2012 NBA Off Season Preview: Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns

2011-2012 Record: 33-33, 3rd in Pacific
Stat Leaders: Marcin Gortat, 15.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg. Steve Nash, 10.7 apg.

Depth Chart

C - Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris
PF - Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick
SF - Josh Childress
SG - Jared Dudley
PG -

Restricted Free Agents: C Robin Lopez
Unrestricted Free Agents: G Steve Nash, GF Grant Hill, GF Shannon Brown, G Ronnie Price, G Sebastian Telfair, G Michael Redd

This guy is simply not human.
The Good: Steve Nash is a superhuman machine. All the 38 year old did this season was average 12.5 ppg, 10.7 apg, 3.5 rpg and shoot 53% from the field and 90% from the free throw line. He has shown no signs of slowing down and is the reason the Suns were not in the running for Anthony Davis services. Other then Nash, you would have to say Marcin Gortat is the teams best player. Phoenix stole him from that bumbling idiot Otis Smith a couple years ago, and he averaged a double double on the season. Jared Dudley, Grant Hill and Channing Frye are nice role players to have on any team. Rookie Markieff Morris looks like a keeper, which is more then the Suns can say about any guy they have drafted since Amare Stoudemire. Alvin Gentry is a good coach who has gotten the most out of his players limited abilities.

The Bad: Those guys are nice role players. The bad thing is they were 3/5 of the starting lineup. You can't make the playoffs with guys like that as your starters. It goes to show how amazing of a job Steve Nash did by leading those players to a .500 record. Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick are being paid as though they should be starters, but both players are coming off of terrible seasons. Childress especially looks like one of the 10 worst players in the NBA. He was decent when he was with the Hawks, I don't know what happened, but he has lost all of his game since returning to the NBA.

Key Free Agents: It starts and ends with Steve Nash. Owner Robert Sarver has always been more interested in making money then winning championships, which is the main reason Nash is ring less. During his "prime" (he still may be in his prime) the team was close, but Sarver would sell off draft picks and trade away young players to save money, and that probably cost the Suns a couple NBA Finals appearances. Nothing has changed with him, and he will probably offer Nash a max contract so they can finish at .500 and sell more tickets because fans would rather come to see Nash play then a rebuilding team. The other free agents are simply bench fodder, though the team might want to hang on to Robin Lopez, who is a decent backup big man.

Projected Cap Space: $27,288,000. The Suns only have six players under contract, but none of those guys are signed to outrageous deals, giving Phoenix a ton of cap space. If Steve Nash resigns Phoenix could be a prime destination for the best free agents on the market. Even if Nash goes elsewhere, it would be hard to pass up the nice weather and great location. The question is whether the Suns will spend their cap space better then they did two years ago, when they blew all of it on marginal players like Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress.

Amnesty Possibilities: The Suns are in great cap shape but can generate even more space by ridding themselves of Josh Childress. The team could really use him for depth purposes but 6.5 million for a guy who offered basically no production and set an NBA record for the most minutes played in a season without a made free throw. The Suns hypothetically could go after two max free agents if they dump Childress.

Free Agent Possibilities: The Suns have the means, the cap space and the destination to go after any free agent on the market. The team is already rumored to be interested in Deron Williams, but I doubt the feeling would be mutual. Even though if they in turn swap Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley and a couple first round picks to the Magic for Dwight Howard, that could entice Williams to move to the desert. The more realistic scenario is the team resigning Aaron Brooks and going after perimeter help. They have the space to add three new starters. OJ Mayo could be hungry to rebuild his NBA career after being phased out of Memphis, and has 20 point per game scoring potential. The team could offer Nicolas Batum quite a lucrative offer sheet, though the Blazers would probably match. Kris Humphries would step right in and provide a very good rebounding and tough front court with Gortat. Goran Dragic could return to where he started his career and really take off as the new starting point guard. If Nash returns the team could just go gung ho for one last title push by signing Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace and Jason Kidd. In summary, they will be in on all of the key free agents, but we won't know what direction Phoenix will go until Steve Nash makes a decision.

Draft Possibilities: Picking 14th in the draft usually won't land you an instant starter, but this is an extremely deep draft, so this pick will be important for Phoenix. Looking at the current roster, it is not hard to see that the team needs back court help, especially a guy who can put the rock in the basket. This looks like a good place for Austin Rivers to come off the board. He might not be a starter in this league, but he would be the leader of the Suns second unit and can have a Jason Terry like impact for Phoenix. He can score the rock, that's for sure. The Suns could take advantage of talented players falling in a very deep draft by taking someone like Terrence Jones, Quincy Miller or Perry Jones. Or they could further improve their front court shooting by pairing Arnett Moultrie with Channing Frye.

Rebuilding, Contending or Status Quo?: I would want to say rebuilding, which the team should be doing, but they will definitely try to resign Steve Nash. If they do, other free agents could make their way to Phoenix and the team could be back in the playoffs next year. This is not a great group for unrestricted free agents, however, and I don't see a guy out there who could make Phoenix instant contenders. I don't think the owner will be satisfied with bottoming out and improving through the draft. If Nash goes expect him to sign four or five average free agents to keep the Suns from losing 60 games a year.

All logos courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net/

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: