In a time when neither athletes nor the teams they play for have loyalty to one another, it seems that one team is being loyal to a fault. The Phoenix Suns have made it very clear that they do not plan to trade Steve Nash. For his part, Nash has stated several times that he wants to finish his contract with the Suns. The question becomes, is this the right thing for both parties.
I am all for loyalty in sports. There isn't enough of it in the business work of professional athletics. This is why it is so hard for me to come to the conclusion that the Suns need to trade Steve Nash, and Grant Hill as well. I commend them for wanting to keep Nash until he retires, but we all know that it has more to do with putting butts in the seats than it does to show loyalty to the 2 time MVP and good guy Hill. The Suns are afraid that if they trade Nash, the fans will stop coming. There may be something to that, but in the long run, starting the rebuilding process now could save the team from losing money for longer.
This upcoming draft is thought to be one of the deepest in years. While that could mean that the Suns could be a border-line lottery team and still draft a good player. The fact of the matter is that when experts say that a draft is deep, it generally means that there are really good players at the top, and many others that will turn into solid contributors at the professional level. The Suns could very well keep themselves in the dreaded position of not being good enough to make the playoffs, but not bad enough to receive a high draft pick. As long as they have Nash, the team will succeed to a certain level, but they will not win a championship. That is unless they convince a star player to come to Phoenix, which is a severe long shot.
Now I am not going to try to convince anyone that Nash and Hill will bring back a large haul. That ship sailed a few years ago. However, they would still be valuable to many teams. The problem being, that any team that would give Nash a chance at a championship, which would be the best way to show Nash loyalty, give him a good chance at a title, would not have a high draft pick. The Suns could though, get a couple young players with potential back, and low first round pick. These would be added to the inevitable low pick the Suns would receive when they finish lower in the standings without two of their best players. Marc Stein of ESPN suggested a trade to the Pacers, asking for Darren Collison in return. This would be a good starting spot in a search for a good trade partner. A third team could be brought in as well, to add to the talent. Another team could be the Knicks, who covet Nash, for Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert. Though the Knicks have no draft picks to give up.
The Suns could go for a long-shot and trade Nash to Portland, which is close to his home town, Vancouver. They could look to take back Batum, a draft pick, and ask for Oden back. Oden may never pan out, but I would give my training staff, who helped Grant Hill come back from almost certain retirement to have many healthy years. Shaq looked about done before he came to Phoenix, and then didn't last long after he left. Maybe, and it is a big maybe, they can work their magic on Oden. Could be worth a shot. Batum, a draft pick, and the chance and getting Oden healthy, would be better than losing Nash for nothing. Plus Oden is only on a one year deal.
The Suns are not going to get equal value for Nash or Hill, but getting something of some value would be better than losing them for nothing. I understand that the Suns would get cap room for those players, if they let them walk for nothing, but then convincing free agents to sign in Phoenix would be difficult for several years. since that would be the case, it is better to collect young talent and draft picks. Even if they are not top young players, they will have value in the future.
The player currently on the Suns roster that may fetch the most in return may be Gortat, and it may be worth trading him as well. Gortat has been playing well, plays a position(Center) that is always in demand, and at the age of 27, won't be a player they can build around in an effort to reshape the team.
The Suns are in a difficult spot right now, but it important that they understand the position they are in, and take advantage of the chips they have to use. Rebuilding is always painful, but the best franchises know exactly when to start the process, rather than waiting too long. The Suns already waited too long by not trading Amare before his contract was up, they cannot afford to make the same error in judgement again.