While the Suns are averaging about the same amount of points per game as the Knicks (106.1 to 107.8), Steve Nash still feels a big presence missing every time he goes around a screen or drives to the basket.
With Amare Stoudemire returning to the US Airways Center on Friday night for the first time to face his former Suns team, Nash reflected on his ex-big man (SB Nation). "We lost an All-Star power forward and we didn't replace him," he said. "We have no real kind of power forward. ... Obviously, I wanted Amare to stay."
Not only will Nash be reuniting with his favorite pick-and-roll sidekick, he'll be facing a more refined Stoudemire, who's averaging a career-high 26.4 points per game (second in the league behind Kevin Durant's 27.9). Though Stoudemire's scoring less at the rim -- which was a credit to Nash's ability to weave through the paint and get him the ball closer to the hoop -- his one-on-one moves have improved and he's making more shots from zero to 10 feet (2.9 per game versus 1.8 the previous year; 53.2 percent). Even his 3-point accuracy has peaked (81.8 effective FG% vs. 25.1 the previous year).
Says Stoudemire: "I don't think they got nobody on [Phoenix] that can stop me and nobody can stop us as a team."
With Phoenix struggling at 14-19, and losing 10 out of their last 13 games, there is now speculation that Nash could be out of Phoenix. One league source told the Sporting News that the Suns are on the fence about dealing Nash to jump start their rebuilding process.
ESPN Insider's John Hollinger wrote Wednesday that "the Knicks, given the presence of Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni, present an intriguing possibility," along with the Magic, Mavs, Blazers and Hawks.
Nash and Raymond Felton could split time at the one like Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas do now with the Magic, but Felton and Stoudemire have developed chemistry and Felton is playing like an All-Star (18.2 ppg and 8.7 apg). Felton has recognized he's not Nash, but I'm not sure he would want to come off the bench at this point. The Knicks' greater need is a true, consistent backup point guard.
Asked about potentially being traded, Nash told the Sporting News, "I'm playing; I'm here. I'm going to fight until they tell me they don't want me anymore. We made a lot of changes this year, and hopefully we can get it right and get in the playoffs and make a run. But if we don't, we'll try to put ourselves in a good position for next year."
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