Phoenix Suns: Could a Slow Start Impact the Possibility of a Steve Nash Trade?

Sam CooperCorrespondent IIIDecember 29, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 13:  Head coach Alvin Gentry and Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns talk during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It may be time for the Phoenix Suns to start panicking.  

The Suns are now 0-2, or 0-4 if you count preseason games, and they do not look remotely like a playoff contending team. They were blown out in both preseason games by the Denver Nuggets, and suffered a 103-83 loss tonight at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

These are not especially good teams to lose to. The Nuggets are a fairly good team, but only compete for a low playoff seed in the Western Conference, and the same applies for the 76ers in the East

. Although they lost by just one point to the Hornets, they failed to beat a team that many think has potential to be the worst team in the league after losing Chris Paul

The truth is, the Suns have just not played like a good basketball team. In the opening game against the Hornets, the team had seven turnovers in just the first quarter, and finished with 14 turnovers. These turnovers have especially been a huge problem for Steve Nash.

Tonight against the 76ers, Nash had a horrendous game. He played just 17 minutes, and finished with four points, one assist and six turnovers. Everybody has bad games, but Nash alone may not be able to unify this team this season, and hopefully this is not a sign of Nash slowing down.

Nash did have a decrease in production towards the end of last season, as he averaged just 10 points a game after the all-star break, compared to averaging almost 17 points per outing in the games prior. 

And as Nash struggles, the other players on the team struggle. New addition Shannon Brown has shot 4-of-15 and gotten just eight points in his first two games.

In addition to that, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat have failed to show the same dominance they showed at the end of last season. That trio combined for just six points in tonight's game and shot 1-pf-12 from the field. 

With the lockout, naturally some players may be shaky at the beginning of the season. But the Suns will not have much time to practice and fix their mistakes given a tighter schedule, and it is possible they may turn to a trade before the all-star break.

I know, I know, Nash has been brought up in trade rumors a million times before and management has denied trade possibilities again and again, but it may be foolish to let him finish his career in Phoenix.

Not foolish in the sense that Nash should be traded to a contender and win a ring, but foolish in the sense that it would benefit the Phoenix Suns as a franchise to trade Nash.

If Nash continues to struggle like this, then the team may see its worst season in years. By winning only a few games this year and being completely unprepared when it's time to rebuild will only hurt the franchise more.

It has only been two games, but from this first peek at the season, I think it has already been established that the Suns will not make the playoffs this year. 

The right thing to do would be to trade Nash before it is too late. Unfortunately, by now the Suns may not get a great return. Nash is 37 and in the last year of his contract, so it would have been more beneficial to trade him last year when it was becoming clear that the Suns were no longer championship contenders.

But a draft pick and young talent will be more valuable for the future than keeping him. Especially if this game signifies a decrease in his play, the Suns should trade him while his value is still high to other teams. 

Nash no longer has a playoff team to work with, and he has nobody to mentor. Brooks left for China, and his new backups Ronnie Price and Sebastian Telfair have both been in the league for several years. He no longer fits in the organization. 

Although trading Nash would be agonizing for Suns fans, it would be a step in the right direction. I see a bright future in Phoenix. Gortat and Dudley have shown flashes of starpower, Markieff Morris has been playing well and Robin Lopez's career may be rejuvenated based on his play so far this season.

With a few draft picks and young players, this team could be back in championship contention in a few years. It worked for the Thunder, so maybe it is time for Phoenix to take the same route.