HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — If Steve Nash‘s decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers wasn’t the most important move of the last 10 days, it was certainly the most surprising.
Nash chose his former team’s biggest rival over the chance to lead Canada’s team back to relevance or play 41 games in his adopted city of New York. It was an opportunity he never really saw coming, to play for a championship contender and see his kids (back in Phoenix) on off days.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein chronicles the process that took Nash from meetings with the Raptors and Knicks in New York to a critical phone call with Kobe Bryant. In the end, the move that could get the Lakers back to The Finals came down to Suns owner Robert Sarver.
Nash says now, after the fact, that he woke up on Independence Day believing it was “50-50 that the Suns would allow the trade to happen.”
Yet what Duffy refers to as the Lakers’ “kitchen sink” offer, with $3 million in cash added to the four future picks, still left plenty of uncertainty. So much uncertainty and anxiety that Nash, who isn’t exactly known for long phone conversations or for letting you know he’s fretting, was calling Duffy nonstop by Day 4 of negotiations.
“We were talking literally 40 times a day,” Duffy said of the most senior independent client on the BDA Sports roster.
Our own Scott Howard-Cooper believes that Sarver’s mistake wasn’t trading Nash to the Lakers now, but not trading him earlier. As SHC writes, a trade at February’s deadline or even earlier than that would probably have netted the Suns more assets to move forward.
Management had at least two trade deadlines and one previous offseason to make the deal that was best for the team. The clock had been ticking on the spectacularly fun Nash era for about two years. He did, no matter what anyone’s eyes said to the contrary, turn 38 in February. A transition plan had to be in place.
Instead, the Suns held on. It would have been different if the Suns were trying to keep a winning group together, the way the Celtics are now by re-signing Kevin Garnett and adding very-veteran Jason Terry to replace Ray Allen. But Phoenix was 33-33 last season, 10th in the West. That was after going 40-42 the season before. Phoenix hasn’t made the playoffs since the improbable run to the 2010 conference finals.
Loyalty is great and all, but the NBA is a business, and every team needs to make sure it’s doing its best to ensure short and long-term success. Did the Suns drop the ball in that regard?