Should the Suns gamble on a post-hype sleeper?

Gerald Green is still a 23-year old with loads of potential. The Suns could use a small forward, why not take a flier on Green?

Gerald Green is still a 23-year-old with loads of potential. The Suns could use a small forward, so why not take a flier on Green?

The moment July 1 arrived, NBA teams were running from agent to agent in hopes of landing “their guy” via free agency.  Ben Gordon found a home in Detroit, Ron Artest is now part of Laker Nation, Hedo Turkoglu chose Toronto, and Trevor Ariza is in H-Town.

While all of the NBA powerhouses are continually improving, the Suns are still spectators. As the franchise weighs out its options regarding Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Jason Richardson, quality players are being signed.  The Suns certainly do not have the money to go after a Lamar Odom, Marvin Williams, or David Lee, but there are some players that the Suns can get without damaging Sarver’s bank account any further.

I have talked about some big men on the free agent market that the Suns could afford, and now it’s time to address another position of need: small forward.

As it seems more and more likely that Grant Hill opts for Boston or Cleveland, the Suns will be thin at small forward.  Yes, Earl Clark can play some three, Jared Dudley can play some three, and even Jason Richardson could play some three. But the Suns need some more depth at the position, preferably someone who can defend.

The 2009 free agents do seem a little top heavy, but when you dig down deep into the teeth of the talent pool, there are some hidden gems.  The Suns need a player about 6-6 or 6-7 who has the skill set to play up-tempo and the athleticism and toughness to defend.  It is apparent that there are a handful of players that not only fit that bill, but have some potential as well.

These players are best known as the “post-hype sleepers.” Post-hype sleepers are players that were highly regarded coming into the league but struggled early in their careers.  Usually after some more experience and a change of scenery, the post-hype sleeper performs at the level that he was expected to perform at initially.

The affordable “post-hype sleeper” swingmen who give the Suns what they need are as follows:

Gerald Green – SF – 6-8, 200 – Going into the 2005 NBA Draft, Green was one of the most highly-touted prospects around.  He was considered a lock to go in the top five, but because he refused to work out for any teams outside of the top six he slipped to the 18th pick, where the Celtics selected him.

He was the top high school prospect when he declared for the draft.  He won the ABCD All-Star Camp MVP and the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Contest.  His athleticism is unquestioned (39-inch vertical), but his offensive game remains a bit unpolished.  He has great size and length – 6-8 with a 6-10 wingspan – that coupled with his athleticism could make him a terrific defender.

Green has already been on four different teams in five seasons in the NBA, but maybe that is the experience that he needed.  He made a name for himself when he won the dunk contest in 2007, but has done little to further his game. Hopefully he has grown from the seemingly invincible high school kid to an NBA professional.

Regardless of his lack of success in the league, Green’s potential and athleticism alone would be enough for the Suns to take a flier on him.  Now that he has a couple of years under his belt, he could step in and play quality minutes for Alvin Gentry next season.

He loves to get out and run and has the ability to knock down the open three and get to the hole.  His length and size would allow him to guard an array of positions.

Gerald Green is the definition of a post-hype sleeper.  People view him as a complete bust, but they forget that he is still only 23 years old. If the Suns are able to sign Green for a couple million dollars, they could not only be getting a serviceable player for next season, but also a young player who fits into the future plans.


Rodney Carney – SF – 6-7, 215 - Carney, like Green, has the physical tools to be a star in the NBA. He has good size and length – 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan – and unbelievable athleticism with a 38.5-inch vert. Carney was a stud at Memphis averaging 17.2 ppg his senior season.

Carney was drafted 16th overall by the Bulls but was traded to the Sixers for Thabo Sefalosha. After two decent years in Philadelphia (6.6 ppg and 5.8 ppg), Carney was shipped to Minnesota for a trade exception.  Last year with Minnesota, Carney averaged 7.2 ppg in 17 minutes.

Carney has yet to reach his maximum potential in the NBA, but he has proven he can score the ball.  He would be a great fit in Gentry’s Seven Seconds or Less scheme, as he thrives in transition and at times can be deadly from three.

