Phoenix Suns 125, Portland Trail Blazers 107 — Controlling their destiny


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrNLOGDBG7o]

PHOENIX — Tonight we learned what happens when a team in the midst of a massive tank job meets a team in desperate need of a win to vault into one of the top eight sought-after spots in the Western Conference.

With Nicolas Batum and Raymond Felton joining LaMarcus Aldridge on the list of unavailable Portland players, the Suns creamed the Tank Trail Blazers 125-107 behind a season-best 60 percent shooting in a game that was never particularly close save for a Portland run midway through the second.

After Denver beat Houston earlier in the evening, that meant what was unthinkable at the All-Star break was now a reality: the Suns would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

That ultimately may end up being the season’s biggest accomplishment being that they are tied for eighth with the Rockets (and own the tiebreaker) and lead the Jazz by a mere half game after Utah knocked off Dallas in triple overtime.

If the season ended today we’d be headed for another Suns-Spurs war in the 1-8 series, but we are faaaaaar from that point.

Even if the Rockets (who have lost four in a row) continue to crumble, the Jazz play these same Blazers twice, Orlando without Dwight and the Suns at home. The Suns will win any potential three-way tie with the Rockets and the Jazz, but at this point the Suns know they can only enjoy this tonight before preparing for one heck of a stretch run.

“People had us for dead beginning of the season, middle of the season, All-Star break,” Jared Dudley said. “And we’ve worked our butts off, we’ve played through it, guys have learned their roles and I think we’re ready to do it.”

Added Steve Nash, “We have a great opportunity here. If we win out we’re in.”

That is true after the Suns took care of business in a game they just couldn’t blow against a Blazers defense that provided hardly any resistance, particularly against the Suns’ starters.

Despite not even playing a second in the fourth quarter, four Suns starters scored between 16-20 points and the fifth, Nash, dished 13 assists. Collectively they shot 68 percent and everyone but Channing Frye (plus 18) recorded plus/minuses between plus 23-26.

According to the NBA’s advanced stats tool, the Suns’ starters logged 23 minutes together and outscored the Blazers 68-50 in that time. Extrapolated to a full game that’s roughly a 136-100 blowout.

This unit scored at a pace of 150.8 points per 100 possessions and hit 72.5 percent of its shots when the five starters shared the floor. Again, this is in practically an entire half of basketball that didn’t include the fourth quarter’s garbage time.

“Offensively, we’re playing at a high level,” Dudley said after his team came a fourth-quarter bucket shy of posting 30 points in every quarter. “When we play unselfish and move the ball like we did and shoot the ball from three, it’s hard to beat us. Sometimes we can get stagnant and force shots, but tonight we didn’t do that. And we’re going to need to play that way these last five games.”

Added Shannon Brown, “When we’re playing the game the right way, there’s not too many teams that can stick with us, especially at the pace that we play.”

After the bench often was the unit making the big runs on the road trip, it was nice to see the starters really throttle an opposing group, especially without injured forward Grant Hill.

Of course, the Blazers started luminaries such as Luke Babbitt (who scored a career-high 18 points), Jonny Flynn and Joel Przybilla so it’s not like the Suns did this against the Thunder, but it’s impressive to score that efficiently for the equivalent of a half of basketball against any NBA team.

Overall the game followed a fairly predictable script. The Suns jumped out to an early double-digit lead and watched the Blazers make a run to cut the lead to three midway through the second quarter. Then the Suns bludgeoned them with a 21-9 spurt that featured 12 from an interior-minded Frye to go up 13 at the break. Portland made a mini-run to get the lead down to single digits early in the second half before a 14-4 Suns run buried them

“It’s a team that was sitting guys, that had nothing to play for right now,” Dudley said. “We knew we had to handle business, you have to put them away early. The game kind of went how you expected: take a lead, they make a little run and second half run away with it.”

The Suns ensured the fourth quarter was a yawn fest and improved to 8-0 against sub-.500 teams after the All-Star break in their final such game of the season. Along with a West-best 11-2 home mark since the break, that’s why the Suns suddenly control their own destiny in the playoff race.

