Following the three-team deal with Minnesota and New Orleans which ended Robin Lopez’s days in the Valley, the perceived need for the Suns soon became a backup center. Marcin Gortat is clearly the starting 5 on the team after solidifying himself as one of the top players in the league at his proverbial center position last year. The logical choice to spell Gortat, while he takes a breather, is former backup center Channing Frye.
During his greatest season, 2009-2010, with the Suns, Frye came off the bench behind Lopez, and usually played alongside Amare Stoudemire to close out games. Frye is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and his timetable to return is unknown. The breadth of free agent big men is limited to the likes of all-time bust extraordinaire Darko Milicic and career backup Kyrylo Fesenko. Will that be a Bar-S hot dog or bologna?
Fret not, my friends, because not every position from the 1 to the 5 in basketball needs a traditional back up. Basketball is not comparable to football when it comes to backups or position strings. A so-called 2nd string “center” in basketball could very well be your 1st string “power forward”.
The same routinely applies to the 2 or 3 position. Looking back to the Heat and Thunder Finals, for example, by the end of the game, only one big man was being utilized and the rest were guards and wings. Kendrick Perkins absolutely killed the Thunder during his time on the court. He was too slow and lumbering for an in-your-face-up-and-down-the-court Heat team led by Lebron James. The Heat also rendered Indiana’s 7’2” Roy Hibbert null two series prior. Unless a team is facing Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, and maybe we can throw Marc Gasol into this category, traditional centers just are not as useful in today’s NBA of super athleticism.
The Suns will add another backup big man for depth purposes, but expect to see Gortat, Frye, Scola, or maybe even Morris in spot duty to occupy the 48 minutes available nightly at the 5 position. Boris Diaw was the starting center for much of the Suns adversity riddled yet highly successful season in 2005-2006. Frye, Scola, and Morris certainly can handle a few minutes here and there to “backup” Gortat. Head coach, Alvin Gentry, much like his former colleague Mike D’Antoni, is not afraid to buck basketball dogma and, gasp, play a “power forward” in the “center’s” role! Traditional positions are outdated. The good ol’ days of centers such as Danny Schayes and Joe Kleine running around in short-shorts may be gone forever. Sadly we rejoice the slow extinction of the big-slow-white-center-osaurus.
The three-team deal involving the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, and Minnesota Timberwolves is close to being finalized, according to multiple reports. The deal includes sending Hakim Warrick and Robin Lopez (sign and trade) to the Hornets. In return, the Suns will receive third-year shooting guard Wesley Johnson and a 1st round pick from the TWolves. Protection rights to the 1st rd pick are believed to still be in negotiation as the final piece to the trade. The Suns will also take on Brad Miller from the Hornets, who coincidentally was traded to New Orleans from Minnesota on July 13. Miller is expected to be waived (and retire), so he will only count for the $848K guaranteed portion of his salary. I offered my thoughts on a few benefits of the trade yesterday, but another underlying positive needs to be examined.
The Suns are effectively swapping Hakim Warrick for Wesley Johnson. At worst the player exchange is a wash. They are also acquiring a 1st round pick via Minnesota by agreeing to a sign and trade of Robin Lopez with the Hornets. However, the connotation of the word trade is misleading. Salvaging is the more appropriate term. A 1st round pick is being salvaged out of an asset. An asset who the Suns do not want to pay $5 million per year (Lopez’s contract is suggested to be 3 years / $15 million with NOrleans). Robin Lopez all by himself — a 23 year old, legit 7 footer — may very well be worth $5 million per year, especially in an NBA market where Omer Asik receives $8 million per year (Omer Asik, really?!).
Add another player onto the pay roll at $5 million over three years and in Summer 2013 the team will be sitting at “$52.5 mil for 12 players or $51 for 11 without Shannon Brown,” based on salary calculations from ValleyoftheSuns.com Michael Schwartz. That will leave roughly $6-$8 million in cap room to sign rookies and add free agents. As solid as Lopez would make the Suns upfront this year — Gortat, Scola, Morris, Beasley, Frye, and Lopez — the team will be too locked into an above-average core of players with only minimal cap room next summer, if they were to meet Lopez’s contract demands.
The Suns certainly do not want to become the Pacers of the West. Good enough to make the playoffs and look promising on paper, but simply put, not good enough to win it all. The goal is to beat the Heat, Thunder, Lakers, Celtics, and all other 28 teams in the league. The goal is to win a championship. To win a championship, the Suns need star power. One quality, backup center is not going to cut it.
