Some notes from Gentry's office:
[Note by Wil Cantrell, 01/30/12 5:48 PM MST ]
Per Paul Coro tweet: "Gentry just confirmed that Nash will not play tonight. Price likely will start."
The Mavericks are coming off an overtime victory versus the Spurs last night as Jason Terry led the scoring with 34 points. While the Mavericks do not currently resemble the team that won the NBA Title a year ago, they are leading the Southwest Division, winners of four of their last five.
And now, as a special treat to you, my faithful reader, Mavs Moneyball manager, Lisa Rotter was kind enough to answer some Maverick and Suns related questions, including their reasoning for allowing Vince Carter on the team.
WC: After a slow start, do you think the Mavs will again be title contenders?
LR: The team is still way too inconsistent to say with any certainty if they can make it to the finals again. I do think that Coach Carlisle is desperately trying to limit minutes for the older guys to keep them fresh when the playoffs roll around, but it's going to take some major gelling to be finals-ready. We definitely have the offensive pieces to be a contender again, but as you have all seen, it's taking more time for those pieces to fit in the puzzle than we anticipated.
WC: Why Vince Carter? Wasn't there anyone else out there the Mavs could have signed? Derek Harper? Jim Jackson maybe? Obviously we Suns fans have a nasty taste in our mouths from his performance last year.
LR: The Mavs fans were split on Carter when we heard he was coming. Many people assumed we'd be getting the Magic/Suns VC who would be useless and fail to fit in with the team. Then there were those of us (myself included) who gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped we would get old school Raptors/Nets Vinsanity. Lo and behold, he has been contributing really well and really quickly. He was relatively cheap and doesn't necessarily have to be long term, so he was a low risk, high reward acquisition along the same lines of Lamar Odom and Delonte West. He's a veteran who has good basketball sense and has made an immediate impact.
WC: OK, let's get down to brass tacks here. Is there any desire among Mav fans and or perhaps the FO to bring back Steve Nash? If so, what do you think the Suns could obtain in return?
LR: For sentimentality's sake, Mavs fans will always wish for Nashty to come back. But the fact is, the direction of this team is such that taking on Nash to fill Kidd's eventual vacancy seems a bit redundant. Better to start looking for younger talent to take over when the old men of this team (Kidd, Terry, eventually Dirk) can no longer produce. Before the championship, the mentality was to find pieces that fit and give us an immediate shot at the title. Nash would have been one of those guys. Now that the Mavs are looking for long-term changes, he doesn't make as much sense.
WC: What are your thoughts on the Suns? If you were the Suns ownership and front office, would you trade Nash this season and begin the rebuild in earnest?
LR: If Nash is still producing at his high level, I see no reason to get rid of him just yet. It seems like the best results come when there's a transition period between the old and new. I am not personally fond of the overhaul tactic... I think it makes better sense to replace and start over a little bit at a time. It's always painful to watch your team struggle and the temptation to start from scratch is pretty strong, but patience is a virtue. Trust us on that one.
WC: As a Maverick fan, you had to deal with a few years of misery as Mark Cuban and Co. rebuilt the Mavs back into a contender. What advice do you have for Suns fans as we near the abyss?
See above... Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. And other such cliches. The Mavericks proved that once you have your centerpiece, all it takes is tweaking here and there to get the chemistry right before a deep run is possible.
WC: Bonus question: What's your prediction for tonight's contest? Sounds like both Nash and Kidd are out for this one.
LR: The Mavericks are doing better without Kidd at the moment. We are getting good burn from Beaubois and West, and Dirk had an abysmal night against the Spurs so he's about due for some improvement. I never predict scores, but I'm thinking that Dallas has a pretty good shot at this one, despite coming off an overtime win into a back-to-back.
Worth Pointing Out
How Can the Suns Win Tonight?
Well, that's quite a question, now isn't it? Nash may be out for the Suns. But Kidd is out for the Mavs. Dirk is back for the Mavs, yet appeared a smidge rusty last night against the Spurs. The Mavs are playing a second night of back to backs after playing a good Spurs squad who took them to overtime before losing.
But none of that matters to the Suns, with the exception of Nash possibly missing this one. Nash is more important to the Suns than Kidd is to the Mavs. Dirk's crappy statistical evening against the Spurs most likely means he's going to light it up tonight...So it's the usual for the up and down Suns....PLAY D, REBOUND, COMPETE ON YOUR HOME COURT, oh and maybe shoot better than 30%, hit some 3's, limit the turnovers. Yeah, mostly things the Suns haven't done all season.
Yet anything is possible, right? Check out the Suns numbers. Just think if a few normally dependable players can reach career averages (yeah Channing, I'm thinking mostly of you):
Everyone has an opinion about Steve Nash but there's only two men who's minds matter -- Steve Nash and Robert Sarver. So far, those guys have been rock solid in their commitment to each other and the latest NBA trade rumor only reinforces that the #FreeSteveNash movement will be about as effective as #OccupyNYC was in getting anything done beyond...OK, let's not go to politics.
According to Hoops World, the Suns are more interested in using their prodigious cap space in 2012 to keep Nash in Phoenix a few more years than they are to trade him:
NBA AM: Who Is Available In Trade? | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Suns fans are worried that the team may lose a future hall of famer to free agency, but sources close to the situation say the Suns may be willing to do a new deal with Nash this summer in the $8 to $10 million range to insure Steve stays in Phoenix and that kind of money may be more than anyone else in free agency would or could pay for Nash.
The story goes on to say the Suns, who have received only poop-level offers for Nash so far, would only consider a trade if "its clear Nash is leaving, that's when a trade will likely happen and the Suns are not there yet."
Bringing Nash back for a couple of years does make sense, especially since they will have all that cap space available and (likely) no max players worth spending it on. He's also clearly a better fit with Marcin Gortat than any other available options.
This summer Phoenix will have about $26.5m in cap space and $33m if they choose to amnesty Josh Childress. With Dwight Howard and Deron Williams almost certainly going somewhere else, there's no need to have all that space burning a hole in someone's pocket.
Giving Nash $8m still leaves plenty to throw at an RFA like Nic Batum or OJ Mayo and some left over to do a few other things. Does that make the Suns a contender again?
No, but remember that Robert Sarver doesn't have the stomach for a full blow up and rebuild through the draft:
"I don't know that I can sit there for four years and watch a terrible team play," Sarver said in 2010.
If you are a fan of the "Four Years Of Suck, Draft Plan" then put your hopes in Channing Frye and Jared Dudley continuing to play poorly; the Suns not getting anything of value for Robin Lopez; and Steve Nash being ready to leave the comforts of Phoenix for a ring-chasing move that doesn't seem to be part of his character.
Otherwise, get ready for a few more years of Nash and hopefully the addition of at least another couple of decent players this summer via free agency and a low lottery pick. It may not be great but it's better than over-spending on the wrong guy out of a free agent class with slim pickings.