Nash says Phoenix Suns can improve with incomplete roster, Lopez decided to weigh options

PHOENIX — As painful of a season as it’s been for the Suns, frustration hasn’t settled into the players or coaches.

Two ugly losses in a row and a three-game losing streak against sub-par teams in US Airways Center isn’t keeping Phoenix distracted from working toward the near future. It doesn’t, however, help solve what exactly the more distant future holds.

Steve Nash will of course be at the epicenter of any moves the Suns make or don’t make. And while he has openly said he’s not one to demand a trade, you wonder what to make of his comments following the home loss to Toronto and then before heading off to play at Portland on Friday.

Dan Bickley believes it’s time for Nash to go a la Peyton Manning from the Colts, but Nash still remains firmly concentrated — if not slightly critical — of his current team.

“We’re definitely showing signs of inconsistency … we’re a team in transition, we don’t have a complete roster,” Nash said bluntly. “So we can’t expect to be at the top, but we can expect to improve. Just try to continue to improve every day and see how good we can get, and see if we can get on a roll enough at some point to get into the playoffs.”

Unlike Nash, head coach Alvin Gentry didn’t want to talk about the roster make-up.

“If I get the maximum effort … then I’ll take the results,” he added. “I’m not going to sit here and whine about what we don’t have. That does us no good.”

It’s natural that both the Suns’ coach and their leader have a straight-ahead mindset despite the team’s struggles. But it’s not a complete stretch to wonder if Nash’s admissions about the roster make-up — comments that weren’t going to be said during preseason — are a sign that the franchise point guard is getting antsy about the future.

The two-time MVP wondered aloud how Phoenix will fill the void of a go-to scorer leading into a mysterious offseason, and he repeatedly described the roster as being without the cohesion to make up for its obvious holes.

“Maybe you never find it,” he said of a go-to scorer. “So we got to keep searching and try to find a cohesion, and find out what works for us and how we can make each other better out there, how we can go to a second or third option in our offense.

“The club’s made a statement that we’re going to wait to the summer to make moves,” he added. “In the meantime, we can’t worry about that. We’ve just got to battle, get our heads down, keep fighting.”

Lopez talks suspension, no extension

Suns’ center Robin Lopez was suspended for Friday’s game at Portland for running into referee Rodney Mott during the Toronto game, and he said Thursday that it was a product of frustration.

Asked by one reporter if the Suns’ decision not to extend his contract had anything to do with the on-court frustration, Lopez shook his head and made a correction.

“No, no it wasn’t part of that,” he said. “They offered me, and I’m just going to weigh my options.”

And did he mean to run into Mott?

“No, I don’t think so. No,” Lopez replied.

Keeping their fingers off the triggers

The recent surge by center Marcin Gortat has some to do with an improved mid-range game, but it’s also a product of how teams are defending the Suns.

Nash said teams are giving the 7-footer good looks rather than allow the struggling Suns’ shooters to get opportunities to find their hot-shot offense of the past.

“He’s made a lot more shots around the edge of the key that I think has boosted his scoring average,” Nash said. “A lot of teams are forcing him to be our scorer. They’re going to stay with shooters, jump out on me on pick-and-rolls. He’s going to have to score to take advantage of how they’re playing.”

Meanwhile, Gentry still doesn’t have a grasp on why his team is struggling to make shots.

“I thought we would shoot the ball better,” he said. “I thought we would come up with easier baskets.”

Not a bad loss?

The Suns’ loss to Toronto on Tuesday looked bad. It was at home against a 4-13 team that hadn’t beaten Phoenix in eight years. The Raps were also on an eight-game losing streak.

But they beat the Suns 99-96.

While it obviously hurts Phoenix in the win-loss columns, maybe it wasn’t that embarrassing. Against a surprisingly successful Utah Jazz team last night, the Raptors came from 18 points down to defeat the Jazz at home in overtime.

“I wouldn’t point at them as a bad team,” Gentry said. “They’ve got a lot of high picks on their team and they got a player that came back who was the No. 1 pick and had a great game. Same thing happened in Utah last night.”

  • Scott

    Meanwhile, Gentry still doesn’t have a grasp on why his team is struggling to make shots.

    ” I thought we would shoot the ball better,” he said, “I thought we would come up with easier baskets.”


    It seems to me that spreading the floor on offense – by itself – isn’t leading to penetration or open shots.

    Maybe that would work against an opposing bench unit, or as a change-up in style of play, but it seems that feeding opponents the same style of offense throughout the game makes it easy for them to prepare an appropriate and effective response.

