Where must the Phoenix Suns improve this offseason?


PHOENIX — Wherever you stand on the Steve Nash debate, there’s no debating the Phoenix Suns flat out weren’t good enough this season.

With a 40-42 record that featured bouts of inconsistency throughout the year the Suns can point to many areas in which they need to improve, from the need for a go-to scorer to the necessity of defensive improvement.

Below many key figures in the organization pinpoint where improvement must be made, all working under the assumption that Nash will be back and full-on rebuilding will be postponed:

Head Coach Alvin Gentry: “Obviously we need to make some changes and add some pieces. Obviously we like some of the pieces that we added, and we also need to add some additional pieces. We’ve obviously got to get a little bit better from the standpoint of being able to have a go-to guy where we don’t count on Steve to create every play at the end of the game and to make every shot in situations like that, so that’s something that we have to look at.

“I think we have to get better overall size-wise. If we add size it has to be good players. We just can’t add size to be adding size, so that’s one of the areas that I think we need to get a little better in, and then we have to continue to get better defensively. I was a little bit disappointed this year because I thought we took a step back from where we were last year defensively, and we’ve just got to get better in this area.”

President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby: “I think they are somewhat obvious. We need a complement to Channing up front. I think he had a wonderful year, I think he made great progress. We need probably more scoring on the wings, a go-to player, someone we can throw the ball to whether that’s on the post or a wing player who can get us a basket down the stretch. But I would say first and foremost if you ask me what the top priority as we evaluate our team this season, we have to get better defensively.”

Point Guard Steve Nash: “Obviously we weren’t good enough this year so there’s probably going to have to be some changes made. … I like our starting lineup, but you have to have a bench, and you have to have a formidable bench in the West. We need more depth, and whether those guys start or come off the bench it’s not important, it’s just a matter of if we have two good units.”

Guard Jared Dudley: “You always need bigs. Bigs win in this league with size, shot blocking, for defensive purposes and rebounding, so that’s probably something they’ll probably look into. … If you look at every playoff team the one thing in common is the bigs. It’s always key, you can never have too many bigs. Obviously whatever they do I’m always 100 percent behind it, but I think personally everybody’s got to take it upon themselves to get better, come back with an improved game.”

Center Marcin Gortat: “Next year we’re going to go through the training camp we’ll be a better team. I also believe we have to become a more physical team. We have to be more physical, we have to be in a greater shape if we’re really thinking about making playoffs.”

As for my evaluation, first off the Suns need to decide what direction they are taking regarding Nash.

If Nash leaves, your only definites are Gortat as the starting center and Dudley and Channing Frye playing some sort of role on the team.

This scenario is tough to project because the Suns would have so many needs in the immediate aftermath, some of which would be filled by the assets acquired in such a trade, and then the likely smart move would be to play for a 2012 makeover when Babby will have time to find loopholes in the new CBA, cap space could be plentiful in Phoenix and the draft will be much stronger than it is this season.

If Nash stays the immediate need would be for a go-to scorer at either the shooting guard or power forward position and perhaps a defensive standout role player. Gentry voiced the need to acquire an impact scorer as well as better defensive players, and that will be tough with not many players fitting both bills, especially among players who would be available to Phoenix.

Perhaps the only good news concerning missing the playoffs is the fact the Suns will have lots of time now to ponder such scenarios that will lead to improvement.

And 1

Grant Hill finished seventh in Defensive Player of the Year voting, receiving one first-place vote, seven seconds and four thirds. As Paul Coro writes, this bodes well for his chances of making an All-Defensive Team since he got the second-most votes of all forwards and most for a small forward, just edging out Andre Iguodala and LeBron James.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I think it’s pretty simple by now. Two directions really.

    KEEP STEVE NASH –

    Gortat, JMZ, Frye MUST remain. Do whatever it takes to find a dynamic offensive force to compliment Nash.
    Monta? Iggy? Love? Granger?

    Do any of them seem likely? Is Granger even that good? It’s going to be so freakin hard to get what a Nash-driven team will need without losing Nash.

    DEAL STEVE NASH –

    Gortat, JMZ, Frye MUST remain! (SAME CORE SMASH!!!)

    Use every other player that has value to improve assets to either use or to strong-arm a pick-happy GM, (KAHNNNNNNN!) into a Love deal or something along the lines of that multi-team deal I talked about previously and build the rest through the draft.

    I have a feeling that Nash will remain.

    I don’t feel good about the team’s future if that is the case, especially if he isn’t, (or doesn’t want to be), extended unless he’s used mid-year as an expiring and if that’s the case, may as well move him now.

  • Auggie5000

    ? <– thats all we have

  • DangerousDave

    Please get Beasley. Teams should have seen him coming for the last 2 years.

  • Steve

    I really hope Hill gets first-team defensive honors. He deserves the honor and recognition. 38 years old and he can still d up Durant and Kobe.

