The 2009-10 Phoenix Suns were a special team that shared a special chemistry and relied on contributions from all 10 of their rotation players to finish as one of the best teams in the NBA last season.
Although Lou Amundson played less minutes than any of Phoenix’s nine other regulars, he was an essential part of the Suns’ second unit, often turning games with his sheer energy and hustle alone. Lou fit the second unit’s defense and energy approach perfectly, carving out a role as the bench’s ace rebounder and shot blocker.
The 2009-10 Suns would not have been the 2009-10 Suns without Lou, but the honest truth (which most fans don’t want to hear) is that the 2010-11 Suns have moved on and Lou Amundson does not appear to be in their plans.
Really it comes down to simple math. At this point the Suns have reached the roster minimum of 13 players, and at least 10 of them deserve rotation minutes. Beyond that, power forwards Earl Clark and Gani Lawal are capable of providing a few quality minutes at Lou’s backup four spot.
As much as the Suns could use a rebounder and defender like Amundson, the minutes just aren’t there. This season will be difficult enough on Alvin Gentry in terms of doling out time, the last thing he needs is another player to share a piece of that pie.
I feel Amundson’s departure was foretold the minute the Suns signed Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick in the wake of Amare Stoudemire’s departure to New York. At that point the Suns may have still had minutes left to dole out at the four, but they needed more scoring punch in place of Amare and bringing back Lou to round out the front court would have left Phoenix a bit anemic up front.
At the time this was doubly true because Amundson (and the Suns really) couldn’t have predicted that Lou’s market would bottom out. We are almost a month and a half into the free agency signing period and Amundson is still floating around the market.
At this point most teams have spent most of their money and few holes are left to be filled. It’s very possible Amundson will have to take a minimum or near-minimum short-term deal.
If the Suns had known there would be no market for Louuuuuuuu back at the beginning of July, perhaps that would have changed their offseason priorities. Clearly they didn’t want to pay even Warrick money to a guy with Lou’s offensive deficiencies, but when they had a spot he may have been worth it for more than the price he will likely command at this point.
Everything I have written thus far is fairly obvious in my opinion, but the reason I think this subject is worthy of a post is because of the fervent backing of re-signing Lou from the Suns fan base.
My boss at Vertical Measures Arnie Kuenn tweeted at me the other day: “I think you should start a rally to save LOUUUUUUUUUUUU! Let’s do something for the fans!” This was retweeted by a couple other Suns fans.
On an article last week that had absolutely nothing to do with Lou (it was on the Suns’ preseason schedule), commenter Bob B posed the question: “Any chance of the Suns keeping Amundson?”
When I replied with a shortened version of this article, commenter Public Notice observed, “This is the saddest thing that I have read in a long time,” and commenter Zane added, “I can’t believe we probably won’t have Lou, he is one of my favorite players and he adds energy to the team.”
I understand how much of a fan favorite Lou was, but I found all of this outpouring of support for Amundson odd considering the fact that in my mind there’s no question that it doesn’t make sense to re-sign Lou, as much as his rebounding and energy could be an asset next season.
Although the fans may want Lou back, the Suns have to do what’s best for the team and adding another player without a low post game to eat up minutes at the four spot isn’t fair to Lou or any of the rotation players currently on the roster.
This fan infatuation with Louuuuuuu is understandable since he defines hustle, wears a ponytail and used to ride a bike to work. I get it and in a perfect world Lou Amundson would be back with the Phoenix Suns next year.
But I think at this point Suns fans should wish Lou the best, hope he gets a decent contract in a good situation and just understand that it doesn’t make sense for the Suns to bring Lou Amundson back at this point in the summer.