Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair set to sign with Suns


Editor’s Note: Hardwood Paroxysm’s Andrew Lynch is the latest addition to the ValleyoftheSuns staff.

The Phoenix Suns are on the verge of signing Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown to one-year deals, according to various reports. Brown will receive $3.5 million, and Telfair’s deal is said to be worth $1.5 mil. Telfair and Brown will take up the entirety of the Suns’ available MLE.

With one eye toward the future and the other toward a playoff run in 2012, the Suns are taking a slightly cockeyed approach to free agency. Vince Carter is headed out the door, Aaron Brooks is stuck in China with half of the Denver Nuggets and Zabian Dowdell may or may not be the right choice to spell Steve Nash in a compacted 66-game season. Many analysts and fans think that this is the time for the Suns to bottom out, secure a high lottery pick in the upcoming, loaded draft and count on the copious cap space they’ll have next year, barring any major salary commitments in the interim. Lon Babby and company seem on board with being noncommital in the long term, yet the front office reportedly believes that the core in Phoenix has a chance at the postseason. They’re therefore focused on shoring up the backup point guard spot and continuing to stockpile a never-ending supply of wings, with the key being short-term deals, low-cost deals that maintain that flexibility going forward.

The hope, one assumes, is that those two will have their play buoyed by Nash and company and allow the Suns to compete for the 7th or 8th seed in the Western Conference. If either or neither signing falls apart, then the only damage done was a total of $5 million for one year. No harm done to the long-term viability of Phoenix’s plans, no fouls other than the reach-ins committed when a player refuses to slide his feet and stay in front of his opponent. It’s a difficult and slightly curious course of action, but it’s the path down which we tread. As a result, the “major” free agent targets for Phoenix are anything but. The Suns are shopping in the bargain bin, looking for the floor model with a broken wheel and hoping to prop it up with the universal solution of the Point God. If they can lease for a year — or two, at the max — so much the better.

Sebastian Telfair - PG; unrestricted free agent; 2011 salary – $2.7 million

Most forms of entertainment have a particular theme, be it oppression, growing up or the circumstances of being an advanced life form from Mars responsible for killing Pierce Brosnan and susceptible only to horrible, ancient country songs. The Suns’ official theme this year is “reclamation projects,” Lifetime movie-style. Telfair came into the league to much fanfare, a product of the storied New York City basketball scene. He never lived up the substantial hype, unfortunately, and was involved in several off-court incidents that combined with his sub-par performance as a starter to garner a negative reputation. How poor did Telfair play? Of all players to appear in at least 400 games, his WS/48 is 5th worst. EVER. But the Telfair train is reportedly coming to the Valley for one year at a price tag between $1.5 million and $2 million.

There’s the chance of upside here*, though. Telfair’s a decent passer (a career 26.3% AST%) and on-the-ball defender. While his ORtg and DRtg might make eyes bleed and shouldn’t be viewed with children in the room — or the state — he’ll only be expected to take the load off Nash and will share that duty with Dowdell. Telfair has the ability to be a reliable, solid backup for a team in the Suns’ position — not a title contender by any means, but an entertaining team that may or may not have enough to make the playoffs. And his 3rd best comparison, according to Basketball-Reference, is Jordan. Reggie Jordan, but still.

*That’s a “Grandma loves all of her grandchildren, even the addict who steals from her purse on a daily basis and pushed her down the stairs…twice”-level compliment, but it’s better than crying.

Shannon Brown - G; unrestricted free agent; 2011 salary – $2.1 million

Since hybrids are all the rage, Phoenix is apparently kicking the tires on the Lakers’ dunktastic guard. Brown is reportedly also in agreement with the Suns for a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He’s played the vast majority of his minutes at the 2, but can serve as a ball-handler in a 127 Hours-sized pinch. A mediocre 3-point shooter, Brown’s shooting from 16-23 feet leaves a lot to be desired. The bright side, though, is that Shannon Brown might be tailor made by the basketball Zeuses to receive passes around the hoop from Steve Nash. Almost half of Brown’s shot attempts last year came at the rim, and he finished shots there at a 65.8 percent clip. If he keeps his energy up and cuts off the ball and on the baseline well, he’ll often be the beneficiary of secondary action generated by Nash/Gortat screen and rolls.

