Phoenix Suns notes: Nash, Amare and scheduling fun

Posted by on January 22nd, 12:19 am

The one story that won’t go away this season features this simple yet excruciating question: Will the Suns trade Steve Nash, and if so what can they get for him?

Every time they lose a few games — as the Suns recently did in dropping five straight — the Nash whispers will grow a little louder. When the Suns are winning games (especially if they rejoin the playoff race), we won’t hear a peep (well, hardly a peep).

We’ve been through this song and dance enough to know where everybody stands. Nash is the “sun, moon and stars” of the franchise and the Suns won’t trade him unless he makes a request. Nash, meanwhile, has remained resolute in his stance that all his effort is going toward the season and that he does not plan on making such a request.

To me so long as the Suns have a shot at the playoffs, this is a non-issue. I don’t see any way that Phoenix moves him in such a situation.

However, if the bottom falls out and the Suns become a definite lottery team before the trade deadline it would not surprise me if those stances are softened. That’s because all along the Suns’ plan has been to rebuild while staying competitive with veterans like Nash and Grant Hill who can set a fabulous example for the younger Suns. But if the “staying competitive” part of that goes out the window, it would make sense for the Suns to skip right to Step 2.

For the first time I can remember, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby seemed to acknowledge that possibility last week on the Doug and Wolf show, as Adam Green reports.

“Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this league, and that’s the reality of it,” Babby said.

Such a cycle would involve the natural phase of being bad to be good, a scary proposition since franchises like the Timberwolves and Clippers are just starting to get good after years of doing just that. Yet with enough cap space to potentially offer two max contracts and a potential high lottery pick if Nash is dealt, the Suns would have assets to make a quicker rebuild possible.

John Gambadoro wrote that a Nash trade won’t be easy because some of the most logical trade partners don’t have the kind of assets to deal for him, but a Nash deal would not be about an equal swap of talent, it would be about officially starting the rebuilding process by hopefully obtaining at least a decent future asset or two along with likely improving their own draft pick without Two Time.

If that were to happen, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reports that the Magic would have serious interest in Nash, but this time around they don’t have a Gortat to offer in return. I think Indiana (Collison/filler/pick?) could be a possibility as well.

The speculation is only beginning as (barring a Howard/D-Will trade) Nash will be one of the few players potentially available who could swing a conference race.

To me it’s time to start thinking about the future and the bounty this draft could provide because the Suns need more young top end talent to contend, but with the scarcity of legitimate trade offers and due to what Nash means to this franchise it’s understandable that the front office would only take that viewpoint if the Suns fall completely out of the race.

A sprint of a schedule

This week the Suns received a large dose of scheduling hell, darting around the country to play games in seemingly every region of the nation.

But every team will feel that travel pain (as Suns fans know after previous visits from exhausted Portland and Milwaukee clubs), and NBAStuffer.com did a nice job of breaking down the schedule to see who really has it worst.

According to the site, the Suns will not play five games in six days as 19 unlucky teams will have to do. They also luck out in that they will only play four games in five nights on six separate occasions, which may be more than a usual season but is half as many as Charlotte must play.

Phoenix has 21 back-to-backs, which is about middle of the pack, and 14 three in fours, which is near the league average as well.

As far as the opponent rest breakdown goes, the Suns will face seven teams playing their fourth game in five nights, and they will get 17 games against teams playing on a back-to-back. There’s a wide range of teams playing opponents on a back-to-back as the Bobcats will get 28 of them but the Heat just 11.

What’s wrong with Amare?

Mike Schmitz broke down how the Suns shut down Amare Stoudemire on Wednesday night, but these days everybody is having success limiting the artist known as STAT.

During the Knicks’ six-game losing streak, Amare is averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 boards on 37.6 percent shooting, and for the season he’s going for just 17.6 and 8.0 on 41.3 percent marksmanship, which aren’t exactly max contract numbers.

We won’t be able to fully evaluate the Suns’ decision not to offer Amare a fully guaranteed max deal for another few seasons, but the early returns this year are that it was a good one. Amare was a beast last season so perhaps this is just an early season slump and his numbers will revert to normal, but watching the Suns-Knicks game STAT didn’t exactly resemble a max player with three years left on his deal.

Of course, the Suns definitely botched the aftermath of that summer, but those errors can be rectified much easier than whiffing on a max player since Hedo has already been banished and Childress likely will be as well via the amnesty clause next offseason.

This season it seems like we’re beginning to see why the Suns did not offer Amare a fully guaranteed max deal as much as it would have helped in the short term.

