Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick working toward bounceback seasons

Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick are working toward bounceback seasons in Phoenix.

PHOENIX – Nearly a year and a half ago, the Suns signed Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick to help Phoenix transition away from the Amare Stoudemire era.

The trio was summoned by Lon Babby to try their hand at replacing one of the NBA’s most dominant offensive big men.

Phoenix’s plan flopped.

Turkoglu was booed out of US Airways Center as he failed to average double figures for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Childress never broke into the rotation, at one point racked up five straight DNPs, and scored only 5.0 points per game in 54 games.

Warrick showed glimpses of becoming a poor man’s Amare early in the season with his pick-and-roll play, but the undersized power forward never stuck due to his defense and rebounding deficiencies.

As the Suns inch closer to Monday night’s season opener, only Childress and Warrick remain, and after a season full of ups and downs, both are searching to give their sizeable remaining contracts – Warrick ($12 million/3 years, including a team option) and Childress ($27 million/4 years) – some validity.

From the moment he broke his right index finger in a preseason game, to the end of the season, Childress said he never felt comfortable on the floor. He called last season was “tough mentally, physically and emotionally.” But after an offseason filled with workouts, relaxation, and online classes, Childress has a renewed outlook.

“I’m a lot more comfortable and just a lot more relaxed,” he said. “With comfort, for me, just comes more relaxed, more natural, more instinctive Josh.”

The Suns are hoping Childress can become the slasher and defender that he was during his stint in Atlanta. Unlike last season, he’ll have his opportunities as he backs up Grant Hill at the small forward spot.

Albeit during a preseason game, Childress showed flashes against the Nuggets on Tuesday by scoring seven points and collecting two steals, a block and a three-pointer in 23 minutes.

Phoenix is still the home of the wings, but the Suns could use Childress’s athleticism and defense, especially for the price they’re paying him. If he continues to stay comfortable and relaxed, Childress may prove to the Suns organization why they committed $34 million for five years to him in the first place.

“I’m looking forward to the year,” he said. “I’m an easygoing guy. I find myself sometimes just getting too tense and stressed and that’s not me. I’m just trying to get back to being relaxed and just having fun all the time.”

While Childress should see the floor more than last season, Warrick is stuck behind the eight ball. Channing Frye and most likely Markieff Morris stand in his way for minutes at the power forward spot, leaving Warrick as the odd man out.

But there is a place for Warrick’s offense in the Suns’ system. With Hill out against the Nuggets, Warrick backed up Childress at small forward and scored a team-high 14 points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three dimes in 25 minutes.

The Suns are expected to give Warrick some time at the three, as he’s improved his shot and perimeter game during the offseason. He’ll still struggle to find minutes, but he put in a solid training camp and the Suns are expecting a better, more consistent Hakim Warrick this season.

“Hak is very talented and I’m expecting a lot of things from him,” Childress said. “He’s more confident, he’s been playing well so I look forward to a good year.”

Warrick and Childress clearly aren’t the centerpieces of the 2011-12 Suns. But as Schwartz pointed out, because of the short season Phoenix needs depth.

It needs the Warricks and the Childresses of the team to be better than they were last season and give the Suns a shot in the arm off the bench.

It remains to be seen if they can bounce back and do exactly that, but players and coaches alike are confident that the duo Babby brought on to help replace Amare last offseason won’t get lost in the shuffle in year two with the Suns.

“I think Hakim’s going to be a lot better, he’s had a great camp,” said Grant Hill. “I think he’s more comfortable here. I think the coaches are more comfortable with him. Josh I think will be a lot better, also.”

Tags: Hakim Warrick Josh Childress

  • A-ROCK

    The Suns seriously suck, every player looks weak like they don’t even work out, the team is getting older so there is no speed, so where is the teams edge coming from. Who can the coach play that will make a difference, what is the coaching staff doing as far as the training and progress of the team, after last nights game I think the whole organization is counterfeit. The players have been placed on this team for no other reason than to play a game and not compete, it was a disgrace watching them, the bench almost came back and cut the deficit in the denver game. Not to pick on players in particular, but why is robin lopez trying to hustle steals and exhaust himself on the way to defense, then alowing players to back cut him. He is 7 foot play tall. Channing fry is not a player, a power forward, and starting to look like he just had a lucky season making all those threes, why is he out there, if it’s to space other teams then why????? We don’t have amare or no banger down in the middle to do damage and work, the coaching staff need to come up with a NEW SCHEME !!!!!!! What they have has been remanufactured every year Nash has been here and hasn’t been done right since D’antoni left! ITS ALL A FRAUD THE SUNS ARE GIVING THE FANS WHICH IS DISGUSTING!!!!!!

