NBA Atlanta Hawks

Should the Suns trade Steve Nash?

Phoenix Suns Steve Nash receives the ball during the first half of a NBA exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, October 6, 2010. The Raptors beat the Suns 129-78. UPI/Heinz Ruckemann

A month into the regular season Sports Illustrated came out with an article naming Steve Nash as the second most talked about trade prospect behind Carmelo Anthony. A month into the season the Suns were at the .500 mark after a murderer’s row of playoff teams to start the season and working diligently to make the pieces acquired in the offseason fit. The speculation then began, fueled by numerous stories. Local talk radio discussion carried on for a couple weeks. Finally, when asked about the subject head coach Alvin Gentry said “If Steve Nash gets traded, I’m going with him!” The whispers lingered, but the conversation died, until recently.

With the new pieces not working out and spiraling out of playoff contention by the game, should the Suns trade Steve Nash?

Make no mistake about it, Nash IS the Phoenix Suns. There is no other marquee player. The commercials do not boast Jared Dudley or Vince Carter. Steve Nash is THE MAN. This offense was built with him in mind and he has fearlessly captained this ship into the playoffs and made them the highest scoring team in the league almost every season since he came to Phoenix.

The big difference is there is no other marquee name to share the load. The veteran is a master facilitator and the best point guard in the league. Nash is as selfless as they come, favoring assists over gaudy point totals in the name of sharing the glory with his teammates. Amar’e Stoudemire was the one sharing the load with Nash every year and love him or hate him, he took on the role of closer when the game was on the line. Now, there is no man to fill that void with Jason Richardson residing in Orlando. The Suns have stayed competitive in games against elite teams only to lose in the final minutes with no closer on board to compliment Nash. No one has stepped up to be the go-to guy and no one seems to want to. Should Suns management do Nash a favor and send him to a contender?

One side of the argument is Nash knew what he was in for when he signed his extension last season. There were going to be changes made and only time would tell what direction it would take the team. On the other hand, Nash is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, who will be celebrated as one of the best point guards in NBA history. He deserves the chance to compete for an NBA title. With the Suns so hopelessly adrift in mediocrity and no talk of bringing another big name on to help, he deserves an opportunity now while he still has value and can bring the Suns pieces they can use moving forward.

Personally, I am on the fence on this one. With no Nash, the Suns look lost. Its not Nash’s fault, it’s the system. He is the engine that makes this machine go and this offense was brilliantly crafted by Mike D’Antoni to accentuate Nash’s skills. The entire way the Suns play offense and defense would have to be overhauled if Nash was traded. It would be interesting to see if Gentry could pull that off in midseason.

I want Nash to have a championship ring to crown his glowing list of achievements in the NBA. The Suns would replace him with Goran Dragic, who would take over the offense and though he has improved significantly since he joined the Suns, he still has a lot of room for improvement and the Suns would have no one to back him up. The Suns have a litany of small forwards, but only two guys who can effectively play point guard. Suns management has optioned to look into the future with their choices to let Stoudemire go and then trade Richardson less than half a season later. Nash doesn’t deserve this and though I would hate to see him go, I wouldn’t mind him getting his opportunity to compete for an NBA title now with a team like Hawks or even (as much as it hurts to say it) the Lakers. Both teams have young pieces to trade that could help the Suns become contenders sooner than later and both could desperately use a point guard.

As a devoted Suns fan, management has my support to trade Nash, but ONLY to a top four team in either conference. Not the Kings, Warriors, Wizards or Timberwolves (unless you get Kevin Love in return). Trade him to a serious rock star team with a chance of winning this year. Then and only then will the idea of trading the two-time MVP be palpable for all of us Suns fans. For once Suns management, if you’re going to trade the face of this franchise, make a basketball decision and not a money decision.