So here’s a scenario for Suns fans: Steve Nash is a free agent, and we’ll assume he wants to move on from Phoenix.
You can either (A) lose him to Toronto and Bryan Colangelo, or worse, New York, where he will reunite with Amare’ Stoudemire and the Knicks. Or (B) pull off a sign-and-trade deal with another team and acquire, in essence, Goran Dragic (for $8 million per year) and four draft picks to either use or stockpile for future deals.
If you don’t think Nash will take less money to finish his career as a Sun and you don’t know which team is involved with Scenario B, it’s a no-brainer. You pull the trigger, get whatever you can get at the 11th hour and move on.
If only it were that simple. Now let’s throw in two more variables: (1) it appears Nash’s preference was to remain in Phoenix and (2) the Suns traded him to the Laaaa ... the Laaak ... the ... I can’t even say it.
Just when you think Kobe Bryant’s path to the sixth championship is road-blocked by Oklahoma City, the Suns offer the perfect off-ramp.
Here you go, Buss family. Take the franchise’s best player. Ever. Use him to fill both of the glaring holes on your roster: point guard and 3-point shooting. Hammer Phoenix four times a year while you boat race to another division title while we try and rebuild with the No. 29 pick in the draft.
The NBA’s fortuitous moratorium rules gave owner Robert Sarver and basketball brain trusts Lon Babby and Lance Blanks a week to sit around a big oak table at US Airways Center and figure out how to spin this baby for all its worth. There was no denying that by the time July 4 rolled around, the Suns had painted themselves into such a corner that this was the best-case scenario.
(Wow, I just said that, didn’t I?)
But instead of trying to match the summer of Josh Childress, Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick by throwing money at another mediocre free agent crop (Michael Beasley? Really?) How about:
•You re-sign Nash for three years and $25 million — about the same cap hit as Dragic — have him mentor Kendall Marshall and put some younger pieces around him? Nash said he wanted to be near his children. L.A. is closer than Toronto, but Phoenix is closer than L.A.
It sounds very nice that Sarver helped Steve Nash work closer to his children, but the Suns’ owner owes it to the franchise and its fans to provide the best competitive opportunity to win. In what universe does sending Nash to play with Kobe for, in essence, four second-round picks accomplish this?
•Your deal comes without a no-trade clause — take it or leave it, Steve — and if he has a great first three months (again) and is leading the league in assists (again), maybe you field offers instead of telling the world that you wouldn’t trade him for gazillion dollars.
Ah, that reminds me. If you’ve decided that you are moving forward without Steve Nash and don’t want him back – which, according to Nash, is what happened – why not trade him at the deadline when he was playing well, or last summer, when his value was higher, instead of playing out the string last year?
Best-case scenario: all the tumblers fall into place, the Suns pull out the No. 8 seed in the West and lose in five games to the Thunder. Then what?
As with Stoudemire, the Suns took a highly-regarded asset that they had determined they didn’t want, held on to it too long and watched it devalue before their eyes.
By this summer, the number of suitors was down to a precious few. The Knicks already pulled the trigger on Mike D’Antoni and Stoudemire has been a disappointment. They’ve had enough of the “Seven Seconds or Less” remnants, and the sign-and-trade deal would have been tough.
Even with good buddy Dirk Nowitzki still in Dallas, Nash wasn’t going there. Too much water from Lake Cuban under the bridge. What happened to all those Nash-to-Miami rumors? They won a title — without him.
So Nash came back to the Suns’ brass and asked them to help him get to the Lakers, which they did.
The Suns better hope that 2015 first-round draft pick — when Nash is 41 and Kobe is 37 — is a doozy. Or at least that the Lakers aren’t coming off another three-peat.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.