Timely as ever, I'd like to weigh in on the Steve Nash contract extension, which is now centuries old news in internet time...
There are many theories on what exactly "ruined" the Suns that have so defined this millenium of pro basketball. I choose to blame D'Antoni's (fixable) failure to get tough on the team's rebounding woes, bad luck with the timing of Amare's injuries, the firing of D'Antoni, the replacement of D'Antoni with Terry Porter, the ill-timed acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, and in general, Steve Kerr. I don't really buy into theories about Sarver's cheapness, trading all those draft picks, or not holding on to Joe Johnson/Q-Rich/Marcus Banks...etc.
The Suns were always a team poised to win RIGHT NOW. There was no use for building toward the future with late first round picks. They never had a distinctly "old" team until the Hill/Nash/Shaq triumverate, and with Nash and Amare alone, they ALWAYS have a fighting chance.
And now they still do.
Despite Kerr's idiocy, Amare and Nash (miraculously) are still there. Nash might be on steroids for all I know (BLOGGER ALERT), but he isn't going to be demonstrably worse this year. And Amare might be better (?). May I present to you the possibility that this Nash extension gives the Suns one last glimmer of hope?
--Nash signing an extension says one of two things: (1) I believe I can win a championship with this franchise, or (2) This franchise gave me a new life and two MVP trophies. I owe it to them to re-sign, and PS, I'm satisfied. Either way, a happy Nash is good for at least 15 and 8.
--A summer and a half worth of ridiculous trade rumors may in fact inspire Amare Stoudemire to play tougher than he already does? I don't know. This might be a reach.
--A strong supporting cast of IF guys. IF J-Rich can knock down the open jumpers, IF Robin Lopez proves to be a serviceable back-up, IF Leandro Barbosa can regain form....the Suns have depth
--A host of players that can potentially solve the rebounding quandary (again, IF Robin Lopez is worth a damn...)
--Teams will no longer GET UP to play them. The Suns no longer boast that fear-inducing NBA championship squad on paper that causes TNT/ESPN/ABC to over-book them and teams to treat matches with them like Gladitorial arena battles. The Suns, for the first time in the Nash era, may actually be able to sneak up on teams...
Am I blindly grasping to hold on to an era that no longer exists? Potentially. But I am soberly not ready to admit that the Suns are over, merely because of what the Shaq trade appeared to signal (rebuilding). Nash's re-signing initially gave me feelings of emptiness, the thoughts of him and Amare roaming around in blank space, carrying the guilt of two 19th century Russian lit protagonist partners in crime. But then I reoriented: It signaled a last gasp of hope.
I am curious to see what the Suns do with desperation, which could be the last motivational tool they have.
The original version of this post (embarrassingly) included references to both Matt Barnes (the news of whose signing I totally missed) and Ben Wallace (inexcusable for falling off my radar). All I can say is that my NBA game has not been air tight this summer, and I'm getting back on track.
Also, I suppose I *should* reference the only things the Suns have actively done this season besides signing Nash: Grant Hill, Channing Frye, and Earl Clark. Truth is, these guys don't add much, except for providing even more of a blank canvas for Nash and Amare to operate on. Grant Hill keeps shit stable in the locker room. Channing Frye's young-journeyman tag should provide him with some inspiration to get back to rookie year form and to improve on his rebounding, and Earl Clark does absolutely nothing for me (I actually think getting a PG who could spell Nash (Jrue, Ty Lawson) would have been a better pick here).
The important thing is that, for the first time in a while, Phoenix is keeping shit simple. Contrast this with 2009 playoff alums Dallas, Utah, or even, say, Portland, who at this point have generated too high of expectations and are spinning squads of 'too many people who need to be kept happy.' Steve and the Suns made a mutual gesture of good faith, and this bump of positivity coupled with a sense of "nothing to lose" gives them some optimism for 09-10.