It’s kind of funny because losing to bad teams at home is the biggest reason the Suns dug themselves a 12-19 hole in the first place yet they’ve managed to fight all the way back by completely rectifying those issues.

“We were pretty much out of it around the All-Star break and we found a way to claw back in,” Nash said.

Yes the Suns have, and if they continue to defend their home court with this same kind of ferocity they will earn at least two more additional home games.

And 1

  • Nash on his health: “I felt pretty good. I can’t complain. I got through the game without any setbacks. I wasn’t maybe 100 percent, but I got through the game and I’m just happy that I can produce.”
  • With the starters sitting the entire fourth, only Brown played 30 minutes (and right on the nose at that). Nash, meanwhile, was limited to 27:25. “All the rest we can get we take because we play three games in the next four days,” Gentry said. “We were kind of determined not to have to stick [Nash] back in there. We were going to ride those guys until the end.”
  • KTAR’s Jon Bloom overheard Blazers guard Jamal Crawford telling Gentry and Suns announcer Eddie Johnson that he “needs to be here in Phoenix” with Portland teammates nearby. It’s hard to know the exact context of the comment near the end of an ugly blowout but it bears watching nonetheless.
  • Gentry on the game: “We did what we had to do, which was good. I thought that from start to finish we were pretty good. We had some lapses in a few areas where we lost a little bit of focus, but I thought for the most part we were pretty good.”
  • These teams just don’t play any close games. The Suns previously bashed the Blazers by 25 and were eviscerated in Portland by 38.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

  • Serek

    Solid win. Keep them coming, and we might see some playoff action yet.
    It’s tight though… but maybe OKC keeps playing like they did tonight and SA turns down the pressure once they got No. 1 seed secured, who knows.
    And as for Crawford, he probably feels drawn to the Warlocks. We already have Michael Redd though ;)

  • PennyAnd1

    Great win for Suns. I think this might be their longest winning streak of the season when it’s all said and done.

    Anyone else here think Suns should go get Aldridge next season? I hear he wants out of Portland. If Suns get Aldridge & Gordon next season, that would make them a complete team.. fulfilling the lack of PF & SG the Suns desperately needs.

  • KeZ

    Nice W!

    I personally enjoy watching Bassy and Kieff play! They got mad heart…….

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    PennyAnd1

    I don’t know why there’s so much love for Gordon. He isn’t what the Suns need if Nash remains.

    If for some reason the Suns did land LMA, there would be no need for Gordon either.

  • GoSuns

    How is he not what we need? Gordon has great perimeter defense, is a decent 3pt shooter, can create his own dhot snd get to the bucket at ease, he would also get plenty of opportunities in our system

  • steve

    I’m also a little curious as to how Gordon would not qualify as someone any team in the NBA would need. At 22 he was playing on one of the worst franchises in professional sports with Vinny Del Negro as his coach, and he still put up 22.3/4.4(ast)/2.9(reb) while shooting .450/.364/.825 on a team with no PG where Ryan Gomes (a PER of 4.4 this year. 4.4. I’ll let you read that one more time… 4.4 PER!!!!) was third on the team in minutes.

    Gordon’s injuries might be a legitimate worry. I can understand that argument. However, any argument against Gordon centered around talent/skill is ill-conceived, if you ask me. He’s easily the No. 1 or No.2 under-25 SG in the NBA right now, and that alone will make him a coveted piece for any franchise looking to win over the next 5-8 years. Add him to a team with a couple of pieces already in place (like PHX), and a middle-of-the-road franchise (like PHX) could instantly become a contender.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      I’m on the Gordon bandwagon as well. He’d be that go-to guy Nash keeps talking about and he’d offer the youthful star power this team frankly doesn’t have right now. Gentry used to always gush about him when he’d come to town with LAC.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Nobody is questioning the skill Eric Gordon has, especially me.

