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Suns successful in avoiding media circus around Nash’s impending free agency

Dec 18, 2011, 12:04 PM EDT

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

The Suns held their annual media day on Friday, and overall, things were pretty quiet. Too quiet, even. Especially when you consider that the face of the franchise, heart and soul of the team, and two-time MVP Steve Nash is playing in the final year of his contract, and will be an unrestricted free agent once this shortened season comes to an end next summer.

There was only an average amount of media in attendance — save for an unusually large contingent of local hip-hop radio stations, for some reason. But no one from the local or national side seemed interested in pressing anyone on the team or in the organization for answers regarding possible future plans to deal Nash at any time before his contract runs out.

The non-news is news. And you need to look no further than Orlando, New Orleans, or Los Angeles to see what we’re talking about.

The constant barrage of questions regarding the status of Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Pau Gasol — whose names all surfaced in substantive trade reports over the past couple of weeks before the Paul deal to the Clippers was finalized — has to be detrimental to these teams’ efforts to focus on the preparation for the upcoming season.

In Phoenix, though, it hasn’t been an issue, thanks to the way that both the front office and Nash himself have gone about their business since training camp has begun. Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby told NBCSports.com that it’s at least a little bit by design.

“My view of it is — and I’ve communicated this to Steve, and he knows how I feel about it and he knows how our franchise feels about it. He’s an iconic part of this community and an iconic part of this team and still an elite, elite player,” Babby said. “That’s the idea — that he is our most important player. He knows he can stay here as long as he wants.”

That means the Suns aren’t shopping Nash, and the decision, at this point, is entirely his. So, no rumors are out there from anonymous sources that would put blood in the water that would cause the media to go into a frenzied attack. Nash only fielded one question about his status during his brief media session on Friday, and casually brushed it aside.

“I’m not really thinking about it,” Nash said of his contract situation. “I just want to try to make this team into a playoff team. At this stage of my career, I’m not thinking about tomorrow. I’m just thinking about today.”

And that was that.

Babby admits he has thought about the future, but in his mind, it’s one where Nash re-signs in Phoenix. He spent some time over the summer brushing up on how some other Hall of Fame point guards spent their final seasons, with the hope that he can paint a similar and convincing picture for Nash when the time comes.

“I pointed out to him, you know, John Stockton and Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas, some great point guards who all went to the Hall of Fame, all stayed with one team until the very end,” Babby said. “Over the summer I read articles about John Stockton’s retirement day, and I tried to portray that to Steve a little bit. He hasn’t been here the whole time, but effectively he has; we try to ignore the time he wasn’t here. So he knows that opportunity is there.”

Whatever does end up being the final decision for Nash and the Phoenix franchise, it doesn’t appear that it will come at any time before the end of the season. That could all change, of course, should Nash wake up one day and tell the organization that he’s decided not to come back and wants to be traded, in which case the team would certainly start listening to offers. But for now, both Nash and Babby seem content to let the season play out, and not talk about what the future may or may not hold until it’s absolutely necessary.

“We’re coming to the end of a cycle, we understand that,” Babby said. “But hopefully he and I together will succeed and avoid allowing this to become any kind of a distraction, because that’s not fair to the team and I’m really going to do everything I can to avoid that. “

  1. sfm073 - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Why keep him? You aren’t going anywhere with him, might as well trade and get something of value while u can.

  2. miamifishfan - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    I’m guessing the fact that he is relatively old and clearly on the backside of his career has more to do w lack of attention than anything else

    • jizzojames - Dec 19, 2011 at 6:26 AM

      The backside of his career? How about he’s gradually declining. He’s clearly the best palyer on his team, and let’s not forget he led the league in assists again last season. He’s still a great player/point guard and you know that position can play a long time, i.e. Jason Kidd. I say trade him to a contender and at least give him a chance to win a ring.

  3. mashoaf - Dec 18, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    The Lakers could use a Point Guard.

  4. 973yenots - Dec 18, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    It’s surprising he’s not asking to be traded! How much time does Nash thinks he has!

  5. LPad - Dec 18, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Why is Babby pretending Nash’s situation is similar to Magic’s, Isiah’s or Stockton’s? Nash already left Phoenix to go to Dallas. Also, Magic’s career was cut short and Isiah had two rings. Nash has no rings, his career hasn’t been cut short, and he’s played for more than one team.

  6. victoriabccanada - Dec 19, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Nash is a great person who knows loyalty as well as being a great point guard.

  7. miamifishfan - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Jizzo,
    Do u consider him. To still be on the frontside of his career?

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