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 Traditional positions are outdated.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.