Phoenix’s future beginning to inspire hope

What do these guys have in common? They're like soon-to-be All-Star big men traded by the Suns this offseason.

What do these guys have in common? They're likely soon-to-be All-Star big men traded by the Suns this offseason.

When I went to dinner Wednesday night, we lived in a world of the Nash-Amare-Shaq Triumvirate, and nobody on Planet Orange seemed to have any clue where this organization was headed.

Not much more 24 hours later, you can see the future of this franchise starting to come together, as the Suns attempt to recreate the new Run-and-Fun Suns in the image of the old Run-and-Fun Suns.

First off with what we know, Shaq is gone, for better or worse. The Suns don’t have his low-post game to bail them out nor his fun-loving attitude to aid team camaraderie, but they are also free of his albatross of a contract and ball-demanding, paint-hogging ways on offense.

A day after ridding themselves of the Shaqtus, the Suns drafted Earl Clark with their lottery pick, the type of versatile talent who can do many of the things Shawn Marion did.

I have written many times during this draft process about how badly the Suns missed that jack-of-all trades defender. The Suns were wowed at how he could bang with the bigs in one breath and then guard a speedster like Brandon Jennings in the next during workouts.

Last year an opposing guard seemed to put up a career high every few games, and eventually Clark will be that stopper who ensures that doesn’t happen anymore.

Oftentimes last season, the Suns just didn’t have the personnel to match up with their opponent on the defensive end.

One of the saddest yet indelible moments of last season that really can be seen as a microcosm for the entire year came in that March home game against Dallas when Dirk went off against Matt Barnes, Grant Hill and anyone else the Suns threw at him.

The Mavs ran the same play over and over again, sending Dirk to the top of the key to isolate, and even though they knew exactly what was coming, the Suns just never could stop him. They were undermanned and thus without a prayer.

Clark brings the length to match up in such situations, and his versatility alone should certainly improve Phoenix’s defense at least a bit.

By trading Shaq and bringing in the Matrix Reloaded (Clark), the Suns are essentially reversing that fateful trade and admitting the errors of the Shaq deal in the first place.

As they say, admission is the first step toward recovery, and there’s no question that this sequence of moves is a great initial step for the Suns.

“We know now we’re not a championship contender,” Kerr said, and how it must hurt to make that true statement. “We love Shaq. He did a great job for us, but things didn’t click. It didn’t work, so we’ve got to move forward, and for us moving forward we’ve got to have cap flexibility, have assets and young players. Shaq with a big contract did not make sense.”

No, it did not. The question now, though, is whether trading Amare makes any sense.

I’ve obviously gone on the record about not wanting such a trade, but this Golden State package involving Andris Biedrins and Stephen Curry is better than anything I thought would be a possibility.

In an ideal world the Suns make a play to extend Amare because I still feel he has the talent to be a top-10 player in this league, but if they have already internally decided they don’t want to build around him (a decision they may have very well possibly already made), then at some point they’ve got to get value for him.

This Golden State deal fits many of the criteria of what the Suns should be looking for, although it’s uncertain exactly whom the deal will include.

Guess which big man is a much better fit for Alvin Gentry's system.

Guess which big man is a much better fit for Alvin Gentry's system. (Reuters/Jeff Topping)

Biedrins is a must for any deal. His $9 mil base-year long-term salary is palatable considering he’d be your building block down low.

He’s young (23), improving and would fit in well with Phoenix’s pace being that he has shown that he can play the running game and rebound while the rest of the team watches in Golden State. He’s also a super shot blocker (1.55 bpg last year), a solid low post player and if only his shot weren’t so damn ugly.

The Warriors’ No. 7 pick Stephen Curry is rumored to be a deal breaker for the Suns, and here’s why I think Amare will be playing by the Bay next season.

