I've made it plenty clear that I think Steve Nash will come back to the Phoenix Suns and I think that's the best thing for the Suns. I don't see his options anywhere as good as they are in Phoenix where he's comfortable, his kids are in school, he loves the coach and system, and he can get paid more than by other teams.
Of course, he might not come back and certainly there's a lot of NBA fans outside of Arizona who want him to leave. The problem is, none of the teams I've heard mentioned make much sense. People want him to go in concept, but the reality is that a change would have to clear a lot of hurdles for him.
So here's the question:
Other than Phoenix, where should Steve Nash go and why?
Leave your answers in the comments below.
The fantastic Basketball Jones video show / podcast spent a lot of time on this question yesterday polled their viewers as well. Check it out.
Wednesday night at U.S. Airways Center was an amazing scene. It was completely organic and spontaneous and 100 percent genuine when the Phoenix Suns crowd started chanting for their hero, Steve Nash, with about five minutes left in the game.
It began with a group of fans behind the basket in section 108 and immediately spread to the entire arena. Soon the entire building was on their feet chanting "WE WANT STEVE".
I give Arizona sports fans a lot of crap. This town is known for having front-running fans who can be pretty laid back and lack the passion and commitment you see in other markets. This, however, was something else entirely. This was awesome.
And here's video of what I had to say about the game and season and some of the Nash video along with Telfair and Dudley talking in the locker room.
Well done, fans.
There's also some talk about why Nash didn't stay in the game longer or come back in for the final possession to try and win the game. Here's how Gentry explained it:
"No, I wasn't going to put him in. He wasn't warmed up and we were in a situation where we can see if some other guys can do some things. There's a lot of decisions that have to be made here and I thought that was a situation where we could stick somebody else in and see if they could make the play or see if we could execute.
He's not going to be able to be here forever, even if he decides to come back, so at some stage somebody's going to have to make a play and I just thought tonight was an opportunity for some guys to have a chance to try and execute and run some plays and take some shots at the end of the game."
Also, remember that at this point losing the game helps a tiny bit in the draft order AND most importantly, Nash's body isn't right and he's not been shooting the ball well recently or in this game. It would have been highly unlikely that he would have made a three. At best he would have tied the game and gone to OT which no one wanted.
When a player becomes a free agent, their current team retains "Bird Rights" that translate into an inflated cap hold that counts against the team's salary cap. "Bird Rights" were named after Larry Bird as a way for teams to keep their players despite being over the salary cap. The cap hold was added to make it so teams can't sign new players and THEN re-sign their existing ones. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
In general, "Bird Rights" give the advantage to the player's current team. A team with "Bird Rights" on a player can offer one more year (5 vs. 4) and higher raises (7.5% vs. 4.5%) than any other NBA team. In the new CBA, even sign-and-trades must now be at the lower numbers rather than the higher. Only 4 years with 4.5% raises on sign-and-trades now.
In Steve Nash's case, "Bird Rights" are likely a non-issue. Nash's last contract, when he was a young 35, went for 3 years with a DECLINING salary. Going forward, he is asking for a 3-year deal and, with presumably diminishing skills, there is no reason to expect Nash's next contract to include raises either.
Under those parameters, "Bird Rights" mean nothing to the Suns or Nash.
The only other value that "Bird Rights" offers is for teams to exceed the cap to re-sign their own player. However, you can't both sign new players AND keep your existing ones if the combination puts you over the $58 million cap.
The Suns currently have $31 million in guaranteed salaries for the 2012-13 season (Gortat, Frye, Warrick, Childress, Dudley, Morris, and 1/2 of Telfair's deal), leaving a little more than $26 million to sign new players or re-sign current ones.
Factor in the logical move to retain "Bird Rights" on younger players Robin Lopez, Shannon Brown and Aaron Brooks ($16.9 million between them) for negotiating and trade leverage purposes during free agency, and you're down to only $9 million in cap space on day 1 of free agency. Sure, those guys will eventually sign for less somewhere. But until they do, that's the collective hold on the Suns cap.
Nash's cap hold is another $17 million. Grant Hill's is another $9 million. If the Suns keep those guys' "Bird Rights" as well, suddenly there is NO MONEY to spend in free agency beyond the mid-level exception. Ugh.
Renouncing Nash does not diminish the Suns' ability to re-sign him. He won't be asking for anything special that "Bird Rights" offers. Same with Grant Hill.
This is why you are very likely to see 2 major things happen in June:
1) Suns renounce "Bird Rights" on Steve Nash and Grant Hill, creating a wave of new 'Nash is GONE!' articles
2) Since the first move only gives them $9 million to spend, which is lower they likely want, Suns also use amnesty on Josh Childress' $6 million cap number
With those moves, the Suns starting number of spendable money on day 1 of free agency is $15 million.
Without those moves, the Suns have NOTHING to spend.
Nash has said that he wants major improvement to the talent on the roster before he considers re-signing. Without the starter bucket of $15 million, the Suns can't honor those wishes. They can later re-sign Nash and Hill with the freedom created when Lopez, Brown and Brooks sign (with anyone) for a lot less than their collective $16.9 million in cap holds.