    But, still…

    Everybody can gush over him. How good he is; how well he can score. Lets not even discuss the injuries because if they’re not something along the lines of Greg Oden and his body imbalance, the Warlocks could probably heal him.

    I just look at it from the system point of view, if Nash remains with the team.

    Everybody knows what the two-guard is supposed to do in this offense. It hasn’t changed since Joe Johnson left. You keep your distance, and when the ball comes to you, you shoot it.

    People may bring up J-Rich and some of his post moves, but J-Rich is 6’6″ 225 with long arms and silly hops.

    I get the numbers and percentages and all of that good stat-loving stuff, but you take his role in Los Angeles and compare it to what he’d do in Phoenix. It’d be hardly the same.

    On top of that, if Nash is the point guard, Gordon is going to HAVE TO guard the other teams point guard. If teams have two quick guards he’s going to have to help A LOT. It’s not the same as having big men behind you or another guard with you who can defend.

    I just don’t see it as the fantastic fit that most of you see it as. No offense, just my opinion.

    Also, if Nash leaves, Gordon isn’t the guy I want to throw money at either. So either way I don’t want him.

    ** Now if it comes down to him vs. Jamal Crawford and we have to sign one, then Eric Gordon tomorrow **

    I guess my stance on it is, Eric Gordon is a nice NBA player, but he is not the first brick on the road back to Championship contention. For me, whatever the first big move is this off-season, it needs to be that brick.

    Whether it’s a complete gut or a purge and reload, (again), that first major move should have us re-aligned and set on the path back to a title. I don’t see Gordon as that sort of guy.

  • steve

    That’s understandable. I don’t think Eric Gordon is the cornerstone of a championship franchise either. However, I’m not sure if the Suns would need to get the Batman before getting Robin.

    I’ve only seen Gordon play a handful of games, so I’ll be the first to admit I can’t refute any argument as to how he would fit in the system the Suns currently have in place. The little bit that I have seen of him, though, indicates he would be a great Robin, and maybe the presence of Nash (if the Suns get him in FA) and Gordon could lure a guy like Dwight Howard to the Valley.

    If I were Dwight, I would LOVE to get a chance to play Andrew Bynum 4 times a year to prove that the names Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard don’t even belong in the same breath (not saying they don’t, I’m just speaking from Howard’s point of view). I know that’s a pipedream, but I’d like to imagine it could actually happen.

  • grover

    I don’t think you can evaluate any player in a vacuum without considering their salary and what that means to being able to fill needs at other positions.

    I like Gordon, but he won’t come cheap. If his salary prevents us from bringing in additional rebounding and defensive help, then he may not be the silver bullet we’re looking for (which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not the best option that will be available to us). I’m not a huge Crawford fan, but the man can score on anyone (which the Suns need) and he will surely be cheaper than Gordon… But how much cheaper? Enough to bring in a rugged PF? If so I may like him better than Gordon.

    My point – you can’t just look at the individual player or what need he does or doesn’t fill. You also have to look one step beyond and think how that player’s likely salary impacts other potential signees.

    The scary part for this off season is there are a number of teams with huge amounts available to spend under the cap, but there aren’t many great FAs. This could be an ugly summer where bidding wars break out over mediocre or risky talent.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    Yep, and the Suns need to hire a security guard to keep them far far away from the horrors of bidding wars over mediocrity.

    Agreed that Gordon isn’t that first brick, but save for the utter improbability of Anthony Davis falling into their hands I don’t see anybody they could acquire being a first brick this summer. I think it’s about trying to add star power (even if it’s a Robin) and spending money wisely. Gordon’s not perfect, but I think they could spend their money far worse.

