The Phoenix Suns' general posture has been to rebuff trade inquiries for star guard Steve Nash, but the Suns have had discussions this month with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a deal to send Nash to Minnesota in a package for the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's draft, according to sources briefed on the talks.
The talks, though, haven't advanced beyond the exploratory stage because of what sources described as a "mutual conclusion" by both teams that such a deal would ultimately not work for the Wolves because of Nash's presumed desire to land with an established title contender if he finally leaves the Suns.
Sources say that the player Phoenix covets in the draft is Arizona forward Derrick Williams, although Suns officials have publicly denied reports that they have alternatively offered centerMarcin Gortat and the No. 13 overall pick for the No. 2 selection instead of Nash.
Nash, who turned 37 in February, has one season left on his contract valued at $11.7 million. The Wolves' fear, sources said, is that trading for Nash under those circumstances means they'd have him for a season at best before he moved on in free agency.
So the Wolves, according to sources, continue to explore other trade options with the No. 2 selection, such as a proposal to Washington that the Wizards have steadfastly declined in which Minnesota has tried to acquire JaVale McGee and the No. 6 pick for the No. 2 pick.
Numerous teams, most notably New York, Portland and Orlando, have been trying to persuade the Suns to trade Nash for months, but Phoenix has quickly rejected the overwhelming majority of those overtures.
Yet the opportunity to acquire a draft pick high enough to land them a player with local ties like Williams is a scenario that the Suns could apparently stomach to part with one of the most popular players in franchise history.
ESPN.com reported in February that the Wolves were already targeting Nash, long before they knew they'd even have the No. 2 pick to dangle, as an ideal mentor to young Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, who finally arrived in Minnesota this week two full seasons after Rubio was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft.
But the Wolves, sources say, have likewise always known that the prospect of actually completing a deal for Nash would be complicated and risky. The assumption around the league is that the Suns, once they do decide they're ready to trade him, would work with Nash to send him somewhere he'd like to be if possible as a reward for his loyal service in two separate Phoenix stints.
Nash, who's preparing to host his annual charity soccer game Wednesday in New York featuring NBA and international soccer stars, has consistently said that he will not request a trade despite the Suns' failure to even make the playoffs last season.
"Maybe I'm old school," Nash told ESPN.com in January, "but I signed a contract to play here and I want to honor it. I feel like I owe it to my teammates and the city and everybody to keep battling until they tell me it's time to go."
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Chad Ford is ESPN's NBA Insider.