Friday's signings should make this year fun

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For weeks we debated all kinds of crazy scenarios for the Suns this offseason, but now it appears as if the least earthshaking one has come to fruition.

That is, unless the Suns still have something earthshaking up their sleeve.

But for all intents and purposes, it looks like the Suns’ offseason began and ended on Friday, when they hauled in Grant Hill and Channing Frye and appeared to be close to a long-term contract extension with Steve Nash.

First off, Hill doesn’t have to worry about losing the deposit on his daughter’s private school (which he put down before the season ended). He will likely be a Sun for the rest of his career.

For 2009-10, this is the best news the Suns could have gotten, making them a team that matters, according to Henry Abbott, and one that should make us not completely regret that OKC owns their first-round pick.

After making no real attempt to reel in the Matrix, the Suns would have been small forward-less had Hill gone to the East. At 37, he should still be a reliable player next year, especially considering all the games his legs never grinded through during his injury years.

However, the $3.24 million player option for a 38-year-old Hill next year might not be ideal for a Suns team that really needs to be more than thinking about rebuilding a year from now. That’s $3.24 million less dollars that they can clear for a potential free agency splash that can help them long into the future.

Didn’t the Suns not trade for Chandler so they’d have cap room next offseason?

Combined with the signing of Frye, I feel this makes the Suns a 2009-10 playoff team. Probably a team in the bottom half of the playoff bracket, but a playoff team nonetheless, and that’s not something you could necessarily say when you woke up Friday morning.

Speaking of Frye, besides the fact that I am a UA homer, he was the big man I was really hoping the Suns would sign all offseason.

Of all the bigs available, Frye brings the best combination of youth, affordability and fit in the system. It doesn’t hurt that Channing played his high school ball a few miles up the road from US Airways Center.

Like we saw with Matt Barnes last year, many players believe they can boost their value in a big way playing next to Steve Nash in the Suns’ up-and-down system. Frye fits Phoenix perfectly in that he’s a mobile big man with a soft shooting stroke.

True, he averaged only 4.2 and 2.2 last year and 8.2 and 4.6 for his career, but after playing in a cesspool in New York and behind a logjam in Portland, I really feel like Channing’s finally getting his first real chance to prove himself as a legit NBA player. If he doesn’t develop here at 26, he never will.

He won’t ever seemingly singlehandedly beat teams like the Lakers like the Big You Know Who, but he also won’t get in anyone’s way or talk about needing touches every time he has a good game.

Although Suns fans will certainly miss having the Big Twitterer around, Phoenix fans will instead be treated to an accomplished blogger in Frye.

Frye is “glad to be with the Phoenix Suns!” according to the blog. Peruse the archives a bit, particularly the funny category. Crazy stuff.

Channing is also the NBA player who famously made the list of the top sweaters in the league. And wouldn’t you know it, the Shaq Daddy himself came in at No. 2 with Frye bringing up the rear on his own list at No. 5.

OK, so the Suns certainly are replacing a character in the middle with another character in the middle (albeit one not so loud on the national stage) and a big sweater with another big sweater. But what does this mean big picture?

First off, the Suns will still be very fun to watch next year. You could say they were going to be fun no matter what with the style they play, but at least now they have the horses to win a few games while they’re at it.

Phoenix also figures to be done for the offseason with the potential buyout of Big Ben. Kind of disappointing the Suns didn’t want to pull the trigger on a Chandler deal, but the frontcourt would have really been crowded with Frye in the picture now. Still, it would have been nice to get something more than $18 million for Shaq (unless Sarver plans on passing on those savings to the fans of course).

We know that the Suns will likely be running out a starting five of Nash-J-Rich-Hill-Amare-Frye/Lopez. All five of those players excel in the transition game and will be pulling the same way at all times (unlike last year).

More importantly the Suns will be featuring a bench of Dragic-LB-Dudley-Clark-Lou-Lopez/Frye. I consider all 11 of those players potential rotation guys. I can’t remember ever thinking of Suns depth past eight.

Of course, not all 11 will play, but this team is deeper than any of the Suns’ glory teams. One of the biggest complaints about D’Antoni always was his inability to develop a bench. Check that off the list heading into next year.

While the elites of the NBA made big moves, the Suns’ offseason improvements made barely a whimper outside the Valley.

Grant Hill is too old, Earl Clark is too young and Channing Frye averaged 4 and 2 last year.

All that is true, but just like in 2005-06 when Amare went down, the Suns have the look of a Little Engine That Could team, a squad that plays better than the sum of its parts.

We aren’t talking about the Nash-Amare-Shaq Triumvirate but instead a deep team committed to enforcing its style and making basketball fun again.

So while you shouldn’t expect any ads involving the NBA championship trophy trying to find its way to Phoenix this year, Suns fans should be in for a hell of a fun ride nonetheless.

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