3-on-3: Phoenix Suns free agency

Posted by on December 8th, 8:53 am

Editor’s Note: 3-on-3 is a new feature TrueHoop Network blogs including ValleyoftheSuns will be running this season, based off the mothership’s popular 5-on-5 segment.

With free agency set to kick off in earnest on Friday, ValleyoftheSuns writers Michael Schwartz, Mike Schmitz and Ryan Weisert discuss what the Suns need during the free agency period, unheralded potential pickups and how the Aaron Brooks situation complicates matters.

1. What is the Suns’ biggest need in free agency?

Michael Schwartz: The Suns need a go-to scorer who can take over in crunch time and relieve some of the offensive burden from Nash. The absence of such a player (no, Hedo Turkoglu did not fit this bill) is likely a big reason the Suns slipped to ninth last season in the offensive efficiency rankings they have long owned. Nash can still control almost everything on offense, but he needs a potent weapon alongside him for the Suns’ offense to return to the ranks of the elite.

Mike Schmitz: A scoring guard. Outside of the fact that his birth certificate reads 1974, there’s a reason Steve Nash wears down as the season progresses. The 37-year-old has no Robin in the backcourt. Last season the Suns thought Hedo Turkoglu or Vince Carter could be that guy. In hindsight, that notion was laughable. Instead of attempting to turn damaged goods into a No. 2 option, the Suns need to land a guard who can get to create his own shot, get to the line or find an open shooter. The Suns have enough role players and a decent frontline with Gortat and Frye, but they continue to lack that one-two perimeter punch.

Ryan Weisert: A scoring guard. With the Suns planning to waive Vince Carter, they will need to find a two guard who can penetrate and shoot from outside. This type of player would take some of the playmaking responsibility off Nash. The ability to shoot from outside is most important because it will stretch the defense and keep the lane clear for pick-and-roll penetration.

2. Name an unheralded free agent the Suns should pursue.

Michael Schwartz: It’s a huge risk, but I’m partial to Michael Redd. No, he won’t be the 20 ppg scorer he was earlier this decade, but if his knees hold up there’s no reason he can’t be a reliable shooter. Plus, if there is any medical staff that can aid Redd’s recovery it would be Aaron Nelson and his warlocks. Best of all he would come cheap on a one-year deal as he seeks to rebuild his value.

Mike Schmitz: Ideally the Suns would land Amare 2.0 to pair up with Gortat. But with a thin free agent market and little money to spend, that’s not an option, so the Suns have to bargain shop. The guy I like most is Marcus Thornton. As I outlined in this video, he can fill it up in a variety of ways. He has deep range, can shoot off the bounce and get to the hoop. He may be out of the Suns’ price range, however. If he is, I like cheaper options like veteran Willie Green, swingman Reggie Williams, and maybe even Shannon Brown. But ideally, Thornton would be the guy.

Ryan Weisert: I’ll go with Josh Howard. Although he’s not a two guard like I advocated for above, he can create his own shot, get to the rim, and he’s played the
“second banana scorer” before (to Dirk). Howard is trying to come back from exile and injury in Washington, so he should be willing to take a mid-level (or cheaper) deal for one year.

3. True or False: Brooks’ China contract hurts the Suns

Michael Schwartz: True, if for no other reason than this would be the offseason to trade him so his situation is resolved going into next summer. One more year to allow him to rebuild value (for a possible trade for Phoenix and a contract extension for Brooks) would have benefited both parties, and the Suns could have taken one more long look before deciding whether to commit to him or kick him to the curb. On top of that the team must now seek out another backup point guard after trading their former backup plus a pick for Brooks.

Mike Schmitz: At first glance, it seems Brooks being gone helps the Suns as they don’t have to make a decision on him immediately. But with Phoenix having to place over a $5 million cap hold for Brooks, he hurts the Suns’ chances at acquiring a mid-level type guy this offseason if they indeed didn’t intend to bring Brooks back. He’s not the difference between landing a big-name free agent and missing out, but he does keep Phoenix’s hands tied a bit. Sure that hold might be worth it if the Suns want to keep him around, but I don’t see him as the point guard of the future to succeed Nash, and I assume the Suns’ front office doesn’t either.