  • Al

    Enjoyed this win, but it’s nothing to get too excited even if it got the team to take the 8th spot. The game against Portland was a must win so it’s good they took care of business. The only thing that annoyed me was how long the Suns let the Blazers stick around with Babbit shooting 3s like Ray Allen. Also hated how Frye decided to come out and play well against a very beatable team. He definitely earned his pay for this game, but…Where has this guy been all season?
    IMO, it looks like Jazz has the easiest remaining schedule . They play the Blazers twice in 5 games. Those will be easy wins for them. Rockets will probably continue their slump. They play the hornets twice, but NO hasn’t been easy to beat since Gordon returned to the team.
    We will see a potential playoff preview against OKC. Will Phoenix allow Durant, Westbrook, and Harden to attack the rim at will and get +1′s for 25 or more trips to the line? Hope not.

  • grover

    Predicting games at this stage of the season is extremely difficult. Some great teams may give up games as resting their stars is more important to them than playoff seeding, but others dont. Bad teams might be tanking for improved lottery odds, or maybe their youngsters are fighting like hell to prove they belong in the league. You really have no idea who’s going to show up this late in the season. I think I’d rather be in the Suns position and rather face teams that on paper are rock solid but at least face them at our home court than face an easier schedule on the road. At least you’re guaranteed to get more rest ands have the home court advantage with officiating. The San Antonio game in particular is one I could easily picture the Spurs throwing in the towel as it may not matter to them at all.

  • Cam

    I think lamarcus aldridge will cost too much. I still believe the Suns should go after Paul Millsap. The guy plays with a chip and the Jazz are loaded at the PF and C positions. I havent looked at his contract situation but I think the guy could be ha for cheap if he is still under contract. If the Suns manage to F up the Nash contract and lose him I think the money should be thrown at Dragic and Gordon. Dragic will be worth the 8 mil/year he is on tap to earn. He’s young, has shown he can lead a team, and plays suffocating D. If the Suns were willing to bring back Nash they should be willing to bring back The Dragon. Go Suns.

  • Tony

    @Rich,

    It’s so ignorant that you and many others just assume Nash’s defense is so atrocious. Sure, he’s not a good defender, but nor is he a complete liability on the defensive end. The past two seasons he has improved his defense but yet, no one gives him any credit because once labeled a non-defender, it’s extremely difficult to change that stigma. Take for example the Nuggets against the Rockets game last night. Lawson scored 25 points on over 50% shooting, yet I don’t hear a word about Dragic’s bad defense against him. If, however, Lawson scored 25 against the Suns with over 50% shooting, people like you would claim it was Nash’s bad defense that was the cause. Yet, when the Suns did play the Nuggets last time, Lawson was a non-factor!

    Anyway, great win for the Suns in a much needed fashion. Nash got to rest and by blowing out the Blazers, it sort of an atonement for their poor play against the Spurs. The Rockets are on a 4-game losing streak and do play most of their remaining games on the road if I’m not mistaken, so although the Suns have a difficult schedule, at least 4/5 games are home.

    Watching the game, I was really impressed with Hickson. I don’t know why the FO made no effort to sign him, outside of their usual incompetence. The guy is young, bigger than Morris, and has far more athleticism than Morris. In addition, he plays with an intensity that is lacking from most of the Suns players with the exceptions of Telfair and Lopez. I would take him over Morris in a second and even quicker over Frye.

  • Mel.

    … I keep being reminded of the commentary during the Rockets-Suns game, where Rambis was deliberating on the likelihood of a major payday for Dragic. Among his predicted destinations for Dragon?

    The Warriors. The Knicks (Hunh?). The Jazz. And, yes… the Suns.

    I’m not banking on this eighth seed maintaining itself (Though amusingly enough, it seems like the Suns’ surest shot at holding onto the playoff bracket is if Dallas continues its epic nose-dive into obscurity. Hi, Marley!), but… if it does, I’m expecting another ridiculous FA run, having run out the odds on landing another Keef-level lottery grab.

    God help us, if that’s the case. Goran’ll wind up back in the VoS with a nine-million-a-year deal, as per the binding principles of Sarverball.

  • Scott

    @Penny -

    I think at this point any of the “older” players on the Blazers probably want out. Aldridge and Batum, for sure, but maybe even Matthews. and obviously veteran players like Crawford who have an expiring contract.

