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.”
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