Ryan Weisert: False. Brooks’ departure to China is just further proof that he is unhappy with his situation in the NBA. He was angry that Houston didn’t pay him, and he didn’t seem to love the move to Phoenix last season. I would prefer Brooks was not on the roster if and when Nash leaves, so that the front office is not tempted to call him the point guard of the future. The Suns should renounce his rights and use the cap space elsewhere.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Aaron Brooks · Free Agency · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Steve Nash

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Dec 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Guys I’m still not understanding why the go-to scorer has to be at the 2 in our offense. It’s never really been that way while Nash has been back in the valley.

    I’d much rather look for options at the 3 and even the 4, ignoring the fact that we have around 16 power forwards on the roster right now.

    I’d rather we have a 2 who can play some defense so we can hide Nash on the less dangerous guard on the other team. What good is a scoring 2 guard if he can’t play defense? it’s a disaster if both our guards can’t be on-ball defenders.

  • 2 KyleS // Dec 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Rich – I agree. Assuming the Suns re-sign Hill, is there a 4 available in free agency you seeing as being that go to scorer (which is affordable for the Suns)?

  • 3 Lloyd I. Cadle // Dec 8, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I would be in favor of letting Brooks go and using the money towards a go-to scorer.

    Maybe you can use Dudley as a starting 2 (he is also a good defender), and as Rich says, get a go to option at the 3 or 4.

    Sarver better not let Hill get away!

  • 4 Grover // Dec 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Here’s my reasoning for the 2 spot being critical:

    Nash’s pick and roll is best when he has options othe than the dive man (Gortat). If he doesn’t two have scorers outside, it allows help. Even better is if the 2 also can use off ball screens well to give the offense another option. Frye or Dudley are sufficient as spot shooters, but neither is a threat to driving and can work screens to give Nash another option. I agree the 2 also needs to be able to defend to balance Nash’s deficiency. Add all those skills together, and you have the description of a go to scorer.

    Let’s be honest about the Suns… The projected roster won’t have a top 4 player at ANY position. Nash and Gortat would both be very expensive to improve on, but frankly they could use an upgrade at 2, 3, and 4. I personally think 2 is their weakest link as at least Frye at 4 is the best shooting 4 in the league and creates awkward matchups for opponents. Hill is a good 3, but can’t play heavy minutes and at his age is an injury risk. But at 2? We have nothing.

  • 5 Michael Schwartz // Dec 8, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I focus on the two guard because, as Grover stated, it’s the easiest position for the Suns to improve upon. If there was a go-to option available at the 4, I would be all about that. But the Suns already have a slew of decent players at the 4 so I don’t see the logic in adding another player if it’s not going to be a significant upgrade. And frankly, unless the Suns have a trade on the table that none of us see, I don’t see any addition this offseason really being a go-to scorer.

  • 6 Lloyd I. Cadle // Dec 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Michael -

    That being the case (“I don’t see any addition this offseason really being a go-to scorer”), maybe Dudley or Frye may be used in that role this season.

  • 7 Tony // Dec 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Rich,

    adding to what others have said, the Suns need a go to scorer at the 2 because it takes a lot of the pressure off of Nash. With a scoring PF, even with Amare, Nash still had to create most of the opportunities for him. WIth a scoring 2-guard who can create his own shots, Nash won’t have to be constantly creating the offense for the Suns and at 37, he needs to relax a bit too.
    Furthermore, while Frye is hardly sufficient as a starting pf, he does present matchup problems for opposing pfs, so I do see some utility in starting him. WIth Dudley however, I just don’t see it. I know he’s a popular player, but the guy is too unathletic and slow to be effective against opposing 2-guards. Adding to that, he’s primarily a spot-up shooter, so between him, Frye, Hill, and Peitrus, the Suns have zero scorers.

