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Let’s Trade Steve Nash
Posted By Eric Pincus On October 18, 2011 @ 12:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
The lockout seems endless but eventually the NBA will resume. Assuming it does before a season is lost, the Phoenix Suns have a number of pressing issues to resolve before the trade deadline.
As detailed in September, the Suns need direction. Star point guard Steve Nash is still among the best in the game but he’s also 37-years old, heading into the final year on his contract.
Phoenix may give the veterans (including Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter) another chance to make the playoffs and even look to re-sign Nash past his current deal but to what end?
Realistically, it’d be best for all parties concerned for the Suns to move Nash and fully embrace the rebuilding process.
One competing executive said the Suns were open to dealing Nash around the draft but that they were asking the world in return.
As talented as Nash may be, dishing 11.4 assists per game last year while shooting 49.2% from the field, 39.5% from three and 91.2% from the line, when do those numbers become moot because of age?
Are the Suns going to have a 40-year old guard leading the youth movement? Will Nash instead walk next summer as a free agent, leaving Phoenix with nothing in return?
While it’s important to note that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) may institute a number of changes to the system, going by the expired rules, the Suns may have a number of opportunities to improve long-term by trading Nash.
Phoenix Suns: A Primer
Phoenix let Amar’e Stoudemire leave as a free agent to the New York Knicks after the Suns got all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 2010. Stoudemire went on to have a tremendous season in New York.
The Suns brought in a number of average players in his stead but won just 40 games, finishing ninth in the West. It’s the axiom that four quarters don’t always make a dollar.
Channing Frye had a strong season (for the most part) but Josh Childress couldn’t crack the rotation. Hakim Warrick had moments but lacked consistency. Hedo Turkoglu struggled and eventually got dealt back to the Orlando Magic for Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus.
Gortat has shown potential as a solid, tough, role-playing big. The combination of Gortat/Frye has potential but is almost wholly reliant on scoring/play-making from the guard positions.
Carter was unimpressive, well past his prime and of the $18.3 million he’s owed for the coming year, only $4 million is guaranteed. It’s almost a certainty that he’s cut for a $14.3 million net savings, although technically he can be re-signed by the squad at a cheaper price.
Pietrus doesn’t appear to be in the team’s long-term plans. Robin Lopez struggled for most of the year, leading Coach Alvin Gentry to just shrug at a player the team was expecting to grow into a regular contributor.
Phoenix also dealt for point guard Aaron Brooks who is coming off a down year (ankle injury) and is already a restricted free agent. Brooks is a capable scorer and shooter when healthy but he’s not in Nash’s league as a play-maker.
The Suns also drafted Kansas power forward Markieff Morris (13th) in June to help add defense, toughness and scoring from the post.
The team has to decide whether or not to bring back Hill, who may instead look to chase a championship elsewhere.
With Nash, the team may be able to cobble together a decent team but a run back to the conference finals is a leap. It’s time to look at trade options . . .
Toronto Raptors Send Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash
If Suns’ fans are expecting true value back for Nash, this example is a good jump-off point on where things are more likely to stand.
Certainly the elite point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams, both who could end up leaving their respective teams after this season, are far more appealing than Calderon. It’s just difficult to understand why either the New Orleans Hornets or New Jersey Nets wants to add on a near-40 point guard in return for their own superstars.
Dwight Howard isn’t going to happen. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to give up rookie forward Derrick Williams for Nash.
The Suns are going to have to find a deal that brings back solid players and/or expiring contracts along with the addition of a kid or two.
Calderon is a solid point guard. He is similar to Nash in that he’s a crafty play-maker and excellent shooter.
Is Calderon on the same level? Hardly.
Jose is set to make $20.3 million over the next two seasons, so the Suns would be adding one additional year past Nash’s contract at $10.6 million.
Calderon is a solid-short term investment. He’s probably worth about $8.5 million a season, about what Devin Harris is making in Utah, so $10.6 isn’t drastically overpaying.
The key would be the addition of Bayless who still has star potential although he certainly hasn’t reached it just yet.
Bayless was born in Phoenix. He went to St. Mary’s High School . . . in Phoenix. He was a star at the University of Arizona.
It’d be a risk that Bayless can finally break through back home. That would be the purpose of the deal for the Suns.
Los Angeles Clippers Send Chris Kaman and Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash and Robin Lopez
This one may be difficult to sell to LA given how highly they value Bledsoe but the Clippers are looking for that one player that can help their team’s win games in the final moments.
The Suns might want Eric Gordon but he’s not available. The Clippers are hoping he can continue to develop as their closer.
In theory LA would want a young player to join their emerging core (ideally a small forward) but if they can’t find the right return, perhaps Nash would make sense (likely with an extension for a couple more seasons).
Bledsoe is one of the more athletic points in the league. He played two-guard at Kentucky, so he’s still learning on the fly, but he was impressive enough last year to be named to the All-Rookie Second Team.
Kaman, when healthy, was an All-Star (2010). He has a friendly, expiring deal.
The Clippers would get Lopez in return, likely to back up a re-signed DeAndre Jordan.
From there, the Suns can look to either repackage Kaman or trade Marcin Gortat (less likely). The main point here for Phoenix, rebuilding doesn’t happen in one move.
Whether they trade Nash or not, that’s where the Suns are headed.
Nash would theoretically push Mo Williams to the bench in LA. An alternative package could be Al-Farouq Aminu, Williams and Kaman for Nash, Lopez and Mickael Pietrus.
The Clippers would have interest in Channing Frye and possibly Jared Dudley, although there doesn’t seem to be any sense yet that either is available out of Phoenix.
Indiana Pacers Send Darren Collison, James Posey and Brandon Rush to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash and Robin Lopez
The Pacers are an in-between squad in the East. They won just 37 games but managed to snag the final playoff seed.
One path for Indiana would be to trade Danny Granger and go younger, but Nash isn’t age-appropriate and so far the Pacers have been clear that they’re keeping Granger.
Another option would be to add veteran depth.
Collison struggled through his first season with the club. He improved as the season progressed but averaged just 9.4 points and 4.0 assists in the playoffs while shooting 39.1% from the field.
Rush has talents both offensively and defensively but he’s struggled to be consistent throughout his career. Posey would be salary filler, albeit one with championship experience.
It’s a lot to think the Pacers make this leap but if they’re not sold on Collison, they’re not giving up much else to get Nash and Lopez.
Additionally, the Pacers are well under the cap. Would David West and Jamal Crawford, or Jason Richardson, fit both financially and on the floor?
How about Nash, Granger, West, Crawford (or Richardson), Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George and George Hill?
That would be a bold retrofit, one that banks on Nash being a viable player for a few more seasons.
The Suns in return would have a promising young point guard who was tremendous in New Orleans but just average in Indiana, with the hope that it was simply a bad fit.
Orlando Magic Send Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, Robin Lopez and Draft Considerations
Here’s another that may be difficult to sell.
The Magic are searching for ways to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando. Would Nash at his age get it done?
Would the Magic give up but Nelson and Redick for Nash? That’s not a lock, perhaps less-so with Redick than Nelson.
It’d be a good get for the Suns but it’s difficult to predict where the Magic are going through this difficult stretch.
New York Knicks Send Chauncey Billups and Iman Shumpert (or Toney Douglas or Landry Fields) to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash and Robin Lopez
This one comes with some caveats, most notably that the Knicks are the team that nabbed Amar’e, in addition to former Suns’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.
The idea would be the Suns add on a young player like Shumpert (who they allegedly liked in the draft), Douglas or Fields while swapping one veteran point guard on an expiring contract for another.
Obviously Nash is the star in Phoenix but with Billups, the Suns find themselves back in the same position. Billups is a little younger but still at 35, he’s not someone the team is likely to re-sign to build around long-term.
Then again, Billups can go right back on the block and the Suns may be able to entertain the very same scenarios with Chauncey instead of Steve.
High Risk/High Reward Option: Portland Trail Blazers Send Brandon Roy to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash and Robin Lopez
Roy was an All-Star and arguably the second-best shooting guard in the West behind Kobe Bryant (and maybe third overall after Dwyane Wade) before his knees gave way.
Brandon has some serious, chronic issues to work out . . . if they can indeed be worked out . . . that saw him miss much of the season and come off the bench through the playoffs.
The Blazers are on hook for $69 million over the next four years.
Assuming Portland doesn’t waive Roy via a possible amnesty clause in the new CBA, perhaps Phoenix should consider the risk.
The Suns have the top training staff in the league. They rejuvenated Hill’s career and kept Nash healthy when the Dallas Mavericks were worried about his balky back (not so balky in retrospect).
If there’s one place where Roy can get back to what he was, it’s in Phoenix.
The Blazers would be out of Brandon’s deal and while having Raymond Felton with Nash at the point is a luxury, that’d be something for Coach Nate McMillan to deal with for a year.
Price tag may be an issue here for the Suns, but it’d be a bold, bold move.
Certainly there are other possibilities for the Suns. A number of teams might have workable assets worth discussing like the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Memphis Grizzlies.
Championship contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami HEAT would probably have serious interest, although it’s difficult to see what either team could offer the Suns.
With Jason Kidd in Dallas, it’s hard to imagine a Dallas reunion.
It’s important to note that a number of teams can simply wait until Nash is a free agent next summer instead of giving up much to get him.
Then again, it can often be a long-shot for most teams when it comes to luring a player. Cap room, perceived fit, location, timing, personalities, etc., so many things can get in the way.
If a prospective trade partner believes Nash can go until he’s 40, making a deal may be the right move for Phoenix.
Of course the Suns may believe he’ll stay and try to put off the inevitable, but with Nash or not, this Phoenix team is a long way off from a return to the Western Conference Finals, let alone a title.
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