Steve Nash: Ranking the Best Options for Veteran Free Agent
After 16 years, point guard Steve Nash has seen just about everything – and done just about everything – there is to do in the NBA.
Nash won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player awards in 2005 and 2006. He’s an eight-time NBA All-Star, grabbed All-NBA First Team honors three times and was even a lottery pick, going 15th overall in the 1996 draft.
However, Nash, still playing at a high level at age 37 this season, is at a career crossroads. Even after all that he’s accomplished, the decision he makes this summer will be a decision that will ultimately define him. After all of these years, Nash still chases the one tangible object in his basketball career that has eluded him for nearly two decades: an NBA Championship.
After spending the last eight years back in Phoenix, who nabbed the star out of Santa Clara back in ’96, Nash is set to test free agency this summer – and has plenty of wealthy and open suitors vying for his services. Will Nash leave Phoenix, where he’s called home for a majority of his pro career? Will he test the market? How does his decision shake out for the rest of this summer’s free agent class?
Better yet, the best question to ask, is, “Wait…who wants Nash, and who needs him?”
Here are five options for where he could end up landing next season.
Option 1: Phoenix Suns
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The Suns are clinging to the hope that Nash will return and end his career with a collection of players that is continuing to grow and mature.
Although Nash remains the marquee attraction for fans to go to in Phoenix, role players like Jared Dudley, Grant Hill and Channing Frye are talented and will compete for a playoff berth. However, those pieces may not be enough to entice Nash to return, as he will look around the rest of the 29 teams in the NBA and see more depth.
If Nash ultimately decides to depart from Arizona – in hope of a better chance to win – the Suns may look to go all out and make a run for another premier point guard in Deron Williams.
Still, things remain quiet from Nash’s camp, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Look for things to heat up between both parties, as the Suns attempt to re-sign him.
Option 2: Miami Heat
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The coverage surrounding the Miami Heat is, at times, exhausting and takes its toll.
Despite shutting the door on the Boston Celtics in seven games to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year, there’s a clear need at the point guard position for Miami, as Mario Chalmers continues his wishy-washy play.
Nash may be the missing piece to a puzzle already talented with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Throwing Nash between those guys, playing a full-court press and running a high-tempo offense with fast breaks and pick-and-roll options smells of another run at a title next year, even if they win this season.
Miami, although tied up in contracts, have some flexibility to get out under a couple and open up a little more space to entice Nash to come to South Beach.
Check out the NBA Finals and try to imagine James, Wade and Nash all out on the court wearing Heat colors. What a site that would be.
Option 3: Chicago Bulls
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I know, stupid, right?
You’re saying, “Wait, you’re an idiot, man! The Bulls already have a point guard, and his name is DERRICK ROSE!!”
However, with the absence of Rose for much of next season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in round one against the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago has every intention of remaining a competitive squad, with the goal of returning to the playoffs as a high-seeded team.
It’s clear that C.J. Watson is not the long-term answer to the Bulls’ predicament. Would Nash sign a one-year offer, fill in for the Rose as he recovers, be the bridge between the two until Rose returns and then help them go deep into the playoffs next year?
I know, it’s an unlikely scenario. Still, if Nash is undecided about signing a three or four-year contract, wants to go to a competitive team and have a chance to win on a one-year term, Chicago all of sudden becomes an interesting option.
It’s far-fetched, I grant you, but crazier things have happened, and you can’t tell me that the Bulls aren’t desperate to fill Rose’s shoes for a brief period with a guy as talented as Nash. It’s unlikely, but, hey, anything is possible.
Option 4: New York Knicks
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For confirmation, even though I list the New York Knicks as the fourth option, I believe they are the most likely team to sway Nash to leave the West Coast.
Jeremy Lin captured the hearts and minds of NBA fans everywhere with his out-of-nowhere presence last season, stepping in at point guard and propelling the Knicks above .500 in February and back into the playoff picture.
However, after a series of knee injuries that sidelined him for the playoffs and questions to whether Lin and the Knicks are going to have easy contract talks (according to Sporting News), New York might pull out, even knowing that any team can only offer a max of $5 million for one year to him, according to the new terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
The Knicks already have Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, but a premier point guard may be the answer to how to get those guys the ball to the spaces they like on the floor. They both demand touches, and Nash is all about creating passing lanes and distributing.
Look for the Knicks to shake things up and go after Nash is they are unable to re-sign Lin.
Option 5: Portland Trailblazers
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Although it seems unlikely that the Portland Trailblazers have the pedigree and attractive pieces to land Nash, they may actually be most financially capable team, compared to the rest of the league, to make a serious run at nabbing him.
The Blazers amnestied Brandon Roy after he retired with chronic knee problems. Mehmet Okur, Raymond Felton, Hasheem Thabeet and Greg Oden are all coming off the books after this season. They also have LaMarcus Aldridge locked up for another three years.
The Blazers also made a brilliant move with the New Jersey Nets during the regular season to acquire the No. 6 overall pick in this month’s NBA Draft.
Everything seems to be in place for Portland to make a hard run at the coveted free agent point guard. Keep tuning in to see where he lands.