Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wild Speculation and Outlandish Guesses: Birthday Cake Edition

Editor's Note: Yesterday Steven John Nash celebrated his 38th birthday by leading his mediocre Suns to a victory over the slightly better Bucks. We figured the least we could give him was some thought. We have also invited friends of the blog who are Suns fans to share their opinions.

What would you get Steve Nash for his birthday?

Andrew Snyder: A first class ticket out of Phoenix straight to JFK with a car waiting to whisk him away to the Knicks practice facility. Despite this week's #Linsanity, how much fun would it be to watch a Nash-Amare-D'Antoni reunion running SSOL-East. You could even put fat Baron at the two?

Ravindra Coutinho: What would I get ol' Stevie for his birthday? My vote would be for a replica of the Colosseum in which to toss Suns owner Robert Sarver and any number of large carnivores who have recently been stung by bees. It's unbelievable the way that Sarver has taken advantage of Nash's character and unyielding loyalty to the franchise. Every year he shops players and draft picks with the adroitness of a Lehman Brothers trader. It's like if instead of making chess pieces, Andy had used that rock hammer that Red gave him to brutally sodomize him for the next seven years (it only seemed appropriate to insert a Simmonsian Shawshank reference for you). It only seems fitting that Nash finally get a little payback in.

Jacob Greenberg: What do you get a man who has everything (except a championship ring)? I dunno. One of these? I've never seen Nash with a beard. Maybe he can't grow one.

Luke Hasskamp: A coupon for one ride to or from the airport, because, man, who doesn't need one of those everyone now and again?

Omar Bagnied: As a longtime Suns fan it pains me to see how our stars have found their way out of the desert. And any other year the best gift I could've given Nash and the Suns would be a Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard package. But the Steve Nash story this year will be about him leaving the Suns for another team. I'd give him a meeting with Robert Sarver and ticket out of Phoenix.

What should Steve Nash ask for his birthday?

Andrew Snyder: Assuming he wants to win a ring at all costs, he should ask to be cut so he can sign with the Miami Heat for whatever cap number works. Realistically, I bet he wants one of these sweet customizable Vancouver Whitecaps Jerseys! I made him one with "Nash" and "13" on the back! I'm guessing he's a Large, and although soccer was Steve's first love, the jersey will unfortunately cover up his impressive crop of chest hair. Either that, or a sugar free vegan birthday cake to jive with his crazy and effective diet.

Ravindra Coutinho: Honestly, Nash should just ask for a trade. No one in the Valley would begrudge him for it, and he still has plenty to offer a more balanced offense. It's not fair that he's asked to shoulder so much of the load at this point, and it hardly seems worth it with the roster that we have now.

Jacob Greenberg: Another legitimate scorer to lessen his unreasonable load. As far as I can tell, the Suns rely on some committee of Marcin Gortat, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley to figure out who will be the big scorer any given evening. That just won't get it done. More specifically, the fact that Marcin Gortat is expected to fill Amar'e Stoudemire's role is about as ridiculous as can be. I just cannot figure out this bargain bin team.

Luke Hasskamp: A Kevin Love jersey.

Omar Bagnied: If it's not obvious already, he should ask for, nay, demand a trade out. He needs to be on a contender. This guy is a two-time MVP and seven-time all-star. It's tragic that he's never been to the NBA finals, the only MVP (other than Rose) with that distinction.

True or False: Even if he does not request a trade, should Suns owner Robert Sarver "do the right thing" and trade Nash to a contender?

Andrew Snyder: True. However, at this point, I don't think anyone can count on Robert Sarver to do anything that doesn't directly boost his team's bottom line. Nash and the Suns continue to draw fans on the road, ranking as the Association's 6th leading draw, but have slipped to 22nd in home attendance so far this season, down 12% from last year's numbers. Based on these stats, one would think that Phoenix fan enthusiasm isn't remarkably high for the 2011-12 team, and fans would probably be receptive to giving Nash a chance to "Raymond Borque."

Ultimately, it's unfortunate that Nash is far too classy to C̶a̶r̶m̶e̶l̶o̶ Dwight Howard his way out Phoenix this season. The sad part of this ordeal is that moving Nash for younger prospects and/or lottery picks so clearly makes good basketball sense for the Suns. It's likely that this will be one of the wildest trade deadlines in recent memory with a number of teams still in contention due to the condensed schedule. It should be a seller's market for struggling teams with trade chips like Nash, but I'd be willing to bet that the Suns stand pat at the deadline. #FreeSteveNash.

