ESPN Insider: Chad Ford Slobbers all over the Suns

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Inside the Solar Express
The purple-and-orange blueprint

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

PHOENIX – Mark July 1, 2004 down on your calendar as the day Suns GM Bryan Colangelo and new owner Robert Sarver changed the NBA as we know it.

On that day, a huge contingent from the Suns' organization including Colangelo, Sarver, head coach Mike D'Antoni, Amare Stoudemire, Suns scout Rex Chapman and minority owner Steve Kerr sat down with Mavericks free agent Steve Nash and made him a stunning six-year, $66 million offer to come back to Phoenix.

Signing Nash was the most important of a number of calculated risks made by Colangelo that has turned the once cellar-dwelling Suns into the most exciting team to hit the NBA in the last decade.


In Nash, D'Antoni (left) has a coach on the floor.
At 31-5, the Suns are on a pace to win 71 games this season. They are doing it in stunning fashion, averaging 110 points per game and beating teams by a whopping 11.5 points per game. It's been 10 years since a team averaged more than 105 points in a season.

In the past week, they've destroyed two of the three top contenders for the Eastern Conference crown, the Pacers and Heat.

"Nobody's even playing them close. They're just kicking the crap out of everyone," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said just before the Suns kicked the crap out of the Miami on Tuesday night.

How did a team that was 12-26 exactly one year ago turn into the most important team in the NBA?

Insider spent the last week in Phoenix getting the inside story on Colangelo's brilliant plan to make the Suns and the NBA fun again.

Getting Dramatic

One year ago, the Suns were on the brink of disaster. After a promising 2002-03 campaign, the team had fallen off the map. Chemistry issues, coaching problems and injuries were threatening to dissolve one of the most promising young cores in the NBA.

"We had a $68 million payroll," Colangelo said. "We were going nowhere fast. We thought dramatic was the best course of action."

The Suns had a young core of Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson that they loved. However, point guard Stephon Marbury had become a bear to work with, even though he was coming off an All-Star season. An aging Penny Hardaway was holding back the development of Johnson and any type of cap flexibility.

The team needed to make changes.

When newly hired Knicks GM Isiah Thomas called, willing to offer just about anything to bring Marbury back to New York, Colangelo saw his window of opportunity to eliminate the team cancer and gain cap flexibility in on fell swoop.

Colangelo stunned just about everyone in the league by sending both Marbury and Hardaway to the Knicks for a collection of no-names, draft picks and expiring contracts.

By the time July 1 came around, the Suns had cut their payroll from a projected $72 million to $29 million – the most dramatic one-season payroll cut in the history of the NBA.

"The deal really gave us the flexibility and the resources we needed to move forward. In this league, that's every bit as valuable as landing an All-Star in a trade," Colangelo said. "It also allowed us to get a long look at our young players. We really wanted them to play, get as much experience as possible. Let them cut their teeth on the league so that we could get a handle on what we had and what we really needed to add in the summer."

Shortly after dumping Marbury, the Suns fired head coach Frank Johnson and promoted assistant Mike D'Antoni. Despite a disastrous one-season stint coaching the Nuggets in 1999, D'Antoni had a stellar rep internationally.


By winter, the Suns figured Marbury no longer fit in their picture.
D'Antoni was known as a coach who excelled at developing young players. More importantly, his up-tempo, fast-break style of basketball that his teams played in Milan and Treviso seemed like a perfect fit for the athletic Suns. In both places, D'Antoni shunned using a traditional low-post banger in the middle in favor of a versatile, athletic low-post player who could run the floor and even lead the break on occasion. Jorge Garbajosa was the poster child for that style in Europe.

Stoudemire, with a little development, was the perfect fit for that type of offense in the NBA.

"There are really only a handful of forwards in the league that you could get away with this type of basketball," D'Antoni said. "Guys like Kevin Garnett or Dirk Nowitzki can get away with it. Someday the rookie in Orlando (Dwight Howard) will, too. Amare just needed a better jump shot and some work on his ball handling and he was there."

That's exactly what Amare got through his work with assistant coaches Marc Iavaroni, Alvin Gentry and Phil Weber. By the time training camp hit, Stoudemire had developed a steady 18-foot jump shot and the ability to not only run the break, but also lead it.

Factor in Marion's first real experience playing the three and Johnson's improving three-point range, and the seeds to the Suns' success were sown before the summer.

"I think the learning curve that our guys went through, from Joe Johnson to Amare Stoudemire to even guys like Leandro Barbosa, is the second part of the story," Colangelo said. "Nash was the key ingredient. But lost in that great story was the fact that almost all of our young players had improved dramatically over the course of the last year.