And 1

  • Entering Saturday, Nash led the league in assists (10.0) and Gortat in field goal percentage (59.9 percent).
  • The Suns’ ranked 15th in offensive efficiency (99.8) and 21st in defensive efficiency (101.0) despite a season-best defensive effort in Boston. The Suns limited the Celtics to an efficiency of 78.9 and were downright defensive in New York as well, holding the Knicks to 89.8.
  • Nash somehow ranks poorly in adjusted plus minus, with a minus 9.15. He annually ranks among the league’s top players in this stat. Grant Hill (13.94), Markieff Morris (10.36) and Robin Lopez (9.20) lead the team.
  • Morris has dropped to ninth in David Thorpe’s rookie rankings.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire · Future · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Steve Nash

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Quique Reyes // Jan 22, 2012 at 1:00 am

    I think the Suns need a playmaker at the power forward & a guy like Boris Diaw wouldn’t hurt . He’s played with Steve Nash before and he could open space for the young guys . The Suns may have a chance to get him for a cheap price .

  • 2 PennyAnd1 // Jan 22, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I don’t get how anyone could trade a PG like Nash, no one will ever be the next Nash. You may be athletic, pure shooter or whatever, but that didn’t keep Iverson, Frances, Marbury, or etc…to stay in the game longer than Nash has. I say keep Nash until he retires. Nash has more value other than being the leader in assist this season, he is the glue the keeps the team together and has grown wiser over the years. To trade Nash is to basically give up.

    I agree with Quique Reyes, they need smart playmakers, bring in diaw. If I had it my way, I would trade Marcin Gortat & Lopez, plus a forward like Hakeem for Dwight Howard, and trade in Brown, Childress to bring in JR Smith once his contract expires oversea.

    Nash, Hill, JR Smith, Frye, Howard –> Reserve Dudley, Morris, Redd, Price, and Telfair

  • 3 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 22, 2012 at 9:18 am

    PennyAnd1 – get out.

    First of all, you are actually okay with the Suns BRINGING IN JR SMITH! Absolute sin. You may as well announce that you are okay with some countries still using stoning as a means of execution.

    Then you’re trying to bring in Dwight Howard. He would be a rental. NO WAY he signs long term in Phoenix, so you’re giving away our first very good center in, (I thought a long time), ever? – for nothing. You also tossed in RoLo so now we have even more pieces required to start from ground zero.

    Diaw was good in the valley, but that is Morris’ spot now and I like what he will bring.

    Oh man, so much blood in your suggestions. SO MUCH BLOOD.

    A Nash trade is a complicated beast. Far more complex than the last two seasons because the teams that would love to have him have already swung deals that have exhausted their trade chips.

    That means those teams would have to go looking for other teams to get involved which means that they will have to give up a little something extra to get Nash. Would it be worth it?

    At this stage, I think what would have to happen is if Nash were to leave town via trade, he’d be leaving with 2 or 3 of his current teammates. I think the Suns would have to send the team that gets Nash a player or two and they’d have to send another guy away to make up the difference for another team in order to get youth and draft picks back.

    As I imagine it now, if Nash leaves, I’d expect Grant Hill, JMZ, and Frye to be gone with him for sure. Possibly RoLo too as compensation to the third team in the deal.

  • 4 Scott // Jan 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    @Rich -

    The Suns could trade Nash immediately to the Raptors for Bargnani, thereby assuring the Suns of crashing for the rest of the season and setting them up to take Anthony Davis in the draft with the first pick. That trade and pick would set them up to run the league’s first all-7′ starting squad of Davis, Frye, Bargnani, Gortat, and Lopez, with Morris coming in off the bench.

    Heh. :)

  • 5 Mel. // Jan 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    LOL, Scott. The only intangible in that plan is somehow managing to out-duel Charlotte, Washington, New Orleans, Detroit and New Jersey in a thrilling six-team “Wildcard Tournament of Ultimate Failure.”

    Actually, it’s arguable that something that awful would provide more competitive basketball than most of the actual first and second-round matchups between contending teams. Stern could promote it like a WWE event, and use it as part of his post-lockout efforts towards “creating a lateral competitive environment” mandate. I’d Tivo that all damn night.

