- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PHOENIX (AP) - The Phoenix Suns are again shooting down Steve Nash trade rumors.

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby emphatically said that the two-time league MVP isn’t going anywhere, and he added center Marcin Gortat to the untouchable list.

In an email on Wednesday, he repeated the statement he made earlier in the day to The Arizona Republic, saying, “We are not trading Marcin Gortat, period. End of sentence. We are not trading Steve Nash, period, exclamation point.”

The latest denial came after ESPN reported that the Suns were in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves over trading Nash for the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft.

Earlier, the New York Post mentioned a possible trade to the Knicks for Chauncey Billups, a deal that made little sense unless Nash asked for it.

The 37-year-old Nash has never publicly expressed any interest in being traded as he enters the final year of his contract with Phoenix. When his contract expires, the team could use that money for free agent acquisitions if the Suns decide to move on without him.

“I only focus on trying to get our team back into contention and making the playoffs,” Nash said before hosting a charity soccer match Wednesday in New York City. “I don’t pay attention to anything else. But it’s nice that they say, you know, ‘We want you here.’”

A prolific user of Twitter, Nash has not mentioned the Suns or his contract status in recent tweets, mostly concentrating on his soccer match, his reaction to the Stanley Cup finals and subsequent riot in his beloved Vancouver. His Facebook wall is filled with pleas for him to come to the poster’s favorite team, or to go nowhere at all.

It seems the only way Nash would be traded is if he asked for it.

“They’ve told me plenty of times they don’t want to move me, so I don’t think they need to call me every day. I’m not up to date on all the rumors,” said the two-time league MVP. “Right now I have a contract with the Suns. I hope this year is better than last and I’m ready to keep playing in Phoenix and continue to build the team and win a championship.”

Nash said he’d entertain an extension so he can play at least two more seasons.

The Suns have had difficulty finding a point guard to groom as his successor. Aaron Brooks, acquired in a late-season trade with Houston, struggled in that role and it’s uncertain whether the Suns will exercise the team option for another year of the ex-Oregon star’s contract.

That led to speculation that Phoenix might draft BYU’s dynamic Jimmer Fredette and try to convert him into an NBA guard. Conventional wisdom, though, has them going for a power forward with the No. 13 pick Thursday night, their only selection in the draft.

Nash said he hasn’t been keeping track of the draft or who the Suns might pick.

A rumor about Gortat being traded so concerned the Suns that Babby called the Polish center to assure him that he remained firmly in the team’s plans.

Gortat reveled in his place alongside Nash on the court. Obtained in the mega-trade with Orlando, Gortat averaged 13 points and 9.3 rebounds in his 50 games with Phoenix, eventually absorbing most of the ineffective Robin Lopez’s playing time.

Nash, in his 14th NBA season, averaged 14.7 points per game. At 11.4 per game, he led the NBA in assists for the fifth time in his seven seasons since rejoining the Suns in 2004.

He shot 49 percent from the field and just under 40 percent from 3-point range. By making 90 percent of his free throws, he was the on-again, off-again holder of the NBA record for career accuracy from the foul line.

Not that any of that appears good enough. Nash said he’ll let everybody else talk about rumors of him playing elsewhere next season while he continues to work on his game.

“That’s what I want to use my energy on,” he said. “I don’t want to waste it.”


AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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