"As painful as it was to watch the record, we were pretty entertaining. It gave us a preview of what we might become down the road."

The Pitch

By the end of the season, Colangelo was convinced that the team was just a playmaker away from being right back in contention.

Every young player on the team, from Stoudemire to Johnson, had shown major improvement. By January, the team already was leaning toward making a major push for Nash.


Bryan Colangelo (left) and his father Jerry (right) got their man in July after much pleading.
By the end of the season, the Suns' brass was convinced he was the one guy in free agency capable of helping this team reach it's full potential.

Colangelo faced a number of serious temptations to scrap the plan.

After the season, Magic GM John Weisbrod approached Colangelo about swapping Marion and Johnson for Tracy McGrady. Colangelo also was tempted by soon-to-be free agent Kobe Bryant. The Lakers' star had a profound respect for D'Antoni and sounded like he wanted out of L.A.

The team seriously considered both options before deciding to stick with the plan to go after Nash.

"We were all on the same page organizationally," Colangelo said. "There was some attractiveness to Kobe. We felt like, for a number of reasons, that Nash was a better fit. Kobe fitting into our core was not going to do for our team what Steve Nash inserted into that core would accomplish."

The plan to go after Nash also had its risks. Unlike McGrady and Bryant – who were vocally expressing their displeasure with their team – Nash appeared to be happy in Dallas. His teammate Nowitzki was a close friend and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a reputation for overpaying players.

"Call it naïveté. Confidence. The odds were against us," Colangelo said. "But we felt we had a shot. His mom lived in Phoenix. We were close with Bill Duffy (Nash's agent). Steve had a good experience here last time. He had a close relationship with Rex Chapman. All of it worked in our favor."

Colangelo crunched the numbers and came up with a figure of $66 million over six years – a number his gut told him would trump whatever Cuban was offering.

The problem was that Sarver, the new owner, thought it was too much. Sarver officially took over the team just one day before the Suns flew to Dallas to make their pitch to Nash. He was reluctant to drop $66 million on his first day to a 30-year-old point guard.

"In my mind, I was kind of thinking five years, $50 million," Sarver said. "That's it. When we got to Dallas, they really pushed to offer more. They argued persuasively that this is who we need."

Colangelo said Sarver needed "a lot" of coaxing before he agreed to up the offer.

“ I think that Amare's plea not only blew away Steve, it blew all of us away. You just don't see that type of humility very often in today's players. ”
— Suns GM Bryan Colangelo, recalling Suns' star Amare Stoudemire's pitch to then-free agent Steve Nash last summer

"You're always better off paying money for someone who is quality than paying less for someone that you're unsure about," said Sarver.

On July 1, everyone from Colangelo to D'Antoni passionately told Nash that they believed he had the ability to turn the Suns into title contenders.

Colangelo even had a hardbound leather-covered book made called "Turning Point" that detailed what Nash's contributions would be to the franchise.

Stoudemire was the last person to speak.

"You need to come because I need you," Stoudemire said. "I'll be the student. You'll be the teacher. With you in Phoenix, it's going to be over."

"Here's a young guy with supreme talent and athletic ability coming to Steve and telling him that 'I'm you're project'," Colangelo said. "I think that Amare's plea not only blew away Steve, it blew all of us away. You just don't see that type of humility very often in today's players."

Nash was stunned. Just hours before, Cuban offered Nash a five-year, $40 million deal. Cuban justified his lower offer using statistics that said that at the age of 30, that was as much as Nash would be worth. The fact that Nash's name had also come up in trade rumors with the Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal didn't help matters.

The Suns' contract offer and presentation far surpassed what the Mavs had done and had taken Cuban totally by surprise. Nash knew almost immediately what he had to do.

"Before they showed up, I was almost 100 percent sure I'd be back in Dallas," Nash said. "But when Mark's offer came in so low and the Suns put in so much effort to it really showed the difference between their offer and Dallas' offer. I really felt wanted. I really felt like they needed and valued me. I didn't feel that at all with Dallas."

"I knew at the time it was the best situation. I was getting paid a lot of money that I felt like I deserved. Leaving Dirk and Michael Finley was tough. But I could've re-signed with them for less money and I could've been traded."

The Suns "were making a commitment to me in the long haul. I agonized over [making the decision] a little bit," Nash said. "But I knew in my heart that this organization, the players, the coaches, that it was going to be the best decision for me."

The 'Q' Factor

While Nash was obviously the most important piece of the puzzle for the Suns, he wasn't the only one.

The Suns' final risky decision was to trade the No. 7 pick in the draft to the Bulls just days before the draft. The Suns weren't sure that the two players they liked, Arizona's Andre Iguodala and Duke's Luol Deng, would be there when they selected.


