Home is where the heart is for Channing Frye

Even though he opted out of the final year of his contract to test the 2010 free agent market, it didn’t take long for recently re-signed Phoenix Suns big man Channing Frye to realize where he belonged.

“I was in Hawaii with coach (Lute) Olson and everybody. I was like ‘Coach, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I want to go back home,’ and he was like, ‘Well, I’ll try to see you when you play the Suns,’” Frye said during a Friday morning press conference.

“You know just a little comment like that I was like, ‘Man, I can’t even drive down to Tucson or I can’t go to the church I go to,’ and there’s just different things that played into being like, ‘You know what, we have to get this deal done.’”

And Frye and the Suns wasted no time bringing the native Phoenician back home to the team that brought life back to his career, as they agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal less than 24 hours into free agency.

Although he received serious interest from a couple of teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers who offered him their entire mid-level exception, Frye quickly realized that the situation in Phoenix was just too good to be true.

He grew up in Phoenix, won a state championship with St. Mary’s High School, was a star at the University of Arizona, and transformed into one of the best shooting big men in the league as a Sun last year, knocking down over 200 threes in the regular season and playoffs combined.

As Frye said the day after the Suns were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers, “Why wouldn’t I want to be back?”

“This is just overwhelmingly the right place for me to be,” Frye said Friday. “I can’t tell you how happy it is to be back home in the heat and get to deal with 111 degree weather for another couple of years.”

Lesser players like Drew Gooden and Amir Johnson netted larger deals prior to Frye agreeing to his, but Channing made it clear that none of that mattered to him. A laid-back Frye said that he wasn’t going to let Gooden and Johnson’s contracts impact his asking price.

He wanted to be in Phoenix, the Suns wanted him in purple and orange, and even with the absence of Amare Stoudemire, Frye is confident that they will surprise some people.

“I think people shouldn’t underestimate Robin (Lopez), people shouldn’t underestimate me or the will of this team,” Frye said. “We still have Steve Nash, we still have Alvin Gentry, we still got Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley, Leandro (Barbosa), Goran (Dragic), myself so we’ve got a pretty good team still.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of growth from a lot of young guys. It’s moving on to a new era of Suns basketball and I’m just happy to be a part of it for a long time.”

Chaning Fyre talks about …

Going through the free agency process: “I watched that LeBron thing. He likes that kind of stuff, I hate free agency. I think the biggest thing was I just wanted to be somewhere for a long time … There’s no way that free agency is fun. It’s just not fun so for me. I don’t have to deal with it for another five years so I’m good to go.”

Losing Amare to the Knicks: “You know we lose a great guy who’s done a lot for the Suns, but I think at the same time we’ve got some guys that people don’t pay attention to, and those are the kind that are most dangerous guys because what do you expect from us? Probably nothing. So hey, anything past nothing we’re going to be successful like last year. We like being the underdogs.”

How he needs to change his game with Amare gone: “Luckily for me I didn’t do anything that he did kind of except rebound and play defense. For me it’s just picking up the intensity. I think Amare brought the intensity and that passion for the game. So for me just being a little bit more emotional, especially during the regular season and making sure that I stay on the glass.  I think at the end of the year I started rebounding better. And another thing it’s just picking it up on defense, maybe blocking some more shots and being more aggressive.”

Hakim Warrick: “I’ve actually known Hakim since we were like 17, 18 years old so I’ve played with him before. He’s another skilled guy with just freaky athleticism. He’s going to bring little things to the team. He can shoot, he can run, he can definitely finish around the basket. I think he’s a tough cover because of his length. He’s great on the offensive glass so for us he’s going to bring that athleticism that maybe Lou, depending on what happens with him, and you know with Amare. He’s not Amare. He’s not going to be anybody else that you’ve probably ever seen. He’s a unique kind of player and he’s exciting to watch so just give him a chance before you write us all off.”

What he needs to improve: “I would just kind of say from last year just being more explosive probably. You guys saw at the end of the year that one-dribble pull-up, putting the ball on the ground, just being able to, one or two dribbles now and definitely work on my post game a little bit. I think my face up jumper is kind of my thing, just being able to develop some counter moves to that. Just working with the trainers that we have here to get stronger, faster, quicker, more explosive I think is another thing I can do. You know, work on my athleticism.”

How much interest he got from other teams: “I thought we had about as much interest as I thought there’d be. The crazy thing was, everybody was like we like you a lot but we are just going to give 98 percent of our attention to the big five guys. Everybody was just waiting kind of twiddling their thumbs until LeBron and D-Wade and Chris Bosh and Boozer and those guys. But Phoenix was adamant about getting a deal done and I was like, ‘Hey, you want me you that bad and I want to be back that bad, there can’t be nothing wrong with that.’”

Whether or not he thought Amare would return: “I didn’t know what to expect, man. Who would have thought LeBron would have went to Miami. Who knows about this free agency? We had kind of a — I don’t know if this is legal — but we had a free agency pool of like where people would go and I was really wrong. I was very wrong. It’s just such a weird free agency. I think we witnessed history. For me I was like, who knows what’s going to happen. I would have never guessed that STAT would have left, but you know hey, he had to go where he had to go.”

Tags: Channing Frye

  • Ace

    I am hoping Steve goes to the Heat once his contract expires next season. Sarver needs to take notes from Pat on how to be an owner and a GM. I think that Stern planned this entire fiasco as well as last season’s final in order to increase the league’s revenue. Boston Celtic’s are going to turn back into a decent franchise and Stern realizes that the Lakers are going to need a NEW challenge in the east, Enter Miami Heat. I see Nash and CP3 joining the Heat in the 2012-2013 season. Nash needs a ring and doesn’t have time to be rebuilding a franchise at this time.

  • Bob

    Good to see Channing not just say “Shoot more threes” or “Shoot threes from farther away” when asked how to improve.

  • MKM

    You think too much … Steve will retire as the best Suns player ever and pass the torch to Goran.

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  • Mel.

    There’s nothing more antithetical to Steve Nash’s character as a player and individual than the notion of him going for a late-career ring grab.

    He had that chance. He could have gone to the Bulls, the Mavs, the Thunder or any one of a number of teams with buying power and young talent, but he stuck with the Suns. It’d be naive to suggest that he magically assumed Amar’e would have the same hometown patriotism; what Steve did, he did because he’s a guy who actually plays for a TEAM, and not a paystub.

  • Todd

    Nash seems to be a great guy and is my favorite player, but he bolted Dallas and left Dirk (godfather of his kids) when PHX dangled more money. Amare pretty much did the same thing, except PHX was on the losing side. It's silly to suggest that Nash is somehow "above" it, given his history.

    I'm glad he's staying, although I would love to see him win a championship, and it seems unlikely that he'll get that chance, here.

  • Todd

    Mel, clearly you need to swap notes with a Dallas Mavericks fan.

  • Mel.

    Erm. Okay.

    What’s the party line I’d be preaching if I were a Mavs fan? “Nash blew town for ‘greener pastures’ and all we got out of it was Jason Kidd and Dirk?”

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