Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair deals set up 2012 splurge, so why not start rebuilding now?


Last offseason the Phoenix Suns’ front office was criticized for lacking a plan when Amare Stoudemire left, instead throwing money at role players for the sake of spending.

No such charges can be levied against the Suns’ front office this offseason as all moves have been made with one goal in mind: maintaining 2012 cap space.

That’s why the Suns plan to sign Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair to one-year deals on Friday, and it’s why they have offered Grant Hill a one-year deal for $5.5 million but are hesitant to go to two. Brown will make $3.5 mil for his year of service and Telfair $1.5 mil, although Paul Coro reports he also has a partial guarantee for the following campaign.

This part of the plan makes sense. Even if the Suns don’t have a chance at the Big Three free agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams — and I don’t think they do — cap space under the new CBA is still so valuable.

The fear is the Suns spend just to spend and once again waste it all on role players like they did last year, but aside from the shot at landing elite talent it opens up opportunities to post a winning bid for a talented amnesty player or perhaps take on a crummy contract in return for a king’s ransom in draft picks (a la the Kurt Thomas trade, just in reverse). Cap space, if employed correctly, is one of the best ways the Suns can rebuild.

Therefore, it should be considered holy and as much as everyone in this city would like to see Grant Hill back, they just can’t afford to up their offer in years.

However, today’s deals effectively end the Suns’ offseason pending Hill’s decision and any potential minimum additions. Our ValleyoftheSuns writers in today’s 3-on-3 were unanimous concerning the Suns’ need for a go-to scorer but as I figured it just wasn’t going to happen when the best you can offer is one year and $5 million and you lack trade assets.

Now we know for sure that the closest thing the Suns will get to acquiring a go-to scorer this offseason is Shannon Brown, which is to say they aren’t acquiring one.

That should not be seen as a criticism of the signing. I was going to be at least moderately pleased with any deal that starts out with the words “one year,” and to grab Brown for $3.5 million is solid value. He will provide energy and excitement and his game fits the Suns’ style. He is no go-to player, but he is a savvy pickup.

Same goes with Telfair. Not much risk when you sign for less than two million dollars, and the Suns were not going to find anyone too much better for the salary they had to offer.

But now that we know what the Suns will look like this season I wonder why they don’t decide to start the rebuilding process a year early. Sure, this team can be fun and exciting and if things break right they very well might be a playoff team or at least push for a berth. It would be fun to watch Nash lead such an unheralded squad to an underdog playoff berth, but why play for a No. 7 or 8 seed at best in the loaded West when rebuilding is right around the corner?

The Suns’ brutal January schedule could crystallize the scenario. Do you see more than one or two wins the second half of the month? If the Suns fall behind big by February, the team could reverse course on a Nash trade and prepare for the 2012 rebuild early.

I like the moves the Suns made today. They needed wing scoring and a backup point guard, and they acquired both at a cost that will not affect their future. It also eliminates any need for Aaron Brooks this season and should put his rights firmly on the trading block when he returns to the country.

But, assuming the Suns don’t have a blockbuster up their sleeve that nobody sees, this squad is no better than a low-tier West playoff team.

Today’s moves show how serious the Suns are about waiting until 2012 to make their move. So long as that’s the case, why not just go all in for 2012 by initiating the rebuilding process now?

  • Geo

    Well at least we got some young guys to help us get through all these games. Should be exciting though wachting nash and brown alley-oops.

  • DBreezy

    I think you’ve crystallized a huge part of the dilemma facing Hill. Not only do his other options all offer better shots at strong playoff runs, but he could be in the midst of an official rebuilding project a month after the season starts and not even a chase for the playoffs. Dell Demps and Otis Smith aren’t panicking, they simply know that the new rules on extensions mean that trade offers start getting really bad around January.

    While Babby can act like he lives in a bubble when it comes to any talk of moving Nash, reality is he knows this as well and while he may not be actively looking for a Nash deal if someone makes even a decent one in the next couple of weeks, the organization has to seriously consider it and I’m sure they’ve discussed that with Hill. The trade offers after January will be weak.

  • Scott

    I don’t think the Suns tank at all unless Nash goes down for an extended period with an injury. If he does, the fall will be hard and fast.

    My guess is that Sarver and the rest of the crew want to try to keep the team an entertaining product, to sell tickets and hopefully get some extra money by making it to the playoffs.

    And if Nash does go down with an injury and the Suns’ season ends early, that’s the easiest way out (and into the lottery) because no one looks bad and fans will be sympathetic.

  • steve

    Every time I check the site there are new articles and comments. Keep up the good work, guys. These are exciting times in the nba.

  • Matthew S

    This team will be fine.. they still have a stong bench and adding Brown and Telfair reinforces that. This team prides itself on bringing guys in and getting them in shape and keeping it that way with our training staff which is one of the best in the league. This team will be in the middle of the lineup for the playoffs. I have no doubts. Go Suns!!!

