The basic team building model in the NBA has been pretty easy to understand — you’re either a contending team or building to get there, and if you’re a contending team whose championship window has closed you blow it up and start over with young players. It takes a few years (maybe more than a few) but you rebuild.
The Phoenix Suns are not contenders. But they are not blowing it up and trading away Steve Nash, either.
From a business perspective, however, there is no debate. Trading Nash would be disastrous. This isn’t Green Bay, Pittsburgh or Boston. Irrelevance here is a death sentence.
“Phoenix can be a tough market,” (Suns President Rick) Welts said….
Welts said that (team GM Lon) Babby, in his first year with the franchise, was amazed by the negative reaction to the Suns’ 40-42 record this past season.
“For a lot of markets that’s a really successful team,” Welts said. “But the success we’ve had comes with higher standards in terms of people’s expectations. There’s more anxiety when the team isn’t solidly winning more than half of its games. Does it factor in for us? It does. Historically we’ve never torn down this team to build it back up again. Some people will say that’s the reason we’ve never won a championship.”
Suns officials ran the numbers and it showed that when a team blew up its core after reaching the conference finals it took about a decade to get back. (Over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe took a longer look at that.) That is a long down time in a market where most of the people are transplants with loyalty to a team from back home. They’ll come watch the Suns if the Suns are good, but when they are bad they stay away. The Suns can’t afford that.
All of which is to say, you think it would be the right thing for the Suns to trade Nash, to do so now and get young players and picks to start rebuilding. But the Suns don’t see it that way at all.
Of course, their other risk is that Nash just walks away after his contract is up in the summer of 2012 and they get nothing. But don’t look for them to trade him soon, it would be bad business.