Steve Nash is wilting in Phoenix as the Suns fall off the map. After losing Amar'e Stoudemire in free agency, the Suns went from Western power to also-ran; the trade sending Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to the Magic for Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat finalized the team's impending doom. Now 19-21 and with fleeting opportunity for a playoff run, the Suns ought to look to the future and grab assets for their veteran players, Nash key among them.
Of course, this is wholly selfish: we love to watch Nash play, but NBA games are only as exciting as either their competitiveness or their importance. The Suns, despite a winning streak that includes a home-and-home sweep with the Cavaliers, are not competitive or important. So let's fix that by sending Nash to a team where he can play competitive, important games! (Note: @mdotbrown and @russbengtson did this awesomely last week on Twitter, as well.)
SBNation.com's NBA team presents the following options for Lon Babby's perusal.
First up: Mike Prada.
Nash was destined to play with Dirk Nowitzki, but Mark Cuban's evil twin decided he'd rather want Erick Dampier. Now, we can have our wish and get the two back together, just in the nick of time before Dirk's prime runs out. Nash can relegate Jason Kidd to a spot-up shooter, which he essentially is now anyway, and give the Mavericks a creator when the game is close and possessions are at a premium. Jason Terry maintains his sixth man role, and DeShawn Stevenson would slide more over to small forward, where he'd steal some minutes from Shawn Marion. Phoenix, meanwhile, saves over $16 million going into the new CBA, gets a good young piece in Beaubois and also gets two late picks, which they may actually use this time around.
Tom Ziller's turn:
Steve Nash, Josh Childress and Mickael Pietrus to the L.A. Clippers; Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, a future first-round pick and Brian Cook to the Phoenix Suns. (Pietrus-for-Bledsoe would have to be done separately to get around trade restrictions.)
I can consider this trade the ultimate fist-pump of freedom; look at what Baron Davis does for Blake Griffin in transition, and look at how much more dedicated to the break Nash has been his whole career. Griffin and Nash together? That's straight-up Messi to Villa, but more angry. And while a littany of bounce passes and lobs to Blake! would be the highlight of a Nash trade to L.A., don't forget that Nash and Eric Gordon could make up one heck of an outside shooting team, kind of like Nash and Jason Richardson did before Lon Babby imploded the Suns' 2010-11 season. In the deal, Phoenix saves about $9 million next season and gets two nice young players in the first year of their rookie contracts, plus Chris Kaman, who is very flippable. Free Nash, and free Blake at the same time!
Over to Andrew Sharp:
It'd be impossible to match the sex appeal that comes with Ziller's idea. Like when somebody decided to give the Beatles LSD, putting someone as creative as Nash next to Blake Griffin is just a good idea. Regardless of whether they'd ever win anything, Nash could spend the twilight of his career throwing 70-foot lobs to a flying freight train, giving the rest of us memories to last a life. (And as an added bonus, it'd mean Nash rubbing shoulders with Donald Sterling; doesn't that appeal to the anarchist in all of us?)
Alas, the Clippers are the Clippers, and good things only happen once-a-decade for them.
So I have two ideas.
The possibly insane pipe dream: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daquaen Cook, 2012 Clippers first round pick, and $3 million in cash for Steve Nash. Don't get me wrong here; this would be moderately crazy on OKC's end, and a colossal screwup from the Phoenix front office. BUT HEAR ME OUT.
Bottom line: Trading Steve Nash is idiotic no matter how it happens. But let's say Phoenix decides they want to do Nash a favor.. Couldn't Sam Presti convinces Lon Babby to roll the dice on former no. 3 pick James Harden, who starred in college at Arizona St. and has always looked a little out of place with OKC? Throw in Cole Aldrich (invisible this year, but still good value), Daqueaen Cook (to make salaries work) and the Clippers' pick in 2012... It's not that crazy, right?
On OKC's end, forget Kevin Durant for a minute, and imagine a backcourt of Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook. So unhinged, so evil, it would have to work. It may not be perfect--there would definitely be issues on defense--and taking the ball out of Westbrook's hands is a major risk. But don't you think Nash would find a way to make it work? Not only could Nash get Westbrook and Durant the ball in the best possible spots, but they could kick it right back to him whenever defenses converge. It's a chemistry risk that Sam Presti will never take, but if it ever happened, the spectacle of OKC's offense would take your breath away.
... Or he could go to New York.
The no-brainer for both sides: PHX gets Anthony Randolph, Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, Eddy Curry's expiring contact, and $3 million, New York gets Gani Lawai (for salaries) Grant Hill, and Steve Nash.
For Phoenix, this amounts to a complete rebuilding project. They get rid of Hill and Nash, and take the chance on Anthony Randolph and Landry Fields becoming stars in the desert. Chandler's a proven commodity and gives them a solid starter to build around, and Eddy Curry's expiring contract will eventually allow them to save some money, which is always a plus for Robert Sarver.
Now, then: Who's ready for seven seconds or less in New York City? The Knicks would be giving up two of their prized assets (Fields, Chandler), but they'd be gaining credibility as contenders, and they could turn around and dangle Raymond Felton before the trade deadline. It's not perfect, but it'd make the Knicks the most exciting team in the entire league, they'd still have a shot at Carmelo Anthony in free agency this summer, and it'd give Steve Nash renewed life. And isn't that why we're here?
Back to Tom Ziller:
I know the Bucks have Brandon Jennings. But even when Jennings is healthy, the Bucks offense stinks! You know what fixes a stinky offense? Steve Nash, that's what. Jennings shoots well enough to play them together at times; in the meantime, we are all granted the gift of Nash teaching Black Ice the ways of the NBA. I mean, would you rather have Scott Skiles or Steve Nash shaping one of the league's great young point guards?
The Suns drop the burdensome contracts of Childress and Warrick (though feel free to sub in Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat or Channing Frye) and picks up two solid assets in the cheap but awesome Ilyasova and what would become a mid-first round pick. Fear the Deer!
And finally, without commentary, Mike Prada:
Done as two separate trades to get around restrictions on Carter ...
KNICKS GET: Carmelo Anthony, Nash, Gani Lawal, Melvin Ely
SUNS GET: Eddy Curry, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Renaldo Balkman
NUGGETS GET: Vince Carter, Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas, Kelenna Azubuike and two first-round picks.
And the world ends.