D'Antoni, in background, says adding Richardson (3) was another key in the Suns' rise.
Furthermore, Colangelo was convinced that the team needed extra cap flexibility to make a run at two free agents in the summer. In the end, the Suns needed every penny.

After agreeing to a deal with Nash, the Suns still had roughly $6 million left under the cap to pursue another free agent. They briefly flirted with both Emanuel Ginobili and Mehmet Okur before realizing that both players eventually would sign out of their price range.

"The prevailing thought was that we needed a big," Colangelo said. "When we looked at the market, the bigs were all being overpaid compared to their relative worth. We shifted focus. We said let's get the best basketball player. We wanted another wing that could make plays, stroke the three and fill in as a utility piece to supplement what we already have."

The Suns settled on two players, Hedo Turkoglu and Quentin Richardson. The team was leaning toward Richardson, but they had concerns. He was a Clippers restricted free agent and the team wasn't sure that they could offer him enough to convince the Clippers not to match. The team was also concerned about how happy he'd be coming off the bench. The team already had Johnson playing the two and wanted to continue to develop him as starter.

When the two sides met, the Suns said they couldn't guarantee him a starting position. Q didn't care.

"I wanted to win," Richardson said. "I wanted to go to the playoffs and win a championship. I don't need to be guaranteed anything. I'll go out an earn it."

D'Antoni believes that it was the Richardson signing that ultimately led the Suns on the path they are on now.

"We knew we'd push the ball with Steve," D'Antoni said. "But I think we all envisioned getting a more traditional big man in the middle. Even when we signed Q at first, I thought we'd play small sometimes, but not all the time. But once Q showed up at training camp, I knew I had to start him. He was too good. Every time we went with the lineup of Q at the three and Shawn and Amare in the front court, it just felt right. I'm not sure we would've gotten there without him on board."

Colangelo says Q has also brought a few other things to the table.

"He's added flavor to the team," Colangelo said. "A whole new personality to the squad. He's got players to break out of their shell. He's brought a lot to the chemistry of the team. He's also brought a toughness that I really thought we lacked."

Q also was the one who convinced Colangelo to bring in long-time friend Steven Hunter. A former member of the Orlando Magic, Hunter had played pickup ball with Richardson for the last four summers in Chicago with Tim Grover's crew. While Hunter had struggled in the NBA game, Q had seen enough in Chicago to know that he could play if put in the right situation.

The Phone Call

Despite the major changes that the Suns made over the summer, few of the pundits in the league or the national media were convinced that the Suns had done something special.

Insider gave the Suns a "B+" for their summer grade, questioning whether they had overpaid Nash and created a logjam in the backcourt by adding Q. Like most everyone else, I thought they needed a big and was convinced that they'd eventually move either Johnson or Marion for a center.

“ On paper, I don't see a team in the league that's going to be able to stop us. I think we'll lead the league in scoring and be able to stop enough teams to put us right back into contention. ”
— Suns GM Bryan Colangelo, in a voice mail to ESPN Insider Chad Ford on Aug. 16, defending the team's off season moves

The criticism prompted Colangelo and Chapman to call the next day. In perhaps the longest voice mail I've ever received, both passionately defended the picks and predicted that this team was going to change long-held assumptions about what it took to win in the NBA.

"There won't be any log jam because Q and Joe are going to play together," Colangelo said in the voice mail on August 16. "Shawn and Amare will be in the frontcourt and Steve is going to push the ball all day. We built the team this way deliberately. We like long, versatile athletes who can run. … On paper, I don't see a team in the league that's going to be able to stop us. I think we'll lead the league in scoring and be able to stop enough teams to put us right back into contention."

I transcribed the voice mail and saved it. I told Colangelo that I'd reprint it at midseason and use it to prove that their summer moves were wrong-headed or I'd use it to make the case that Colangelo deserved to be the NBA's Executive of the Year.

The Best Show In Basketball

A year ago, you could barely register pulses in America West Arena. Empty seats littered the arena. The crowd politely cheered when Stoudemire dunked the ball or Johnson hit a three from the corner. Walking through the streets of Phoenix, I didn't see one Suns jersey, flag or bumper sticker. The Suns were there in body only – the spirit left the building when Charles Barkley did.

Phoenix now bleeds purple and orange. With Eastern Conference powers Indiana and Miami in town, the Suns are the hottest thing in Phoenix. Every kid in Phoenix appears to own a Nash or Stoudemire jersey. People talk basketball in the hotel, the restaurants and even during one slightly disconcerting encounter in the bathroom when the guy standing next to me in the urinal recognized me from ESPN and got into an overly-enthusiastic discussion of the Suns' chances of winning 70 games this season.

