Michael Redd signing complicates Suns' bench

The Phoenix Suns’ 2009-10 bench morphed into an elite unit for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the fact that everybody knew their roles and the core of players that made up the bench complemented each other perfectly.

After signing Michael Redd on Thursday, the Phoenix Suns’ roster will house 13 players with a legitimate gripe for rotation minutes once Redd is ready to take the floor, which means Alvin Gentry has quite the task on his hands to figure out which players deserve time and which players must be relegated to mop-up duty.

When Mike D’Antoni coached the Suns he barely played half that many players each game, and last season Gentry spoke of how 11 was too many to play consistently as much as he likes using his entire bench.

With 66 games crammed into four months and nights when Steve Nash and Grant Hill will likely take it easy, the Suns will likely rely on their deep reserves more often than they usually would, but if the Suns want to build bench chemistry I feel they need to settle on 10 players to receive the majority of minutes on a night in/night out basis.

That would involve the team trimming three players from its rotation. Ronnie Price and Sebastian Telfair are the backup point guards, with Price getting the majority of the minutes thus far. Hakim Warrick went from a DNP-CD to 32 minutes of action. He doesn’t seem to have a position with Markieff Morris deserving time at the backup four, but with his scoring punch he figures to earn some time as the season goes on.

And now the Suns are back in the same spot they were in last season with five wings for four spots (before considering Warrick as a potential three) when the additions of Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus squeezed Josh Childress out of the rotation.

If Redd is right, he will play. This is a guy who averaged 20 points per game over an 11-year career. I’m not sure if he will start because a Nash-Redd starting lineup would fly in the face of the Suns’ desire to improve defensively, and he could end up being the main scorer on a bench that lacks punch. Many of the reserves are solid enough defensively to make up for Redd’s deficiencies on that end and in turn he could potentially carry the offense for stretches off the pine.

Wednesday’s -32 notwithstanding, Jared Dudley will be playing consistent minutes this season and Hill will as well, although it would not be a surprise to see his floor time cut a bit to preserve his health through this mad dash of a season.

So if Redd plays well enough to be a rotation player that means Shannon Brown and Childress are likely battling for a spot. Neither player has been particularly impressive thus far although it would be kind of a shame for both players individually to lose their spot, Brown since he came here on a cheap one-year deal to rebuild his value and Childress because this happened to him last season and the Suns need to see what they have before making an amnesty decision on him next summer.

Such depth can be a blessing and a curse, a blessing because depth will be a requirement during this jam-packed schedule but a curse if there’s not enough quality depth and defined roles fail to materialize

Gentry showed a Midas Touch developing his bench and guiding his rotations in 2009-10, but he’s got a much tougher job making this collection of pieces work.

The Warlocks’ effect

Entering the free agency period, Michael Redd was my pick to fill the Suns’ backup shooting guard spot, as I wrote in our free agency 3-on-3.

The biggest reason was that I felt Redd possessed the most upside to emulate the go-to scorer the Suns so desperately need for stretches at a time because he has done it so often before.

And the biggest reason I thought there was a chance Redd could become even a facsimile of his Olympic self is because of Aaron Nelson and the Suns’ training staff, which Redd himself cited as one of the things that drew him to this organization.

The Warlocks have worked wonders on so many vets from Nash to Hill to Shaq that the Suns should feel extra confident taking a chance on a player like Redd who could become an important rotation player if the Suns’ trainers keep him healthy.

I had a chance to sit down and chat with Nelson toward the end of last season and I asked him if he ever wonders if his staff can make a difference for a chronically injured player.

“You always wonder, and again if you fail then it goes the other way,” Nelson said. “I like challenges, and my staff likes challenges. We like to see what we can do and what we’re capable of doing, and when I see injured players for other teams I feel for my peers because we’re all in the same boat. The guys who are paid a lot of money and normally are playing a lot of minutes for you, when they get hurt that’s a lot of pressure and a lot of stress for us and the other head athletic trainers for the other teams. I don’t look at it and say, ‘I can do better than them.’ I think we’re all in the same boat. I don’t look at it in that perspective, I look at it as if my GM calls me and says, ‘Hey, if we have this guy on our team,’ then I think about it. But I don’t think outside of that.

“If I’m watching SportsCenter and so and so has been out now for whatever I think that I feel bad for my peers that are having to deal with it because I have to deal with it when our guys get hurt, but again if our GM or owner says, ‘Hey, if we’re looking at Player X, do you think you can help him?’ Immediately I start thinking, ‘OK, yeah.’”