Ravindra Coutinho: I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it implies that Sarver has any understanding of fairness, morality, or even a fully functional cerebral cortex.

Jacob Greenberg: I mean, that's a no brainer. Steve Nash has given everything he possibly could to the Suns. He's taken them to a few Western Conference championships, even as recently as 2010, and had Ron Artest not hit a crazy shot at the buzzer, things might have been different. But Sarver is a strange owner. He doesn't seem quite willing to admit that the successful 2010 team was just as built around Amar'e Stoudemire as it was Nash, and that plugging lesser power forwards into the spot STAT filled in Gentry's version of the SSOL offense doesn't immediately turn them into STAT. Take bows, Hakim Warrick and Marcin Gortat. There are teams that can offer valuable pieces for a point guard of Nash's caliber, and Sarver (or Lon Babby, Phoenix's agent-turned-GM) should be getting on the phone as March 15 draws nigh.

Luke Hasskamp: True and False. As a Timberwolves fan, it felt good to see a guy like Kevin Garnett, who had been so loyal to the franchise, get traded to a contender and finally get his, and I think the fans in Phoenix would feel the same way about an equally loyal player. However, because he is so loyal, Nash may not want to be traded. Thus, my False response, as Sarver should do whatever Nash wants, not whatever Sarver thinks is right.

Omar Bagnied: Sarver should know that trading Nash is the right thing to do. The Suns are rebuilding. They're not bad enough to score a high draft pick or attractive enough a city to bring in any all-stars.

Fill in the blank: Steven Nash fits best on the_________________.

Andrew Snyder: Three "contending" teams in the NBA currently start Mario Chalmers, the corpse of Derek Fisher, and #Linsanity at the point. All of those teams could desperately use the services of Nash, or any upgrade at the 1 for that matter. Unfortunately, all three teams have too much money tied up in max contracts, very little young talent to offer in return for an[other] veteran star, and little hope of acquiring Nash at the trade deadline without involving a third or fourth team. In summary: Probably ain't gonna happen Heat, Lakers, and Knicks fans.

Ravindra Coutinho: The Blazers. They're an athletic team with guys who move well without the ball, especially LaMarcus Aldridge, who would become unstoppable if he were to team up with Nash in a pick and roll combo. Plus, Nash could reunite with Kurt Thomas, whose constipated game face is always good for a laugh, which is the best medicine.

Jacob Greenberg: Well, the Knicks are the obvious answer, but as Snyder notes, it will be difficult to get him there unless he walks in return for nothing -- a move that's not really Nash's style. I am going to throw the Hawks out as a potentially good fit. The Hawks have enough pieces to put together a reasonable trade package; something built around promising young point guard Jeff Teague and either Al Horford or Josh Smith. I think Nash would be great on the Hawks, reunited with Joe Johnson and an athletic young forward in either Smith or Horford. I also think he'd raise Marvin Williams' game, and remind us why he was a high draft pick in 2005. And, most importantly, he'd sell some tickets, and create some excitement in the ATL. FREE STEVE NASH!

Luke Hasskamp: If I can dream of any scenario, then I'd go with an Orlando Magic team where Dwight Howard sticks around. That'd be pretty neat. A veteran playmaker like Nash could really help focus a team like Orlando. They have a ton of talent, but they've lost their confidence lately, and I think a guy like Nash could really right the ship. Jameer Nelson is serviceable, but he's just never going to be the guy that really takes over a game. With Nash running things, that only makes Dwight Howard better.

If I can pick another team, I'd go with the Knicks. It'd be fun to see Nash, Stoudemire, and D'Antoni back together again, this time alongside Carmelo. That'd be sick. And lets be honest, Baron Davis is never going to get his shit together, Toney Douglas is not a legitimate option, and I'm not totally on board with Linsanity either.

Another option: Utah. Talk about another team that could use a solid point guard. And you have to think a guy like Al Jefferson would look so much better with a guy like Nash around, kind of like Nash with Stoudemire or Chris Paul with Tyson Chandler from a few years back.

