NBA superstar Steve Nash remains confident that he will sign a contract extension with the Phoenix Suns this summer. But if an agreement isn't reached, Nash said he would like to play for the New York Knicks.
Speaking yesterday in suburban Vancouver, where he presided over the opening of the Steve Nash Sports Club, his second athletic complex in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, Nash said his agent, Bill Duffy, is scheduled to meet with Suns general manager Steve Kerr next week. Nash also suggested a deal could be announced in the near future.
But the Victoria, B.C. native, who is heading into the final year of a contract that will pay him $13.1 million U.S. in 2009-10, acknowledged that if the sides can't reach a consensus, "than a trade would always be a possibility." And if that's the case, the point guard said he would like to play in New York, where his family spends its summers.
"I would preface it by saying that I love Phoenix and that's what I'm focusing on right now," Nash said. "But I live in New York City, and I love it there, and [Knicks head coach]Mike D'Antoni was one of my favourite coaches. If it didn't work out in Phoenix, obviously that would be a place I'd consider."
The Knicks have targeted point guards on the free-agent market, which opened Wednesday, and have met with Jason Kidd, who played for the Dallas Mavericks in 2008-09.
By NBA rules, Nash is only permitted to sign a two-year extension because of his age. The 35-year-old said the limit is fine by him because he will re-evaluate his basketball career after three more seasons anyway.
The Suns are coming off a disappointing season, missing the playoffs for the first time in six years despite a team that featured Nash and centre Shaquille O'Neal, both former NBA most valuable players. O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, a move that Nash reportedly supported - if not pushed for - in a meeting with Kerr.
"We had some financial constraints, so I think people saw it coming," Nash said about the trade that brought centre Ben Wallace and guard Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix. "They're trying to do some things that give them flexibility to make some moves. We maybe don't have the deep pockets of some of the other teams, which could be a disadvantage, but I still believe in everybody there and still think we can build a winner."
Nash said that his team never got in sync last year because of several new faces and a mid-season coaching change.
He said the Suns must continue to play their trademark up-tempo style, which was re-instituted at midseason by new coach Alvin Gentry. Phoenix had been trying a slower, more defensive-oriented style under Terry Porter, who was fired after just 51 games.
"I think it's natural for the players we have," he said. "It suits all of our guys. For us to try and conform to another style would be counterproductive."