    I think right now they probably feel they were promised an up and coming team when they signed, only to see the whole thing fall apart. The Blazers will be scrambling to keep their talent.

    I project the Blazers to sign Billups as their PG early this summer, and to begin the rebuilding process with his presence as a sign of new seriousness. They’ll try to keep Aldridge, Batum, and Matthews, and probably the players still on rookie contracts.

    I also expect them to bid on Robin Lopez.

  • Scott

    In other news, based on his post-All Star play, I voted for Telfair for the Majerle Hustle Award.

  • steve

    I’m not going to say it’s insane to think Hickson is better than Morris. I think that’s a fairly reasonable position. However, assuming Hickson’s Portland production is a hot streak and not necessarily indicative of what the rest of his career will look like, I think the Morris/Hickson debate is a lot more even or even skewed to the Morris side than you might think.

    Morris averages about one PP36 less, 1.5 RP36 less, about one AP36 more, he’s a better FT shooter, and he’s also a 3-Pt threat, not to mention he’s a better passer, better thief, better shot-blocker, turns the ball over less frequently, and produces more win shares on both ends of the floor…

    Would I take Portland Hickson over current Markieff? Yes. No question. But it’s not so simple as that. Markieff already does all the little things better than Hickson, and he’s just a rookie, while Hickson (even though he’s still young) has been in the league for three years. If it were me, I’d rather have the guy with perhaps a little less freakish talent and a little more grit, hustle, and smarts.

  • Scott

    One other thing … while the Suns play the Thunder, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, and Spurs for their final 5 games, Houston plays Dallas, New Orleans, Golden State, Miami, and New Orleans.

    Out of the Suns schedule, they might beat the Clippers and/or the Jazz. So maybe as much as two more wins for the Suns before the season ends.

    Houston will need to win three games in that case, to reclaim their playoff spot, and they can do it if they beat New Orleans both times and Golden State.

  • And1

    @Rich Anthony & rest who don’t like Gordon

    Gordon has a very smart basketball IQ similiar to that of Jared Dudley, plus he likes to share the ball without diminishing his scoring chances. Put it simply, Gordon is the younger version of J-Rich. And if you all remember carefully, when Marcin wasn’t around, J-Rich was the go-2-guy who always hit the big shot, electrifying dunks, and the 20 points per game Nash wants as his side-kick. Nash definitely misses J-Rich.

    And as for Aldridge, he wants out of Portland because Hickson seems to be the guy Blazers want to focus on next year. Aldridge would fit very much with the Suns as he also has basketball smarts, can shoot mid-range jumpers very well, and can score. He would definitely fill the void Amare left here in Phoenix. He also is a 20 point per game guy.

    Let’s face it, Suns are overachieving here. Other than Nash averaging 11 assist per game & Gortat 10 rebounds per game, everything else is inconsistent. You never know who gets hot in a game. Lately we can rely on Redd & Telfair in the bench on consistent basis.. And we either live & die with Brown, Frye, Morris, & even Dudley on certain nights. With LMA & Gordon, you’ll definitely have a consistent scorer, cause they both love to score..and not just for the sake of having points, but scoring efficiently (right way).

    @Scott

    I disagree, Suns will play with a passion against OKC & clippers in back to back game. Don’t be surprised if Suns blow both teams off. If that happens to be the case, my only concern would be the Suns. Spurs will get a spanking in the end.

  • And1

    *ERROR* my only concern would be Jazz

  • JZ

    ‘ey And1 can you give me a link that confirms LA wants out of Portland, because I read that he doesn’t mind being the “heart of a rebuilding team”. Batum has no choice in the matter since Portland can match any offer; unless he signs his one year qualifying offer and becomes unrestricted next year. They will either keep or trade Wesley Mathews at this point for a center. If Portland offers ROLO a contract Phoenix may want to arrange a sign and trade for Wesley. Crawford may in fact sign with Phoenix this off season and will not mind coming off the bench. Phoenix could let Brown go and sign Crawford and Redd for 2 year contracts with options unless they’re able to get Eric Gordon. I doubt the new NO owner will let Eric walk, but the Suns could go after Kaman. I’ve become dissatisfied with the suns starting bigs and would not mind if the F0 traded the Polish Softener and the French Frye during the off season.