So, the Suns made the right decision. They are parting ways with Lopez; understanding how cap flexibility is more important going forward. The brilliance is how they are wise enough to move in like a hawk on the Hornets and, more specifically, the TWolves to snatch a 1st round pick in the process. Process — a key word Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations, Lon Babby, uses frequently. The Suns are following a process of asset accumulation and maintaining flexibility to hopefully one day win a championship. Making tough, sound decisions is apart of that process.
If you haven’t heard or read by now, chances are you’re not reading this article in the first place. Yet, I preface the article by informing how Michael Beasley, most recently of the Minnesota Timberwolves, agreed to a 3 year / $18 million contract to join your Phoenix Suns (assuming you are indeed a Suns fan; if not, that’s cool, too, bro)!
I really like the Beasley signing. His contract, in NBA standards, is reasonable at only $6 million per year, and his upside is enormous. He was the #2 player selected in the 2008 draft ahead of players such as Russel Westbrook, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, and Brook Lopez who are all now playing on max contracts. It’s hard to say Gordon (4 years / $58 million) or Lopez (4 years / $61 million) are two to three times more valuable than Beasley. In comparison, the Beasley contract is a steal.
In addition, he was drafted number two overall, only behind Derrick Rose, because of his immense talent. Coming out of high school he was the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP (the list of recent MVP winners from the game is quite amazing: check it out). In his one season at Kansas State, he was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and earned NCAA All-American First-Team honors. That year his stats even surpassed Durant’s freshman season from the year before (2007) by averaging 26.2 points (3rd in the nation) and leading the country with 12.4 rebounds per game. He’s still only 23 years old with plenty of time to realize that same potential in the pros he showcased in high school and college.
In fact, part of the problem Beasley has faced in his NBA career, aside from immaturity, is a lack of consistent minutes. In 2010-2011, playing alongside Kevin Love as a starter in Minnesota, he averaged a fairly efficient 19.2 points in 32.3 minutes per game while shooting 45% from the floor. Over four years his career average is 19.5 ppg per 36 mins. In my judgment, his past performance indicates he is a legit 20+ point per game scorer in the league if given the opportunity to log starter’s minutes. In Phoenix, he will have just that opportunity and a nurturing head coach, Alvin Gentry, to accelerate his development.
Gentry has gone as far to suggest Beasley will be a go-to player for the Suns. ”We need that [type of] person. We’ve talked about it a lot. We need that person you can throw the ball to who maybe not necessarily scores the point but makes the play that’s going to win games for you, and I think Michael has the ability to do that.”
Yes, there are downsides to Michael Beasley, like almost anything else in the world. He has a rap sheet of issues off the court, including a history of marijuana use, arrests, and checking into a rehab center in 2009. Nonetheless, I believe the Suns and Beasley are an ideal match. The risk is small. The reward will be substantial, if Beasley accomplishes his full potential. He just might.
Hornets, Suns, Wolves are nearing agreement on a 3-way deal that would send Robin Lopez to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, sources tell Y!
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 24, 2012
Along with Lopez, Suns would send Hakim Warrick to Hornets. Minny would send Wesley Johnson and a 1st round pick to the Suns, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 24, 2012
For Wolves, deal clears cap space and apparently is a prelude to another potential signing or deal, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 25, 2012
The Minnesota 1st round pick will not be their own in 2013, because their pick in 2012 was used by New Orleans via the LA Clippers. A team cannot trade its own 1st round pick in consecutive years (see: “Ted Stepien” rule). However, according to the RealGM.com future pick details page, the TWolves own the rights to the Memphis Grizzlies 1st rd pick in 2013 via the Houston Rockets. The draft pick is listed as top 14 protected in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The Cliff notes version of what will happen next, if the pick is not transferred by 2016, is the pick will essentially become a 2016 2nd rounder.
Regarding the outcome of the proposed trade, the Suns make out like bandits in this deal.
1. The Suns apparently are not willing to meet the contract demands of Robin Lopez. In return…
2. The Suns will receive a 1st rd pick (likely to be the 2013 Memphis draft pick as described above) for agreeing to a sign and trade of a player they are not willing to oblige in a contract negotiation. Said player, Lopez, obviously has not lived up to his potential nor his draft selection (need I mention how we could have selected PG, Jrue Holiday instead to backup Steve Nash; no, I won’t mention that).