That’s if he plays with the first unit, of course. Jared Dudley came a long way last year to earn his spot in the starting lineup during the home stretch, and reports say that he’s worked hard on his ball-handling and one-on-one skills this summer to help secure that spot going forward. If he doesn’t get much run with the starters, the Suns will expect Brown to provide scoring punch off the bench with Telfair and Robin Lopez. In this scenario, the question becomes whether or not Brown can hit open mid-range jumpers, as the Suns’ offense went incredibly stagnant last year when Nash went to the bench. There may even be some slight rotation experimentation this year by the Mad Scientist as Alvin Gentry tries to squeeze the most out of the disparate pieces he’s given, with Brown starting and Dudley coming off of the bench.

Much of this roster speculation and consideration of which pieces fit where is dependent on Grant Hill’s decision. If he chooses to pursue other options, then the picture becomes even dimmer for Phoenix. Replacements are few and cap space will be non-existent; only players willing to take the veteran’s minimum would be able to sign with the Suns going forward, other than their own free agents.

Which is a real shame, because prior to these signings there were two potential targets that jumped off the page. Now the hopes of acquiring either player are limper than Don Giovanni’s lizard. Just to rub some salt in the wound, here are the two guys I really wanted to see the Suns try to sign — and would love to see take the vet’s minimum to come play with Steve Nash and the Polish Hammer:

Michael Redd - SG; unrestricted free agent; 2011 salary – $18.3 million

Michael Redd is the perfect potential addition, a possibility perpetually posited by Schwartz this week. Redd’s salary over the past few years belies the talent that he brought to Milwaukee as a scorer — a career 38.3 percent shooter from three whose value peaked around .150 WS/48. Unfortunately, his scoring (and the Bucks’ prospects) were torpedoed by repeated ACL and MCL injuries; he’s only played 61 games in the past three years.

If you’re reading this, then you know the argument in favor of Redd in Phoenix: the Warlocks. Aaron Nelson and the Suns training staff are three steps past renowned at this point for their ability to rehabilitate players with checkered (at best) injury pasts. For the right deal — a one- or two-year, unguaranteed deal at or below the MLE — Redd is worth the risk as a floor spacer and scorer. The past two years saw a significant drop in Redd’s 3-point percentage, but that seems as likely to be due to a combination of rust, injuries, and small sample size (only 77 cumulative attempts) as deterioration in ability.

The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly likely to make a strong run at Redd as well.

Delonte West - G; unrestricted free agent; 2011 salary – $854K

West is coming off of a scary injury and, like Redd, could likely benefit from the Warlocks. Over the past three years he’s seen his share of point guard duties increase, playing a larger percentage of his minutes at the 1 in each season than the one prior. A 37.3 perent shooter from deep, he can help keep the spacing that the Suns offense thrives on, though he’s not the volume shooter that Redd is. He’d bring a defensive tenacity and grit to the Suns as well, and everyone who’s ever watched a Western movie knows that grit is one of the most undervalued qualities a man can possess.

Unfortunately, with the Telfair and Brown additions, West is probably off the Suns’ radar. He’s also interested in the Lakers and Mavericks, as well as a potential return to Boston. With little (if any) cap space and a roster fighting to make the playoffs, not for a championship, it’s unlikely the Suns can make a serious run at West.

And maybe that’s for the best. The secret best-case scenario for this year’s Suns might be a combination of the sublime and the macabre. Another season of Steve Nash is always a good thing, but a long-term rebuilding plan would be even better. These one-year signings could start Phoenix down that path as they struggle valiantly for the playoffs but come up far short by depending on Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown. Perhaps instead of fighting and dying for the 9th or 10th seed by signing Delonte West and Michael Redd, the Suns will bury themselves a little deeper and score a better draft pick.

If the Suns can dream — and they clearly are, with these signings — then I can, too.

Tags: Free Agency Sebastian Telfair Shannon Brown

  • Brian

    This Shannon Brown signing makes zero sense unless it is instead of Sebastian Telfair. Dudley needs to start at 2, but Childress and Pietrus can also play 2 and are bigger.

    Sarver sure seems to like to throw away money on mediocre players. I guess the only positive is that they are only one year deals.

  • Daniel

    I think its less about Sarver throwing money away on mediocre players and more about what he perceives as getting a “good deal”. Schwartz has already written about it, Sarver seems to prefer paying 2 or 3 players low money to do the job that 1 highly paid player could do.

  • Troy

    Brian, the Suns’ well-documented most glaring need right now is for a guy who can create his own shot and get to the rim “on the cheap” for one year ONLY. By my count, that’s exactly what Shannon Brown brings them. He seemed to light it up against the Suns every time they played they Lakers – inside and outside. There’s no reason to think he won’t be able to do the same thing on occasion for the Suns this year, giving them exactly what they need. For one year. Cheaply. Without sabotaging their 2012 flexibility.

    And he’s a STRAIGHT UP 2 – creates his own shot, gets to the rim (and how), and spots up (relatively) well for the long ball.

    Childress and Pietrus are both CLEARLY 3s. Guys who play the angles and the spot-up and work best without the ball, not on it.

    Telfair is CLEARLY a 1. (Not a very good one, but hey, he’s cheap and he’ll give Zabian Dowdell a push for the backup PG spot.) Obviously not a duplicate of Shannon Brown. Not even close.

    Not sure what’s not to like about this, all things considered. Way better than Crawford or Redd, for what they need right now, IMO.

  • Mel.

    I actually don’t hate the Brown signing. As was discussed earlier this year, his over-kinetic playing style and “blast out the lights” shot tendencies make him a natural fit for the system… though I dunno.

    At this point, I’m sort of on “cruise control” into the season, anyway. It took me months to scrounge up the interest to re-visit the ol’ PHX homestead… feeling very much like hibernation through ’12-’13 might be a meritorious notion, at the moment.

  • Mac

    Mars Attacks reference. Nice.

  • Troy

    Daniel, which “1 highly paid player” would you have preferred Sarver spend his money on this year while the Suns are at or over the cap and trying to save their flexibility for next year? They have no big $ to spend until then. Not gonna happen this year.

    Again, not sure what’s not to like about this. Seems to be a pretty good deal given the Suns’ current situation/circumstances.

    And I love how Sarver is bashed for this instead of Babby/Blanks. Granted, he certainly had to give the final sign-off. But if you don’t like the deal, shouldn’t the ones actually responsible for making it happen be the first line of criticism? Just saying.

  • steve

    I really like the Brown signing. Meh on Telfair.

    Troy hit the nail on the head as far as Brown’s usefulness to the Suns is concerned.

  • JoJo

    Wait so we are signing BOTH point guards? Is there any way to interpret this besides Nash is a gonzo?

  • Ryan

    Suns need to package up Gortat and Nash for a few picks in this draft. Getting two top ten picks would do more for the future than signing anyone available this year.

    Nash is a god in Phx, but we need to move on now.

    And this is my last year hoping Fropez is worth anything

  • Matt Manske

    Just wanted to say congrats to the author for his new spot here on VotS. Great article to get you started!

    I was ready to endure an absolute tank-fest of a 66-game season in hopes the Suns would be in position to draft Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, or one of the other top prospects in the draft. I still am. I’m happy with the Shannon Brown signing because it should produce plenty of highlights throughout the season, but I honestly hope it doesn’t lead to many wins. The most obvious way for the Suns to get better is to bottom out, trade Nash (but keep Gortat unless a stud center gets drafted), and hope for the best in the draft. Cap space is coming back next year.

    The Suns should not even TRY to compete this year logically. The playoffs are already out of reach. Dallas, San Antonio, Memphis, OKC, and Portland are locks, the Clippers or Warriors should break through this year, oh and by the way, the Lakers made a certain blockbuster trade today improving their already dominant team AND handing Houston a star player in the process.

  • Suns Critic

    Well.. this years team should be exciting to watch, thats for sure! However we need to trade Warrick… get out from that contract and get some more space open for next year as he won’t be seeing much PT!

  • Brian

    Troy, it was nice to have a guy like Joe Johnson back in the day that could create his own shot, but with Nash, you don’t need that.

    It’s amazing that everyone thinks the greatest need for the Suns is a sg or backup pg when we are really hurting at the pf position when you look at quality of starters.

    I would MUCH rather have Dudley in the game than Brown, for many reasons, but the fact that you mention he can create his own shot is kind of meaningless, because he is not really even a very good shooter (and of course, he IS a shooting guard). Dudley is a MUCH better shooter, especially from 3pt range.

    I just don’t want us to become overloaded with swing guys just for the hell of it because guys like Dudley and Childress can play if they get time, and they can add a TON more than Brown. Yes, their natural positions might be at the 3, but in the Suns system the 2 and 3 are pretty interchangeable….because we NEVER run ISOs for 2s and we mainly just need guys to spread the floor that can knock down the jump shot.

    Dudley and Childress are very active players who like to do the dirty work…Childress is a great rebounder and is really good with putbacks too.

    But the main reason I don’t want the team to dump more many into the swing man position (the 2 or the 3) is because we have too much money already invested in that position.