He is a lot like Matt Barnes.  He is a long and athletic slashing three-point shooter who has the tools to guard multiple positions.  Like Barnes, he lacks a mid-range game and is very inconsistent.

But he loves to run the floor and is a great finisher in transition. Sounds like a Suns player to me.

Carney is young enough at 25 and talented enough to warrant a roster spot on the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns.  Who knows, a change of scenery could finally allow Carney to reach his full potential.


Joey Graham – SF- 6-7, 230 – Although Green and Carney have far more upside than Joey Graham, Graham is the type of hard-nosed player the Suns need. Since he was drafted 16th overall by the Raptors, Graham has been known as a defensive specialist in the NBA.

He is one of the strongest players at his position in the NBA, with 26 bench press reps at the 2005 combine.  He also has the athleticism to go along with his big body, iwith a 36-inch vert.  Graham is just a hard worker who can guard power forwards as well as shooting guards.

Graham averaged 17.7 ppg his senior season at Oklahoma State, but his four seasons in the NBA have proven that his offensive game is very limited. He is a good finisher and slasher, but his range ends at around 18 feet. He operates effectively from the post, and his pullup jumper is above average.

Yes Graham is not as exciting as Green and Carney, but for the right price, his defense and toughness would be a great addition to the Phoenix Suns.


Other names to consider:

Desmond Mason

Anthony Parker (probably too expensive)

Kareem Rush

Marquis Daniels

Von Wafer

  • Kevin B

    Have you heard anything about Channing Frye signing with the Suns?

  • Mike Schmitz

    A poster on with a supposed “inside source” said that the Suns and Frye are going to agree to a deal. But that was two nights ago and I haven’t heard about it from any other places. So as of now there is no agreement, but they could reach a deal in the near future.

  • jay thatch

    this is exactly what the suns need. a role player who can fill in the holes (defence) our stars leave (nash/amare). of the three grahm seems to fit this bill the best. being a true suns fan, I still have hope they can pull off a championship. maybe a good mix of role/young players around the forementioned stars could create something special for a season, and catch lightning in a bottle before everyone bolts.

  • jt

    wowif we get Chandler for Ben Wallace that'd be great plus if we sign Marion with the MLE plus if we can get Green or Carney for the minimum plus Channing Frye..I think this team would be able to compete and would still have a lot of youth in its core..Green would be very good in our system

  • N8lol

    Some people have been talking about this and I wonder what you think. Marion, since he wont take the Rapts offer, is free. MLE for a year for Marion? Its partially works because it bumps his stats back up playing with Nash but also gives him a chance at playing for a contender because we definitely are if we have Amare, Nash, Rich, Chandler, Marion…

  • Michael Schwartz

    Oh man, oh man, oh man, Nate. I have been thinking about that very same possibility, especially after his deal with Toronto fell through after they signed Turkoglu. At this point I’d say it’s fairly doubtful because A. The Suns aren’t planning on paying the full MLE and B. He had his issues with STAT, etc., before so why would he come back? It also would be a 100 percent admission of the Shaq trade being retarded. However, Nash-Rich-Marion-Amare-Chandler really might be their best starting five plus a solid, versatile bench. It would cancel out all the savings of the Shaq trade, but I would LOVE this possibility!

  • azFans

    I like Carney. Seems like a perfect fit for our system. I know the Suns like him a few years ago in the draft as well…

  • karey wright

    i been a fan since tha 90′s they need to keep amare and get another big man add some shooters find a backup point guard they will be ok

  • Rob

    I really like those suggestions. Adding one of those guys, plus another big man, depending on what happens with Amare and Wallace of course, could yield a playoff team, assuming Nash is around. Of those 3, I think Graham helps the team most in the short term, we can never have enough defense. Its too bad our financial situation is so bad an we will be limited to a 13 man roster with Griffin likely as the 13th man. The team would be well served to have a couple guys in the pipeline in D league in the likely event of injuries, rather than having to scramble for 10 day contracts.

  • D. Hayden

    Oh man if we could get Marion back and add Chandler we could win it all for real. We would be stacked with bench players to fill the void when the starters go. Just a bit scared of dragic though he needs to step up more.

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