Not surprisingly, the Steve Nash trade chatter didn't ever really die and since the Suns have struggled mightily this season, it's only natural that it would start back up. Early in the season, we consistently discounted the notion that Nash would be moved this year and certainly didn't see it happening in the beginning of the campaign.
Since the Suns made the big trade, however, and are teetering on the edge of oblivion, the landscape has changed considerably. That's why it wasn't a surprise when the reliable Sam Amick of AOL FanHouse reported today that Suns were also teetering on the decision that could send Nash packing as part of the rebuild plan so many fans seem to be clamoring for.
While the 14-18 Suns made it clear recently that their six-player trade with Orlando was not a precursor to moving Nash, the option is being considered and they are, according to the source, "on the fence" about which direction to go. The next month will be key in the decision-making process, as there is a mixture of belief and hope that the additions of Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat can fortify the defense and help turn the season around in time for a playoff push.
The Suns faced a similar decision around this time last season with Amare Stoudemire. The team went 14-18 over a 32-game stretch from December to January before turning things around. Had they not started playing well in early February, it's highly likely that Stoudemire would have been traded at the deadline.
The same is probably true of Nash now.
If the Suns are still floundering once the excuses created by the mid-season trade have worn off, then it would be much more likely Nash would be moved this year. If, on the other hand, the Suns can get their act together and start playing winning basketball on a consistent basis, Robert Sarver would have little motivation to move his darling point guard.
This is an owner who has proven not to have much patience and he certainly has no desire to sit through a painful rebuilding process that starts the moment Nash is gone. He's going to delay that as long as he can, but at the same time, if the team he's assembled isn't getting it done, that impulse for action could very well lead to Nash being traded.
Amick lists New York as a desperate suitor for Nash and that makes sense. I could see a team like Houston being interested as well and they have the assets to put a deal together that could entice the Suns. But nothing is likely to happen until Carmelo Anthony is traded.
Anthony is the big catch at this year's deadline and none of the teams looking to make an upgrade are going to move until he's off the table. Once Melo goes (or extends in Denver), then all bets are off. Teams will come pounding on the Suns door bearing all kinds of gifts. The Suns record when that happens will likely be the biggest determining factor if Sarver accepts an offer.
The Suns want to give their team a few more weeks to either gel or continue to fail and the rest of the possible trade partners are waiting to see what happens to Melo. In the meantime, we can expect Nash to keep saying all the right things.
"I'm playing; I'm here," he told FanHouse on Sunday when asked if a fall into the Western Conference abyss might inspire a desire for change. "I'm going to fight until they tell me they don't want me anymore. We made a lot of changes this year, and hopefully we can get it right and get in the playoffs and make a run. But if we don't, we'll try to put ourselves in a good position for next year."