Phoenix must trade Steve Nash

In order to rebuild, trading Steve Nash might be Phoenix's only recourse. AP Photo/Paul Connors

Is Suns owner Robert Sarver looking to play hardball with the National Basketball Players Association or is he a dove in the labor talks? Well, one thing's for sure: His team stands between a rock and a hard place.

In all likelihood, the Phoenix Suns are going nowhere with the team as currently assembled. They finished with a lukewarm record of 40-42 with their three top scorers all over the age of 34. They have more than $55 million due next season already -- mostly to journeymen with low ceilings -- which leaves them with little spending power if the salary cap looks anything like it did in 2010-11. But of course, it won't; the next cap will likely handcuff them even more.

As painful as it sounds to Phoenix faithful, the Suns exist in NBA purgatory: lottery-bound, but nowhere close to earning first dibs on the next great player in the draft. No team wants to be caught in this in-between world where they can't reap the benefits of a playoff appearance, but also lack the hope of landing the next Blake Griffin or John Wall.

So how can they find basketball heaven? The only way out may be to trade Steve Nash.