Nelson and crew have a new challenge ahead of them when they aren’t focusing on maintaining the health of Nash and Hill, and if they succeed the Suns’ offense will receive a much-needed boost at a veteran’s minimum price.

Tags: Michael Redd Suns Trainers

  • Quique Reyes

    This Team Has Great Depth ! Just starting the wrong players . Frye is not a true power forward ! Start Morris /Gortat at the 4 & Lopez at the 5 . Bench needs to stop shooting 3′s . Let’s get in the paint !

  • shazam

    @ michael.. i remember when you suggested him..i went and looked up his status and totally agreed w/ u…fingers crossed..this one could be good

  • steve

    Sarver is the devil. This is just a front to make it look like he’s trying. Stand against the idiocy of this front office (as if you actually have any power)!

    I’m happy with this signing. I doubt it will really work out, but at least it makes sense to try.

  • http://h Sun-arc

    Yeah. Too many decent Players isn’t always good, I guess.

    It’s gotta come down to who plays best in the next few games. Personally, i would think gentry should do:

    Nash / price
    Dudz / redd (if ready, brown if not)
    Hill / hak (if D improves, and even if not)
    Morris / frye
    Gortat / Lopez

    But brown and chilly might get the back up 2 & 3 spots. And look at the bench with redd and hak- two sieves on D, and frye is no stopper either. But how many of them can you move to starter minutes? I’d say go with l the line up above and play the 2nd team sparingly, except for the 1 & 3 spots to rest the old guys.

    You could also move dudz to back up hill and start redd or brown at the 2 spot. But that takes out hak, who i think is useful. All of it is a tough call for them. I don’t envy them last year or this year.

  • Scott

    Keep in mind that even if Redd does regain some measure of his former form, he could go down with a season-ending injury at any moment. So Babby should not trade away all the reserves.

    If Redd can really play, I’d put him at starting SG. It may not be good for the defense, but it could be great for the offense.

    I’d also play Warrick as backup SF and Dudley as backup SG, and I’d tell Childress and Brown to keep shooting, because if they can help the team with their shooting they can get some court time. (In other words, no court time other than garbage time for Childress and Brown unless they can shoot.)

  • Tony

    Good stuff Michael, it’s great to have so many new articles to read.

    From what I’ve seen so far, the starting lineup is too slow and unathletic. Part of the reason for the turn around in the Sixers game in the 4th quarter was that the reserve unit was pushing the pace. Although I’ve so far been unimpressed with Shannon Brown, his speed and athleticism are needed in the starting lineup to help quicken the pace. And Gentry by now has to replace Frye with Morris. I’m sure Gentry is afraid that if he does make this switch, Frye will lose all his confidence. However, at some point, for the good of the team, he has to bench Frye.
    I would like to see a starting lineup of Nash, Brown, Hill, Morris, and maybe even Lopez until Gortat’s hand fully heals as not only has his offense been subpar but his defense hasn’t been exceptional either.

    I agree completely with your analysis concerning the new problem Gentry faces. No matter what Babby claims, signing Redd was clearly a panic move and it really makes no sense to me. Gentry is going to be put in last season’s position which took him what almost half the season before he finally settled on a second unit rotation. This is once again going to be a problem except that now there are even fewer games for Gentry to figure it all out. I’m expecting Gentry to basically give Redd one chance when he’s finally able to play and if he doesn’t perform, he’ll likely be relegated to the bench for good. Gentry already has enough problems to deal with, he doesn’t need another one.

  • Geo

    With Redd on the team it puts more pressure on the guys to start playing good ball or else someone is going to start riding the pine all season long. I say we wait two more games and see how are team plays before making more changes to the roster. If we lose most of our games this month, this team needs to pull the trigger on rebuilding sooner than later. Make the nash trade happen.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Tony – I’m not so sure about Gentry giving Redd one look.

    Something tells me that Gentry gets nudged here and there depending on the player in question. I still remember Vince Carter from last season and how he played all of those games and gave us nothing yet, he was still out there.
    Kind of weird considering coach Gentry benched Amare Stoudemire in favor of Lou Amundson in a playoff game in the second half, basically.

    I think Gentry was made to keep Carter out there as an attraction. I kind of see Redd as another attraction and I wouldn’t be shocked if, as soon as he’s able, he starts logging decent minutes and if his health holds / strengthens, major minutes.

    As far as a direct comparison between Vince and Redd go, I would actually side with our new recruit.

    The major difference is that last season, Vince Carter was getting PAID! Major money for him last season whether he played well or not. I mean from a fan’s standpoint you hate the guy because the effort lacked, but if it were you and you knew that you were either going to be traded if you played well or bought out if you coasted, you might coast too to save your strength for the following season when you land on a contender.