  • sun-arc

    @ A-Rock: I don’t agree.
    Look, they sucked last night. NO doubt. But, first off, the starters looked alright (though not great). I don’t know why there wasn’t more effort, and I was pretty depressed watching it. BUT…..Gortat IS an inside banger. Channing CAN play, and play well. Is he an all-star? No, but he hit 175 threes in each of the last 2 years. That is not a fluke. His shot will come back. And his effort, defense, and rebounding were way better last year than the year before. Hopefully he continues improving. And, Lopez- well, he did make some mistakes, but he sure looked better than last year. And I think the coaching staff will correct some of the positional mistakes.

    Also, you are wrong that they haven’t done right since Mike D was here. They made it to the WCF 2 years after Mike left, and they didn’t by developing their bench, which Mike never did, and why we never got further with the talent we had.

    I feel your same need to vent. But maybe take a deep breath before you type.

  • sun-arc

    Ok, so to comment on the article…

    I loved Chilly when he played for Atlanta. I don’t know what has happened to him, but he’s not the same. Those “flashes” he showed last night were way to few and far between to merit the pay or playing time as of yet. I’d give him another preseason game and after that a seriously short leash to see if he plays with energy and D. If he doesn’t, there is no reason to have him on the floor.

    And, remember last year how everyone was saying how amazing he was at camp? And then he played and wasn’t so amazing. Weird. And this year, absolutely no talk about him at camp. I wonder if he just doesn’t have the same swagger or vibe or mojo or whatever. I hope it comes back.

    Warrick, though is a different story for me. I didn’t like him that much as an addition. He never wow’d me except for his delicious dunks. And last year his complete lack of defense drove me crazy. But, at the end of the year, after he was benched for a while, he started to play better. And I think after we drafted Morris, he saw the writing on the wall.

    So, he’s worked on his perimeter shooting, and it is looking really, really good. People said he had a great camp. He was one of the few that played with energy last night. And I think playing the SF position is a better spot for him. BUT he needs to play defense. And he did in college, so he’s capable. Otherwise he’s a liability on the court.

    I think the spot as Hill’s back-up is between these two guys. And unfortunately, they both seem to be a liability right now. Though, from what I saw last night and at the end of last year, Hak seems like the right person for the job.

    But I’m not quite ready to count Chilly out just yet.

    and, frankly, I’d like to see both of them shine and take minutes off the nightly toll on Hill. We need that.

  • JT’s Hoops Blog

    Childress was good when he played in Atlanta. Idk what happened. Could it have been becuase Grant Hill took all the minutes at the SF? His FT% was pretty awful as well. Hakeem will always be Hakeem. He has never improved his game since he got drafted out of Syracuse.

  • A-ROCK

    I did’t say they haven’t done right since d’antoni, I said they brought in alvin gentry to run D’antoni’s offense. With D’antoni we had Amari Statomire who would roll to the basket with Nash, They have to tried to remanufacture that play with other guys, they tried all year last year with Warrick, Who is going to make easy baskets like that this year “GORTAT’ …Get real. The coaches need to come up with new plays that suit each player. Why is Fry faking the three then driving to the hole only to get denied as if he were my 3 year old son, he needs more muscle to be a PF. Also WHY is he spacing the floor, For who? answer that question Sun-arc.

  • A-ROCK

    THE SUNS ALL NEED TO PLAY IN THE “D” LEAGUE. NO JOKE THE TEAM IS A JOKE, THEY WILL NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, THE NEED A PF, A REAL SF, AND FAST 2 GUARD THAT CAN SHOOT. NASH IS GETTING OLD GUY’S AND HE CAN’T BAIL THEM OUT LIKE HE USE TO BECAUSE HE DOESN’T SHOOT BUT SO OFTEN. If they don’t put anyone else around you Nash be a Jimmer Fedder and just shoot lights out no passing straight ball hog and shoot shoot shoot. The will have a better chance at getting to the playoffs, no joke.

  • A-ROCK

    Really I don’t give the suns a chance. I want to see how the rookie comes out to play amongst the rest of the losers. All you have to do is workout in the weight room unlike the rest of the PF, show people a good shot inside around the hoop, and develop your pick and roll with Nash and you’ll be a winner in PHX! Shannon Brown you need to make your shots, your team is scrubs so just make your shots or hustle man Dudley will play and he is fun to watch good player, he just needs to work on his springs lol The other guys are misfits, stragglers, no work ethic, and not students of the game, it must suck for the coach or the coach must suck, or it must be the league paying these guys to much that they just give up and just live off there talent, nothing else to work towards, I know what the Suns problem is NO ONE WANTS TO BE GREAT ON THE TEAM. not good, but GREAT. Done.

  • Tait

    Watch an actual game of NBA will you A-ROCK. It may give you some understanding of how the game works.

  • A-ROCK

    Tait are you being sarcastic because you can STFU! Soon you will be calling me Prophet A-ROCK! I know the difference between preseason and the real season, I know the difference between players and seat warmers too, The SUNS have more seat warmers than players, Go ahead tell me I’m lying!

