Last night’s game (Wed 4/6) is a sign towards the future. Unfortunately it’s a future no one wants to admit could be close.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the future Phoenix Suns in positive and negative ways.
Steve Nash must be traded during this off-season for a package of players that makes the Suns closer to winning a championship in the long run. The problem is there are 0 teams in the NBA who will move a package for Nash.
For years now Minnesota has been looked at as a poor organization or an easy win or both. How quickly we forget that the Wolves were a one-seed in the West just a few years ago. At the end of the 2007 season, there were fans and media in Minnesota demanding Garnett be traded because it was time to rebuild. Have those fans continued to buy tickets to see the product the Wolves are putting on the court? Has the media been patient during the process or are they just shifting their ire to something else?
For anyone who screams at the Suns to trade Nash and rebuild, I present to you the T’Wolves. For anyone who screams that Nash is one of the greatest Suns ever and should never be traded, I present to you the Celtics from 1993-2007.
A quick history lesson: Boston was great but allowed their 3 stars (Bird, McHale and Parish) to fade away or leave for nothing. Granted their exit strategy included high hopes for two players who died young (Bias and Lewis), but Boston wanted to treat their aging stars with great dignity and allow them to retire as Celtics (Parish kept playing elsewhere for a short time). By giving this special treat, they gave their fans 14 years of misery. The misery ended for Boston only because the T’Wolves wanted to rebuild.
Two decades ago Boston chose not to rebuild and they were terrible. One half decade ago Minnesota chose to rebuild and they’ve been terrible ever since.
It’s easy to sit in a studio and say: “The Suns must trade Steve Nash.” It’s easy to be a fan and scream: “If you trade Steve Nash I’m not buying tickets.” Take your pick. Do you want to be Minnesota and rebuild? Would you go the way of the Celtics and allow Nash to play out his career and retire?
The answer is, he must be shopped but the trade has to be right. I realize you might read that and think it didn’t take much creativity to come up with that revelation. The problem is doing nothing isn’t creative either.
Allowing Nash to retire as a Sun sounds like a beautiful sentiment and if the Suns let it happen they will not win a championship in the next 10 years. The quandary for Lon Babby and Lance Blanks is trading him for the wrong deal alienates fans immediately and would bury the team for years until they can draft multiple better players.
Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been phenomenal for their teams this year. The Clippers and T’Wolves will still be deep in the lottery puddle this year. There are only two ways to rebuild successfully. Tear your team down, become terrible for multiple seasons and draft perfectly for three years, winning the lottery at least once in those three years is the first option. Possibly get lucky that some team is looking to rebuild and sell their star while you have over-rated young talent that you can dupe a team into taking off your hands (Boston and the Lakers are the most recent examples of this method).
Trading Steve Nash is only step one in a 3 year process to rebuild. If the Suns trade Nash, they would be terrible next year. Would you still buy tickets to see a terrible team?
Jerry Colangelo banked on Phoenix as a great sports city when he mortgaged the future of the D-backs for a World Series. He figured if they won the Series you would be more forgiving of lean years and keep buying tickets. He planned on using that money to pay off the debt of deferred payments. When the D-backs went south, so did you. With little fan support the team was buried in a mountain of debt the other owners didn’t want to pay and they forced Colangelo out. Jerry gambled on the fans of Phoenix and lost.
Robert Sarver is dealing with a similar scenario yet he doesn’t have a World Championship to use as leverage for fan loyalty. He knows if he trades Steve Nash, fans won’t buy tickets. He knows if he doesn’t trade Steve Nash, the Suns will fight for two more years to make the playoffs just to lose in the first round.
Although the path to a championship includes some years like the T’Wolves are going through now, keeping Steve Nash almost guarantees no championship. Shopping Steve Nash for a great deal and then making the move is the solution. However, this isn’t a blog that’s just demanding the Suns trade Steve Nash. You don’t trade one of your best players just because he’s old. You trade him because you’re getting the proper bricks in return.
I think the Suns are going into this season looking at the CBA scrap heap. By keeping Nash, they’re banking on good veterans being cut loose right before the season starts as part of a CBA agreement into helping owners get out bad contracts. Nash is the best piece to use as a recruiting tool to bring in veterans for one last championship run. The Suns have to think trading him is a mistake since they don’t even know the future state of the NBA.
I support this plan as long as they try to execute the exact opposite plan at the same time. Use Steve Nash to sign veterans for the abbreviated season that will occur next year. However, while the Suns talk to agents about possibly bringing in their client, talk to GM’s about the price they’re willing to pay for Nash. If the Suns can’t get real championship pieces to play in Phoenix at the beginning of free agency, BAIL. ABANDON SHIP. Shop Steve Nash immediately. Instead of looking for pieces to surround Nash, look for teams to give you picks and players. If the Suns aren’t able to pull off a major coup like Boston did in pulling in their big three, then Nash should be apart of someone else’s big three.
Don’t trade Steve Nash just to get something because he’s too valuable now. Don’t keep Steve Nash because you want to delay the inevitable. It’s an easy decision. Shop Steve Nash and decide if the bid from the highest bidder will lead to a championship.