Note: Although this goes against my argument in favor of the deal, I was actually quite pleased with Lopez’s play in the last quarter to third of the season last year. Anyways…
3. Depending on how you view the roster, the Suns are effectively swapping a 30 year old, 5th string power forward for a 25 year old, wing rotation player who is only entering his 3rd year in the league. The Suns currently have a logjam at forward (Scola, Morris, Beasley, Fry) and only Dudley, Brown, and recently signed castaway P.J. Tucker at the wing. In addition, both players have Team Options for next year, so the contract details are moot, and if somehow Johnson thrives with the Suns, the Suns have another asset to trade or retain for the future.
The Suns aren’t necessarily hitting a home run for a superstar, but they just hit a couple more singles. Eventually all those singles (process of asset acquisition) will return dividends and put points on the scoreboard.
Oh, and to quote Bill Simmons, “KHAAAAAAN!”
The Phoenix Suns have been officially informed the New Orleans matched the 4 year, $58 million offer sheet to Eric Gordon, confirms Marc Stein @ESPNSteinLine. Per NBA rules, Gordon cannot be traded to the Suns for the life of the contract. The Gordon era, while a mere illusion from the beginning, is permanently over for good, and the Suns and fans alike can move on. So goodbye yellow brick Gordon:
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing the blues
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick Gordon
I bet that’ll shoot down your plane
It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
Maybe you’ll get a replacement
There’s plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground
Jared Dudley appeared on the Arizona Sports 620′s Doug and Wolf show Wednesday and had some oddly affectionate words about Steve Nash and his departure to the Los Angeles Lakers made official earlier today.
“What he’s done for the franchise, I’m not mad at that at all because he deserves that, but now we’ve got to try and kill him. We know there’s bad blood between us, and it probably just got a little bit worse with the trade.”
I appreciate Dudley recognizing how important Nash was to the Phoenix Suns franchise as well to Dudley’s maturation as a player, but I love his fighting spirit! Dudley is one of the few remaining players from the 2009-2010 “magical” team, and he is an ideal candidate, in my opinion, to take lead as one of the team captains in upcoming years. He may not be the most talented, but no one will try harder, and by his words, he will establish the killer mentality for the future of the new Suns era after the passing of Nash to the dark side.
RIP Steve Nash #13
As tempting as Mayo is as a consolation prize to Gordon’s spicy mustard, if the Phoenix Suns preserve cap space and flexibility for Summer 2013, there are quite a few quality players with a few elites sprinkled in for next year’s free agent crop. Below is a look at some possible free agents provided by ESPN.com:
Dwight Howard, UFA (*unlikely)
Chris Paul, UFA
Andrew Bynum, UFA
Josh Smith, UFA
Manu Ginobili, UFA
Shawn Marion, UFA (ETO)
Lamar Odom, UFA
Al Jefferson, UFA
Paul Milsap, UFA
David West, UFA
Kevin Martin, UFA
Mo Williams, UFA
Tony Allen, UFA
Stephen Jackson, UFA
Ben Gordon, UFA (P)
J.J. Redick, UFA
James Harden, RFA
Serge Ibaka, RFA
Ty Lawson, RFA
Stephen Curry, RFA
Tyreke Evans, RFA
Jeff Teague, RFA
Rodrigue Beaubois, RFA
Most of the unrestricted free agents are near or well-above O.J. Mayo’s level; although, Mayo has room to grow in a new system, especially at only age 24. Looking closer, the real key to next off season will be which, if not both, of the OKC stud RFA’s will be available. Durant and Westbrook will combine for nearly 2/3rd’s of the team’s cap space next off season, so it’s hard to envision a scenario where OKC affords Harden and Ibaka, or that both players are willing to accept significantly less than what they will be able to get on the open market (max or near max). Harden is of course the dream scenario, but a consolation prize of Ibaka to pair with Gortat would not be too shabby, either.
At any rate, beyond speculating about Harden and Ibaka, someone will pay the likes of Paul, Josh Smith, Bynum, Harden, Ibaka, and in a lesser tier, for example, Tyreke Evans. All the better for one of those teams to be the Suns! While trades are always an option to clear cap room, having the flexibility to pay an elite player, if Gordon falls through, next year is most desirable for the Suns.
