In the strongest story written by a local reporter to date, after a hint-athon from Lon Babby and Lance Blanks, it appears that the Suns will not outbid other teams for Steve Nash's services in the upcoming season.
Nash's career with Phoenix Suns nears its end | www.azcentral.com | Paul Coro
Nash had a desire to remain -- and retire -- with the Suns but the interest in the 38-year-old point guard is stronger elsewhere as free-agency negotiations open at 9 p.m. Phoenix time Saturday night. Toronto, Brooklyn and Dallas are prepared to offer contracts with more money or years -- or both -- than Phoenix. Dallas' and Brooklyn's interest hinges on free-agent point guard Deron Williams' choice between the two franchises, but New York also is a player for Nash, who stays in Manhattan during the summer.
All of those teams have their warts though. Toronto will offer the most money and years, but they are not a winner. Sure they have some nice pieces, but Nash is no longer a building block to the future on a young team. Brooklyn and Dallas are fighting for Deron Williams first, then maybe Nash second. Brooklyn is not a winner either - much lesser parts than the Suns sans Williams - while Dallas would only offer a 1-year deal (per Coro) to save space for Dwight Howard the year after.
Back to the Suns. What happened to Nash being the sun, moon and stars?
"He (Nash) will have many factors to weigh," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said (in the same article). "Candidly, we will have decisions to make. If we can get together and reach a common ground, that's fine. Regardless of the outcome, the one thing I'm confident about will be that it'll be handled with grace and dignity on both sides. We'll see if there is a basis for the relationship to continue that's best for him and also best for us."
That doesn't sound like sun, moon and stars to me. It sounds like a Suns team balancing the desire to keep Nash in town against the desire to start over with someone younger than 38 years old. A tough task, no doubt. It happened to Green Bay and Brett Favre, to San Fransisco with Joe Montana, to Utah with Karl Malone, and so on and so on.
But (in true BSotS spirit) while the start of free agency looks bleak, don't count out the Suns and Nash coming back together in the end. As Coro puts it so well in the same piece:
The Suns' negotiations to retain Grant Hill (twice) and Channing Frye in recent years started with low initial offers before Managing Partner Robert Sarver stepped in late with above-market offers.
If the Suns strike out on a big-name free agent (Eric Gordon is being mentioned again) and Nash doesn't get the combination of loyalty, winning and money he's looking for elsewhere, maybe Robert Sarver will open the pocketbook on a lucrative shorter-term deal after all.
But that's the only way Nash comes back. Later in July. On a compromise deal for less than 3 years. Otherwise, the Nash era in Phoenix is over.
Hit the jump for the guy the Suns likely DO want to sign.
Lance Blanks called in to many radio shows today, including the xtra910. I listened to that one live, and was surprised at how candid Blanks was that the Suns' near future may very well be tougher than anything we've seen lately.
However, if the Suns' big push actually works out, the road to contention might not be so long after all. Another section of the same article from Coro.
The Suns have $23 million in salary-cap space but are trying to retain space for other pursuits, which appears to include a large offer to restricted free agent Eric Gordon. New Orleans traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza this week to create more salary-cap space, and new owner Tom Benson is expected to want to match an offer for the shooting guard. Gordon could command at least $12 million annually.
The Suns have a big chance here. Gordon made comments this offseason that he's looking for his next place to be a long-term home. Gordon also perfectly fits the mold of shooting guard that the Suns desperately need - he can create his own shot on the drive or the pull-up, and he can pass and rebound and defend. Basically, he's the grown up version of Dion Waiters.
Gordon's big problem is health. He has missed half the games in the last 2 years, and a third of his NBA games overall. But if the Suns think their renowned training staff can keep Gordon healthy, maybe he's worth a contract bigger than the rebuilding Hornets are willing to pay?
The Hornets just the other night drafted Austin Rivers at #10 - a shooting guard who likes the ball in his hands but isn't a point guard at all. He is a shooting guard who can pass and get his own shot any time - just like Eric Gordon but a tiny bit taller and a lot skinnier.
Still, he's a top-10 pick. And you don't usually sit a top-10 pick on the bench for 4 years behind a near-max player.
The Phoenix Suns with Gordon in the backcourt alongside Kendall Marshall would look really good.