Suns made life without Nash tough on themselves
Three years or so ago the Phoenix Suns had a decision to make:
Trade Amare Stoudemire before he likely left as a free agent, or make one last run with him, future be damned.
They decided to make one final run, and were rewarded with a trip to the Western Conference Finals before he decided to bolt for the bright lights (and extra money) New York had to offer.
Similarly, the last two seasons the team has had a similar decision to make with regards to Steve Nash and, like with Stoudemire, they've elected to keep him around in hopes of making a final run or two before he possibly left as a free agent.
They were rewarded with a pair of trips to the NBA's draft lottery.
Recently, plenty of teams have had similar decisions to make with regards to their own stars.
Last season alone we saw the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz part with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, respectively, deciding that whatever they could possibly win with them was not worth receiving nothing in return for them over the summer.
The Nuggets shipped ‘Melo out for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, one first-round pick, two second-round picks and $3 million cash.
They made the playoffs the season of the trade. They made the playoffs the season following the trade.
The Jazz, on the other hand, received Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks and cash considerations for Williams.
They bottomed out the year of the trade, and just clinched a playoff spot (over the Suns, mind you) the year after.
Now, this isn't to say the Suns would have received a similar package for Stoudemire or Nash. Neither player carried anything close to the value an Anthony or Williams had, so it's tough to say what exactly the team could have received in return.
But they would have received something, and that's the point.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost LeBron James for nothing, and look at them now. Same with the Toronto Raptors and Chris Bosh. Losing stars for nothing is not a way to build a winner. Letting them go on their terms - not yours - is the way to ensure your team crumbles in their absence.
"At some point, you have to start rebuilding," TNT NBA analyst and Suns Ring of Honor member Charles Barkley said Tuesday night. "I love Steve Nash but at some point you have to start rebuilding for the future.
"He can still play but they don't need him in Phoenix."
By the way, Barkley said the Suns re-signing Nash would be "stupid."
Unfortunately for the Suns, the "stupid" part of what they've done has already come to pass. The team held onto Nash and whatever was left of a great run, squeezing some excellent basketball out of an aging player on a bad team.
And now, as the saying goes, the chickens will come home to roost.
Nash will explore free agency, just as he's said he will, and may very well leave for another team - one that has a chance to win in the coming years.
And in return, the Suns will have a roster void of impact players, instead filled with role players who can be good some nights, but struggle with consistency.
Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are nice players, but neither are the type you build around.
Channing Frye and Robin Lopez have had their moments, but cannot be relied on night in and night out.
The team's prized rookie, Markieff Morris, looked overwhelmed every time he was inserted into the starting lineup, and Grant Hill may follow Nash out of town.
After that, it's just a collection of players who either won't come back or have had little impact on the team to begin with.
In other words, if Nash leaves, the Suns will be bad. Very bad. Think Cavaliers, Raptors kind of bad.
Teams that do not prepare to move on without their stars struggle mightily when having to do just that. The Suns surrendered the option to part with Steve Nash on their own terms, instead leaving it up to the player.
The Suns' finale Wednesday at home may very well be the two-time MVP's final game in a purple and orange uniform. Remember to enjoy it and appreciate what you are watching, fans, because keeping Nash the last two seasons may cost the team its future.