PHOENIX — For an hour on Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby talked with the local media about everything from this past season to the future ahead. We’ll be breaking down a number of issues, but let’s get to the pressing matters first.
Steve Nash is that pressing matter, and Babby went into detail about the to-be-decided future between the Suns and their two-time MVP, though it’ll probably be the last time we have a good grip on the situation from sources within Phoenix’s front office.
“I’m not going to give weather reports,” Babby said. “When the ship comes in, you’ll hear about it.”
After Wednesday’s meeting with the media, Babby’s comments reflected that Nash and the Suns are communicating and on the same plane of thought. Babby said he spoke with Nash after the lockout was lifted, and it was at that time when point both parties made the agreement to hold steady for an entire season.
“I made a commitment to him that we weren’t going to trade him if he wanted to stay,” Babby said. “He was the ideal partner all season long.”
Now, Nash finally has a decision to make, but Babby said the Suns will be “full participants in that process” of reaching a final verdict.
After all, the reaction by the Phoenix home crowd in the final game of the year spoke volumes about how important Nash is to the Phoenix community, and as such, the team has every reason to go after their franchise point guard despite his age. Still, the team and the player will need to come to a conclusion that their expectations of each other align.
“We have to go down the road with him and see if we can find a common path, a path that makes sense for him and that makes sense for us,” Babby said.
“At this very early stage, every indication we’ve gotten from Steve is that not only is our spirit willing to make this happen, but his spirit is willing as well,” he added. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. We respect his right to look around, but we will work hard with him to find common ground.”
Five reasons why the Suns didn’t trade Nash at the trade deadline
There was a strong argument amongst our readers and ourselves about whether Phoenix should trade Nash before this season or before the trade deadline, giving him a shot to play for a contender all while giving Phoenix pieces in return for the aging point guard.
That’s a legitimate argument, Babby said, but there’s upside to keeping Nash around.
“We didn’t think that was right for our franchise,” Babby said of a potential trade. “I thought it was more important to communicate with Steve at the outset of the season that he could stay so long as he was all-in in what it was we were trying to accomplish this year.”
Here are five reasons why keeping Nash made sense for the franchise, according to Babby.
1. He doesn’t like tanking
Our TrueHoop brethren have covered the issue of tanking from all angles, and it’s safe the say the Suns could be the poster boys for refusing to tank. Holding onto Nash was the biggest of big anti-tank moves, and Babby admitted such on Wednesday.
The president of basketball ops said tanking robs fans of entertainment, all while masking bad decisions with an excuse. In the end, keeping Nash around made the Suns competitive and in the chase for a playoff spot, which was a goal at the beginning of the year.
The Suns made one-year signings of Shannon Brown, Ronnie Price and Michael Redd this season, and it was clear they were waiting to make major moves. Nash knew it, and he apparently had no scruples about waiting out a transition year in Phoenix.
2. Treating players with respect is important
The deal he made with Babby was, for example, the polar opposite of how the messy Dwight Howard situation in Orlando evolved in that neither team nor player would go behind the others’ back to discuss anything but this season.
“I want to project certain values for this franchise,” Babby said. “I want to treat players like him with respect, with a loyalty and communicate with the NBA community how we are going to treat our players. That was the judgment we made, and I think we were rewarded by it.”
3. Developing young players with veteran examples
Babby said Nash and fellow captain Grant Hill are invaluable to the franchise because of their locker room presence.
“Nobody will ever be able to persuade me that Markieff Morris won’t have a better career because he spent a year, or two, or three with Steve Nash and Grant Hill,” Babby said. “I look around the league and I see a lot of rudderless ships. I don’t want us to be a rudderless ship.”
4. Nash could retire in a Suns uniform
This would be the perfect scenario, after all. If Nash can be satisfied by playing for a competitive team and the Suns can offer him that, Nash retiring in a Phoenix jersey would be a storybook ending. Plus, Nash is still one of the most productive point guards in the NBA, and not trading him obviously keeps the Suns in position to keep one of the best playmakers in the game.
5. More cap space for the summer
If the Suns had shipped Nash off for other pieces, they would’ve had less flexibility this summer by likely having more contracts on the books.
Suns forward Channing Frye had a successful surgery on his right shoulder, the team announced Wednesday afternoon. The 6-foot-10 forward missed the final two games of the season with a subluxed shoulder and underwent the procedure in Ahaheim, Calif.
It was the second shoulder injury to Frye, who also missed games during the 2010-11 season.
Tags: Steve Nash