But after mulling other options, Nash realized there were no guarantees of winning an NBA championship elsewhere.
So he agreed to a two-year, $22 million contract extension that will keep the two-time MVP point guard under contract with the Suns through the 2011-2012 season.
"I definitely was weighing all my options," Nash said Monday on a conference call with reporters, his first public comments since signing the new deal. "I definitely looked out there to see what possibilities there were -- becoming a free agent next year, asking to be traded. But the truth is, I love the city, the organization. I really like my teammates and coach."
Nash said those considerations "greatly outweigh the opportunity to search for a title anywhere else. There's never any guarantees of that sort of thing anyway."
The 35-year-old Nash, entering his 13th NBA season, had one year left on a contract that will pay him $13 million next season.
Under the new agreement, $6 million of the final two years of the contract will be deferred, with $3 million being paid in each of the two years following the expiration of the contract, said Bill Duffy, Nash's agent.
"There's definitely a good chance that this is the last three years for me," Nash said. "It would obviously be a pleasure and a bonus to finish my career as a Sun."
When Phoenix retooled after failing to make the playoffs last spring, there was speculation that Nash would leave for a team with a better chance to win an NBA title. As tempting as that might have been, Nash said he decided to stick with what he knew.
"I didn't want to just chase something fleeting," Nash said. "I wanted to do the best I could for this franchise and these guys."
Nash, born in South Africa and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, was the Suns' first-round draft pick in 1996 and was traded to Dallas in 1998.
The Suns lured Nash back to Phoenix in 2004 in a celebrated effort that included a flight to Dallas by then-owner Jerry Colangelo and a host of representatives of the team. When Mavericks owner Mark Cuban balked at re-signing Nash, at age 30, at the amount he wanted, the point guard signed a five-year, $65 million contract with Phoenix.
In the last five years with Phoenix, Nash has averaged 17.1 points and 10.8 assists per game -- higher than his career averages of 14.4 points and eight assists.
The New York Knicks had been mentioned as a possible destination for Nash because of his connection with coach Mike D'Antoni.
Nash had the best years of his career leading D'Antoni's high-octane offense in Phoenix. Nash was named the league's MVP in 2005 and 2006 and was a first-team all-NBA selection in 2005, 2006 and 2007. D'Antoni left for New York after the 2007-08 season.
Nash, who has an offseason residence in New York, said he thought about teaming up with D'Antoni again.
"I get stopped about 50 times a day on the street in New York: 'Are you coming to the Knicks? '" Nash said.
Nash decided to stay put after watching general manager Steve Kerr's offseason moves.
Nash said the re-signing of forward Grant Hill was "extremely influential in my decision" to return. Nash also said he enjoys playing for coach Alvin Gentry, who replaced Terry Porter midway through last season and was retained.
"I don't have to know how good we're going to be," Nash said. "I think we can be good."
Suns management agrees, which is why the club decided to keep the aging guard instead of trading him or letting him walk away as a free agent.
"Steve is still one of the best point guards in the NBA, and his dedication to conditioning will keep him among the league's elite for several more seasons," Kerr said. "In many ways he embodies what our franchise is all about, and we're thrilled that he will be the leader of our team for the next three years."
The team faces an uncertain future after failing to make the playoffs for the first time since Nash rejoined the Suns.
Phoenix seemed to be in rebuilding mode when it traded center Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland in a financially motivated deal. There have also been numerous rumors that the team is looking to trade All-Star Amare Stoudemire, who has one year left on his contract and wants the maximum in any new deal, something the budget-conscious Suns may not be willing to do.