The Phoenix Suns have released their official roster for the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas beginning July 15 through July 21. The team will be head coached by Thunder Dan Majerle with assistants Noel Gillespie and Elvis Valcarcel or Elvis Costello (game-time decision on which Elvis shows up). Below is the roster list via ValleyofTheSuns.com:
# Name Pos Height Weight DOB School EXP
10 Diante Garrett G 6-4 190 11/03/88 Iowa State R
25 Matt Gatens G 6-5 212 06/13/89 Iowa R
54 Matt Howard F 6-8 220 01/23/89 Butler R
16 Akos Keller C 6-9 230 03/28/89 Albacomp, Hungary R
40 Marcus Landry F 6-7 225 11/1/85 Wisconsin 1
23 David Lighty G 6-6 216 5/27/88 Ohio St. R
12 Kendall Marshall G 6-4 195 08/19/91 North Carolina R
14 Tasmin Mitchell F 6-6 235 06/25/86 Louisiana State R
11 Markieff Morris F 6-10 245 09/02/89 Kansas/USA 1
26 Patrick O’Bryant C 7-0 248 06/20/86 Bradley/USA 4
8 Doron Perkins G 6-3 195 05/06/83 Santa Clara/USA R
0 Jacob Pullen G 6-0 187 11/10/89 Kansas State/USA R
32 DeShawn Sims F 6-8 224 01/21/88 Michigan/USA R
2 PJ Tucker F 6-6 224 05/05/85 Texas/USA 1
20 Erving Walker G 5-8 176 1/17/90 Florida/USA R
I personally would enjoy seeing Matt Howard make the team as the last man (i.e. 15th) on the bench. Anyone who doesn’t cheer for Goliath certainly loved him during his time in college at Butler. He isn’t athletic by any means nor is he necessarily skilled. But, I imagine he is a high-energy player who could help increase the intensity and pace of practice on a daily-basis. One day, who knows, he could grow into a poor man’s Psycho T or Loooouuuuuuuu. Worst case, he could be a bench-warming, high-flying, err I mean high-fiving, extraordinaire.
Sure, gawking over which few players (obviously excluding recent 1st rd picks Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall) might be invited to training camp, yet only to be released before the regular season, is fun for fodder. However, in reality, there is only one important outcome from Summer League — to hope the new flavor M&M’s, Morris and Marshall, are not seriously injured. Oh, one other notable consideration is if Morris and Marshall will even be on the Suns roster before Summer League begins. With the pending status of Eric Gordon’s contract and a possible sign and trade between the Hornets and Suns, Morris or Marshall might instead be sporting dark purple, mardi gras gold, and creole blues of New Orleans.
Shocking move. However, the signing of Dragic along with Michael Beasley on a very reasonable contract and potentially Eric Gordon as well (possibly via sign and trade using the picks acquired in the Nash trade) helps to ease the pain. The SSOL-NASH era was doomed ad nauseum from the Joe Johnson injury, trading JJ, the plethora of Amare injuries, The Suspension, the Shaq trade, the Terry Porter hooked on phonics disaster, the Ron Artest put-back / Jason Richardson massive failure to properly box out for the rebound, and on and on. We should have won a title, if not multiple, but we didn’t. As disappointing as it is to see Nash traded to the Lakers, I see two positives:
1. (I preface this statement by believing Nash did nothing wrong by asking to sign with Lakers; his reasons and motives are entirely justified, and he was an unbelievable superstar, unlike any other in the league, for the Suns over the past 8 years!) Nash may actually win a title he rightfully deserves, so he doesn’t fall into the dreaded ‘best players to never win a title’ basement with Barkely, Malone, Stockton, etc. Yes, winning in LA, specifically with the Lakers, absolutely sucks. Nonetheless, I am a Nash fan, not just a Suns fan, and will cheer for his team to win, except when facing the Suns. There I said it.
2. The Suns may pull off a near miracle in a fortnight by adding Gordon, Dragic, Beasley, and a multitude of draft picks depending on the outcome of the signing or S&T of Gordon. A young core of Gordon (23), Dragic (26), Beasley (23), Marshal (20), Morris (22), and Dudley (26) to go along with Gortat (28), Frye (29), and maybe Lopez (23) is not too shabby. Certainly a hell of a lot better than how our prospects looked a few days ago with Nash leaving for nothing.