    My advice continues to be: pair Lopez and Gortat up front and throw them the ball. If they can score a ton or get opposing bigs in foul trouble, as STAT used to do, then you might see some changes in opposing defenses. But right now, teams are covering the perimeter and daring Gortat to shoot 30-40 points. And since he doesn’t score like that, those teams are winning.

  • Scott

    Another way of putting it: maybe it wasn’t so much a “Nash effect” on Phoenix players becoming great shooters, but it was also partly an “Amare effect.”

    Note, for example, that when the Suns played the Knicks, Shumpert and Fields poured in a ton of shots.

  • DS

    “My advice continues to be: pair Lopez and Gortat up front and throw them the ball”

    I’m not sure if that would really work but it would be an interesting experiment to watch for a quarter or two. I see Lopez getting in Gortat’s way since he’s so slow moving. Who knows though. Would definitely be interesting to watch.

  • Sam Sneak

    Amare effect? That guy was overpaid mostly for scoring points that he can’t earn without a guy like Nash.

    Even worse he was incredibly stupid and downright cowardly. He wasn’t a defensive presence because he was afraid to go after rebounds. And when he managed to stop embarrasing himself in Playoff games and contribute, he could be easily rattled; Fischer just had to get close to touching his goggles in the 2010 Playoffs and he completely folded.

    With an ego that big his agent should at least be smart enough to realize that leaving a PG who is absolutely vital to him scoring for the Knicks is crazy.

  • Chris
  • billy BAlio

    fire the coach Alvin Gentry

  • PennyAnd1


    I believe it’s 50-50 in effect for both Nash & Amare. Suns should’ve kept Amare. I’m telling you, the Suns just needs to find that go to scorer & that solves the issue. The center is there, the point guard is there. If Suns trades Nash, then it will be starting from scrap again finding a point guard this time.

    For those thinking Nash should be traded for Jameer Nelson..I watched Magic vs Celtics last night, and man Nelson stunk. Not even close compared to Nash.

    By the way, you want to know how valuable Nash is? Compare the run-n-gun 2004 Suns with Nash at the point vs this proclaimed run-n-gun (Lob-city Clippers) as CP3 as the point. See how inconsistent a point guard can be no matter how talented?

    Griffin & Jordan resembles the athleticism of Marion & Stoudamire, but see how important a point guard Nash is? Nobody will ever be the next Nash. So don’t trade Nash!

    And if you think a new coach will solve the problem. Well all I have to say is look at Doc River’s Celtic. As good of a coach he is, you ain’t successful as a team without the appropriate parts.

  • Evnerl

    We need to build this team from the ground up again, its over we just have to accept it, please trade Nash to a contender even if it is the Lakers, bomb this year and get some good parts next year. We need to blow this team up now! Trade Nash, maybe a couple of other people we can get value for (cough Frye cough) fire Gentry. Yes we will suck for a couple of years, but its not like we are any good now, seriously the longer we wait the less value we can get for him. Our window is closed with Nash, that is just a fact, we have to work on opening up a new window, that means getting rid of Nash. I know it hurts but it needs to be done.

  • Mark

    No one will trade for Nash at this stage knowing he will be a free agent at the end of the year. We won’t get anything of value for him. And no he just can’t go to the Lakers, i just won’t be able to take it. My heart, my brain would explode. Let him finish the season then go to Miami and average 7.4ppg and 13.2 apg and make miami’s big three even bigger, he can get his ring then we sign him for one day and he retires a Sun, the place where there the greatest dynasty that never was once played.

  • Scott

    @PennyAnd1 -

    I agree … most of the trade scenarios for Nash don’t make sense. The guy is the only legitimate star the Suns have, so shouldn’t the idea be to surround him with more talent instead of trading him away?

    And the burden of acquiring this talent lies on the GM, not the owner or coach.

    Likewise, changing coaches is no easy answer. So you run thru a gamut of Westfall, Fitzsimmons, Ainge, Skiles, Johnson, D’Antoni, Porter, Gentry … most of the time the team issues really revolve around the players and their talents, and not so much around the coaches.

    Having said that, though, looking at the list above I have to concede that the pattern calls for Gentry to be replaced by Majerle in about a year. ;)

  • Scott

    BTW, since I haven’t put up many silly ideas lately … heh … let me just point out that Mark Cuban is upset with Odom’s performance and is going to sit him for a bit so Odom can work on his conditioning.

    Well, if the pessimism about Odom continues, please note that a straight up trade of Childress for Odom works in the Trade Machine. :)