That Dreamers Often Lie

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 2, 2010 under Commentary, Rumors | 7 Comments to Read

Mostly thanks to Bill Simmons, NBA junkies now have a new rumor du jour: a Dirk Nowitzki-Steve Nash reunion on the Phoenix Suns, in which the two former MVP pals could coexist in something of a basketball nirvana. Nash was never really given the full opportunity to explore his game while with the Mavericks, but now that each player has seen the full extent of their basketball talents, a reunion would be absolutely fantastic for NBA fans.

Not so much for Mavs fans, but that’s just the way it goes. Player movement, even of the hypothetical variety, has to leave somebody out in the cold. So sorry, MFFLs, but in alternate reality #184612823412734, Dirk goes the way of Nash and leaves the Mavs high and dry. Condolences.

Look, I understand the appeal. I really do. We all love to explore realms of fantasy, whether they exist solely in free agent rumors, in movies or video games, or in poorly-written, contrived vampire novels. But they’re enjoyable precisely because they’re unlikely, and that’s the thing everyone needs to keep in mind before they even consider discussing a Nash-Nowitzki reunion. It would take an incredible series of twists and turns for the mere option to even be on the table, and given Nowitzki’s import to Dallas and Phoenix’s extended playoff run, neither team would be particularly interested in accommodating the process. That’s especially important on the Suns’ side, as not only would Phoenix have to abandon the prospect of re-signing Amar’e Stoudemire in order to make a pass at Dirk, but they’d have to shed some pretty significant salary (in addition to Nowitzki agreeing to a suboptimal deal) by trading away quality players for nothing.

It’s fun, but this is all no better than the most ridiculous rumor mongering. There isn’t even the illusion of reported interest from either party aside from the obvious (the obvious being that Dirk wants to sign a new contract and I’m sure the Suns wouldn’t mind having him around), and the fact that this rumor is getting so much play is more a tribute to how fun the Nash-Nowitzki pairing could be rather than a representation of even a remote likelihood. Maybe this is the bias of a Dallas-centric writer talking, but I see all the possible landing spots for Dirk — the Suns, the Knicks, the Nets, etc. — being so unlikely, that there are essentially two outcomes: he stays with the Mavs or he doesn’t. Grouping all of those destinations together is the only way their chances even cause a blip on our radar, as the probability that Nowitzki re-signs with the Mavs is so, incredibly high.

Again, Dirk is an unrestricted free agent, so we all need to respect the possibility of him bolting this summer, even if it seems unlikely. That said, having a friend in Phoenix really doesn’t make this outcome very plausible. Feel free to daydream of Nash-Dirk pick-and-rolls, but the reality is that the beauty of their pairing will have to be confined to the All-Star game.

  • jack

    I wouldn’t put money on Dirk singing with the Suns, but it’s not as improbable as you’re making it out to be. With Amare and Frye (who has already opted out) off the books, the Suns will have about $42m in salary for next year. With the salary cap at $58m, that’s $16m left for Dirk. In addition to the Suns’ ideal situation–getting rid of Barbosa for a draft pick–they could find a taker for Dudley or Earl Clark (or both), adding at least a few more million to the pot.

    Seems like there are several possible situations that aren’t that far-fetched, certainly not enough to assure your readers that ‘the reality’ is that Dirk and Nash on the same team ‘will have to be confined to the All-Star game.’

    • Rob Mahoney

      @jack: Everything you suggest requires Steve Kerr completely gutting the current Suns, a Suns team that looked pretty close to the NBA Finals. I’m not saying Kerr won’t tinker with the current roster, but I think Phoenix will probably make a bid to retain Frye, won’t be looking to move Dudley (Why would they? He’s one of their most prolific three-point shooters), and are going to have a hard time flipping Barbosa for cap space (The teams with the space to absorb his contract don’t present any comfortable fits).

      As much as I’m sure Kerr and Nash would enjoy seeing Dirk in a Suns uniform, it would take an awful lot of maneuvering just to get Phoenix within striking distance. Giving up on Amar’e is a big ‘if,’ not re-signing Frye is another, Dirk signing a contract starting at $16 million (rather than a possible $20.8 million) is another, and so on and so forth. There are entirely too many moving parts here for it to be considered anything other than a remote possibility. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that it won’t.

  • jack

    If you think about it as a trade of Amare, Frye, and Earl Clark for Dirk, does it still sound as impossible or complicated? I agree it’s probably not happening–if nothing else, Kerr has every reason to be wary of going all in on aging superstars–but I still think the Suns and Dirk give it a long think.

  • Rob Mahoney

    @jack: That’s the thing — it’s not a trade. It would be the Suns giving up Amar’e, Frye, and Clark just to have the CHANCE to sign Dirk. Even if Kerr decides to give up all of those players, Dallas would still be considered the considerable favorite to sign Nowitzki, making it one hell of a gamble for a Western Conference Finalist.

    Would any reasonable GM really sacrifice one of his team’s greatest assets — depth — in the name of chasing an incredibly improbable free agent prize?

  • Cynthia

    I don’t see Dirk going anywhere, but if he were…wouldn’t he want to go to a team with a really good chance of winning a championship? Yeh Phoenix went to the WCF this season but are they really any better than the MAVS? Do they have a bigger chance of making the finals than Dallas does? Not if they get rid of half their team to get Dirk. So why would Dirk want to go there? I just don’t see it.

  • That guy who did that funny thing that one time

    Yeah, as much as I’d love to see the two playing together, it’s not happening.

  • Andrew Galloway

    Why not suns will sign Amare then trade Amare, Hill, and Clark for Dirk, and Marion.
    I would want to get The Martix back to suns