  • 6 Cantrell Marcus // Jan 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm

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  • 7 WLX // Jan 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I like the Idea of getting Diaw back. Maybe by offering Warrick and Telfair + 1 or 2 2nd round draft picks. I also wonder what it would take to pry Dwight and Monta Ellis from Orlando and Warriors respectively. Suns could offer Gortat, Frye, Childress, or Price/Brown/Warrick + 2 1st round picks for Dwight and Ryan Andersen.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=88p9yan

    Then you work three way deal with warriors and another team in need of cap space for Monte Ellis.
    Shannon Brown, Robin Lopez (to warriors), Ronnie Price, Redd?, are in the deal along with Ellis (to suns) and Kawme Brown (to third team) plus the third teams player(s) (Preferable: A big to Warriors) and maybe a 1st round pick?
    Here’s a 2 way trade Gs and Suns (can’t do three way trade until March 1):

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=8x362zf

    Imagine the suns dream team:
    PG-Nash, Ellis,
    SG-Ellis, Ellis, Dudley, Redd?
    SF- Hill, Dudley, Redd?
    PF- Andersen, Morris
    C- HOWARD!!!, Sign a Undraft Big or D-League

    Its a HUGE RISK…I KNOW!!! BUT it could also become a huge REWARD!!! Sometimes you just have to risk it all.

  • 8 Scott // Jan 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    @Mel -

    In that sort of scenario, my fantasy team would be led by William Hung. ;)

  • 9 shazam // Jan 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    im laughing so hard i dont know where to start w/ comments…thanks guys ..i needed that :)

  • 10 PennyAnd1 // Jan 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    @Rich

    All I have to say is Dwight is an upgrade of Amare, and JR Smith is an upgrade of J Rich. Sure JR has some personal issues, but one thing I can tell you about the guy, he plays to win. And with Nash to calm him down and go to him as a scorer in place of J Rich, man JR Smith can catch heat really quick, especially in a fast pace.

    Who says Dwight might not stay? If the team is a contender he’ll stay. And I’d trade Gortat & lopez for him anytime, Dwight has basketball reflex that Gortat & Lopez combined will never have. And it’s that reflex that fits well in a Nash face-pace system, although I don’t mind WLX’s idea of getting Monte Ellis.

  • 11 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jan 23, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Okay, so I know people are down on Otis Smith as the GM of the Orlando Magic, but, PennyAnd1, you be Otis Smith for a second.

    Phoenix calls you, offering Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez for Dwight Howard? Now, this is your quote..
    “Dwight has basketball reflex that Gortat & Lopez combined will never have.”

    So, you currently have a player that you hold higher than Gortat and Lopez COMBINED, yet you think that it’d be in Orlando’s interest to trade Howard for that? Ugh.

    And no. Dwight Howard is not inking a long-term contract with the best player beside him due to retire a year or two into his contract leaving him with a shaky supporting cast, no back up center, (leaving him to log ungodly minutes), and no shot at a title. Right.

    But, PennyAnd1 – I’m sorry I told you to get out. I jumped the gun on that. That being said…

    WLX, GET OUT!!!

    A franchise that is scrambling to acquire draft picks should give away TWO of them plus TWO players for BORIS DIAW?!?

    … So much blood in this discussion thread.

  • 12 KeZ // Jan 23, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Pennyand1 and WLX…….Are u guys from this planet?

  • 13 Zak // Jan 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    No more trading away draft picks! And no to trading Gortat! Everything/everyone else could be on the table even though there are a few other players which I hope the Suns hang on to.

    And one point that I can’t remember ever coming up during all of the “trade Nash” conversations is that Steve Nash will be and unrestricted free agent next year. What team would (and could) make Phoenix a really good trade offer for Nash with no guarantee that he would stay beyond the rest of this season? Sure there are teams that would love to have him, maybe even just for the rest of this season but I think it’s unlikely anyone would trade significant talent in return for potentially a one season rental… even of someone with Steve’s talent.

  • 14 Cam // Jan 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Of all the teams in the league I can only think of two that would be willing to give up any significant talent for a one year rental like Nash, LAL and NYK. The problem is, neither of those teams really has any talent that the Suns want. Imam Shumpert and Carl Landry? Salaries won’t work, impossible. Who would the Suns even want from LAL? (Not considering the big three on each team that would not be available for the trade.) Go Suns.

  • 15 Zak // Jan 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Exactly, Cam. I’m sure the LAL would love to have Steve even for only this season but they basically have no one they would be willing to trade for him that the Suns would want.

    And I think it’s beginning to sink in in NY that the Knicks have just screwed up trying to form their own “big three”. They would have been much better off this year if they had never made the trade for Anthony. A team starting all the players the Knicks gave up to get Anthony would probably make a better than average starting lineup for an expansion team.

  • 16 steve // Jan 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    @PennyAnd1

    I would love to have Dwight in a PHX uni, and I think assuming he would leave at the first opportunity might be premature… but the fact is we’re never going to know that in the first place because he’s not coming here. As Rich pointed out, we don’t have the talent Orlando would need to get in return. Orlando wouldn’t have dealt Gortat in the first place if they believed he could replace Dwight.

    @MLX

    Mentioning the name of that former Sun will not be tolerated on Planet Orange, not even if it’s just to make fun of him.

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