Suns want Phoenix to become Sebastian Telfair's home

PHOENIX — Sebastian Telfair starred in the basketball documentary “Through the Fire,” which chronicled the Brooklyn point guard’s life during his final year of high school. That defining year led him to choose the NBA over a scholarship to Louisville, but it was by no means the last hardship in an NBA success story.

Finding a home in the league hasn’t been easy.

Drafted No. 13 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2004 draft, Telfair has played for Boston, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers before landing with Phoenix this offseason.

“He’s a young player that’s still searching for that team where it’s a good fit,” head coach Alvin Gentry said of Telfair. “I told him it happens all the time in this league.

“I use (former San Antonio point guard) Avery Johnson as an example,” Gentry added. “I think Avery got released six times before he found his place in San Antonio.”

And the Suns feel Telfair just might find his own place in Phoenix.

Though he’ll likely enter Monday’s opener against the New Orleans Hornets as the third-string point guard behind Steve Nash and Ronnie Price, Telfair’s role is by no means set in stone. Price struggled with five turnovers in handling the backup duties during the Suns’ second and final preseason game on Thursday, and Gentry’s goal is to go deep in his bench to keep the roster fresh.

So Telfair will have his chances.

Finding a home, however, is more complex than matching puzzle pieces, though the fit between the Suns and Telfair appears mutually beneficial on paper.

Telfair got to know the city when visiting his cousin, former Suns point guard Stephon Marbury, who starred for Phoenix. And on the court, a compressed 66-game season will give Telfair a chance to show that his speed and court vision was crafted to operate within the Suns offense.

“Steve Nash is an All-Star point guard so it’s going to be hard to match exactly what he’s bringing to the table,” Telfair said, “but I think I have the abilities to do that — to keep that tempo up when he’s on the bench.

“My experience is going to help in that factor,” added Telfair.

Though game experience is almost paradoxical when discussing the 6-foot, 175-pound guard. He’s only 26 years old but has played in 429 games during his seven-year career. Telfair also has 189 starts as an NBA point guard, a large number that’s not that surprising considering how off the map his career has been on the media-buzz radar.

“I think it’s going to be a really good fit for him,” Gentry said. “I told him we fought to get him here.

“He has a lot of good basketball in front of him.”

Where Telfair will make an impact is another question because Phoenix, like every other NBA squad, will be handing out minutes on the fly.

Telfair hasn’t shown that he’s developed a consistent jump shot — one of the knocks on him when he came out of Lincoln High School — and individually, he’ll need to find out whether he will act more like a playmaker or a scorer on a Suns team that lacks a 15-plus points per game player.

“I’ve always been a scoring point guard also,” Telfair said. “I’m going to get in pick-and-rolls, and get the other guys involved. But I will also be looking at the basket, putting some points on the board for us.”

Questions aside, there’s one thing Phoenix knows it’s getting with Telfair — a confident, hardworking Brooklyn native who knows the position that he’s in was earned, a product of what he’s put in since his days growing up in the projects.

Being in the NBA no longer validates his success, either. He knows individual goals will come in the form of helping a winning team, one he thinks can make the playoffs.

“I have a lot of personal goals this year,” Telfair said. “I’ll try to keep them to myself for the first time, but the main thing is getting to the playoffs and be part of the team to get there.”

  • Scott

    Well, I certainly don’t mind having Telfair live in Phoenix. After all, quite a few retired athletes make the Valley their home … ;)

    I think we all realize that no backup guard is going to play like Nash. Is that really an issue? They just need to be able to play decently, with low turnovers, a few assists, some scoring, and run their unit. Hopefully Telfair will get it together.

    What I’ve heard get criticized most on his part is effort. In training camp he was slow. On the court he’s said to be turning in both low energy offense and defense. Price – who is also struggling with turnovers and low scoring – is probably beating him out sheerly based on energy level.

  • Scott

    BTW, Gani Lawal helped set up the game winning play for the Spurs last night. He put up a screen for Cory Joseph, who was then able to pass to Kawhi Leonard, who hit the winning long 2 ball.

    I just thought I’d share a story about how a Suns player participated in a win. ;)

  • freddy

    Let’s amnesty Childress and sign Manny Harris. YEAH!!!

