One more run!


Hill, Nash and Co. could smile for once at the end of a game against a playoff team. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

Mr. Sarver, let this be an open plea to see this again next year. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

Because of the NBA Playoffs, the Suns have been relatively safe from the screaming rumors that pervaded the locker room around the Trade Deadline, but rest assured: they will be back.

This summer we’ll hear cries of “trade Shaq!” and “Amare is a headcase!” Here’s my question: why do anything?

At the end of the day, this is a franchise that made some mistakes in the building of the current squad, evidenced by the fact that being a Suns fan today means little more than following Steve Nash’s playoff updates on Facebook and reading about his vacation to Hawaii in early May.

But it appears they have found their coach (when are they going to announce that anyway?) and with the draft upcoming, who knows what the roster could look like next year?

The fact remains, this was not a bad team. It certainly wasn’t very good either, at least for half the year. They finished two games out of the playoffs without Amare for nearly half a season. Tell me that’s not a positive to take out of the season.

Many Suns fans will clamor to dump both Amare and Shaq, get under the cap, try to acquire some youth, and start the rebuilding process immediately. Problem is, Steve Kerr has publicly said he wants to bring Nash back. If he’s not blowing smoke, that is exactly the opposite of what a rebuilding team should do: bring back its 35-year-old point guard with even fewer weapons.

The Suns’ projected salary for next year is just over $62 mil, according to HoopsHype. Keep in mind that is without re-signing Grant Hill and Matt Barnes and doesn’t include any of the guys they’ll draft this summer or any other free-agent signings.

The salary cap was $58 mil last year and is expected by many around the league to drop for next year, meaning the Suns would still be over, as little as $4 mil or as much as in the $10 mil range. That’s still less than the $16 mil they were over this year, all while putting out an underachieving team.

In my opinion, this is a different team under Alvin Gentry, a playoff team given an entire year with Gentry and Amare together. Think the half season of Terry Porter and the other half season sans Amare would have accounted for those two games they were out of the playoffs? You betcha.

And this, folks, is why the Suns should keep their core together.

First of all, good luck finding a suitor for Shaq’s $20 mil contract. You might be able to if Cleveland doesn’t win the Finals or if some other team feels like it’s one veteran piece away. I just don’t see that team personally, and Cleveland has as good a chance as any team left to take home the trophy.

Even if they do find a suitor, what can we expect back? Expiring contracts, likely guys who can’t play, MAYBE a young piece or two. If you’re trading Shaq, though, it’s not about what you’re getting back as much as the financial relief. Obtaining future cogs would be what trading Amare is for.

Let’s say they keep Nash around. What good is that going to be without a player like Amare? There was that rumored deal that Memphis turned down involving Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick, and that’s the only type of value that would make sense to trade Amare for.

Otherwise, I say let’s keep this core together one more year. Let Gentry use Amare to his fullest and keep Shaq as a contingency plan on every possession. Gentry plus Amare equaled two monstrous victories, don’t forget that, no matter who they played.

Worst-case scenario is that it doesn’t work out, and they lose a year that they could have been rebuilding. But even if it doesn’t, that’s over $36 mil coming off the books in the form of Amare and Shaq, assuming Amare bolts after next year. That sounds like prime time to rebuild right there, all while doing it with less drama and staying competitive and relevant one more year.

This is all contingent on Sarver being OK possibly losing money one more year at the benefit of winning some fans back. This IS a playoff basketball team with Nash, Amare and Shaq, and with Gentry at the helm.

In a town that is quickly losing faith in every single one of its sports teams, where the baseball team is cheap, the hockey team is leaving, and the football team is having a tough time staying together after a miracle run, we need this. The Suns can be our feel-good story. They can make a run in the playoffs with this squad if healthy physically and mentally in the locker room, a locker room that spent half a season being diseased.

If Sarver is willing to do this, and even bring back a player who is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite NBA players in Grant Hill, there is a shot. That’s all we can ask for right now after the embarrassment last season brought.

Keep us relevant one more year.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

  • Michael Schmitz

    I agree that we should, for the most part, leave this team in tact. They have tremendous chemistry, and a ton of talent. They are a veteran team that can really score the ball, but the only problem I see is the problem that has haunted this team for the last decade…DEFENSE! When your point guard is the worst defending starting point guard in the NBA and your two big men are arguably two of the worst pick and roll defenders in the league, expect this team to see a healthy diet of Tony Parker Timmy D p-n -r’s. Unless Ro-Lo decides to man up, or we draft an active big, this Suns team could be the good regular season, one and done playoff suns that so often tease us Phoenicians. But hey, a one and done in the playoffs is better than what we had to endure last year, nowhere to go but up!

  • Brandon Haraway

    We got close to the Finals several times with no defense. I’m willing to try again.

  • http://uasports.blogspot.com Michael Schmitz

    True, but also with a much better coach, younger Nash, Joe Johnson, and actually tenacious Amare. I agree with you though, this team does need one more year together, and is arguably more talented than those Mike D teams. I think this group can definitely make some noise.

  • Nate

    You whats interesting about this conversation? This whole time when you have been writing about keeping the team together (you and all the other writers) the big names mentioned are Shaq, Nash, and Amare. It is telling that JRich is not usually on the list of people we are excited to bring back. SO, while I am all for bringing back the team for another run, I would rather do it minus JRich. We need a good trade for a better defensive wing and a big man. We don't need anymore offensive powerhouses and JRich needs the ball too much to really get going in the Suns' system. So sure, bring em back -sans Rich and plus someone else.

  • http://www.twitter.com/arturbm Baguete

    I think J-Rich is part of the future of the franchise, so I dont see him leaving.

    I would love to trade Shaq because of the money and Amare because of his heart. I would love to have Marion back and have Rasheed wearing our colors. But, really, I dont see any of these things happening.

    Kerr will bring everybody back, we will be a #5 seed next playoffs and waste one more year of Nash's life.

    Cheers!

  • Moseph

    Michael Schmitz, they made it within 2 games of the finals without Amare (lost to Mavs). This is D'Antoni's team, and Gentry has been in on that idea since it's conception. The Suns revolutionized the NBA, and I absolutely hate watching Kerr give up on this team.