In his post season press conference Steve Nash talked once again about his frustration with the Suns season saying, "It's been a tough year. It's been a lot to deal with. It's definitely tested our patience and toughness."
Nash talked about the improvement the team has made since Gentry replaced Porter but when I asked him about the missed opportunities over the past few weeks (under Gentry) that would have made the difference between the lottery and the playoffs he didn't seem too disappointed and instead expressed the bright side of not stepping up in those crucial situations.
"I don't think we deserved it. We didn't play well enough and it wasn't meant to be for us. I don't think we necessarily did what it took to get there. All I can say about that is maybe it's better we didn't make it and gloss over some of our deficiencies and some of the improvements we need to make. We squeeze in to the playoffs and every one says 'ah it wasn't so bad, everything's ok' whereas now we will have to take a really good look at everything individually and collectively so we put ourselves in a better position."
It is not clear exactly what specific improvements he has in mind but he did feel that with a full season under Gentry with everyone playing one way that the Suns would be a much better team. He also didn't discount the need to improve defensively adding,
"We need to add a few defenders to our mix. A couple of guys who's forte is defense. Active big guys that can take up a lot of space with their athleticism and energy. Easier said then done."
Talking about his own future, Steve said he feels great and wants to solidify the rest of his career, hopefully in Phoenix. There are factors involved in that but winning isn't priority in making the decision.
"If we are contender that's where everyone wants to be but I think right now I would be happy just to be part of a really positive and optimistic atmosphere. Be part of team that is really on the same page, plays together, plays hard every night and makes the season exciting for one another and for the fans. You may say I am lowering my expectations but I think that's a great place to start.,,,Sometimes its difficult to start playing the band aid game and always just trying to put a band aid over a problem. For me, I would be happy to be in Phoenix on a team that has great energy and chemistry and everyone's pulling together and playing for one another. That for me would be fine and undoubtedly we would be successful with that type of atmosphere regardless of how much talent we had."
Nash isn't the only Suns player that expressed a desire to keep the team together under Alvin Gentry. Both Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal expressed their support for Gentry as did Amare Stoudemire yesterday.
Fortunately for them, there seems little doubt that Kerr and Sarver will bring Gentry back.
As for improvements, Shaq agreed that the team needed to improve defensively saying, "You have to want to play defense. That being said, you have to help everyone out and everyone has to be on the same page. We're not going to make excuses. We just have to learn from this."
He went on to explain why he thought the Suns weren't that far from being a contending team.
"We just need everyone to be healthy and develop one style and be consistent. You can't change in the middle of the year and expect to go pretty far. We let a lot of games slip away. We weren't full strength physically or mentally....We were up and down many times this year. We're not using that as an excuse but whenever your jibbily jabbily like that you won't make it far."
You will be happy to learn that Grant Hill, voted the Suns MVP by our readers, is very interested in coming back next year and sees himself playing a couple more seasons.
"I plan on being here. I love the team, the organization, the community. Registration for my daughters schools we already filled it out and put a deposit in. I plan on being here."
I think it is very interesting to listen to how the team's four leaders have talked about this season and to hear their insight into what's gone wrong and what can be done to improve the team.