Inside the arena, everything is different. The Suns have already had six sellouts – tying what they did all of last season. The noise inside the arena now rivals what you'd hear in Arco or the Delta Center. Sarver sits courtside with a large foam finger. At halftime of one game, he tries the trampoline dunk. During the Pacers' game, Sarver grabs a bunch of cheerleaders during the game, plants them around the arena and then leads the wave – the first one in nine years, according to Colangelo.


New owners Kerr (left) and Sarver are enjoying their investment.
There's a festive atmosphere to the whole experience. While Sarver claims his influence on the court only amounts to signing paychecks, his influence in other areas has been profound. He's helped market the Suns and America West Arena as the hip place to be in Phoenix. One of his ideas, called the "B Lounge", is host to supermodels, celebrities and the rest of Phoenix's young and beautiful in a night club-type atmosphere that would make even the most experienced Manhattan club hoppers feel at home.

"I really am more of a cheerleader," Sarver said. "The winning on the court, I don't have a lot to do with. But I think it helps that the people on the top show a lot of enthusiasm and have a lot of energy about the product. Hopefully, that permeates throughout the organization."

Ticket sales are up. The team shop revenue has increased by 60 percent. It's suddenly cool to be a Suns fan again in Phoenix.

On the court, the product is even more spectacular. Televised games do not do the Suns justice. Sitting courtside, the speed of the team literally blows your hair back. It's the difference between watching a NASCAR race from your couch or from the pit.

During the Pacers' game, I sat directly next to the end of the Pacers' bench. Despite being blown out by 40, the Pacers who weren't playing were clearly enjoying themselves.

After the Suns came out of the gates with a 19-5 run, injured Pacers center Scot Pollard looked at his team and said, "Maybe we can get a do-over."

By the time Pacers coach Rick Carlisle had called his third timeout with 3:44 to go in the first quarter with the Suns leading 29-7, the game already appeared out of reach. After vigorously getting after his team in the huddle during the previous two timeouts, Carlisle slowly sat down after the third timeout and quietly seemed to be saying, "Does anyone else have any ideas?"

After the game, Jermaine O'Neal, who was outplayed by Stoudemire on both ends of the floor, couldn't get over what he had just experienced. The final score was 124-89, and it wasn't even that close.

Playing the Suns is the equivalent of drinking from a fire hydrant.

"You watch them on TV and you think you have a handle on what they do," O'Neal said. "But it's totally different when you're out there. They run like deer in the night. … I've never, in my nine years, seen a team as fast as them."

"Those guys should take Steve Nash out and buy him a nice Rolex or something," O'Neal said shaking his head.

In practice the next morning, the Suns were as loose as any team I've ever seen despite the fact that Shaquille O'Neal and the Heat were coming to town. They were also resolute that the game plan wasn't going to change just because a more traditional power was in town.

"We're going to try to guard Shaq, hope he doesn't kill anybody, and run," D'Antoni said with a grin about his game plan. "I hope he brought his running shoes."

"He has to guard me," Stoudemire said of Shaq. "I'm going to outrun him and use my quickness to get around him."

"If Shaq ain't in shape, he's going to be in shape now," Marion laughed.

In front of a soldout crowd on Tuesday night, the Suns backed up their words by dropping 67 points on the Heat in the first half en route to a 122-107 victory.

"I don't know that I've seen a quicker team in the 10 years that I've been in the league," Van Gundy said. "They've got great, great athletes at every position – and they use it. … We got absolutely dominated right from the get-go."

Said Shaq about Stoudemire's dominating 34-point, 11-rebound performance against him: "It was the old me versus the young me."

The Suns have never been happier.

"It feels so good," Marion said after the game. "It's cool. Everybody gets the ball. We're having fun. We're winning. The fans are happy. Everybody's happy."

70 Victories?

Despite a small misstep against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night (the Suns' fourth game in five nights), the Suns are still on pace to win 71 games this season – and everyone finally seems to be on their bandwagon.

But when the topic of the playoffs comes up, the Suns still have their fair share of critics. Pundits claim that defense, not offense, wins NBA titles, and the Suns' shaky defense combined with a thin bench will be their undoing in a seven-game series.

“ Everyone always says 'yeah, but' about our team. I think they're missing something. You don't win like this by accident. People are afraid of new ideas because it challenges conventional wisdom. ”
— Steve Nash

"Everyone talks about the playoffs," Nash said. "I don't know why it's not important in the NBA to be the best team in the regular season. It's an 82-game season. It's pretty silly. In Dallas, even making the playoffs wasn't important enough. Even making the Western Conference finals wasn't enough."

While Nash says he understands the obsession, he thinks critics that are dogging the Suns' chances on the playoffs are missing the boat.

