Friday, May 7, 2010
A Nowitzki-Nash reunion in Phoenix?
By Jeff Caplan
A reunion of best buddies and former Dallas running mates is certainly interesting to think about, as ESPN The Magazine senior writer LZ Granderson does here, but the real chance of that happening is awfully slim.
We will always wonder what might have been had Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, with three MVPs between them since their Mavericks breakup, remained together. But, everyone knows how that story ended following the 2003-04 season. Mavs owner Mark Cuban, unwilling to pay the jackpot the Suns had offered the then-30-year-old point guard, allowed Nash to walk to Phoenix.
Could Nash and Nowitzki win an elusive championship if reunited in Phoenix? Well, maybe. But, don't expect Nowitzki to go house hunting in Nash's desert neighborhood any time soon.
First, the Suns next season are already locked into more than $63 million for 11 players, assuming player options are all exercised by Amare Stoudemire ($17.7 million), Grant Hill ($3.2 million) and Channing Frye ($2.1 million). Now, if Stoudemire opts out -- which is isn't expected -- then suddenly the Suns have money to throw around.
Otherwise, Nowitzki, due to earn $21.5 million next season with the Mavs, would have to accept a drastically reduced salary, and that's something he said he's not ready to do. Nowitzki turns 32 in June and believes he still has prime career years in front of him.
"That's somewhere maybe down the line a couple more years when stuff hasn't really worked out the way I want it to," Nowitzki said the day after the Mavs bowed out of the playoffs in six games to the Spurs. "But, at this point, I'm still in my prime. I feel like I've got a couple good years left, so I think that's a decision that's way down the line."
Still, deep down, Nowitzki must wonder what it would be like to again play pick-and-roll with Nash, 36, who continues to play at an elite level. Nash has his Suns leading the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinal playoff series. During the Mavs' final interviews of the season last week, Nowitzki was asked if a certain Canadian point guard might try to recruit him this summer.
"All that is, as of right now, everything is speculation," Nowitzki said. "I always said I want to finish my career here in Dallas. It wouldn't feel the same putting on a different uniform. That really was always my plan, so we'll just have to wait and see."