Steve Nash trade rumors a product of wishful thinking
The NBA rumor mill is up and running again. This time it is Steve Nash caught amid the far-fetched predictions and educated guesses. So before this goes too far, let’s put this one to rest: Steve Nash is not going to be traded.
Coach Alvin Gentry said so himself, telling the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro in no uncertain terms that, “Steve’s not going to be traded.”
There. That should settle that.
But in case you have grown skeptical of statements made by team officials, which often state players are not going to be traded only to see those same players packing their bags days later, here is some further evidence.
Nash’s contract expires after the 2011-12 season, in which he will earn $11.7 million. He is not an overpaid player in his decline; he does not have a contract that will strain the team’s finances for years to come. So trading Nash for financial reasons would make no sense, especially taking into consideration the public relations nightmare created by trading away the face of the franchise. No team would willingly chase away season-ticket holders like that.
Furthermore, why would Phoenix trade its starting point guard to allow Goran Dragic, Nash’s backup and heir apparent, to fill that role? That would give him valuable experience and allow him more minutes in which he could flourish.
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While this would be good for the team basketball-wise, financially speaking, it is a terrible move. Now, instead of negotiating with a backup point guard on a contract extension that will cost around $5 to $6 million per season, the Suns could potentially be looking at a player commanding $10 to $12 million per season due to his boosted performance as a starter.
Keeping Nash in Phoenix with Dragic as a reserve is the best strategy for the Suns. Both Nash and Dragic have contracts that expire at the same time, meaning that if the Suns are so inclined, they can let Nash walk in two years and have a quality starting point guard for a reasonable salary who would have spent the last four years learning from a Hall of Fame mentor. It doesn’t get much better than that.
In the meantime, Nash is no slouch out on the court. He is averaging 18.7 points and 8.9 assists through his first seven games as he and the rest of the team adjust to each other. His last two performances — 19 points and 15 assists against Atlanta and 16 points and 11 assists against Memphis — are more indicative of the type of player he still is rather than the one who struggled to generate offense with a Suns team that looked lost in the first few games of the season.
Nash is still a top-five point guard in the league, so these trade rumors cannot be attributed to a dip in his play either.
These rumors could make sense if Phoenix was going through a rebuilding phase, but the recent moves by management do not indicate that is the case. The Suns recently made long-term commitments to Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, and Jared Dudley, all but squashing any rebuilding plans.
The rumors could also make sense if Nash were a bad teammate, was unhappy in Phoenix, or openly wished to play for a title contender as some other players have done. But Nash is the quintessential teammate. He is never a disruption in the locker room or on the bench, he does not complain, he toes the company line. Nash asking out of town would be akin to David Robinson getting stopped for DUI. It just doesn’t happen.
So with so many reasons for Nash not to be on the trading block, why is his name being floated out there? Simple. This is based solely on the fact that the Suns have started the season 3-4. All the analysts have decided that to start the season 3-4 means the Suns are lottery-bound and, therefore, must be looking to hold a fire sale with its roster.
This simply isn’t the case. Rather, this is a figment of some New York analyst’s overactive imagination.
It is no secret New York is not sold on Raymond Felton as its point guard and would love to reunite Nash with Amar’e Stoudemire and Coach Mike D’Antoni, effectively recreating the run-and-gun Suns from a few years ago, but the Knicks have almost nothing of real value on its roster that would appeal to Phoenix in a trade.
Nash is not going anywhere. He simply joins Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and the rights to Ricky Rubio as point guards who have been rumored to be headed to the Big Apple. Based on this trend, the odds are pretty good that Chauncey Billups could soon be next.
By: Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer
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