It may be Steve Nash's team, but he does not make the decisions about who his teammates are.
Again, Nash left Phoenix for his entrepreneurial, philanthropic, fun- and family-filled summer elsewhere and returned this week to a different team with new leaders.
Three months after a conference-finals run and a month before training camp, Nash returned to find the Suns' house rearranged and a need for him to apply some feng shui concepts again.
At 36, Nash has the onus to be great and galvanizing with five new Suns, a wing-loaded rotation and a dearth of size.
Profile: Steve Nash
"I expect that from myself anyway," Nash said after a workout. "Whoever we march out there, I expect to lead the team and play at an extremely high level. I would expect that no matter who we had.
"I'll just embrace the challenge of plugging in new pieces, trying to make it work and make everyone feel good about what we're doing."
The changes began with Nash losing his third general manager since 2006. In June, Steve Kerr left to return to a TNT commentator job and more family time after failed contract talks changed his hope to return as Suns GM.
"I was sad to see him go," said Nash, who visited Kerr this summer. "He did a phenomenal job for us. I miss him already.
"He has such a wealth of experience as far as being a part of winning teams that he did a great job of building a team of guys who can co-exist and get more out of each other because of their personalities. He didn't want selfish guys. He didn't want guys in here who wouldn't work. So we have a locker room of character guys because of him. Our locker room was the best it's ever been last year because of the decisions he made."
Nash was hopeful the Suns would re-sign Amar'e Stoudemire after six years together but understood both sides of Stoudemire leaving for New York's fully guaranteed five-year, $99.7 million deal over Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver's five-year, $96.6 million offer with partial fourth- and fifth-year guarantees.
"It disappointed me because we were close and we're going to miss a big piece, but I think Robert went to or beyond where anybody could ask him to go," Nash said. "This franchise would suffer a severe risk if Amar'e ever got hurt, so I understand why the last two years were guaranteed only if he played 22 minutes a game. I can't fault Robert for that. I can't blame Amar'e. He got that money guaranteed. It's just a shame.
"We're small again."
Nash hopes the team adds a "legitimate" big man to go with Robin Lopez, Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick but said it must rely on chemistry, intelligence and shooting.
In a 10-man Suns rotation, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Josh Childress and Jared Dudley are wings.
"To try to spread those guys between the two (off-guard) and four (power forward) at times, which may or may not work, it'll be a challenge," Nash said. "But the positive side is they're all terrific players. We have a wealth of depth at that position, defensively and with skill and shooting. The toughness and athleticism will serve those guys well but you can't expect them to play a ton of four and to thrive."
Good read. I'm excited to see how we'll do this year. Everybody counted us last year too (several "experts" didn't have us making the playoffs) so I'm not worried about it. I don't see Nash having a decline in his game because he doesn't really rely on athleticism. More on angles, fundamentals, capitalizing gaps and picking defenses apart with precision. What we did this summer is replace a highly efficient scorer with three low-volume, not so efficient scorers. It works well for our depth but we lack that dominant scorer that we once had in Stoudemire. And with Turk starting at the 4, our defense / rebounding don't get that much worse because Amare wasn't that spectacular in those areas.
I like the fact that we get another ball handler and a mismatch in Hedo. He can space the floor, take you off the dribble and pull up for the jumper. Also runs the PnR really well. It'll take pressure off of Nash and we can run plays for him off ball. I wish we could've re-signed Amundson; his hustle and energy will definitely be missed. Defense should get better as well. I hope RoLo worked on his offense a bit. Wasn't that polished last year and we'll have to rely on him more for his defensive prowess. I'm a bit skeptical about our rebounding but hopefully everyone will pick up the slack like we did in the playoffs.