For the last seven seasons, Steve Nash has played remarkably for the Phoenix Suns. In his second stint with the team that originally drafted him in 1996, Nash has won two MVP Awards, catalyzed the team's rise to perennial contention and became an instant fan favorite.
Still, they say all good things must come to an end, and everything points to this being the right time for Nash to make a change in the (likely) twilight of his career.
There appears to be nothing even resembling bad blood between the star point guard and the team, nor has Nash ever outwardly desired a trade. But, nevertheless, it would seem best for both parties involved to move on in their separate directions.
Here are seven reasons why.
It feels like it's been much longer than one year since the Phoenix Suns were only two wins away from reaching the NBA Finals. Nevertheless, following Amar'e Stoudemire's departure and several other subsequent roster moves, the Suns failed to make the playoffs last season for the second time since Steve Nash re-joined the team.
Add to the discussion a revamped Western Conference, with up-and-coming teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies challenging the old guard tandem of the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers—not to mention the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks—and Phoenix will likely be fighting for the eighth seed at best next season. And that's with Nash.
From a team standpoint, your best player is supposed to be a leader both on the court and off. There is no doubt that Nash fills both roles superbly. But in basketball, one player can't win you a title. (Right, Cavalier-LeBron?) And this Suns team doesn't have nearly enough to support Nash in the quest for a championship.
Look at all the ringless fingers.
Steve Nash is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, ring or no ring. But he is 37 years old, and his time to win a championship is growing short.
With Jason Kidd recently reaching the promised land, Nash remains the best point guard of this generation of NBA stars to have not won a title.
The Suns do not necessarily owe Nash anything—their relationship seems mutually appreciative and respectful—but after all he has done for the franchise, it would seem reasonable for Phoenix to give Nash his best shot at adding the crowned jewel of any NBA star's resume.
And that best shot does not exist for him in a Suns uniform.
In case this hasn't been implied well enough already...Steve Nash isn't getting any younger.
Nash had another terrific season statistically last year, leading the league with 11.4 assists per game and shooting 49.2 percent from the field. He hasn't shown any major signs of slowing down, and he is known for keeping his body in excellent condition.
Still, elite 37-year-old point guards are a rare breed in NBA history, and Nash is likely to only see his numbers dip from this point forward. If the Suns hope to flip their best trade chip into something worthwhile, they should do so while his value is still significantly high.
During the past couple of years, Steve Nash had taken on another role in addition to running what was at times the most exciting offense in the NBA. He was the de facto mentor for young Suns guard Goran Dragic.
Dragic was drafted in 2008 and was soon labeled as Nash's eventual replacement. Unfortunately, other than one spectacular playoff game, Dragic never quite seemed to prove himself as the rightful heir to Nash's throne.
Dragic was traded last February for former Houston Rockets guard Aaron Brooks. The Suns failed to draft a high-upside point guard during last week's NBA draft, suggesting they have confidence in Brooks going forward—of course, as Nash's backup for now.
While Brooks can also learn from Nash—really, who couldn't?—he has more experience than when Dragic first came up and will likely require and/or appreciate less in terms of guidance.
Dirk Nowitzki now has a ring. Michael Finley has a ring (from his time with the Spurs). And, of course, Mark Cuban now has a ring.
Steve Nash was part of the trio that made the Dallas Mavericks relevant during the last decade. Owner Cuban was in the middle of it all. Now that the Mavericks won a title even without Nash, Cuban—who let the point guard walk in his free-agent year—is somewhat vindicated.
And we don't want a world in which Mark Cuban is vindicated and Steve Nash is championship-less, do we?
Why waste a precious season's worth of Nash's talents when there might not even be any basketball, period?
Steve Nash is the last remaining piece of an era that's come and gone for the Phoenix Suns. Nash catalyzed the team's turnaround; in his first season, the Suns saw a 33-win improvement during the regular season.
Although they have not won a championship with Nash at the helm, the Suns have remained an exciting, athletic team for the most part, scoring points at will and doing so as seemingly fast as possible.
But plenty has changed since 2004, when Nash arrived. Amar'e Stoudemire and then-head coach Mike D'Antoni are now on the Knicks. Joe Johnson is an Atlanta Hawk. Shawn Marion is on the Dallas Mavericks. Even Leandro Barbosa was traded last year.
If the team truly wants to rebuild, letting go of Nash would be the final preliminary move. The experiment, while fruitful, has run its course, and it appears best for them to move on in another direction.