  • Big Daddy

    Josh Chillz – Average/SLIGHTLY better than average defender. Liability on offense…His stroke etc reminds me of marion..except he made his shots

  • shazam

    telfair entered the game with about 6 minutes left last night..with in 22 seconds he made a pass that my grandmother is too smart and agile to make…bam , turn over.. do a brain scan on that moron and it will come up negative….childress is pathetic unlike telfair he has a brain cell but just doesnt care..took the few pennies sarver had left after he met babby and is happy with it

  • areudumb

    first of all telfair has been on the team for what say about a 2 weeks maybe 2nd look at ronnie prices numbers he had five TOS even steve nash had a bunch of turnovers i guess what im trying to say is give the man time and at the end of the season if you still feel that way so be it but dont judge someone off of 3 games just saying…

  • shazam

    areudumb…i dont just go off of 2 preseason games..check out his career…he hasnt done well since highschool..hes a good athlete so what has held him back?…brains.

  • Scott

    @areudumb -

    I’d like to see Telfair succeed, and succeed with the Suns. However, even though he’s been with the Suns only a week or two, it seems like he’s behind in his development. You would expect a veteran PG to be doing better than he is.

    I’m willing to give him some time, but from the beginning I questioned the decision to sign him. Maybe he was simply the best the Suns could get given their prior commitment to Brooks, cap situation, weak FA market, and so on.

  • Scott

    @freddy -

    The last I’d heard on Manny Harris was that he was waived due to lack of participation in pre-season work outs because of a burned foot. I don’t know how serious his injury is, but it may keep him out of action for a while yet.

  • Scott

    One thing I’ve noticed with the last several additions to the Suns is the tendency to pick players who can’t shoot. Meanwhile, the Suns offense is predicated on the idea that if you have the ball and are open, you need to shoot. So the Suns’ hiring and coaching don’t appear to be on the same page.

    As we’ve seen, if you try to play the Suns offense with players who aren’t shooters, you’re in trouble. One or the other has to change.

    An exception might be made for players making less than $1 million who are mainly there for deep backup and practice situations.

    Players currently on the roster who can’t shoot: Childress, Telfair, Price, Brown, Landry, Siler. With six who can’t shoot, that only leaves seven who can. And if you can’t shoot, you definitely need to play with urgency, and not all of these player do so. Siler, Landry, and Price all fit under the heading of “cheap deep backup,” so their spots are relatively easy to justify.

    With the Suns roster currently at 13, I think it would be wise for Blanks to scan the waiver wires find either some shooters – or some low cost players who hustle – with particular attention to guards.

    If they can’t do any better, I’d suggest signing PG Jeremy Lin to a 10-day contract (assuming Houston releases him). He’s not a great shooter, but he’s got some defensive and passing abilities, he hustles, and he’s cheap. He’s used to a quick run-and-gun offense, having been with the Warriors. He’s also a good locker room guy.

    If nothing else, evaluating another PG ought to light a fire under Telfair, and if it doesn’t, that indicates even more strongly that the Suns are already getting everything Telfair’s going to give.

    Also in the “if there’s no one better” dept. …. Andy Rautins, SG, was recently waived by the Mavs. He’s a spot up shooter accurate from 3 (41% in college) who can pass. He hasn’t learned to shoot midrange shots, and while active on defense (esp. zone), he lacks the lateral quickness to be a prime defender. He’d be cheap, and might be another candidate for a 10-day evaluation. (I don’t know anything about his character or why teams have passed on him.)

  • shazam

    scott..i like gani..wish we had given him more of a chance..suns have me pretty distraught right now..we should trade nash and hill while the league thinks there is still 30 quality minutes in them a lopez while people think he still has a childress while the perception is that he just doesnt fit in our system..go for the lottery..this is the lowest ive been since walter davis relapsed..on the cool side..morris,dudley and my favorite marcin are going to kick it for years to come..ok ive got it out of my going back to being a happy homer

  • areudumb

    i understand your point @scott @shazam i have followed his career since high school i think whats holding him back is not exactly his basketball I.Q but his mindset he is a shoot first PG that cant shoot if he starts using his gifts which is his speed and court vision he will be fine he is better than what he is showing

  • shazam

    its all good no doctor bro but my guess is that the mind set is housed somewhere in the brain :) nothing would make me happier than if he found a contributing spot on our squad…im telling you tho..go back and watch the video..he came in to the game dribbled a few times (no one was guarding him) and then just threw the ball to someone who was guarded tight and who was closer to half court than top of the key..there was no pressure to make a decision at that felt like the other team spotted him a 20 before the game …im 55 years old and could have taken care of the ball better than that under those circumstances.

  • Scott

    @shazam -

    Oh, thank God I’m not the oldest one here. :)