  • JZ

    Steve, Hill, Kieff, Dudley…maybe Redd or Lopez are the only players

  • And1

    @JZ

    There is no link. It’s not really solid information. I heard one of the commentators during a game where they said Aldridge was fed up with the situation over overhauling the team, firing his coach, trading his friends, etc… he didn’t like the direction, plus they sat him down a few games which really pissed him off even more. And since he will be a free agent next season..there is a strong possibility he wants out. That’s what I heard. Correct me if I am wrong.

  • grover

    According to hoopshype, LMA is under contract to Portland through the 2014/15 season at roughly $14-15 mill per season – not exactly a blue light special, but lower paid than many all star caliber players. Portland has no incentive to trade him unless he basically throws a temper tantrum and threatens to play in Europe instead of remaining in Portland.

  • PennyAnd1

    If LMA is not available who cares. So many good player’s available next season. If Suns will really get Nash for two more years..I say give him players that will last as long as well. Players like Manu Ginobili, Zack Randolph, Ray Allen, Josh Smith…man the list just goes on and on. I am very interested who comes in next year after Suns win the championship this year.

  • Scott

    @Penny -

    Zach Randolph? Manu Ginobili?

    C’mon now.

  • A-ROCK

    Some people are just plain delusional on this website, now we know the suns will not make it to the playoffs but it may be a exciting playoff run if everything works out.

    Crazy if you want Hickson over morris, Morris is the future of the franchise, I have watched alot of games just to see him, it wouldn’t be the same for hickson I gaurentee. that.

    Plus the guy is a rookie making such a big impact without a training camp, there hasn’t been many rookies to make that transision well or even make the transistion within there 1st couple seasons for that matter.

    If the suns were to get hickson he would have to play small forward like a shawn the matrix marion which would give us a big increase at that position and be able to get rid of our other small forwards, that way we can focus on a 2 guard. With his frame I think he will dominate in our system as a lebron james since he is 1 inch taller and weighing about the same.

  • A-ROCK

    i ment to say they won’t make it to the championship.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    “@Rich,

    It’s so ignorant that you and many others just assume Nash’s defense is so atrocious. Sure, he’s not a good defender, but nor is he a complete liability on the defensive end. The past two seasons he has improved his defense but yet, no one gives him any credit because once labeled a non-defender, it’s extremely difficult to change that stigma. Take for example the Nuggets against the Rockets game last night. Lawson scored 25 points on over 50% shooting, yet I don’t hear a word about Dragic’s bad defense against him. If, however, Lawson scored 25 against the Suns with over 50% shooting, people like you would claim it was Nash’s bad defense that was the cause. Yet, when the Suns did play the Nuggets last time, Lawson was a non-factor! ”

    Ugh…

    “People like me” I like that one, to begin with.

    Listen, here is the real deal with Steve Nash and his defense. Straight up. No numbers no defending his “improvement” none of that.

    Steve Nash is pretty good at taking charges* He’s pretty good at playing the passing lanes* He sticks his nose in there from time to time and helps with the boxing out. He doesn’t get the board, but he helps somebody else get it.

    Okay.

    Outside of that, this is what Steve Nash is, defensively.

    He is a liability as a man defender, period. He simply can’t stay with anybody who can take a step and attack him. This first, and most critical factor is why the Suns have died in the playoffs whatever year.

    We all know it. We’ve all come to accept it.

    The fact of the matter is, if somebody has a quick first step, and decides to use it on him in a one-on-one situation, it’s probably going to lead to 2 or 3 points.

    We live with this because, offensively, he can usually cancel that out by crushing that same guard on the offensive end.

    It is true what they say about people who love to do things hate having them done to him, because in the pick and roll, it’s scary as well.

    If there is a switch and he ends up on the 2 guard or a big guard, it’s a problem.