  • Ward

    Yes, rebuilding through free agency is the best method. I’m sure that Paul, Howard, or Williams would gladly take the Suns’ offer of a max deal to play with Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, Hakim Warrick, and Josh Childress over, say, the Mavericks’ offer of the same amount of money to play with Dirk Nowitzki, et al. That’s possible…

  • http://www.motherfucker.com Ward

    After perusing the list of FAs and RFAs, the Suns’ best option/chance next season would be to sign Andrew Bynum. Unless they decide to throw money at the carcasses of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, or Baron Davis.

    I keep saying this (mostly so I can later pull out the ‘I told you so’) but the best option for all parties (fans, team, Nash) is to trade him to a contender for picks and throw this season away. Their absolute ceiling is being swept in the first round of the playoffs and getting a useless pick in a strong draft.

    Best case scenario: the first overall pick and the chance to rebuild on the cheap.

    This whole idea of “let’s gut it out for one more run with Nash!” is so deluded I’m at a loss for words (kinda). What do you people think the 2010 WCF run was? The “last run” ALREADY HAPPENED.

    I’ve kind of lost a little respect for Hill (as a competitor, not as a person) for staying. Where’s the fire? You choose familiarity over the chance to compete for a championship. I know his career is winding down, but it seems counterintuitive to me.

    Whatever, let’s Go Suns, blah blah blah.

  • steve

    Ward, my competitive nature drives me to want to win with inferior or equal talent, not stack the deck and put all the best players on the same team like the heat tried. Being competitive isn’t only about winning. Only being happy with winning is more similar to being a childish poor sport.

  • http://motherfucker.com Ward

    I still don’t get while people rag on the Heat for “combining forces.” Their lack of self-awareness and a perception of arrogance was obnoxious, but I don’t fault them for wanting to form a superior team.

    Basically, they served to make Pat Riley look good. If Stern hadn’t stopped the CP3 trade to the Lakers would we have called Mitch Kupchak a “weak-willed” GM?

    People don’t like to see professional athletes act for themselves, even though said athletes could be traded on a whim (ask Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom about loyalty from your bosses).

    I will stop short of saying the majority of the folks outraged by this “Superteam” are perhaps uncomfortable with young, black men controlling their own destiny, for it is a somewhat lazy characterization; I will, however, state that it’s highly unlikely to play NO role in the outrage and general vitriol.

    I just think it demonstrates that most GMs are potentially more inept than we think. Their jobs amount to a high- stake equivalent of the overbearing, “helicopter” parents forcing their children* into play dates when all along the kids knew who they wanted to play with in the first place.

    (*I’m not attempting to infantilize or emasculate the players, the analogy was directed primarily at the front offices and ownership)

  • http://motherfucker.com Ward

    Regarding the talk about winning with inferior talent, it’s an admirable goal, that’s for sure. But you could easily make the argument that attempting to win with the Knicks would have been comparable to trying to win in Phoenix. The ‘bocks only played four more games than the Suns last year, you know.

    I get what you’re saying in general, though. I just wanted Hill to go for the same reasons I want Nash to be traded.

    I hate seeing them labor for a franchise that is going no where when they could be battling for the playoffs (or advancing in the playoffs). I hate seeing a franchise shamelessly trying to hold onto the remaining scraps of their relevance as a team. And for what? To sell more tickets during one season?

    Sarver (and the front office to a lesser degree) has been demonstrating more than ever how he just DOESN’T GET IT. After months of complaining about a system that “allowed” him to spend recklessly and dismantle a stacked team year-by-year, he chooses the shortsighted plan.

    The smart, savvy plan, is to trade Nash to a contender (win for him) for as many picks as possible (win for us). Look at the Thunder, they stockpiled tons of picks and spent wisely, and they were on the doorstep of the Finals with a bunch of young shavers leading the charge.

    This season should be considered Year One of a plan to rebuild and lay a foundation for a more prudent modus operandi. Due to the lockout, what was already predicted as a strong draft class improved when multiple stud prospects returned to school.

    Why flounder and delay the inevitable? I know it sounds pessimistic and anathema to the “winning is the only thing” mantra, but it’s a necessary evil, I’d say. The only person who loses in this situation, is Robert Sarver.

    Which, I can live with.

  • Jt’s hoops Blog

    In my opinion Hill pulled a boner by resigning with Suns. He’s in the twilight of his careerand he chooses to stay on a team going nowhere. The signing of Shannon Brown is not that impressive either. Brown is primarily a transition player with limited range. He’ll be another player that Steve Nash will have to put on his shoulders yet again.

    I am very puzzled however by the signing of Sebastian Telfair. In his entire professional career Telfair has not accomplished a thing. He has spent most of his career as a journeyman bouncing from team to team. He’s not even worthy of backing up nash, let alone playing behind him.

    At least the Suns managed to eject that perrenial waste of spce Vince Carter. So long Carter, I hope the door doesn’t hit you where the dog should have bit you.

  • Brooklyn

    Telfair being backup point guard to Steve Nash is going to help him because they have the same style of play and Telfair finally playing in a system that fit him.Telfair will learn from elite point guard who has been in the nba for 15 years and 2x former MVP.