    Michael Redd, however, is on the vet minimum.

    If he is able, he must go out there and murder the court as this is pretty much an audition for him – two-fold in fact.
    One one hand, if his health soars under the Demonic care of our Warlocks, he may want to make sure he kills it to remain with the team, possibly as the scoring option through the rebuilding process.
    On the other, if he doesn’t to stay, he can kill it for a year and perhaps end up in New York or Miami or LAC for a couple seasons and enjoy likely playoff runs.

    As far as Gentry having to juggle, (and boy will he ever), I hope he actually keeps it simple.

    Right now, I’d run it as: Nash / JMZ / Warrick / Morris / Gortat with Price / Brown / Chilly / Frye / Rolo.

    Redd and Hill out until healthy; Telfair in sparingly.

    Yes. I know Warrick can’t play defense, but have you seen Grant Hill over the last 2 games while unhealthy? I’d rather have Warrick’s scoring punch right now.

  • KeZ

    Michael Redd is the last guy we need. We need another big who can bang and hit the backboard, not an old, injured 2 guard……..

    Horrible pickup

  • Jeremy A

    Childress is the obvious candidate to lose playing time. Dudely and Brown will see decreased minutes as well when Redd become adapted to the system.

    Suns have way to many pieces and no one to build around. The biggest names of the 2012 NBA Free Agent class will be Deron Williams (likely to head back to Nets) and Gerald Wallace (Would we really like to build around Wallace?) Because of this, our best option is to trade our pieces for future draft picks.

    With a 0-2 record, we are on pace for the #1 overall lottery pick. Let us draft Andre Drummond AKA Amar’e #2!!!

  • Jeremy A

    @ Rich Anthony

    If STAT was benched for Amundson it was probably because of his lazy, Jamarcus Russell-like personality.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    I think the team was instructed to pick up Brown because they wanted an athletic player who would be entertaining to watch in a down year.

  • http://godaddy.com Big Daddy

    The odds of Redd going down with another injury are the same as any other player. The lineup I’d love to see is:

    Dudley/Brown would both be sparks off the bench given their reputation. These two are used to coming off the bench getting 20 + – minutes a game. A back court of Nash/Redd would be beautiful(once redd gets his legs back under him).

  • sun-arc

    @ Big Daddy: I agree with your line up except I’d have Price as the 2nd PG.

    @ Scott, Rich, Tony: I hope the team is making decisions about winning rather than making decisions about selling tickets, particularly when it came to playing Carter. He allowed us to keep Dudz on the bench, and he showed up with an injury, so they thought he needed time. I think they legitimately wanted to see if he’d begin to play. Sure, they waited too long, but we weren’t any better with Dudz starting and Carter coming off the bench.

    And I think Redd was on the radar before the season started. He was for a lot of us fans, so he had to be for the FO. But they probably wanted to see where the team was before taking that chance. If Brown had been great, they wouldn’t need Redd’s shooting. So, is it panic? Maybe, though I doubt it since he is the type of player that could help (hopefully) and may be a long(ish) term player for us as a role player. Is it selling tickets? Again, maybe, but I doubt it since he’s now a ‘has been’ in most people’s minds. But, you may be right on this since if he does work out well, he won’t win us games, but will be fun to watch. Still, I sense this is more about a low-risk gamble for the future, like Hill was.

    Hopefully he’ll work out as well as Hill. And hopefully we’ll get better pieces next year.

    Glad to see the good discussion and article. Like Tony, I’m glad to have so much to read about.

  • sun also rises

    I don’t know which Tony is creepier: the John Hinkley one who writes Unibomber manifestos and who has a poster of Sarver over his bed and who creates alternate personalities to “agree” with his dumb points, or the one who actually makes comments that make sense. I guess it comes with the territory of hearing voices inside your head or whatever.

    I still like the Redd signing, and calling it a desperation move is just the usual Chicken Little crap. Just read the article. It’s a vet signing for chump change that might be worth the investment, and was on the fan radar (The real fans, anyway) since months ago. Deciding that it represents a reaction-ary signing after TWO GAMES is typical to the clowns, who will bend every little move to suit their sick fascination with the team’s failure. For the rest of us (aka those who aren’t suffering from very serious personality disorders) it’s just NBA business as usual.

    And agreed with sun-arc and others, this is why I love this blog so much. Great articles and a minimum of village idiots (we only need the one).

