Verbal deal: five years, more than $65M

Updated: July 2, 2004, 9:20 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks free agent guard Steve Nash reached a verbal agreement on Thursday to sign with the Phoenix Suns.

Steve Nash
Point Guard
Dallas Mavericks
Profile
2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
78 14.5 3.0 8.8 .470 .916

As first reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Thursday afternoon, Nash agreed to a six-year package worth more than $65 million -- with the sixth season partially guaranteed and the Suns holding a team option for the full amount in Year 6.

"It's exciting, but it's also bittersweet," Nash told ESPN.com about the move back to Phoenix. "I'm really sad to leave my teammates, but I'm glad to be going somewhere where they really wanted me."

According to sources, Nash brought the Suns' offer back to the Mavericks, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban declined to match it. Stein reports that the Suns' offer was nearly $20 million richer.

Mavericks sources said Cuban was reluctant to give Nash more than a four-year guaranteed contract because of fears the 30-year-old couldn't physically handle playing more than 32 minutes per game.

"I never dreamed we'd lose Nash, or any other player of his magnitude," Mavericks coach Don Nelson told The Associated Press on Thursday night in Fort Worth. "It's not like a trade where you get something back. There is no adjustment here. We lost a big part of our team and we don't have anything to fill it. It's a setback."

After giving the Suns a verbal commitment, Nash immediately phoned longtime teammates Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley to break the news, sources told ESPN.com. Finley and Nowitzki were given maximum contracts two summers ago. Nash, who was never offered an extension, opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time but maintained that he wanted to remain in Dallas.

"I think it was his intention to stay with the Mavericks," Duffy told the AP about the 30-year-old Nash. "Everything just turned around so quickly.

"Phoenix came up to the plate and put together a very significant offer and we accepted it. The numbers were significant, but it was also the years. It was a five-year deal and that is very significant for someone Steve's age."

No deals can be formally signed until July 14, when the salary cap for next season is set. Teams and free agents can only reach verbal agreements during the league's two-week moratorium on signings and trades.

Nash had met with Cuban in Dallas on Wednesday morning and then was greeted by a traveling Suns delegation that included chairman Jerry Colangelo, son and team president Bryan Colangelo, new owner Robert Sarver, coach Mike D'Antoni, former NBA player and Suns minority owner Steve Kerr, former Suns player and current scout Rex Chapman and forward Amare Stoudemire, a client of Duffy's.

Wednesday, Duffy said, "It was a good meeting [with Cuban]. Mark made it very clear that re-signing Steve is a priority."

The Suns originally drafted Nash in 1996 and he backed up Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson for two seasons. Nash never sold his home in the Phoenix area.

Bringing in Nash eliminates the Suns from the Kobe Bryant derby. On Wednesday night, it was reported that Phoenix was prepared to offer Bryant a six-year deal worth over $100 million.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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