ESPN's 5-on-5 paints gloomy picture of Phoenix Suns future

ESPN’s 5-on-5 series featured a look at the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday that will depress most any Suns fan.

I was joined by Scout Inc’s David Thorpe and TrueHoop Network colleagues Rahat Huq, Beckley Mason and Rob Mahoney for a five-pack of questions on the immediate and distant future on Planet Orange. They are as follows:

1. Fact or Fiction: Phoenix should trade Steve Nash.

All of us but Beckley agreed that the Suns should make a Steve Nash trade.

Beckley countered: “It’s not like owner Robert Sarver tricked him into re-signing; Nash knew management was cheap. He’s still a top-15 player — you don’t give him away for pretty good parts.”

Thorpe would switch to the fiction side if the Suns add star talent, and I’m with him in that regard.

Otherwise, as I argue in the above video, it just makes more sense to start playing for a quick rebuild with 2012 cap space and the potential of the 2012 draft class. Rahat agrees with that line of thinking as he’s “a firm believer that a team must first hit rock bottom before again reclaiming a place near the top.”

2. Should Marcin Gortat or Robin Lopez start at center?

This was the easiest question for me to answer, and Gortat rightly won in a landslide. Only Rahat went with Lopez, and even that was part of a grand plan to deal Marcin for prospects.

Thorpe feels The Polish Hammer is one of the league’s most underrated players and Beckley lauded him for being an “athletic finisher” and “active rebounder” whereas “Lopez has a well-earned reputation for being tall and having likable hair, but he’s really not that good.”

I feel Gortat is the most promising piece in the post-Nash future whereas unless Lopez proves 2010-11 was an aberration I’m not sure if he’s part of the future at all.

3. Fact or Fiction: Aaron Brooks is the PG of the future.

Another easy question for me that was unanimous across the board as we all agree Aaron Brooks should not be the Suns’ point guard of the future.

Thorpe sees AB as a mini version of Bobby Jackson in the “supersonic scoring combo guard” mold. Mahoney writes that “he’s a solid piece in a complementary role, but a building block he is not.” Beckley notes that “Brooks looks and runs like he could be from a distant future in which man has evolved to move at incredible speeds and bear giant heads designed for increased brain size” before saying that Brooks is too small for starter minutes. Rahat concurs unless he’s playing aside 1995 Scottie Pippen.

I am fully in agreement. I like Brooks as instant offense off the bench this year but hope he eventually gets dealt for a future asset.

4. Which wing will contribute the most going forward?

To me Jared Dudley is the no-brainer, but Grant Hill and Josh Childress also received votes from our fivesome.

Thorpe likes Childress if he were playing with better teammates because he “does a lot of things that make those players even better.”

Rahat casts a votes for the age-less Hill and observes that two of the top three picks in the 1994 draft (Hill and Jason Kidd) are still going strong whereas top pick Glenn Robinson “hasn’t been relevant since George W. Bush’s first presidency.”

Mahoney likes Dudley because “he’s a player who can contribute through spot-up shooting, rebounding and effort defense.”

Beckley failed to find anything positive about the Suns’ wing situation but spits out perhaps the funniest response of the feature: “Oh, man. A murderers (of Phoenix fans’ fortunes) row! It would surprise me if any of these guys played for Phoenix in three years. I think it’s between Hill and Dudley, and whoever does the most uplifting, socially important PSAs in the next two years wins.”

I disagree with that, I see Dudley playing in Phoenix for quite some time on his very reasonable five-year deal. He’s improved every season and is the type of player winning teams must have.

5. When will the Suns make the playoffs again?

Surprise, surprise, I ended up being the homer in the bunch on this question.

If the Suns add a solid shooting guard and keep the rest of the team together I could see them competing for the eighth seed this season, but I went with the season after (2013) because of how much cap space they will possess next offseason.

Really it’s impossible to answer this question before seeing what happens with Nash and how the new CBA will impact the Suns’ future direction. I felt like 2013 was a fair compromise without that knowledge at this point.

The rest of the crew was not so optimistic with Thorpe and Mahoney pegging the Suns as a 2015 playoff team and Beckley and Rahat going with 2016.

Thorpe chose 2015 because in his mind there is “no clear plan being orchestrated by the team (yet, anyway).”

Mahoney cautions that “by the time the Suns finally see the value in trading Nash, it will be far too late.” Thus he feels they will get minimal return on a trade and “be forced to endure a slow, gradual rebuild that will finally put them back in the playoffs halfway through the decade.”

Rahat’s less than bullish on Phoenix’s future as well, writing, “The team has no blue-chip prospects, and it will take years to both acquire and cultivate the kind of top-tier talent it needs.”

Tags: Aaron Brooks Grant Hill Jared Dudley Marcin Gortat Robin Lopez Steve Nash

  • JT’s Hoops Blog

    Trading Steve Nash will be the best move to the Suns and for Nash. Nash is getting older and he deserves to at least have a chance at an NBA Title. The Suns are not going to get any better than they are. It’s best for both to part ways.