Omar Bagnied: Nash would surely be the missing piece of the championship puzzle in Miami. I don't think the money is there to bring him in, but if that's the only hurdle then the same can be said about the other serious contenders (OKC, Chicago, LAC), the only difference is Miami doesn't have a solid point guard. In my opinion those are the only four teams that have a shot. The Knicks would've been another solid landing point, but they too have little money to spend and I wouldn't want to bring an abrupt end to the Jeremy Lin story before it started. I've heard arguments made for LAL, Dallas and Boston. LAL are a team in flux, with no bench, a disgruntled Pau and a PG that I think already fits well in their system (Fish). Kidd is not bad enough to need Nash to replace him, Dirk is taking a break this season to celebrate his championship, and they lost essential pieces from last year's run. Finally Boston does not want to get any older, their window of opportunity has already closed and Rondo is their only legitimate piece for the future.

True or False: Steve Nash is a top 10 point guard of all time.

Andrew Snyder: True, although a compelling argument can be made either way by factoring in such abstract variables as "defense," "championships," and "back-to-back-league-MVPS-only-Nash-and-Magic-did-it-at-PG." In my mind, Nash ranks in the 5-10 range historically, behind guys like Magic, Stockton, Isaiah, and Cousy, and somewhere among J-Kidd, Mark Jackson, Tiny Archibald, and Gary Payton.

However, when the current "historically great" crop of point guards play out their respective careers, I'm sure three or four players out of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and up and comers like Ricky Rubio, John Wall, and Kyrie Irving will lay claim to careers on par with or surpassing Nash. Time (or Bill Simmons 1300 page sequel to the Book of Basketball) will tell if Nash is a "top 10" point guard historically, but for now, I say Yea.

Ravindra Coutinho: No doubt. One of five 50-40-90 players, top ten all-time in assists and APG, and even now is still dominating in the assists per 48 minutes category. NBA GMs love to talk about white guys who "do more with less", but in Nash's case it has often referred to his teammates, who have benefited immensely from having him on the floor. I have him at number seven, after Magic, Oscar, Stockton, Frazier, Isiah, and Pistol Pete. Bleacher Report also has him at seven, so there's a good chance that I'm aggressively uninformed and don't care.

Jacob Greenberg: Yeah, in 2012, absolutely. I'm not sure Nash deserved two MVPs (keep your eye on the prize, Kevin Love), but hey, that's the sportswriters of America, for you. But Nash's resume speaks for itself. I got (1) Magic, (2) The Big O, (3) Stockton, (4) Isiah, and (5) Cousy in front of him, but he's at (6), followed by (7) Tiny Archibald, (8) Jason Kidd, (9) Walt Frazier and (10) Dennis Johnson. And as Snyder said, once the current crop of point guards retire, I expect a few of these names to be removed. Nash, given his lack of a championship, may be a candidate to be bumped down.

Luke Hasskamp: I wanted to say False simply because I wanted to be different, since I'm assuming that the consensus will be that he is. However, once I really thought about it and looked at the numbers, I realized I just couldn't do it. The guy led the league in assists 5 times. He won 2 MVP awards. His career averages for FGs and FTs is 48.9% and 90.4%. He is a career 43% three point shooter, which I think is Shaq's career FT percentage.

And his numbers are even better in the playoffs. True, he never won a championship, but I don't think you can put that on him. He just always ran into the Spurs. Nash also has incredible durability. He hasn't missed more than 8 games a season since 2001. And finally, I think Nash may have realized more success had he not been so loyal to the Suns, but he is, and we shouldn't count that against him.

Nash also isn't the greatest defender, but when I think about a top 10 list, who would I put ahead of him? Obviously, I'll give you Magic, Stockton, and Isiah Thomas. But aside from that, I think the rest are debatable. Gary Payton belongs on there. Allen Iverson too. Then there are some older players that should be on the list, though it's strange to compare them, like Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy, who apparently led the league in assists for 9 straight seasons. There are other guys I could list, but I think after the top 3, nobody is really a slam dunk over Nash, so tie goes to him, since it's his birthday.

Omar Bagnied: It's a given that Nash is a top 10 point guard all time. The real question should be if he cracks the top 5. Let's first posit this: 'who are the top point guards of our generation' (roughly the past 20 years). My list goes: Steven Nash at number 1, Jason Kidd a close second and 'pick-and-roll to Malone' Stockton third. Although most of us were not watching basketball when Magic and Isiah were dominating the position in the 80s, mentioning them at the top seems obligatory. If we're going back even further then Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy and Walt Frazier need spots too. So yes, Steve Nash is a top ten point guard all time.

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