Next season, the Phoenix Suns will be an entirely different team than the one you’ve grown used to seeing. After a slow attrition of talent caused by the poor personnel decisions of Robert Sarver, the team’s managing partner, the final tie to the past was cut last Wednesday when Steve Nash requested a trade to the loathed Los Angeles Lakers.
Out are the high character-quality players the Suns have long been famous for (Grant Hill and Nash), and in is Michael Beasley, one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA.
Between getting caught smelling like pot with two women in his hotel room during the rookie symposium, to being forced to enter rehab by the Miami Heat, to getting arrested for marijuana possession in Minnesota, Beasley is a far cry from the prototypical player who has normally donned purple and orange.
Granted, there have been players like Charles Barkley who also weren’t perfect angels either. Some tend to forget that when Barkley was traded to the Suns, he had spit on a little girl and was facing charges for allegedly throwing someone through a window during a bar fight. With that rap sheet, maybe Beasley will work out after all. Maybe he’s is like the second coming of Barkley, minus the talent and charisma, but plus a lot of bad hair.
Then, keeping up with a fine tradition of trading point guards who suddenly blossom in their new surroundings and come back to bite the team in the butt, the Suns re-signed fan favorite Goran Dragic. Fans never wanted Dragic to get traded in the first place, but management did so because they believed it was Aaron Brooks and not Dragic who was going to be the team’s point guard of the future. Brooks played in China all last year, and now Dragic’s back in Phoenix while Brooks might very well head back to Houston. It’s a total redo, except the Suns aren’t going to get back the draft pick they also traded for Brooks.
Not like they would have kept the pick or the player they drafted anyways.
In the team’s biggest move, the Sun made a max offer to Eric Gordon, a feisty, under-sized and injury prone shooting guard who just happens to be a restricted free agent with the New Orleans Hornets, and whom the Hornets said they would match any offer for.
While this will all be decided sometime today, you can put me in the minority of folks who wouldn’t be too devastated if the Hornets matched the offer the Suns gave to Gordon.
Don’t get me wrong, Gordon would be a great addition to Phoenix. He would turn a team that wasn’t going to win a championship or be better than a 9-through-7 seed in the west with Nash, into a team that is not going to win a championship or be better than a 9-though-7 seed in the west with him.
He will also earn a max salary, and will undoubtedly cost the team either a young player (Kendal Marshall or Marfieff Morris), an established player (Channing Frye, Jared Dudley or Maric Gortat, which the Suns will never agree to), and/or some combination of draft picks (and probably more than the picks the Suns acquired from the Lakers), in order to complete a sign-&-trade with New Orleans.
This all seems a lot for a player who only played nine games last season because of a knee injury, and who has never played a full season in his entire NBA career. I know fans want to point to the Suns medical staff and how they worked wonders for Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal (during his short stay), but there’s a difference between occasional good fortune and expecting it every time. I mean, if the Suns medical staff really has the lazarus powers everyone thinks they do, why not go sign Greg Oden as well. With the combination of Oden and Beasley in the mix, the Suns should then sign OJ Mayo and become the All-NBA Draft Bust team. It would be just like that movie “The Replacements.”
All I’m saying is that if the Suns don’t get Gordon, they get to keep their players and picks for next year. Without Gordon, the team will be remarkably bad (instead of just mediocre), and could potentially land a top-five pick in the 2013 draft. Using that pick, along with the pick the Lakers sent over, the Suns could hypothetically turn two picks into a top-3 pick. Then, once the draft’s over, the team could target other restricted free agents who will demand a max salary their respective teams either won’t, or due to financial constraints, can’t meet.
The first of those players would be Tyreke Evans (if he’s not already traded to the Chicago Bulls).
During Evan’s rookie season, he became the fourth player in NBA history to average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The other three players? Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Lebron James.
After that, the Kings drafted DeMarcus Cousins, and didn’t figure out how to maximize one player’s talents without shutting down the other. Because of this, Evans was designated to the end of the King’s bench, where he counted down the days until he could be relocated to Seattle.
The thing is, the former Evans is still in there, he just happens to plays in a system that won’t put him in a position to act like the player he is. Pretty much any offer other than the minimum (knowing how the owners of the Kings do business) would pretty much save Evans from another lackluster year on a lackluster team. That statement is hyperbole, but you catch my drift. He’s attainable.
Evans is not as good as Gordon, but Evans+2013 Top-5 draft pick>Gordon. And probably a little bit cheaper.
The next player potentially available to fill the Suns need at the 2 guard might be one of the most favorite Arizona State University alumni’s ever (that is, if he’s not pretending to be traded to the Hornets).
Oklahoma City would have to be flat-out stupid to not find a way to work things out with the NBA equivalent of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson (it’s the beard, not the insanity). The issue is, with so much money already tied up in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and with big-man Serge Ibaka also facing a possible departure, nobody knows if the Thunder will be able to afford the guy. Both sides are saying they are trying to work out a deal, but if the day comes that Harden hits the restricted market, the Suns should lay out an orange carpet and a purple carpet, and make the Gorilla dress up in a tuxedo and carry Harden across the threshold of the arena.
Since Harden is a restricted free agent, the Suns would probably have to give up a few things in order to keep him, but that is after they have already used the 2013 draft picks. Harden is currently better than any player on the Phoenix roster, and Harden+2013 Top Five pick>Gordon. In fact, Harden>Gordon, flat out. And taller. And less injury prone.
That’s just science.
I know these scenarios are a bit oversimplified, and I know a lot of things can happen between now and next year. With that said, I would remind you that with Nash, the team knew what they had, and with Dragic, Beasley and potentially Gordon, the team doesn’t know what it has, but fans and the front office still seemed to be excited about the potential even though it may only yield the same results as the last attempt. Under that justification, we don’t know what will happen with Evans or Harden or even the Suns when next year comes around, but the potential that is available is still something to get excited over.
All I’m saying is, if the Eric Gordon situation doesn’t work out the way Suns brass and fans were hoping, there are still plenty of similar, and probably cheaper, options available to them.