"Everyone always says 'yeah, but' about our team," Nash said. "I think they're missing something. You don't win like this by accident. People are afraid of new ideas because it challenges conventional wisdom."

Nash has a point.

Take the criticism that the Suns play their starters too much and have no bench. D'Antoni laughs out loud at the assertion.

"My job is to play the best players," D'Antoni. "Most of the stars in this league play between 38 and 42 minutes a night. However, most teams only have two or three guys capable of playing those type of minutes. We happen to have five. Those guys would be mad at me if I tried to play them any less."

In fact, no one on the team is playing more than 39 minutes per game and Nash, the team leader, is playing just 34 mpg. Stoudemire, the team's other big star, plays just 36 minutes a game.

Certainly an injury to a key player like Nash or Stoudemire would be devastating to the Suns. But the same holds true for almost every title contender. Few teams can win it all without their best player.

As for the bench, D'Antoni says it's underrated.

"I think they're better than people think they are," D'Antoni said. "I'm not hesitant to use them, and if we have an injury, I think guys like Steven Hunter, Leandro Barbosa and Casey Jacobsen can step in and perform."

The other criticism of the Suns is that during the playoffs, teams will have more time to prepare and will take away what they do best.

The problem with that theory: Prepare for what?

D'Antoni has reached a comfort level with his team that he no longer calls plays on offense. The team goes over game plans in practice, but once Nash and the Suns hit the floor, D'Antoni lets them figure out what the defense is giving them and lets them adapt.

It's the very reason that D'Antoni should be the hands-down favorite to win the coach of the year award and Nash the MVP award. Coaches have to let their players play. No one in the league understands that more than D'Antoni. The confidence he's shown in the decision-making ability of his players has been infectious.

"He's been great," Nash said. "We have great chemistry. He allows me to roll into whatever I want to as long as we're always pushing. He's given me total freedom. It's given us a confidence and a motivation to play every night. I don't think we'd be where we're at right now without it. At the end of the day, the coach can't get on the floor and play. As the season progresses, our ability to figure things out on the fly will help us in tough situations."

"I've never been around a coach that says I'm not going to call anything … I want you to play, and I want you to run. " assistant coach Iavaroni said. "He's figured out a style that motivates players to want to improve. They like the way they play. Their confidence has grown. The players have to play, and Mike's given them the freedom to do that."

That said, Colangelo claims he won't suddenly turn conservative over the remainder of the season.

Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars' risky decision last February to trade five players for Rasheed Wallace propelled them to a title. If Colangelo sees a similar way to improve his team, he's going to do it regardless of how well the team is playing.

The Suns recently traded Zarko Cabarkapa so that they could obtain a $1.4 million trade exception to use before the deadline if they found the right deal. Combine that with the Bulls' first-round pick (it's only top-three protected) that they own this year and the Warriors' second-round pick, and the Suns could still could add a young big man to the mix if they found the right deal for someone like say, Samuel Dalembert.

"You can't underestimate the value of chemistry," Colangelo said. "But I think we've proven that if we find an asset that's a fit, we're not afraid to make changes. The goal isn't to just win regular season games. The goal is to win a championship."

The Future

D'Antoni's has a large picture of a Hawaii Five-O wave hanging above his desk. His wife, Laurel, recently gave it to him with the following advice.

"Ride the wave, baby. Ride the wave."


Stoudemire's plea to Nash was a difference maker.
Right now, that's exactly what the Suns are doing.

"They're milking this moment as best as they can," D'Antoni said. "It might last five years or one month."

That's true throughout the organization. No one wants to mess with a good thing. They shouldn't.

Nearly every GM in the league that Insider has talked to over the course of the past month says the same thing: I wish my team played more like the Suns.

"I love their team," Dumars said. "I love the way they play basketball. It's fun to watch, and I think you can win playing that way with the right guys."

That's high praise from a GM who won the NBA title last year with a team that played at the fifth-slowest pace in the league. At first glance, the two have nothing common. But look deeper, and you'll see the same commitment to team basketball and unselfishness in Phoenix that propelled Detroit to the title last year.

Opposing players all quietly say they are loving the Suns as well. They see how much fun the Suns are having and are calling their agents trying to figure out how to get a one-way ticket to Phoenix.

"Everyone I talk to wants to be here," Richardson said. "They like that we get up and down, play a little street ball, not a lot of stoppages, we're just going. That appeals to almost everyone."

Even David Stern is fan, telling Sarver this week that he hopes other teams will follow the Suns' example.

If the Suns' success continues, other teams will follow. If they do, fans will be getting a better, more exciting brand of basketball.

For that alone, Colangelo deserves the Executive of the Year honor.

And the Suns deserve a warm place in the heart of every NBA fan

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
 

JCSunsfan

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Interesting article concerning the events of last summer. Interesting points.

1. Nash was the #1 option. They flirted with the idea of T-Mac or Kobe, but would not overpay in a trade for T-mac, and finally decided not to pursue Kobe. So much for the "settling for Nash" argument against BC's gm skills.

2. D'Antoni planned to use Amare at center all along. Hunter is a bonus.

3. So much for not getting respect. Let's see how this young team handles the accolades.
 

LakeShowMan

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It's pretty nice having the best team in the league isn't it?

I really love to see the Suns playing like this. They seem to be a great group of guys and they are playing well and very hard (not to mention they are actually exciting to watch, almost as exciting as my 'Old School' Showtime Lakers :D ). You all have had a pretty succesful franchise for a number of years, but right now it looks like you have a potentially dominant team (although I am not totally convinced that they are built for playoff basketball). Trust me, when it comes down to it, there is no other team in the West (other then the Lakers obviously) that I would rather see win the championship. Good for all of you, you guys deserve it.

I was lucky that I was kind of born into the Laker fan thing with my father. There were a few lean years in the 90's, but other then that, being a Laker fan has been an absolute joy. It makes up for my other 2 teams, the Dodgers and the Browns.

If my Lakers can't win it this year, I really do hope you guys do. Anyone other then the Spurs, Heat, or Pistons.
 

jibikao

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Colangelo even had a hardbound leather-covered book made called "Turning Point" that detailed what Nash's contributions would be to the franchise.

Stoudemire was the last person to speak.

"You need to come because I need you," Stoudemire said. "I'll be the student. You'll be the teacher. With you in Phoenix, it's going to be over."

"Here's a young guy with supreme talent and athletic ability coming to Steve and telling him that 'I'm you're project'," Colangelo said. "I think that Amare's plea not only blew away Steve, it blew all of us away. You just don't see that type of humility very often in today's players."

Nash was stunned. Just hours before, Cuban offered Nash a five-year, $40 million deal. Cuban justified his lower offer using statistics that said that at the age of 30, that was as much as Nash would be worth. The fact that Nash's name had also come up in trade rumors with the Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal didn't help matters.

The Suns' contract offer and presentation far surpassed what the Mavs had done and had taken Cuban totally by surprise. Nash knew almost immediately what he had to do.

"Before they showed up, I was almost 100 percent sure I'd be back in Dallas," Nash said. "But when Mark's offer came in so low and the Suns put in so much effort to it really showed the difference between their offer and Dallas' offer. I really felt wanted. I really felt like they needed and valued me. I didn't feel that at all with Dallas."

"I knew at the time it was the best situation. I was getting paid a lot of money that I felt like I deserved. Leaving Dirk and Michael Finley was tough. But I could've re-signed with them for less money and I could've been traded."

The Suns "were making a commitment to me in the long haul. I agonized over [making the decision] a little bit," Nash said. "But I knew in my heart that this organization, the players, the coaches, that it was going to be the best decision for me."
--------------------------------
Wow... very interesting article. I am a huge Nash fan and that's why I followed him to Suns. I didn't know Mavs didn't want him that bad. Even we thought Nash would be re-signed for sure.

What surprised is that Amare even asked Nash to join. That's great!!!

Well, let the Saga continue tomorrow night by beating Pacers on their home court. Losing to Jazz is ugly but Jazz is not a contender anyway in this season.

Jimmy
 

Chaz

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green machine said:
Good article, but wasn't Marbury traded after D'Antoni was promoted?


I caught that too. Johnson was fired in December, Marbury was traded in January.


Great article though. I really hope, if nothing else, that the Suns are the catalyst for the rest of the league to get back to the old school running style. Complete with midrange jumpers, nice passing, and cutting valued just as much as dunks and threes.

“ Everyone always says 'yeah, but' about our team. I think they're missing something. You don't win like this by accident. People are afraid of new ideas because it challenges conventional wisdom. ”
— Steve Nash
 
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jibikao

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“ Everyone always says 'yeah, but' about our team. I think they're missing something. You don't win like this by accident. People are afraid of new ideas because it challenges conventional wisdom. ”
— Steve Nash



I read so much 'yeah, but' kind of comments on basketball forums. Nobody thought Suns would have been THIS good but no matter how HARD I try to defend Suns, all they say is Spurs will win.

I am not a religious person but I do PRAY that Suns win the championship this year, or at least get to the Final. agrrrrr... I hate Spurs so much.

Jimmy
 

cardsunsfan

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I wonder if we could have gotten Nash for five yrs 50 mil..still would have been a lot more than Cuban was offering... Wonder how they came the the number they did?
 