  • 8 Tony // Dec 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    A simple question for you all. What is the likelihood Paul, Williams, or Howard will choose to sign with the Suns next season? Furthermore, what are the chances the Timberwolves or the Thunder do not match any Suns offer on Westbrook and Love?

    My point is that it is pretty ridculous to believe the Suns are going to sign two max-level players next off-season. It just makes no sense. Star players, who have other max-level offers, do not simply choose to play for a team without any regard for determining if they can win a championship with that team. Part of the reason they are so good in the first place is because of their competitive nature. Now, are these elite-players really going to be incentivized to play with Gortat, Frye, or Dudley? Ultimately, my point is that the Suns must immediately improve their roster NOW so as to make the team more attractive to elite free agents next off-season.

  • 9 Grover // Dec 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    ESPN showing Shannon Brown signing with Suns tommorrow.

    I have yet to hear of Phoenix being finalist for any quality free agent. This will be a very long year unless the Suns are doing a very good job of keeping a lid on rumors and leaks but are actually close on one or more major trades/pickups.

  • 10 Lloyd I. Cadle // Dec 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Both Frye and Dudley are good, but are not your typical star g0-to players.

    Both are, howver, pretty good shooters in the clutch.

    By the way, it looks like the Suns are ready to sign Shannon Brown.

  • 11 AL // Dec 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Shannon Brown for one season? It should be 2 with 3rd year optional. I am guessing that Shannon is going to want to raise his stock in this short season by playing alongside Steve Nash and then ask for a big paycheck next year. Hope that’s not the case. Sarver probably believes he has a shot at the star free agents next season to want to sign him for one year. One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to see Shannon Brown dunk over Richardson in whatever team JRich ends up in; although, I’d prefer it if JRich came back to Phoenix for mid-level. It also seems like Hill may be going to the Knicks. Hope that Hill changes his mind and comes back to Phoenix for one more year at veteran minimum.

  • 12 Daniel // Dec 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Anyone seeing the news, Chandler is signing with the Knicks? Then the Knicks are expected to trade STAT to New Orleans for Paul.
    I hope that happens and STAT will end up being the main guy on a small market team locked in for the next five years.

  • 13 Lloyd I. Cadle // Dec 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Great, keep Paul out of L.A.

  • 14 steve // Dec 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    @Tony

    I sure hope Westbrook doesn’t get a max deal. He’s not a max player, imo. He’s the second tier. A Washington to Love’s $2 bill.

    I get your point about no big names wanting to sign here, but I think that type of speculation is best to avoid. To my knowledge, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook haven’t expressed desire to be anywhere but where they are (they’re not pushing for NYC like Paul). Guys like that could land anywhere. My feeling is that OKC will hold onto Westbrook unless he gets ticked off about playing second fiddle to Durant. The only thing that will keep Love in Minny is money. That’s it. I don’t see why we can’t land him, especially when we can offer as much as anyone else, have a system that caters to his skillset, a great fanbase, great weather, and one of the better histories of any franchise in the NBA. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I definitely wouldn’t rule it out.

    Who would have guessed last year that Pujols would end up with the Angels, especially after their current 1B (can’t remember his name right now) went off for 29 HRs last year? Free agents can do some crazy things.

  • 15 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Dec 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    To everybody focused on the 2 position, one question for you.

    SHANNON BROWN?

    This is the light at the end of the tunnel to be paired with Nash? He is far more athletic than Dudley, but Nash is still going to have to do all of the work to get him into positions to score and you certainly can’t give Brown the ball in the 4th and say, “Yo. stud, get us 2 points.”

    As far as max players wanting to sign here, it’s not as far fetched as it seems. If the front office would’ve reset the roster it would have definitely been a place to go. Nash came back, (because the roster was primed for a star to turn it into a contender).
    Barkley remained in the Valley because of the same reason.

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