    As for choosing between Lopez and Gortat as starting C, I would choose Gortat as he is more athletic and can play in an uptempo Suns offense. Lopez has had his chance to prove himself and has failed miserably. It may be time to let him go.

    In term of SF, Grant Hill is probably on his way out. He’s getting older and probably on his way to retirment. Josh Childress did not have a great season in his NBA comeback, but he has much more upside at that position than Jared Dudley. Childress is more of a point-forward wheras Dudley is more of a transition role player.

    I don’t think Aaron Brooks is the PG of the future. He’s more of a shooting guard that anything else. When he played for the Rocket, he never set up the offense nor did he get his teammates involved. He looks for his on offense.

    Of course the Suns will make the playoffs again, It will take a couple of years, but Phoenix usually rebuilds very quickly. They usualy have one off year, then return back to their winning ways almost right after.

    Great article btw.

  • Mel.

    I admit, I got a laugh out of Rahat’s “get rid of Gortat, the Suns need ‘blue chip prospects,’ and he’s the only guy other than Nash who has value” spiel.

    Giving up what could–with any luck, seasoning and the continuation of a spectacular work ethic and gritty attitude–be a top-five C in the league for “prospects” is absurd enough, but when you consider that the Suns MADE that trade for prospects and a bit of future financial flexibility, it’s borderline absurd.

    I’m just surprised he didn’t off-handedly go all “homer” with his chaser, and make some ESPN Trade Machine proposal about sending Marcin to the Rockets… I hear they could use a blue chip at their five. :)

  • Mel.

    “It’s absurd enough… it’s borderline absurd(?)”

    I apparently either need a hot espresso, or a thesaurus. Note to self: don’t try to be clever before 1PM, especially on a Wednesday.

  • steve

    Ugh, Wednesday. Don’t remind me. It should be Friday by now.

    I agree with pretty much everything the round table decided, and I would say Duds is the wing who can have the biggest impact for the Suns. I like Childress, but I don’t think he’s going to break out for us next season unless we give him the opportunity to do so, and I don’t think he’s going to get that opportunity unless there is an injury to Hill and/or Dudley. Hill deserves the minutes because he’s a HoF player who can still produce at an above-average clip. Dudley deserves the minutes because he’s a fan favorite, a hard worker, and a far better shooter than Childress.

  • sun-arc

    I think they can get Chill some minutes at the 2 or 3 between Hill, Dudz, Brooks. Especially if they don’t pick up another 2. Or they can play him some 3. That’s one of our up-sides, is the versitiility of our wings.

    Very depressing to think about being out of the playoffs for 4 more seasons. Ugh.

  • Steve

    Just read the Clippers preview… the more I think about it, the more I think Steve Nash should play for the Clippers. But then I remember Sterling is their owner, and all hope is lost for them. Can you imagine the Nash/Griffin combo with Gordon and Jordan? That could be a 3 seed.

  • Michael Schwartz

    The Clippers have been at the top of my list of preferred Nash destinations if we can get past the fact that it won’t ever happen. While it just seems right for Nash and Griffin to play together and that team would be really good as well as exciting, they can offer Minnesota’s 2012 pick. This is one of the few scenarios where trading Nash can land an almost definite top-10 pick (and potential top-five pick). Add a small asset from the Clippers and it’s a done deal. Of course, LAC would probably prefer to use that pick to add to their star-studded core rather than a guy at the end of the line like Nash along with the fact that they are the Clippers. But certainly would be nice from a Suns perspective.

  • Mel.

    Just out of curiosity, Schwartzy… who else have you got as potential “wish-list” destinations for Two-Time?

    I agree that the Clippers are a marquee possibility. The addition of Nash and some slight retooling puts them in threat position at a low seed and instantly ticks the intercity rivalry between the Clips and the Lakers up another two notches on the dial.

    Of course, there’s the Sterling thing. Knowing how he operates, the Suns might wind up somehow getting Gordon and a Volkswagen van full of cash, ALONG with Minnesota’s 2012 pick… history hasn’t exactly put a patina on the Clips’ negotiation tactics.

    (Though the negative side of this is difficult to see, given the potential advantages for PHX… hrm.)

  • Michael Schwartz

    The negatives for the Clippers come from adding a 37-year-old to a young core. The only negative for the Suns is just not having Nash and all he brings in terms of victories/money for the team although obviously the future benefits far outweigh that for me.

    Are you asking for a wish-list from the Suns perspective or the Nash perspective? For the Suns, I favor any deal that includes a young potential future All-Star. That means I certainly liked the Minnesota deal with D-Will and this Clippers trade.

    For Nash, it would certainly be fun to watch him run the point in D’Antoni’s offense with Amare once again, and Nash/Dwight with those shooters would make Orlando elite once again. A Dirk reunion in Dallas would also be interesting, but just don’t see what any of those teams can offer that would make it worth it for the Suns.

    That’s the toughest thing, the teams with the assets the Suns should want in a Nash deal are the kind of teams that don’t need Nash to win now.

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