    He is a guaranteed help requester on defense. This is why, year after year, we give up so many wide open shots. It’s why the weak side defense is always late. It’s why the rotations are always so erratic.

    Say whatever you want, but this is the absolute truth and we all know it. Again, we have put up with it because normally, he balances it out on the other end of the floor.

    So Dragon gave up 25 to Lawson. Big woop. Jordan gave up 30+ to Miller on many occasions. It doesn’t mean Jordan was a bad defender. I’d take Dragon’s man defense over Nash 6 days a week and twice on Sunday.

    It’s getting kind of annoying when you and others keep twisting truth with hate or bashing or whatever. I’m not taking swipes at Nash. He is what he is.

    He’s a killer offensive player and one of, (if not the greatest) shooter of all time with stupid vision and sensational handles who delivers in the clutch. He is the definition of a franchise offensive point guard.

    On the other end though, he’s hard to watch at times especially when our two guard isn’t a great defender.

    As far as Gordon goes, I’ve actually got a bit of a deal for you guys.

    If Nash leaves, (and Dragon comes back), I like Gordon.

    If Nash remains, I’d rather the Suns chase Ray Allen. He’d be an absolute killer in this offense; the perfect fit. Code Redd can be the sixth man and points off the bench. Velvet blanket smooth right there.

    And yes, Jesus Shuttlesworth. Because if Nash remains, we are not bottoming out and you can expect another round of wild 1-year contracts.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I’d sign off on Dragon-Gordon 2012! If Nash returns, it will be very interesting to see how they try to put a team around him with all the cap space.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    I agree. But would Dragic really come back to a bench PG role in Phoenix after starting for Houston? Sure, he likes the players in Phoenix, but he was also cut by Blanks (likely with Gentry’s blessing).

    Other teams, like Portland, and possibly New Orleans, Sacramento, Toronto, and Indiana are looking for a starting PG.

    I could see Houston, for instance, doing a sign and trade with Indiana for Darren Collison.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    Rich was talking about the Dragic-Gordon combo as a contingency plan in case Nash leaves. Nope, don’t think he would come back for a bench role nor do I find it prudent to spend that big of a chunk of the cap space on point guards with Bassy partially guaranteed for next year. But if Nash leaves, this would be my dream scenario.

  • Tony

    @Rich,

    my point in bringing up Dragic’s poor defense against Lawson is that once a player gets a reputation for being a poor defender or for being a good defender, the label attaches no matter what. You claim, “{Nash} is a guaranteed help requester on defense,” and yet, this is absolutely a false statement. Hill, obviously the Suns best perimeter defender, has guarded opposing teams’ best wing players both last season and this season. He hasn’t, with some exceptions, been used to guard opposing pgs in the past couple seasons. You just prove your ignorance.

    I’m not claiming Nash is a better defender than Dragic, as obviously he’s not. But let’s be clear, the overall difference in their defensive prowess is not so vast as you and others imply.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    Okay, even tho I didn’t read Rich’s post I was wondering if that’s what you meant.

    It seems to me that the way the dominos would fall is that Nash will be asked to commit right off the bat, without knowing who the Suns will add. So he either has to spurn the Suns, believing they won’t make significant moves, or he has to have faith in them. Because I believe Sarver wants Steve, I expect he’ll re-sign, and the Suns will base their other moves on that.

    If another team has interest in Nash, like NYC or Toronto, possibly Nash would agree to a sign and trade, as that way he’d make the most money and move either to a team with 2 stars, or to Canada’s only squad. In that sort of scenario, I could see a possibility for Dragic returning as a replacement PG who knows the system, but even then there’s the idea that his GM and coach sold him out, and they didn’t even point to money issues as a fig leaf. They said he couldn’t play.

    Keep in mind that while Babby may like Nash and Dragic, apparently it is Blanks who calls the shots on player personnel. So any “Nash is our sun, moon, and stars” comment, or any expressed regret about trading Dragic, has to be tempered with the idea that Babby may not be calling the shots.

