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Steve Nash Frustrated With Suns Frequent Changes, Will He Ask Out?

During the seven seasons that Steve Nash has been a Phoenix Sun he's seen a lot of change. The roster has been in constant flux ranging from a variety of bench players to a rotation of fellow All-Stars that included Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Shaquille O'Neal, and Amare Stoudemire...all now gone.

As Nash pointed out himself on Sunday night after losing to the Dallas Mavericks, the team only has five players left from a roster that went to the Western Conference Finals last season. Outside of Nash (7 years) and Grant Hill (4 years), the most tenured Suns' player is third-year center, Robin Lopez

That's a lot of new faces and Steve is not shy expressing his frustration about it. Asked a question about a recent shift in the Suns starting lineup, Nash once again went to the broader context of change.

"We're a team that's had so much change this year that I don't think we know where we are yet. We're still trying to learn who we are with all the new pieces"

10 games left in the season and he's not sure who the team is after massive roster changes last summer and two mid-season moves that added four new rotation players.

Nash has been consistent through it all and avoided making specific complaints about the front office, but now with the Suns effectively out of the playoff race and sitting on a .500 record the question has to be asked: 

Will Steve Nash be back next season?

A few points to consider:

  • Nash has one more year on his contract. If there is a 2011-12 season, Nash would be a Sun unless traded. He's slated to make $11.7 million next year so any trade would have to include some bigger salaries coming back to make the numbers match (assuming the new rules are similar to the current rules).
  • While Nash once again is worn down late in the season with nagging injuries which limits his shooting ability, he's still delivering the ball.
  • Nash leads the league in double-doubles for point guards; leads the league in assists and assists per game; and has more 15-assist games than any other player. Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat are both assisted (almost entirely by Nash) on nearly 80 percent of their points.
Steve Nash can still play and he's likely to be effective for several more years to come. No one in the game can read defenses better and despite having fewer offensive weapons of his own, he is still the master at running the pick and roll and creating shots for players who can't create their own.

The Suns have repeatedly said that they have no intention of trading Nash unless he asks to be dealt. This made sense when they said it in February and it still makes senses now. Without Nash, this Suns roster, filled with a group of role players and the 38-year-old Hill, would struggle to win 20 games. The prospect of a losing team and empty seats has no appeal to banker-owner, Robert Sarver.

But Steve might have had enough. Enough of the constant churn of teammates and enough being asked to carry the entire offense on his back. In the right situation, Nash could come off the bench and easily add ten or more wins to a playoff-caliber team's season. 

It's very difficult to predict offseason moves, and with the new CBA coming it's nearly impossible to know how the rule changes will impact the free agent and trade markets. But if Nash should decide he's had enough, and if the Suns are willing to accommodate his request, the teams to looks at are mid-to-low level playoff teams looking to get to the next level. It doesn't make sense for the really young teams to give up assets to get Nash and he wouldn't fit on most of the top teams. 

If you are a team like the 76ers or the Knicks, adding Nash could make a big difference. The other team to consider is the Toronto Raptors. They've long been rumored to want Nash to come back to Canada where he would be an instant attraction...and of course, would improve their team. The Raptors are reportedly ready to move talented forward Andrea Bargnani and have a host of other attractive young pieces. 

I don't know if Nash will be back in a Suns' uniform next season, but I would be shocked if there aren't discussions about him and if he wants to leave, Toronto makes a lot of sense for all involved.