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Nash says re-signing Grant Hill 'big issue to me'

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PHOENIX (AP)

Steve Nash says it's ''very, very important'' to him that the Phoenix Suns re-sign his good friend Grant Hill.

''I think he's very important to the team and the community,'' Nash said. ''I'm not sure where it stands right now, but I believe the organization recognizes his value to the team and the club, and it's a big issue for me.''

Nash, speaking after the Suns opened their practice facilities to returning players on Thursday, said ''all things being even Grant would want to come back here.''

''But I think it depends on the situation,'' he said. ''I'm sure he's going to be highly coveted by a lot of teams, so Phoenix will have to make him a great offer and put him in a position where he can't say no to coming back.''

Suns President Lon Babby has said his top priority is to re-sign the 39-year-old Hill, who after an injury-plagued early part of his career has missed just three games the past three seasons for Phoenix. Hill averaged 13.2 points per game last season.

Nash also said that he believes any hard feelings between him and owner Robert Sarver over the player lockout can be repaired.

''I think there was a lot of animosity and I think at times it got personal,'' Nash said, ''but I think that everyone is man enough to recognize what it is and even to admit maybe to their mistakes in the process and put it behind us and go back to where we were, as far as working together as business partners or teammates.''

The 37-year-old point guard said he understands why fans could be upset with the players.

''If I were in their shoes, I couldn't say that I wouldn't feel the same way,'' he said. ''On the other hand, I feel if they were in our shoes they would have behaved the same way we would have through this situation. So it's perspective. ... We'll try to win back their support and trust by playing our butts off and being good citizens.''

Nash, entering his 16th NBA season, joined Zabian Dowdell and Robin Lopez as the only players to show up at US Airways Center on Thursday, but Nash said he expects several more to be on hand on Friday.

Always in prime condition otherwise, Nash normally uses the four weeks of voluntary workouts to get into basketball shape. He won't have that luxury this year, with training camp tentatively set to begin Dec. 9. The season is set to begin for some teams on Christmas and for the rest shortly thereafter.

''We didn't have that month of playing together and getting in playing shape that I always rely on,'' he said, ''so it did leave me in a position where I didn't get to play a lot of basketball. But hopefully here until Christmas, I'll get enough basketball in to where I feel like I'm ready to go. On the flip side, I've gotten a chance to train and get my body ready. I hope it will just transfer to the court.''

Nash said the compacted schedule is ''going to be brutal.''

''Four games in a week is tough for anybody,'' he said. ''It'll be hard but I feel in great shape so I'm hoping to be able to cope with it as well as anybody.''

Nash averaged 14.7 points per game last season, his fewest since coming to Phoenix in 2004. But he led the NBA at 11.4 assists per game. Still, the Suns failed to make the playoffs in their first season since the loss of Amare Stoudemire. Nash insisted he was optimistic about the coming campaign despite the uncertain roster.

''I definitely would love to see us improve our roster,'' he said, ''but I think it's up to us to find that little bit of magic collectively and individually to win enough games to get in the playoffs. I would never say we're not a playoff team. That should be the minimum of our goals.''

Tagged: Suns, Steve Nash, Grant Hill

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