With the Suns on the verge of giving Steve Nash a contract extension it would seem the team has figured out the course it is planning on taking. Now, where is that course leading them?
Since the 2007 playoffs the Suns have been in a steady decline. It’s not Nash’s fault, mind you, but the team is clearly not among the elite any longer.
The Suns’ current status is not what it is because Nash is incapable of being an effective player. It’s not even because the Suns cannot be a good, competitive team with the two-time MVP leading the way.
Nope, it’s because at this point, what the Suns need and Nash provides are two separate things.
Steve Nash is a great passer and a great shooter. He is still great at leading a fast, athletic team up and down the court racking up points. But, he’s not getting any younger, and he’s still the weak link on defense.
The Suns, on the other hand, are a team in “transition”, moving on from the team that wowed the fans just five seasons ago and into a new era of Suns basketball. And, while we cannot be sure if the Suns will ever get back to being as good as they were back then, at some point every team runs its course and is forced to rebuild with different parts. Now is that time for the Suns.
Sure, it would be nice to sit here and say the Suns, if healthy, will be a playoff team this year. While I agree they are a playoff team as constructed, does anyone seriously believe they will compete for a championship? Does anyone really feel like they are (or can be) better than the Lakers, Spurs, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Nuggets or Mavericks? If you truly, honestly feel that way, then I have some land…
So while the Suns, with Nash, will be competitive and probably play postseason basketball, I’d like to think the expectations for the team are just a bit higher than that. If the Suns are to win the first title in the team’s history, it will surely be a bit farther down the road.
Which brings us back to Nash.
If the extension comes to fruition, Nash will be with the Suns for another three years. At 35-years-old, it would be safe to say that the point guard’s best days are behind him, and whatever productive days he does have left will surely be wasted here in Phoenix.
So why the contract extension? It would seem the Suns are hoping that by keeping the popular Nash they will continue to fill the US Airways Center and, in this tough economic time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But, if this city has proven one thing, it’s that it will get behind a winner, and will not show up to watch their team lose – regardless of who is actually on the roster. One needs to only look across the street at Chase Field where the Diamondbacks, in an effort to appease their fan-base, signed outfielder Eric Byrnes to a contract extension. That’s worked out real well for them, don’t you think?
A contract extension for Nash will not bring a championship to Phoenix, a ring for Nash, or fans to the arena. All it will do, really, is keep the Suns in neutral – at best – and you can’t move forward that way.