ValleyoftheSuns’ Mike Schmitz, reporting from the Suns’ draft headquarters, said he heard screams of joy coming from the team’s war room after Minnesota selected Jonny Flynn sixth, thus leaving Curry to Golden State/Phoenix at No. 7.

The only other time he heard such a yell of excitement came when the Pacers selected Tyler Hansbrough at No. 13, leaving Earl Clark to the Suns. Read into that what you’d like.

On one hand, I would have liked to have seen Amare’s replacement be a similar player in Jordan Hill. I’ve watched J Hill grow up from a freak athlete who wasn’t even that distinguishable in the 2006 Tucson Summer Pro League to a mid-lottery pick, and I would have loved to see him continue his basketball journey firsthand.

As you can see by his selection by the Knicks, he also certainly would have fit into the Suns’ running game.

As for Curry, I’m conflicted on him as well. I will love Stephen Curry the NBA player no matter where he plays because I love net-splashing shooters and I love high basketball IQ guys, and he’s certainly elite on both counts.

I’m just not sure if he’s the heir to Steve Nash’s two-time MVP point guard throne.

Maybe it’s because nobody saw him this year when Davidson didn’t even go dancing whereas the year before he was the two-guard playing next to a solid point so he never handled the ball, but I just see him as a combo guard in the Leandro Barbosa mode.

Why would the Suns duplicate that position? Well, who knows how long LB will be in town at this rate, but you know what I mean.

Watching three-guard lineups with Nash, Curry and LB would be a joy, as it would be with J-Rich in those lineups.

The Suns will be able to play their hybrid lineups with those guys at the guards, J-Rich at the three, Clark as a hybrid four and Biedrins/Lopez at the five. If that isn’t the most exciting team in the league, you’ve got me.

After trying to win the old-fashioned way with the Diesel and failing badly, the Suns have completely reverted back to what made them so fun in the first place.

They have supreme athletes who can play multiple positions, a small ball attack and shooters to space the floor.

They are, once again, the Phoenix Suns if all goes through, with the type of long, athletic players who pushed Nash to MVP heights.

By all accounts, Nash will be around at least next season to lead this group into the new era, although I still wouldn’t recommend signing him to an extension.

I still have my doubts about this deal, and of course it’s not exactly done quite yet being that it can’t be completed until July 8 due to base-compensation issues.

It’s still not certain if the Suns will get an athlete like Brandan Wright or what in the package, so it’s too early to say how the Suns came out in this likely Amare deal.

It would be bittersweet if the Suns were to send off Amare, but this eliminates the disaster scenario of losing him for nothing.

Let’s face it, the Suns were staring an uncertain future in the eye as late as Wednesday evening, and now if all this goes down, they would feature an exciting young core of the future including Curry (21), LB (26) and Goran (23) in the backcourt, and Clark (21), Biedrins (23), Wright (21), Lopez (21), Lou (26) and Dudley (23) up front.

If they let Nash walk after this season (which they should under this plan), they would have gobs of money to throw at an elite 2010 free agent or two, and even more if they could find a taker for J-Rich’s deal.

Even without the 2010 pick, that’s an intriguing young team that many a free agent would find desirous coupled with Phoenix being a city free agents naturally love.

Steve Kerr’s job is far from over, of course, notwithstanding all the strides made in the last day-plus.

But whereas the Suns seemed to be a mediocre veteran team stuck in the past a few hours ago, you can now begin to envision a bright future on the horizon.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

  • N8lol

    Eh…im not so sure. I think you and I are on the same page so I dont need to tell you about why I dont like Amare leaving.

    But I dont see any of these guys as being All-Star potential. Maybe, if its true they let Nash walk, we can land a great free agent. If so, then I am definitely willing to watch this thing out but I hate the idea of letting Nash (of all people) go. The trade for Beans and Curry sounds to me like us basically saying "get out of here Nash, we arent interested anymore." I like clearing space for a 2010 agent, and getting rid of Rich's big contract (which is a must for me) but losing all of our vets? Doesn't sound like run and gun, sounds like crash and burn.

