NBA Peace Brings Gift To Phoenix Suns
A Gift Of Perhaps Steve Nash’s Last Ride Into The NBA Playoffs Depends On New Faces
It appears enough Phoenix Suns fans asked Santa Claus for games by Christmas. Image by Keith Allison and used under terms of a Creative Commons License.
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
Nov. 29, 2011 — Thanksgiving is traditionally the beginning of the Christmas season here in the United States, and as the nation hit malls and stores across the country to buy sale-priced presents for the ones they love this past weekend, players and owners of the NBA were preparing the earliest, biggest Christmas present to the world.
Yes, The Association is back in business.
As every fan knows by now, when announcing the deal, owners and players also declared games would begin on Christmas Day — surely no coincidence to the fact is the traditional start of the big money network television deals. Sure, eventually, greed won out — a foregone conclusion — but who the hell cares, its America.
The important thing is games are scheduled. And soon, fans will get to open their present. The situation is not very much unlike an 8-year-old who knows his parents got him the X-box for Christmas — but he must wait until Dec. 25, or Hanukkah, of Kwanzaa or whatever before he can open it.
But the waiting is necessary since there is much work to be done over the next four weeks.
Free agents — both those restricted and those truly free — need to sign new contracts. Options on players need to be accepted or denied. There have been no trades since last season. All of this brouhaha is slated to begin Dec. 9, the same day training camps can open. Teams will probably not be settled until a week before the season.
One might assume that the severely limited amount of time might be a burden to teams and players. While that might be right, hopefully it also means that the Phoenix Suns might be able to work some magic and make a run by adding to the veteran core of Nash and Hill. As currently constructed, the Suns are a team of role players. If Nash stays, ownership should make every effort to give him one last shot at the title and a 60 game season might be just the way to do it.
Sure, the way the new collective bargaining agreement worked out, the Suns are a “cap” team, which means they can only offer a maximum of $5 million to a free agent. But what if one of the prime free agent power forwards — Carl Landry or David West — doesn’t want to be rushed into a new city on a long-term deal. A one-year deal to play with Steve Nash at $5 million might look very attractive, especially to West who is coming off ACL surgery.
The most attractive thing might be that they know their numbers will spike by playing with Nash — more points, better efficiency and more rebounds — and they would likely then be able to demand an even better deal in 2012-2013.
Waging a successful argument like that might also attract a newly healthy, former All-Star seeking to re-establish his career — namely Michael Redd. All reports are his knee might always be an issue, but he did not have surgery on his shooting touch. With Nash, all he has to do is run to a spot and shoot. The starting unit for the Suns is always about points, not defense anyway.
A starting five of Nash, Gortat, West or Landry, Hill or Childress, and Redd would be formidable. So would be the bench with Lopez, Frye, Dudley, and Dowdell. Markieff Morris and Gani Lawal would also have unknown roles until they get a chance to show what they can do in consistent minutes. make no mistake, both of these guys are complete unknowns right now and anyone depending on Morris to enter the starting lineup must have a crystal ball. Talking up his game is pointless.
Betting the farm on Redd and West — two guys coming off knee surgeries — might seem a moronic move. But that would be true only if they could not play consistent minutes. If they can, it might just be special.
Moving on with the team that proved last season they are a .500 club is a season doomed to mediocrity.
Maybe its a pipe dream.
But as was learned from the lockout, players and ownership will seek the best deal for them. Would the best power-forward available on the open market want to sign a long term deal with a few days to think about it?
Steve Nash deserves at least one more decent shot to go deep into the playoffs and assuming he isn’t going to be traded this season, he and the team will have some decisions to make after his contract expires. Going into the free agency period that starts Dec. 9, the Suns are a “cap” team but they will most likely be a “room” team in 2012-2013 even if they re-sign Nash.
This short season might be the last shot for the Nash-led Suns. It might not.
I am sure even Lon Babby and Robert Sarver have no idea right now if they are intending to re-sign Nash later this year.
Regardless, they should go for it and reach out to try to add a shooter and a big that can run.
If the Mavericks can win it, a Suns team that adds West or Landry, and Redd sure as hell has a chance.
Bob Goodwood is a freelance writer currently living in Scottsdale, Ariz.