  • Evnerl

    The problem with childress is that he is always in bad position, sort of the opposite of Dudley who is always in good position. Warrick does not have a defined position he is not a 3 and not a 4. The good news is both of these players have the pressure of knowing that if they do not play well soon they will not get paid because of the new amnesty clause, (one this year, one next year) A-Rock your too pessimistic about the team, i do though agree with your over all theme that the Suns need to change their scheme, and style. I cannot stand it anymore, every singe time i watch them play over the past 10 years i find my self screaming “grab the ball!!!” they cannot rebound, or play defense. All defense and rebounding are all about is desire, position, and effort, and it is the coaches job to instill that in the team. Look the fact is that this team has 4 6-11+ (Bigs) that will see regular minutes (Gortat, Frye, Lopez, and Moriss) so the size is there, and Gortat is easily a top 5 center in the league. The team may not have any supper stars but they are deep, and they do have talent, I dont like Gentry. I know he brought in a d-coordinator that is to handle the new d, but the problems with this team go beyond d and rebounding. Offensively Gentry does a horrible job with play calling, and making personnel decisions especially late in games. His lackadaisical style just adds to the ineptitude of this team, he has to go! With a good coach this team could be like Dallas last year (Dirk, Chandler and a bunch of roll players-Nash, Gortat and a bunch of roll players) but im not holding my breath, not wail Gentry is the coach.

  • steve

    Don’t feed the troll.

  • A-ROCK

    @Evnerl you are 100% right about the coaches, there is no reason for the lack of desire, Dudley seems to be the only one focusing his the right way, it’s one thing to have desire and not direct it in the right way. I am serious in order for the Suns to make any kind of run there needs to be no ego’s in the locker room because I can be Pessimistic about this team for that reason alone, (they make me want to say the whole team sucks) on the other hand if the COACHES ARE ABLE TO COACH ALL THE PLAYERS LIKE FRESHMAN HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS WITH DESIRE, WILL AND THE NEED TO WIN TO PROVE SOMETHING THEY WILL BE GOOD. Not great, I just don’t believe in any of the players yet.

  • bk

    Moving forward, keeping signing 1-year contract every year.

  • Scott

    @Evnerl -

    No, amnestied players still get paid. It’s just that the contract is ended and the money paid to them doesn’t count against the cap for the team that had signed them.

    In fact, once a player has received amnesty, they can go ahead and sign with another team. Both Billups and Baron Davis have received amnesty from their former teams, and both players have signed with a second team. They are each receiving two paychecks now (Billups getting paid by both the Knicks and the Clips, and Davis getting paid by both the Cavs and the Knicks).

    So there is nothing punitive to the player who receives amnesty. It’s done by a team purely to clear cap space.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Wow. What a discussion so far.

    To be honest, it’s going to come down to the backup point guard this year, as it has since Nash has come back to the valley.

    Price or Telfair need to pick up the offense instantly and get that second unit settled.
    Chilly doesn’t have a defined role and the role he has been given this year still doesn’t play to his strengths. He needs that “Matrix” assignment where he can dive to the basket and be given about 8 touches a game where the plays are designed for him. It needs to be at small forward and it needs to be constant.

    While I do like the adjusted assignment for Hak, I don’t think they should abandon using him as the pick-and-dive guy, either.
    I’d also get Chilly in on some of that action as well. Sort-of like that double-screen action they used to run with Nash screening with Diaw who then drop-screened to Matrix for an easy lob.

    High-octane; sub them in and out as needed and / or until the starters are ready to return.

  • Zak

    @ Rich Anthony, you’ve got it right in my opinion. Get the first and second units settled. That’s the most important thing. The start of the season will probably be rocky but consistency should settle things down as the season goes on. There really is some potential on this team this year. Part of that potential lies with some of the players to step up, part of it lies with Gentry to make good decisions and then there’s always the question of what kind of defense the Suns will play this year. That wasn’t good at all in their first preseason game against Denver. Hopefully tonight’s game will give us a better gauge on that.

  • SunsRiseUp

    I’m ready for some Suns Basketball! I do think both Chilly and Warrick will have big years.

  • rahrah

    Channing Frye is a sap!!!!!!!!!!

  • steve

    You might not think Channing Frye is a great basketball player (and I would be in agreement with you), but how does that make him “foolish and gullible” (the definition of the word “sap”)? Looking at that sentence I just wrote, there is absolutely no good way to punctuate it.

  • A-ROCK

    @steve he is foolish to think he can drive to the hole only bench pressing 100 lbs. and gullible for thinking he can be a 7 footer making his living behind the 3 point line……………….What a F’n SAP. Thanks for the insight @rahrah.

  • luis phoenix

    that the Suns have not contracting good players? childress and Warwick are very bad .. no good!

    Warrick ($13.92 million/3 years) and Childress ($27 million/4 years) !!!!!!!!!!!!!! fuck INCREDIBLE!