By JAMES SARGENT
The Fourth of July is typically a fun, festive holiday for all of America. Not so in Phoenix, and most of Arizona. This day consummated the end of the Nash era as a Phoenix Sun.
For me, it started off so well. I woke up, had Wimbledon on the tube, and followed Twitter’s reports on NBA free-agents. In the morning, everyone was reporting that a possible sign-and-trade was going down between the Knicks and Suns. I was ecstatic. We would be getting young, combo guard Iman Shumpert as the headliner. This would have been huge, especially since just a few years ago the Suns let Amar’e Stoudemire walk for absolutely nothing. Now, instead of Nash just leaving as well, we would be receiving someone for him.
Hours went by and I continued to enjoy my day, grilling burgers and hotdogs and drinking….juice. Now I don’t exactly remember the time, but around five or six in the evening I received a text from ESPN stating that Nash will be traded to the Lakers. THE LAKERS! The Suns biggest rival. How could this happen? What is management thinking? I immediately jumpedonto my computer to get more information. Twitter was blowing up. Facebook was blowing up. It was actually happening! I didn’t know how to react. I had finally come to terms with Nash not being a Sun next year and departing, but now he’s going to be a Laker. REALLY!? The one team I despise happens to be where Nash is going. I couldn’t read anymore about it so I slammed my computer shut and went back to whatever I was doing.
The next day, after my juice headache went away, I decided to read more about this Nash sign-and-trade. Phoenix will be receiving four draft picks (first-rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second-rounders in 2013 and 2014) and, I believe, $3 million cash. Well, at least we got something for him, but the Lakers, really. I still couldn’t fathom this.
Anyways, it’s been a couple days now, and I’m starting to get over it, especially with the additions of Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, and fingers crossed, Eric Gordon. But before I get to the new guys, here is a Steve Nash statement courtesy of ESPN.com.
“For the last 8 seasons I’ve been blessed to play for a team and a city that has embraced me and that I have come to call home. This is a tough business and the only thing constant in life is change.
After talking with (owner) Robert (Sarver) and (president of basketball operations) Lon (Babby) we’ve agreed that it’s time for both of us to move in new directions. I approached them and asked if they would be willing to do a sign and trade deal with L.A. because it is very important to me to stay near my children and family.
They were very apprehensive and didn’t want to do it. Fortunately for me, they reconsidered. They saw that they were able to get assets for their team that will make them better, assets they would not have otherwise had and it made sense for them to do a deal that helps their team get better.
I couldn’t be more grateful to the organization and Robert in particular. I know how hard this was for him and that fact that he was able to help me and my family in this way … it means a lot and says a lot about his character. I will never forget this gesture. Above and beyond.
The Phoenix Suns are an amazing organization and fans should be excited about their future. I hope the Suns win a championship some day soon for all the amazing fans and wonderful people in the organization.”
You couldn’t have said it any better, Steve. My heart goes out to you and good luck with the rest of your career. You were loyal and every year you gave it your all. Best of luck.
Now back to the new additions. First, we will discuss Eric Gordon. The Suns and Gordon agreed to a maximum four-year, $58 million offer sheet. This would be huge for Phoenix and give them a much-needed scorer at the shooting guard position. However, it looks like the Hornets are going to match the offer. Gordon is a restricted free-agent, which means that he can look to sign with another team, but the Hornets have the final say whether they let him go or match the offer. Gordon voiced his opinion by stating that “Phoenix is just where my heart is.” Maybe this can entice New Orleans with letting him walk, but that would then make the Chris Paul trade look absolutely awful, especially since Gordon only played in nine games last season. Suns management should look to swap some of the Lakers draft picks they received in the Nash deal in a sign-and-trade with New Orleans.
Look for the Suns to talk with O.J. Mayo and/or Shannon Brown to ink a deal if the Gordon contract gets nulled.
The first real big addition that looks like a guarantee is the signing of Michael Beasley. Now to be clear, nothing is official until July 11. That is when a leaguewide moratorium on new business is lifted. However, it looks as if the Beasley deal will work out, especially since Minnesota is not interested in resigning him. Beasley agreed to a three year, $18 million deal. He is still young at only 23 years old and still has the potential to be one of the league’s best scorers. As long as Beasley can keep his head on straight, this is a great signing. His rebounding is also going to help out, as he most likely will play small forward.
Last, but certainly not least, Goran “Dragon” Dragic is returning home. After trading him to Houston in what I believe was a terrible move, the “prodigal sun” has returned. Dragic agreed to a four year, $30 million deal that will most likely put him as the team’s starting point guard. This is just great news, even after the Suns lost Nash. Dragic learned so much under him and really proved to the league that he deserves that starting nod. Dragic is such a hard worker and he fits into Alvin Gentry’s system perfectly. Dragic loves to run and push the tempo. Now it will be Dragic’s turn to mentor the young Kendall Marshall, as he looks to be the floor general for the Suns’ “second unit.”
Once July 11 comes and goes, we will see what will actually happen with all of these proposed offers from the Phoenix Suns.