  • Justin B.

    The only Vet the Suns had were REALLY old Vets … Nash, Hill, and Shaq. None of those three had a realistic chance of being around for longer than the next year or two anyway.

  • Justin B.

    Definitely agree! About time the organization started moving forward. Though we just have to hope they don’t do the GS trade and NOT take Curry. That should be a deal-breaker, I think.

  • BoonWatt

    I don't understand what is possibly to gain from keeping Amare Stoudemire. He will give you about 21-25 points per, but what else does he do? It's bad enough that his defense and rebounding are subpar, given his astronimical talent level, but those attributes have gotten WORSE over the last few seasons. He had a career high of 9.6 rpg in 06-07; last year those numbers dropped to 8.1.

    In 07-08 he averaged 2.1 blocks per; last season that number was halved: 1.1. Even when he is blocking shots, he focuses all of his defensive effort on just that and constantly leaves a man open for a dunk or commits a dumb foul.

    Amare has the most fitting nickname in pro sports: STAT – as in the only thing the man's concerned with.

  • DaWall

    It’s funny how bad a job Kerr has done… Getting rid of Stat would just be the final piece of the puzzle to making him the greatest Suns villain of all time. Lets be honest, to be a “Championship caliber team” you generally have to have the best player on the court… (Kobe, Duncan, Wade, Jordan) With rare exception does the team without the best player on the court win a championship… The team we had and currently have may not be championship caliber but if you think that team mentioned in the article is, you are kidding yourself. By bringing Gentry back, Kerr pretty much said we are more interested in putting a fun product on the court than winning championships. And as a lifelong Suns fan I have no problem with that… The truth is by losing Shaq, drafting Green and Clark, and keeping a “healthy” Stat the Suns should return to a 50 win team. The biggest problem last season were style and athleticism issues. See how this season goes and if all goes bad, become a big player in next summer free agent bonanza… Stat and Nash’s contracts will expire leaving the door open for more complete (defensive) players to build the franchise around or to complement Stat and Nash if there is a resurgence. Plus they’ll come into a team with Dragic, Clark, Green, and Griffin that much more experienced with the system and as NBA players…

  • xman

    Word from the Bay is that Curry totally caught the Warriors off guard by being there and that Nelson is in love with him. He indeed could be the deal breaker if Kerr insists on him.

  • abz

    Well, I have to agree with N8lol. If Amare to GSW deal will go thought, PHX will have a young core with no real leader. Look at Portland. They waiting for Oden to heal and lead them. Without him, even with Roy, they are very fun to watch team, but that’s all.
    I think Kerr is doing very lousy job for Phoenix in the past few years and it’s time for the owners to recognize that and give him some less important role in the organization…
    Phoenix should bring an all star cliber for Amare. Think about Bosh, Nowitzki. Both teams can earn from such a deal.
    On the other hand – you can leave Amare and give him max extension and deal Nash back to D’Antoni for Robinson and Jordan Hill for instance.
    Anyway – Please Kerr, please – don’t send us back to the 30 win seasons…

  • cbass

    ya but the suns can be contender probally this yr with amare and the team we have.earl clack is gonna make us so much better

  • Jouf

    I love how everyone bashes Kerr and Robert Sarver gets away with everything. Remember, Sarver is the owner and the one that signs the checks. It is no secret that he was heavily invested in banks and real estate and that he has taken a HUGE hit due to the economic meltdown. Kerr is in an extremely tough position and the Suns are still reeling from the disaster that D’Antoni left behind (AKA we have no 1st rd. pick next year in what is supposed to be a very good draft). There is no way that penny-pinching Sarver will grant Amare a max contract. So we might as well get what we can for him now.

  • xman

    Nelson is in love with Curry. Deal could be off or Nellie is blowing smoke.

  • cbass

    if we dont get curry its a stupid trade anyone feel me