Nash, Suns Players Return to US Airways Center

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Dec. 1, 2011

The NBA was back in business Thursday.

Almost.

The first Suns players returned to US Airways Center after the players’ association and the league’s owners came to a tentative collective bargaining agreement this past weekend. This morning was the first time the players have been at their respective arenas since the end of June.

Making guest appearances today were Steve Nash, Robin Lopez and Zabian Dowdell. Nash, who didn’t make it down to the court to shoot or play, went through a complete workout with the training staff in the weight room.

The former MVP has been traveling around since the conclusion of last season, but returned to the Valley on August 8 when his daughters started their school year. Besides seeing his fellow teammates at his annual “Showdown in Chinatown” charity soccer match in New York, Nash has kept in contact with his teammates throughout the work stoppage, even going as far as having an informal mini-training camp with six teammates in San Diego one weekend.

Only three players were able to make it down to US Airways Center today, but Nash expects many more to show tomorrow.

“It’s going to be fun to get everyone back in and get that chemistry going, have everyone give each other a hard time and have some fun again,” Nash said smiling.

The extended offseason gave the 2010-11 NBA assist leader an opportunity to heal some nagging injuries that hampered him towards the end of last season. Although he only played a handful of times over the summer, Nash said he feels tip-top physically.

With that being said, the condensed 66-game season will be straining on every player. The Suns playmaker expects that every team is going to have to “pick their spots” in regards to resting starters that log heavy minutes.

“I think everyone is going to be leery (of the schedule),” Nash said. “It’s going to be brutal. Four games a week is tough for anybody.”

One of the main topics of conversation with Nash was the status of co-captain Grant Hill, who is a free agent. According to Nash, the odds seem to be in the Suns’ favor that he’ll re-sign in Phoenix.

“I’m very hopeful that Grant will be back,” Nash said. “It’s very, very important to me that he’s back, personally, and I think it’s very important to the team and the community. I’m not sure where it stands now, but I believe that the organization realizes his value to the team and the club.”

Sharing in the same enthusiasm felt by hoops fans around the world - and especially in Phoenix - Nash was just energized to be back to work.

“I’m excited that we can have a resolution, excited to be back, excited for the franchise to progress, build and grow and I find a way to have a great season after last year’s disappointment,” he said. “I’d definitely would love to see us improve our roster, but I think it’s up to us to find that little bit of magic collectively and individually to give ourselves a chance to win enough games to get into the playoffs. I would never say that we’re not a playoff team, I think that (the playoffs) should be the minimum of our goals. Let’s see how good we can get.”

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