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.