Okay Suns fans, you aren’t going to like to hear this. But it’s the reality of the situation. And it’s not just for the sake of the Phoenix Suns, but really, for the betterment of the entire NBA. A league lost one of its brightest stars the second Shaq found his way onto the Suns.
It’s time to trade Steve Nash.
Last night’s trouncing by the Los Angeles Lakers, who, despite seeing Kobe jack up 23 shots and get only 24 points for his trouble, still got spanked by double digits. That beating really solidified this notion. ESPN’s Henry Abbott of TrueHoop blog has a great breakdown of what the new Suns offense looks like under Terry Porter from last night’s Suns/Lakers showdown.
Back at the end of April, when the Suns had been ousted in the first round, I wrote a three part series about the team on my Lakers blog. Here are a few excerpts from the first part:
*Getting Shaq changed everything. He and Amare have now become the focal points. Everyone else, including Nash, is expendable.
*Nash, is no longer Nash. After that brilliant game one, and as Mike D’Antoni continued to refocus his offense, Nash went from near MVP to all-star play to bench player to completely irrelevant. In fact, he had three turnovers in the last couple of minutes, the last one, completely sealing Phoenix’s fate.
Let’s go over this again. Steve Nash’s production has, indeed, gone down across the board. Dumping the ball into the big fella has made him completely irrelevant. Goran Dragic could do that (more on this in a sec). Nash has no freedom to penetrate with two huge behemoths clogging the lane, and his defensive shortcomings make the Suns renewed focus on that end an even steeper hill to climb. Think Mount Everest as opposed to Mount Whitney.
Because the offense is focused in on Shaq and Amare, Nash has no real place on the team.
The second part of last year’s Suns series focused on looking for ideal trading partners for Steve Nash. Here is that blog in its entirety.
Now, all of those trades have become impossible seeing as how Allen Iverson has been moved to the Pistons and Baron Davis signed with the Clippers.
What about trading Nash for Anthony Morrow, Al Harrington and C.J. Watson/Brandan Wright? That would have worked out beautifully for both teams. Too bad Harrington is headed to New York. So, reunite Nash with Mike D. Or ship him off to Philly. How about Charlotte for rookie D.J. Augustin and Marion-lite, Gerald Wallace…maybe?
Marion. Sigh. I hated the Marion trade. People say that Nash was the engine to the Seven Seconds or less offensive Ferrari, but Marion was the suspension, the wheels, the turbo. He was the welding that held the car together. Once they traded him, it was like sticking that Ferrari engine into a Big Rig and trying to make it work.
So, Steve Kerr trade Nash right now, while his value still seems high due to the past five seasons of work he has put in. Two more months of 13 and 7 for a player pushing 35 will not bring back much, especially if the Suns struggle. So trade the Canuck immediately. Kerr, you need to look for a point guard who can defend, and, if at all possible, has the ability to shoot 3 as well.
Of course, if Suns fans really, truly can’t see themselves without the man who has become the face of the franchise, there is another possibility that Terry Porter should strongly consider. Bring Nashty off the bench.
Start Leandro Barbosa when he comes back. Hell, start Goran Dragic. All that first unit needs is someone to dump the ball into the bigs. Have Nash come off the bench with Matt Barnes, Boris Diaw and Robin Lopez. Look at how effectively bringing a proven starter, a proven star off the bench has worked for the Lakers (Odom), Jazz (Kirilenko) and Spurs (Manu, the last few seasons). Basically whenever Shaq is in the game, sit Nash. It would give the Suns a different look and also maximize the talents of all the players they have on their roster. Nash could come in and create, create, create, push, push, push and be his SSOL self. Remember how good the team was when they had Diaw at center? Remember how good Diaw was playing off of Nash? That's what this year's Suns second unit could be. Nash could create for offensively challenged Robin Lopez, and Warriors fans know how much Barnes relishes playing in a more chaotic atmosphere. Get past the idea of starter/sub and focus on how to best utilize a mish-mashed roster that, as it is constructed right now, doesn’t quite work. Besides, in today's NBA the best teams have the most quality in their second unit (Boston, LA, Jazz, Detroit, etc.).
Otherwise, admit the error in judgment, and trade the two-time MVP. Let the butterfly out. Everyone wants to see that Ferrari flying.