    I would have probably waited, and if we buy out VC and lose Grant Hill, we would have had the cap space (at least under the luxury tax line) to maybe try and make an offer to David West (we are acting as if we don’t have cap room, but if the luxury tax starts at $70M, and we are in the $50M range with our current salaries, how do we not?). Heck, now that the Hornets now have Scola, Okafur and Odom in the frontcourt they probably won’t re-sign him. Of course there is the knee injury consideration with West, but I’m sure there were others we could have looked at. Brown and Telfair just certainly don’t seem like guys you need to rush to ink deals with the first day you can sign guys….but at least it’s not as bad as last year where we destroyed our cap space (partially) for years.

    But, the positive is that we only signed these guys for one year, so next year we can still go for a pg and pf.

    Of course I am hoping Frye and/or Morris morph into stud pfs of starter quality for a contender, but I try to be realistic too. Both are probably good second team guys.

    I like Dudley starting at 2 (with his stellar 3pt% and the energy he brings) better than I like Frye starting at 4 by a long shot. And Childress can play like a backup the 2/3.

  • Cam

    If the Suns lose Grant Hill to the Spurs or Knicks I can see Nash requesting a trade to a contender. Then the Suns will stink it up while possibly acquire some future assets in the Nash trade.

  • nasty nate

    Ryan,
    Please don’t talk about trading Gortat for picks. That makes me sad. Marcin is a godsend.

  • Scott

    This group of signings leaves me feeling a bit bewildered, like when the signings of Childress and Turkoglu were announced last season. Like those signings, these kind of make sense, but are nonetheless unexpected choices.

    By PER, both of these players are substandard. Telfair rates worse than Dowdell, and Brown rates just slightly higher than Childress. (Take away Childress’s injured finger last year, and maybe they rate equal.)

    My guess is that the Suns are taking Brown for a test drive, to see if he’s a possibility for the Suns’ SG spot in the future. They’ve probably looked ahead a few years, seen how few options were available for the Suns for the #2 spot, concluded a trade for a quality #2 was unlikely, and decided to make a small commitment to Brown.

    Hopefully Brown’s 3 pt shooting improves with the open looks he may get with the Suns. Right now his career 3 pt % is a little lower than that of Childress, but his FT% is a little higher.

    Telfair’s selection is really the big question mark for me. I’m going to guess he’s a personal favorite of Blanks for some reason. I can’t think of any other reason for the pick. The only improvement over Dowdell that I can see is a lower turnover rate.

    If Hill decides to move on – to “go to a better place,” as it were – I could see Childress and Brown fighting for time at #2, with Childress likely starting and Brown being a scorer off the bench, and Dudley and Pietrus playing at the 3. While I still hope the Suns try Warrick at SF, I’m almost certain they won’t, and he’s probably slated to be backup PF after Frye, while they see how Morris and Lawal work out in practice and in their few minutes on court.

  • Buzz

    I like the pick-up of Brown (because of his athleticism) … but I still think we need atleast a big man to compliment Gortat at the PF to atleast somewhat salvage ticket sales and compete for that 8th spot. My suggestion (not that it matters…lol) would be to try and put something together and get Nene from Denver(although he’s another 5) he would help bring power and strength to our interior …otherwise we should just tank the season and let Grant go to a contender and look forward to the draft. As for Telfair – a waste of chips…might as well bring back Starbary…lol

  • Scott

    @Buzz –

    This year the Suns will have Morris and Lawal. Morris is a big, strong guy who can defend, rebound, and shoot. Lawal is a bit smaller, and with a more limited offense, but both project as NBA PFs, and both should rebound better than Frye or Warrick.

    I think we could see Morris crack the rotation this year, and thus give more time for Frye at C for the 2nd unit. (Robin will have to play better this year if he wants court time and a better contract.)

  • Buzz

    @Scott -

    I just hope something pans out… because our future as a ball club is pretty bleak at the moment – we have no pieces to build around, and poor Nash and Hill are just selling tickets for the Banker !!! All we can do now is hope that we have sleepers that will wake sometime during the season…

  • Scott

    @Buzz –

    It’s an interesting time. The Suns are always trying to build their team, regardless of the level of success; constantly tweaking and tinkering as the years go on.

    We’ll have to see what this year’s team can do. Hopefully they have more fun than last year.

    I remember when Nash returned to the team. No one expected much of the Suns at all, but then they started blowing teams out in pre-season … I think they even surprised themselves.

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