Less than eight months ago, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns were two wins away from the NBA Finals. Phoenix was tied with the mighty Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference Finals 2-2 after four games. The Suns would go on to lose the series in six, but that's not all they lost.
The offseason saw star forward Amar'e Stoudemire taking his talents to the Big Apple, as well as several other mind-boggling roster changes. Phoenix brought in Hedo Turkoglu via a trade with Toronto and signed Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress to exorbitant contracts. The result was a .500 team in mid-December which prompted the front office to blow things up by making a six player trade with the Orlando Magic on December 18.
Phoenix welcomed in Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat as it waved goodbye to Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. Now Orlando is flourishing with its recently acquired talent, while the Suns continue to flirt with the draft lottery.
Phoenix has won three in a row as of late and the Suns certainly aren't out of it yet. But as the championship window closes more and more in the valley, B/R takes a look at 10 NBA contenders that can use the services of Steve Nash in order to compete for the game's top prize this spring.
Take out Heat point guard Mario Chalmers, plug in two-time MVP Steve Nash, and what do you get?
The most talented and explosive foursome to ever lace up basketball sneakers. Nash would lead history's most furious fastbreaks with James and Wade on the wings. Nash could orchestrate a pick and roll game with Chris Bosh that would make Miami nearly unstoppable in the halfcourt as well.
Of course Miami would have to get rid of some bench treasure in order to acquire Nash from Phoenix, but there is little doubt that it would be worth it.
The Atlanta Hawks have been good for a while now, just not great. Steve Nash would make them great. Nash's creativity would take an immense amount of pressure off of Joe Johnson, who played with Nash in Phoenix back in 2004-2005.
Josh Smith would become more dangerous offensively as would virtually every player on Atlanta's roster. Mike Bibby would likely be jettisoned out of the ATL, but it would be for the better, trust me.
With Steve Nash, the Thunder would likely bring back memories of the Mike D'Antoni days in Phoenix. OKC would run more than any other team in the league. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and even James Harden would be beneficiaries of Nash's game.
The Thunder would more than likely have to part with gifted young point guard Russell Westbrook, however. Westbrook is a starter in the NBA and could bring a new flavor to the valley if traded to Phoenix.
Perhaps the team that could use Nash more than any other is the MVP's former Dallas squad. Nash is good friends with Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki and played with Shawn Marion for years in Phoenix.
Dallas now has a much better defensive team that could combine with Nash for a championship team. Jason Kidd would no doubt be the odd man out in this situation; however, Nash's game has carried over with his age, while Kidd's jump shot has always been a liability.
With Nash, the Mavericks would compete with Los Angeles and San Antonio for the Western Conference crown this spring, no question.
So this one is certainly a long shot; not to say the others aren't. Phoenix and Orlando already made a blockbuster deal this season, just one month ago exactly. If Nash was to make Orlando better, Hedo Turkoglu would have to be out of the picture, considering we saw how that worked in Phoenix earlier this season. If Turkoglu doesn't have the ball in his hands, he looks lost.
Gilbert Arenas could stick around, but more importantly Dwight Howard and Jason Richardson would benefit immensely. Howard would become a huge threat in the pick and roll given Nash's shooting and passing accuracy. Richardson would continue to make teams pay as a slasher and three-point shooter. Before December's trade, I would have told you this was the best option for Nash and Orlando, but now it seems highly unlikely, and one can only wish.
Nash, Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni would be reunited in the Garden and defense would still be optional. The pick-and-roll threat would be incredible. Not only would the Knicks have open three-point shooters on nearly every play, but they may not even need them if Nash and Stoudemire are in the zone.
If the duo could somehow be joined by Carmelo Anthony next season, then the Knicks would be the talk of the nation and the hottest ticket in town. Knicks fans may be upset that they would have to wave goodbye to Raymond Felton, but I'm sure they would get over it.
Portland is a unique team predicated on defense that has overcome more than a fair share of injuries. The Trail Blazers could use Nash even though he doesn't fit their style at first glance.
Portland has a promising future with a somewhat young roster. LaMarcus Aldridge is an up-and-coming superstar in the league and could feed off of Nash's creativity. Nash's pick-and-roll game is still second to none. However, that realization has been lost to the fact that Phoenix now has zero finishing threats at the moment.
Andre Miller has never really panned out as Portland's point guard and even star guard Brandon Roy has publicly criticized Miller in the past.
They always say "if it ain't broke don't fix it." And in this case, it's installing a turbo kit on a Ferrari. It seems pointless. The Los Angeles Lakers are the back-to-back defending champions and have the ingredients to do it again this season.
Nash could only make them better, though, even if it means Kobe gets fewer touches. Gasol and Odom could work off of Nash nicely, but it might stop there. Artest is often confused on offense, while Kobe likes to do his own thing as L.A.'s creator. It's very hard to imagine this even happening, but with Nash you would have a hard time arguing that the Lakers wouldn't repeat in 2011.
Acquiring Nash before the deadline would add even more fuel to the current Carmelo fire in Denver. The Chauncey Billups era would be no more, and Nash would be depending on a group of talented role players to hold things together. Still, Denver has a decent core that would compete in the West.
Nene is an excellent and athletic big man, while guys like J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo would flourish playing alongside Nash. Denver would be one of the more enjoyable teams to watch with Nash and would outscore most of its opponents.
Though calling the Suns contenders seems questionable, this one is easy. No team needs Nash more than the Phoenix Suns right now. Phoenix has won three straight games for the first time in nearly two months and is just two games out of a playoff spot in the West.
Nash makes them dangerous even though the Suns only have 18 wins halfway through the season. With pieces like Jared Dudley and Robin Lopez in place, the Suns have a promising future to build on. Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat are two more young players with vast potential. It's up to the veterans like Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter to play up to their already-known potential in order to give the Suns a fighting chance.
I can also tell you that this deal is the one most likely to happen.
Patrick Clarke is a student at Towson University and a writing intern for Bleacher Report.