SweetD

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SunCardfan said:
I wonder if we could have gotten Nash for five yrs 50 mil..still would have been a lot more than Cuban was offering... Wonder how they came the the number they did?

BC figured Cuban was going to pay him well to begin with and then if he tried to match he would have gone to at least 5yrs 50Mil. This is just speculation and I am sure Nash's agent fed them a number that was even higher.
 

elindholm

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It might be worth reminding ourselves that the Suns' offer and Cuban's offer didn't differ that much in first-year salary. I would guess that Cuban would have been willing to match the Suns' offer over the first few years of the contract. The question of whether the Suns overpaid won't be answered until several years from now.

Of course, if the Suns have won a title by then, no one will care. :thumbup:
 

jibikao

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elindholm said:
It might be worth reminding ourselves that the Suns' offer and Cuban's offer didn't differ that much in first-year salary. I would guess that Cuban would have been willing to match the Suns' offer over the first few years of the contract. The question of whether the Suns overpaid won't be answered until several years from now.

Of course, if the Suns have won a title by then, no one will care. :thumbup:

This is exactly what I thought.

If fate really favors Suns this year and we won the championship, is Nash's huge contract worth it? HELL YEAH. Even if Nash can only play ONE season at the level he's been playing, I think the contract is worth it.

Go Suns!!!!

Jimmy
 

Chris_Sanders

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LakeShowMan said:
If my Lakers can't win it this year, I really do hope you guys do. Anyone other then the Spurs, Heat, or Pistons.

I am with you LakeShowMan. Toss the Jazz in there who I absolutely hate.
 

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Suns and Mavs are the only two teams I root for.

If Suns can't win it this year, then I want Mavs to win.

It will be interesting if Suns and Mavs meet in WCF. :D Talk about Friendship Ends (Steve and Dirk). lol

Jimmy
 

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If you think about it Nash was a bargain. Only 66Mil for a player that turns your team from bottom of the league to the best. At least we didn't have to max out for a player like that. The best part about the article was the possibility of the Suns making more moves. They definately need a rebounder and shot-blocker. Dalembert would be a good move. He's young, athletic and has some bulk. We need a player like that for games like last night when we need boards and some D.
 

SweetD

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JPlay said:
If you think about it Nash was a bargain. Only 66Mil for a player that turns your team from bottom of the league to the best. At least we didn't have to max out for a player like that. The best part about the article was the possibility of the Suns making more moves. They definately need a rebounder and shot-blocker. Dalembert would be a good move. He's young, athletic and has some bulk. We need a player like that for games like last night when we need boards and some D.

Don't forget the only other PG signed to a big contract was Derrick Fisher a 6-year, $37-million deal.
 

jibikao

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JPlay said:
If you think about it Nash was a bargain. Only 66Mil for a player that turns your team from bottom of the league to the best. At least we didn't have to max out for a player like that. The best part about the article was the possibility of the Suns making more moves. They definately need a rebounder and shot-blocker. Dalembert would be a good move. He's young, athletic and has some bulk. We need a player like that for games like last night when we need boards and some D.

How much is Kobe/T-MAC worth in 6 years? Just curious... because I seriously doubt either of them will give us the record we have now. Kobe and T-MAC are great but they won't make Amare a better player just like when Marbury was here.

Fisher... if he didn't make those "impossible" shots against the Spurs, nobody would even care about him. He is very overrated in my opinion. I don't think he is doing too well in Golden State (as many predicted). Many Golden State fans are very SICK about that trade...

Jimmy
 

devilalum

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This article makes it sound like the Suns planned every aspect of the current team

What a bunch of crap. Of course they made some good trades but a lot of the current team is the result of dumb luck.

BC's first choice was to trade Marion for TMac. If that happens they would have had to extend TMac and never would have signed Nash or Q.

Would a lineup of

Voskuhl
TMAC
JJ
Amare
Barbosa

have the same record the current team does?
For about a 2 week period the Suns were totally focused on TMac. They said they never offered JJ but never denied offering Marion. Only insiders know what else BC offered.

I think BC has done a good job but some of this is luck. Its kind of insulting to all of us that follow the team closely to read this over glorifying view.
 

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devilalum said:
BC's first choice was to trade Marion for TMac. If that happens they would have had to extend TMac and never would have signed Nash or Q.

For about a 2 week period the Suns were totally focused on TMac. They said they never offered JJ but never denied offering Marion. Only insiders know what else BC offered.

Was BC totally focused on TMac, or was it the fans who ASSUMED that BC was "totally focused" on TMac?
 

devilalum

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Chaplin said:
Was BC totally focused on TMac, or was it the fans who ASSUMED that BC was "totally focused" on TMac?

