took a rag tag collection of crappy players to the edge of the playoffs. If you asked most NBA analysts (because I’ve heard these discussion on basketball shows before) Nash is probably the best in the league at turning a group of misfits into a competitive team. How exactly does that translate into Nash requiring very specific talent surrounding him? Exactly what kind of basketball player is it that plays best with guards who don’t find them open shots or give them the ball only when they know their chances are best? Are those players – the ones who play best when lacking open shot opportunities or easy transition baskets – that we wish the Suns have been signing these last 8 years if not for that crappy point guard we’ve been stuck with?

  • steve

    A nash offense is beautiful, but actually rather stagnant for three of the five on the court. He doesn’t make every player on the court with him better, even if he finds them open shots. What he does is ensure that they will never have to create for themselves. To be honest, I’m not so sure that’s a great thing. I see the merits of either side.

    Also, players have been brought in based on what they might be able to do in a nash driven pnr offense. I’m not going to say the right choices were made, but nash was the motivating factor for virtually everything this franchise has done for the past 8 years.

  • grover

    I get what you’re saying, but I think the number and types of players Nash doesn’t make better are much fewer than those he makes better. Nash does control the ball more than most point guards, but who are those point guards who control it as much? Currently I’d say Paul, Rondo, Williams? Going back a few years Stockton, Thomas, Magic? Nash is a bad fit with ball stoppers like Carmelo, true. For most players, however, Nash makes them better by getting them the ball where they are already a scoring threat and can showcase their skills.

    Nash is the overwhelming reason the Suns were as good as they were, not the reason they weren’t better. As a lover of advanced stats, I know you’re well aware of where Nash has ranked since joining the Suns in PER, adjusted +/-, etc. I can’t think of any player in the last twenty years that could have succesfully polished some of these turd rosters to be as shiny as Nash did. Making it to the 2006 WCF with Boris Diaw as a starting center? Its not like there is a long list of players and coaches who finally blossomed when they left Phoenix.

  • grover

    To your point, Steve, I would throw Warrick out as a Nash driven mistake. I doubt that it was Nash, however, that decided Warrick was a good long term solution to replace Amare. Id say Nash’s biggest fault as a player is not having kicked Sarver in the nuts for not finding him a good backup, for selling draft picks, and for not managing Amare’s replacement better.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    If he doesn’t re-sign, he would have a great shot at a title here in Chicago. Plus, trust me, the fans here would love him. The bulls fans are extremely loyal and forgiving. The bulls have the shooters and team defense. Just not sure if they could afford nash or not.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Obviously I posted this because Rose is out indefinitely

  • Mel.

    Nash could do a hell of a lot worse than CHI, but I’m willing to bet that Rose comes back as strong as Paul has, once he’s properly patched up and rested.

    Doubt he’ll ever be the player he was after this season, but he’s still got too much talent to go the Roy route.

  • steve

    Bummer about rose. That sucks. It wasn’t talent that brought Roy down though. It was genetics. I think rose will bounce back as well, but you never know.