  • Do

    We need someone Nash can lob the ball to for alley-oops. So much of our ’04-’07 success came from us getting easy baskets when Nash can lob the ball to a back-door Marion for easy dunks. This season? How often have the suns scored on lob feeds? After losing Richardson, I’m not sure I’ve even seen an alley-oop once.

  • Penny And1

    Those who want Steve Nash to leave, because they want him to get a ring in another team capable of winning the championship, are bunch of losers. That way of winning, is a losers way out and Nash knows that. That’s why he’s a true champion cause he wants to earn it the hard & right way.

    Nash wants to stay, let him stay! He deserves it. It doesn’t mean they can’t win without him, cause they can if they just fill up the holes. I’d rather have a genius & experienced player leading the team, rather than an upcoming rookie.

    Every team needs a veteran. and I like Nash to be that veteran for the suns, along with Hill. Trust me, trading Nash isn’t going to solve anything, it might even make it worst.

    Even an athletic group, like when the suns had Marbury, Joe Johnson, Stoudamire, Marion were struggling to make .500. Do you know why? becauce they don’t know how to play together. Nash is very valuable when it comes to chemistry. Nash is that glue.

  • Penny And1

    Magic needed Kareem
    Jordan needed Pippen
    Hakeem needed Drexler
    Bryant needed O’neal
    Duncan needed Gino/Parker

    Nash needs a partner like
    Stockton Malone
    Payton Kemp
    Johnson Barkley

    I say get Kevin Love playing alongside Gortat & get Beasley to compliment Frye

  • TRX

    Right. Get a player who plays barely average defence in Kevin Love and another player who doesn’t like playing defence at all and needs a ton of shots to stay engaged in the game in Beasly. Fantastic idea.

  • Mike Lee

    The idea of trading Steve Nash is ludicrous. There is no way we’d get anything or anybody worth having. Stupid idea.

  • Steve

    You’re right Mike. It’s so simple. We should just we can’t get anything for Nash and not even try. I wish I had thought of that first.

  • Nick

    Beasley is inefficient which is why the wolves are not that eager to extend his contract.

  • Penny And1

    @TRX,
    if you didn’t know, suns struggled all year with rebounds. Love is a freak in rebounding plus he can score. Maybe Beasley is inefficient, I’m not really sure about Beasley, it’s just that he reminds me of Jason Richardson when he gets on fire.

    @Steve,
    Suns can rebuild with Nash you know. Just because Nash is still around doesn’t mean they can’t rebuild. Nash is a good mentor to any young player. Did you not hear? Most, if not every player, that plays with Nash improves statistically.

    Believe me you’ll have a boring, brain scratching, and stupid games without Nash.

  • http://www.twitter.com/arturbm Artur Mascarenhas

    I like the idea of bringing Kevin Love but I dont see it happening.

    I see Iguodala as the most palatable star we can bring to Phoenix. He is an all-around star, good perimeter defender with a good offensive arsenal.

    I dont think Beasley would be good for the team’s chemistry and the Suns proved to be kinda too much chemistry-sensitive in the past years. Ditto for Josh Smith, as much as I would love to see him playing with Nash.

    Tons of question marks surronding tons of possibilities. Tough time to be a Suns fan!

  • ZeroWolf88

    A realistic way for the suns to turn it around next year is draft Donatas Motiejunas and trade pietrus,lopez and carters expiring contract for stephen jackson.If we cant get donatas draft alec burk and try to trade for boris diaw or milsap

  • Lloyd

    I would trade Robin Lopez right now. He is big, and only 23 years old–because of that, he may still have some decent trade value.

    Another season like this past one, and Lopez may bring nothing in a trade.

    Also, because of his age, Nash will continue to miss more and more games. The Suns need to explore what he will bring in a trade.

    Keep Gortat (a potential top three center) Frye (just beginning to tap his potential) and Dudley (a role player that all championship teams need), and get the rebuilding process underway.

  • Lloyd

    To bring in Kevin Love would be awesome. With Gortat and Love doing the rebounding, there would very few left.

    I don’t see the Suns as being able to put together a package for Love though.

  • Buffalo

    I say take a chance on Michael Redd and Greg Oden. They might be able to surprise on a new team and in new environment. Making a blockbuster trade for star is not likely considering that Sarver is penny pincher.

  • Steve

    If Sarver is a penny pencher, why did he sign Shaq, who was the highest paid player in the NBA at the time?

    Get some knowledge, people. Sarver always has the Suns right around 12-15 in payroll. He’s not nearly the cheapest owner in the NBA, and he has been paying luxury tax every year up until this one, I believe.

  • Momochi Sandayu

    I really like the idea of grabbing Greg Oden for maybe 4 or 5 mil a season. He could be a backup for Gortat, and if any training staff in the league can keep him as fit and safe as possible it would be ours.

    Our training department alone may be a big enough seeling point for him to sign a 2 or 3 year deal here to get some actual time on the court, and make a name for himself.