ESPN’s Chad Ford lists the 10 impact players most likely to be moved before the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline and believe it or not, #10 on his list is Steve Nash.
The Suns have said all along that Nash is still the core of the franchise, but at 22-24, the Suns are a long way from contending for a championship. Heck, they may not even make the playoffs this season. The soon-to-be 37-year-old is still playing at a high level, so he could help a team in need of a good point guard.
So here are a few reasonable offers that might get the Suns to bite.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
The chances that the Suns would trade Nash to the Lakers are pretty slim. No one in the West really wants to help Kobe try to three-peat, but the Lakers aren’t playing very well and they have a big piece that the Suns might be interested in.
There’s a saying — don’t trade big for small — but the Lakers aren’t getting great play out of their point guard position and Nash’s shooting would be a great fit next to Kobe in the Laker backcourt. However, Nash’s propensity to dribble around until he finds the open man would take the ball out of Kobe’s hands, and that may not go over very well (or fit within the Lakers’ triangle offense). The trade would leave the Lakers very thin on the front line, and with the way that the Celtics are playing, it’s doubtful that they’re going to want to part ways with Bynum. But they’re not playing very good baskeball right now and the roster could use a shakeup. Perhaps Robin Lopez could be included to maintain the Lakers’ frontcourt depth.
For the Suns, Bynum could be a franchise cornerstone if he can just stay healthy. I have my doubts about his knees, but if the Phoenix doctors take a look at him and think that the worst is behind him, he may be worth the risk.
2. New York Knicks
The Knicks have cooled off considerably since their hot start and are now hovering just three games above .500. Raymond Felton (17 points, 9 assists) hasn’t been the problem, but Nash would be an upgrade at the point for Mike D’Antoni. Here’s a deal that would probably work for both teams:
The Suns would get cap relief in the form of Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, a forward who can really shoot it in Gallinari, and a wildcard big man (Randolph) who many believe has star potential given the right coach and the right system. The Knicks would get a proven floor leader (Nash) as well as a wing in Hill to help offset the loss of Gallinari.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Other than the Knicks and the Heat (who don’t have the pieces to convince the Suns to part ways with Nash), the only other semi-contender in the East that needs a point guard is Atlanta. The tough part about the Hawks trading for Nash is that they’re going to have to give up one of their big three (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford) to get him.
Johnson’s contract makes it tough to trade him and Horford probably has the better (or more stable) future than Smith, so Smith is the odd man out. He’s a very talented player and could be a franchise cornerstone for the Suns if the light ever goes on (and stays on). The trade would leave the Hawks a little thin at power forward, but they could go with Marvin Williams there and play a small-ball lineup of Nash, Jamal Crawford, Johnson, Williams and Horford.
The market for Nash is small. He would need to go to a playoff team in need of a point guard, but most playoff teams are already set at that spot. Boston, Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Utah don’t need Nash, while Miami and Orlando just don’t have the pieces to entice the Suns into a trade.
That leaves the Lakers, Knicks, Hawks and perhaps the Blazers as real players in a potential trade for the two-time MVP.