  • Geo

    From what we can tell from all the aquisitions can we pretty much agree that the suns front office is HOPING for a mediocre team with all these one year contracts. Also that a major rebuild is heading with one year contracts and nash and hill almost retired.
    What would be the best to rebuild? The way the office is doing it now by letting Nash play out his career with us, let Hill go at the end of this season with all the one year contracts? Or tank the season hope for a high draft pick? Or let the trades happen now or later? Like some have said already this team is going no where fast. What would you guys do?

  • Zak

    @Geo – I think all the one year contracts are partially because no one knows how much gas is left in the tanks of Nash and Hill. And I think they know that they screwed up last year with the contracts they offered Childress and Warrick. They also know that they aren’t going to be able to lure any big name FAs to Phoenix in the near future. The Suns actually have a potentially very good center rotation with Gortat and Lopez and I think they made a good grab in the draft by taking Morris. He has good potential to be a solid if not spectacular NBA PF for years to come. Gortat, Lopez and Morris have the potential to form a great front line for years to come.

    This year’s draft is going to be deep in talent. No matter where the Suns’ draft pick falls this year they should be able to get at least one talented player.

    As I said before, this team as is isn’t one that high profile FAs would consider coming to right now but, if Morris proves himself this season and Gortat and Lopez prove themselves to be a strong one-two punch at center, then maybe the perception of the Suns may change. All they may need next season is one player who thinks, “I could be the guy who turns Phoenix into a contender”. I have no idea who that player might be. And it’s all conjecture on my part. But I like the way Gortat, Lopez and Morris are playing. A good front line isn’t an easy thing to develop in the NBA. That alone should attract some interest if it pans out.

  • sun also rises

    @ geo

    woah, woah. You actually want us to stop throwing rocks in glass houses and discuss what we would do in Sarver’s shoes? I don’t know if some of the people on this site are capable of actually being that objective (or sane).

    But all jokes aside, I agree with Zak. This lame brained “the team sucks/we aren’t tanking and we should be/nobody wants to come to PHX” BS is so out of touch with the reality of the NBA at large that it’s just sad. Nash didn’t get traded because he didn’t want to be traded, and that’s his right. The morons who cry and wail about Babby hanging onto our bargaining chip are missing the point and buying into the new generation of players, where loyalty is nothing and it’s ALL ABOUT THEM RINGZ AND MULTIPLE CHAMPIONSHIPS, etc.

    Nash wants to stick around through the tough times, and again, that’s his right. The Tonys of the world buy into dumping the guy who put in years of work for the team for the sake of admitting total defeat and turning into the Clippers (Tho that did seem to work out), which is about as un-fan as you can get. It’s better to purposely suck for the sake of getting that top five pick than it is to try to fight on as an underdog? Typically pathetic mentality, like a fat kid who never got chosen for dodgeball and thinks he knows what it is to actually sacrifice something in the name of sports.

    Like Zak said (conjecture or not), the current course is fine. Keep Lopez and Gortat and Dudz, let Nash earn his retirement in purple and orange if he wants. Groom Morris and look for a find in the draft at whatever seed we get. The only hard line move I would probably make is to let Alvin go if the team can’t get it together with his line shift approach, tho it pains me to say as much. I love what Gentry’s done for the Valley but it looks like he can’t get past what worked in 2010.

  • Tony

    Sun Also Rises,

    you are too funny. Your affinity towards this Suns front office is astounding. I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Where I believe Sarver is the worst owner currently in the NBA, surpassing Sterling of the Clippers at this point, you support him and believe being a true fan means supporting the ownership as well as the players. I believe if the problems begin at the ownership level, then that’s where the blame should go, not on the players. Again, it would be one thing if Sarver took the Arte Moreno philosophy and up until this off-season in MLB, not wanting to spend big bucks to sign the best players while also reducing ticket prices and concession merchandise as well. In that case, I could be somewhat sympathetic. But this is not the case with Sarver. He continually raised ticket prices year after year while at the same time cutting costs and it was only until the Suns struggled and stopped selling out where he was forced to lower the prices. I don’t know why you support such a corporate sleeze who also didn’t even earn his money through his own work, but inherited from his daddy. With that being said, it’s your perrogative to support Sarver and mine to hope and pray for the day he sells the franchise.
    As far as Nash is concerned, he’s my favorite player and I would like nothing more than to see him win a ring with the Suns. The worst part of it all is that he’s shortening his career by playing with the Suns at this point because of all the responsibilities he has to create the team’s offense. So, I would love to see him stay as a Sun if this was at least a competitive team but since it isn’t, it would be nice to see him go play with the Knicks.