If there was one team that could use the re-assurance of some lottery luck, it felt like Phoenix was that team. OK, so a whole lot of teams who just missed out on the Playoffs like the Suns did could have used the safety blanket of a top 3 pick.
Many of those teams though do not have Steve Nash making their engines go and driving everything that their team does. And few of them have to deal with that kind of player’s free agency.
If it were not for Dwight Howard’s never-ending drama and Deron Williams patiently waiting for Howard to make a decision (good luck with that), Nash might very well be the prize of free agency. And that is even at 37 years old.
The two-time MVP put his free agency on the back-burner. He did not make a big issue about throughout the season and continually affirmed his love and desire to stay in Phoenix. That will not stop Nash from exploring his options.
The Suns felt comfortable doing this too. They never seriously pursued any Nash trades and are at the point where losing Nash for nothing might help the team clear the decks faster and begin the rebuilding process. The first preference though is to bring Nash back and have him wearing the Suns uniform until he retires.
And unlike the Magic, the Suns feel extremely confident of their ability to resign their star player.
“I feel good about it,” coach Alvin Gentry told Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic. “We just need a player we can throw the ball to at the end of the game, who can get to the foul line, get us a basket or make the right play.
“I think it’s a little unfair for me to ask Steve Nash to do that night in and night out, not just for 66 games, but for 82 games next year. If we’re fortunate enough to have Steve back, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to do that, I just think he needs some help.”
Getting Nash some help will get the Suns over the hump and back into the Playoffs. Phoenix went on a tear to get to 10th place in the West. Of course, that leaves them with a low lottery pick and little chance to make an impact this season. As Bickley notes, Nash makes everyone on the team significantly better. Losing Nash would be leaving an irreplaceable hole in the lineup that would have a devastating ripple effect on everyone. This team is still built around Nash and everything that he does for the team.
The goal for the Suns is a return to the Playoffs and to upgrade the talent to one day compete for a title again. Whether that will come with Nash still in uniform or aging or not is yet to be determined. That decision lies on Nash who will have to weigh whether he wants to stay in his comfort zone in Phoenix or, possibly, take less money and try to chase a championship.
It all seems on the table for Nash.
While a split might be amicable, Nash has not come out as outspoken about chasing a title. He seems perfectly content in Phoenix and willing to play the remainder of his days on what now looks like a pretty mediocre roster (at least that is what the record says, and there are not a lot of “high ceiling” players on the roster).
To be sure, Nash will be one of the major dominos to fall this summer. And the Suns seem patient enough to let him make that decision in peace.