Five Teams That Could Use Steve Nash
Deals that could reshape the NBA
by Allen Kim
Steve Nash’s name has popped up in trade rumors recently. Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry adamantly denies the notion, as he rightfully should. It appears to be nothing more than speculation at this point, but Phoenix should seriously consider the possibility.
It’s hard to picture Phoenix’s floor general wearing anything but purple and orange, but pretty soon the sun may inevitably set.
Analysts and fans alike overvalued the strength of the Suns’ current roster at the start of the season. While they’ll be fairly competitive in the West, it’s obvious that they’re nothing more than a slightly above-average team looking to squeeze into a playoff spot.
Phoenix’s owner, Robert Sarver, is known to be frugal. It makes sense for the Suns to trade Steve now while his stock is still high. Phoenix can still get a lot in return for the veteran guard and they should strike while the iron is still hot. Nash is at the tail end of his career and it may be time to retool the roster and start with a clean slate.
In any case, Phoenix would clearly look out for the franchise first. The organization will be looking for young players, draft picks and expiring contracts.
However, it would be difficult to imagine the Suns dumping Nash onto a bottom-dwelling team in any potential deal. After all, Nash gave six years of loyal service without so much as a single complaint.
There are well over a dozen teams that could use his services, but only a few that could make some serious noise in their respective conferences with Nash at the helm.
With Nash running the point, it would make an already strong Magic team into potential favorites in the Eastern Conference.
If Amar’e and Nash were able to tear through opposing defenses in the pick-and-roll, imagine what Nash could do with Dwight Howard.
Vince Carter may not be the offensive juggernaut he used to be, but Nash could revive some of that magic (no pun intended) that Vince had with Jason Kidd. Alley-oops would certainly become a bigger part of Orlando’s attack. Also, taking the ball out of Vince’s hands should only help the Magic offense become more efficient.
Jameer Nelson is a solid point, but his best days appear to be behind him already. The Magic supposedly tried to trade him away this summer, so they’re clearly not very high on him. Nelson possesses more of a scorer’s mentality as opposed to being a distributor and it may be time for Orlando to move towards a more traditional starting unit.
Nash is not only a more complete distributor than Jameer, but his superior shooting touch and ball handling abilities make him even more dangerous as a scorer. He’s an upgrade in nearly every facet.
As far as Steve Nash’s horrendous defense, Dwight Howard would be able to pick up the slack on the back end.
Of course, any deal for Nash would likely bring along with him the baggage of Hedo Turkoglu’s massive contract. What better place for Hedo to go to than the very team he had his most successful years with?
Hedo played extremely well in tandem with Dwight Howard. The Turkoglu to Howard post-entry pass was their specialty, and with Dwight’s burgeoning offensive arsenal, it can only improve.
Grant Hill is on his final legs and Orlando would be sure to welcome him back with open arms. Hill brings a veteran and leadership presence that the Magic sorely lack. As the consummate professional, it would also only be fair to trade Hill from a team in rebuilding mode for another shot at a title.
Marcin Gortat has made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the Magic. He’s unhappy with his role and playing time, and trading him to the Suns would take care of that. Gortat is an overpaid backup and he could make for a strong defensive presence in combination with Robin Lopez on the Suns.
Michael Pietrus is a solid wing. Given enough playing time, he’s still capable of being a difference maker. In the final year of his contract, the Suns can either cut ties and take the financial relief, or extend him at a reasonable price.
Of all the potential destinations, the Magic would be the best fit for Nash.
Get: Steve Nash, Hedo Turkoglu
In the ’05 NBA Draft, the Hawks had the second overall pick. Instead of selecting a point guard, like they should have, Atlanta opted to pass up on the two current best point guards in the league for Marvin Williams.
Clearly a colossal mistake.
The Hawks have had to make do with Mike Bibby the past few years, and while he’s had some success in the role, he was never the answer. Bibby isn’t really any better in the defensive department, so Nash’s biggest weakness wouldn’t be a far cry from what they get at the position now.
With Nash in command, the Hawks go from another first or second round exit to potential Eastern Conference finalists.
Atlanta was the talk of the town after winning their first six games, but they have since come back down to Earth having lost three straight. It appears that they are who we thought they were prior to the start of the season.
The Nash to Josh Smith pick-and-roll would be just as devastating as it was with Amar’e flanking him. Smith would be in line for a career year with Steve being able to take full advantage of Smith’s freakish athletic gifts.
Joe Johnson already played with Nash in Phoenix years ago, and they should have no trouble picking up right where they left off. Plus, it would take the ball out of Joe’s hands and free him up to concentrate on scoring as opposed to distributing.
Jamal Crawford is not happy with his standing in the organization and it’s clear that now is the time to move him. Atlanta can’t afford to extend him, and the team would get nothing in return if they held onto him past the February trade deadline. Crawford can still play at a high level with his prolific scoring abilities and wicked shake-and-bake move.
Jeff Teague has a lot of potential. He’s reminiscent of an all-time Phoenix Suns great, Kevin Johnson. While his play-making abilities aren’t really comparable, he could still develop them at the NBA level. Teague fits in perfectly with Alvin Gentry’s uptempo offense and he could really excel in Phoenix.
Atlanta’s roster is built to succeed now. They have some strong complimentary pieces in place for Nash and this would make the Eastern Conference that much more competitive.
Get: Steve Nash
The Thunder are in the midst of a full-on youth movement, and they greatly exceeded expectations last season. Not many anticipated Oklahoma getting into the playoffs last year, but they were the surprise team of the NBA and they even gave the reigning champs fits along the way.
However, the bar has been significantly raised this year and they haven’t lived up to their preseason billing in the early going. The Thunder’s 8th ranked defensive efficiency has dropped to 23rd this year, and their offensive efficiency has gone from 12th to 18th.
Bringing Steve Nash over to the Thunder would inject some life back into their offense. While the defense certainly won’t improve, their offense should be able to finally reach its full potential with Nash as the primary distributor.
Russell Westbrook has exploded in the first three weeks of action, but the Thunder have had their ups and downs. Westbrook may be labeled as a point guard, but he’s easily capable of sliding over to the two. In fact, it may even open up his offensive game further.
Nash and Westbrook are also perfectly capable of playing off the ball, so it’s not so far-fetched that they share play-making duties. Nash’s premier shooting abilities would also stretch the floor and give Westbrook and Durant plenty of room to work their man in isolation.