    I’d expect Gentry and Blanks to continue to be opposed to signing Dragic, even if Dragic could swallow his pride and return. I can also easily envision Blanks talking to Sarver about replacing Nash.

    If the Suns brass decides in the end to let Steve go, and if the Suns don’t get another PG in trade, I bet the Suns don’t get Dragic and instead start Telfair and/or re-sign Brooks.

    Brooks and Telfair in October 2012? It could happen.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    What a scary thought!

    I’m sure the Suns would want the offseason to go that way with an early Nash decision, but as has been the case the last few years I see Nash dictating how things go. Based on his comments, I kind of think the Suns need to make moves that would then convince him to re-sign. If they strike out on those moves and Nash leaves, it could be too late for a Plan B.

    I assume the Suns will pull out all stops for him and cater to him in any way possible based on what’s happened up to this point. Will be very interesting to see how this summer goes down.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    As you say, we’ll have to see how it goes. Things could easily get worse.

    Are the the Suns an Eric Gordon away from a championship? Is Eric Gordon all that Nash expects from the Suns’ GM? And if that’s the case, how high will the bidding go?

    As for Nash playing hardball with the Suns, my impression is that he really doesn’t want to leave and have to start all over with a new coach, system, and players. And while he might be tempted by the possibility of going to Dallas to play with Dirk, Kidd, Marion, Carter, and so on (probably taking Hill with him), Cuban would have to make the offer.

    What would be interesting is if Cuban takes a page out of Colangelo’s book and shows up at Steve’s house at the start of free agency and delivers a juicy pitch.

  • Scott

    Put it this way …

    If Cuban rolls up to Steve’s house with Dirk, Kidd, Marion, and Carter, and they all plead with him to join, and say they’ll take Hill, too, if he wants to come … well, what do you think Nash would say?

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I think the Suns would need to find a new sun, moon and stars in that case.

    But I don’t think it will go that way. I do see Dallas as the most realistic non-Phoenix destination but they will chase D-Will first.

    No, of course they aren’t a Gordon away from a title, but Nash knows they aren’t going to necessarily pull out a couple All-Stars and pay him, especially with the market relatively thin with all the restricted extensions. I think he just wants to see the team making moves to be good now as opposed to staying in neutral like last offseason …. which is scary with so few elite guys available.

    My biggest fear is catering to Nash by overpaying mediocre talent because that’s all they can get.

    That being said, I still think Nash returning is the most realistic scenario although I fully expect him to really look around.

  • Scott

    “My biggest fear is catering to Nash by overpaying mediocre talent because that’s all they can get.”

    I agree.

    Also, I think it would be wise for those Suns still on contract to hang out in front of Steve’s house starting at 11PM the day before free agency. They can rebuff anyone who comes by.

    “Steve? Oh, he’s not here today. I think he said he was visiting his folks in Vancouver.” ;)

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      Ha! Based on that Gortat quote from last season when he said he would give Nash his pants, BMW and apartment and would also bring him donuts if he ate them, I think we have our first volunteer!

  • Grover

    My fear of them overspending on mediocre talent is heightened if they lost Nash. If Nash were to walk and the Suns couldn’t find good talent worthy of spending their cap space, the right decision would be to sign short term deals to fill the roster and kick the can down the road to the following summer. That would not go over well with most fans, so it’s easy to picture management feeling forced into bidding wars to fill their roster with marketable names to prop up ticket sales.

    Add to that that I’m not convinced the Suns know how to consistently recognize the difference between mediocre and good talent. I’m sure they didn’t sign Childress or Warrick thinking they were buying average players.

    I’m still betting Nash stays. He’s worth more to the Suns than anyone else for marketing reasons, so they’ll probably offer as much or more than anyone. He seems to have a high opinion and good working relationship with Gentry. Most of the comments I hear from both Nash and Hill are highly positive about the organization and the city (except for the talent on the team). It all lines up to be Phoenix’s game to lose – Nash walks only if management sh!ts the bed.