OK "Totally focused" is subjective maybe even speculative but the Suns did make an offer for TMac. BC has admitted that much and he has never denied that he offered Marion.
 

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LakeShowMan said:
It's pretty nice having the best team in the league isn't it?

I really love to see the Suns playing like this. They seem to be a great group of guys and they are playing well and very hard (not to mention they are actually exciting to watch, almost as exciting as my 'Old School' Showtime Lakers :D ). You all have had a pretty succesful franchise for a number of years, but right now it looks like you have a potentially dominant team (although I am not totally convinced that they are built for playoff basketball). Trust me, when it comes down to it, there is no other team in the West (other then the Lakers obviously) that I would rather see win the championship. Good for all of you, you guys deserve it.

I was lucky that I was kind of born into the Laker fan thing with my father. There were a few lean years in the 90's, but other then that, being a Laker fan has been an absolute joy. It makes up for my other 2 teams, the Dodgers and the Browns.

If my Lakers can't win it this year, I really do hope you guys do. Anyone other then the Spurs, Heat, or Pistons.

Hey dude no room on this bandwagon for lakers fans.

:D
 

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Chaplin said:
Was BC totally focused on TMac, or was it the fans who ASSUMED that BC was "totally focused" on TMac?

The article makes it sound like Orlando approached the Suns for Marion and JJ. I think that BC was obliged to listen. It was BC that had to assure Marion that he was not on the block over the summer, so I tend to lean toward the notion that Orlando wanted to see what they could get, not that the Suns wanted T-Mac. We'll never know but this article is more a defense of that scenerio than the Suns interest in McGrady.
 

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devilalum said:
OK "Totally focused" is subjective maybe even speculative but the Suns did make an offer for TMac. BC has admitted that much and he has never denied that he offered Marion.

The Magic approached the Suns (probably more for bargaining leverage against Houston than anything). They wanted Marion and JJ. BC said no way--we'll give you Marion. Orlando walked.

Why is it that some of you just can't seem to give BC credit, even when things are going well. If it goes bad, its all his fault. If the team is dominating the league, its just dumb luck--in spite of clearly reported facts to the contrary.
 

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JCSunsfan, "Why is it that some of you just can't seem to give BC credit, even when things are going well. If it goes bad, its all his fault. If the team is dominating the league, its just dumb luck--in spite of clearly reported facts to the contrary."

The fact that JJ, CJ and Hunter are not under contract for next year indicates that BC wasn't visionary when he put this team together. The main thing is for those of us who have been watching his moves for years is that he bumbled and fumbled his way through the Kidd and Marbury eras, never coming close to putting the right kind of team together. Top that off with his coach selections and you have an almost unparalleled record of ineptness. Maybe he is suddenly brilliant but I'm not convinced. I'm more inclined to think it was the infusion of new people into the organization that is responsible. You have to admit the timing of the change fits that idea to a T.
 

Joe Mama

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Errntknght said:
JCSunsfan, "Why is it that some of you just can't seem to give BC credit, even when things are going well. If it goes bad, its all his fault. If the team is dominating the league, its just dumb luck--in spite of clearly reported facts to the contrary."

The fact that JJ, CJ and Hunter are not under contract for next year indicates that BC wasn't visionary when he put this team together.

OK. That's crap and you know it. There's a big difference between being visionary and being reckless with millions and millions of dollars. And frankly it could have easily been and probably was the owner who was leery of dumping $50 million on JJ. Even if it doesn't work out or costs the Suns more money it was probably the right move not to extend JJ last summer. it was the right move with Hunter is well to sign him for one year (his option). In fact that's probably the best deal they could get with his agent.

I think it's unfair to expect the general manager to be a psychic.


Joe Mama
 

Errntknght

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I do engage in hyperbole at times on here, but this wasn't one of them. Failing to extend JJ may yet prove to be a good move, but then signing Q may also prove to be a mistake. Is it any more reckless to give about the same millions to JJ as to Q? I preferred JJ last summer and I prefer him now, so I don't think so.


I don't think many millions would have had to be risked to sign Hunter for three years - the average GM would probably not have done it, so I'm not claiming BC missed an obvious move but it wasn't visionary to sign him for one year.

It's hard for me to argue in favor of extending CJ, I thought drafting him was a dumb and I'm still not impressed with his play. But the coach obviously likes him so you'd think the team would have locked him up.

Heck, we may someday think signing Nash to his contract was reckless but we needed a good PG quickly and he was easily the best one available so, however it turns out, I think signing him was a good move. I give BC credit for that - but if I were the owner I'd thank him for doing it as part of his severance. That's not hyperbole either.
 
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