The pressure is on Lance Blanks and Lon Babby in the Phoenix Suns' offseason of uncertainty

Fans of the Phoenix Suns aren’t used to this feeling of uncertainty, one that metaphorically can be explained as a hole leading to the future that’s too dark to make anything out.

It’s probably because the Suns haven’t been in this position for a long time.

Eight years ago, Bryan Colangelo was the general manager in charge of shipping off Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway to the New York Knicks for scraps. It initially drew criticism, but the move opened enough cap space for the next one that still stands as Colangelo’s most brilliant pull as an NBA executive.

He signed Steve Nash, and that generated wins, glory and eight years of knowing that, at the very least, the Suns would put a product on the floor that wouldn’t embarrass itself.

With Nash once again a free agent, that’s not a guarantee.

“It’s interesting,” forward Jared Dudley said. “I think four or five guys are under contract, so it could look like a whole new team. Or it could bring a majority of the guys back with a couple tweaks.”

General manager Lance Blanks and president of basketball operations Lon Babby now sit in the same chair occupied by Colangelo in the offseason of 2004.

Like Colangelo then, they put their faith in taking aim at one offseason, where having money to spend would mark a new era in the franchise and a defining point in their own careers. Of course, now the question is whether or not they can make a defining move without their plan backfiring.

That again starts with Nash.

This time around is more complicated, and it has the potential to end in a much uglier fashion.

Here’s all that remains certain at this moment.

Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Markieff Morris are all under contract with Phoenix. Sebastian Telfair has another year on his contract, although it’s not guaranteed.

Shannon Brown could have upped his price tag under his one-year deal this past season, while Robin Lopez and Ronnie Price are likely gone. That’s not to mention restricted free agent Aaron Brooks, who Blanks kept tabs on during his tour in China, nor Michael Redd, who could be drawn to re-sign with the Suns for their training staff alone.

Grant Hill must face the music about whether his body will hold up to contribute to any team, be it the Suns or otherwise.

And Nash? The two-time MVP will weigh all options, but it’s quite unclear which domino will be the first to fall. In one sense, the unselfish assist man could recruit a big-name free agent target to join him in Phoenix. In another, Nash won’t re-sign with the Suns if they aren’t assured of nabbing a high-profile teammate.

This is the first chance to see how the recently-acquired Babby and Blanks will plan out and aggressively pursue the free agent market, one that looks unsettlingly dry after Deron Williams and Eric Gordon are scooped up.

How they handle Nash, meanwhile chasing down other talents, could be a fragile process as well.

And to that, the judged success in this offseason of intrigue depends upon what, if any, seismic moves Babby and Blanks can shake up in the draft and in free agent signings, because what Phoenix has in the cupboard that’s assured isn’t going to make a difference unless that happens.

In players like Dudley, Gortat and Frye, there are solid pieces to a good team already locked into contracts for next season. Yet, there’s not a lot of expectation that those three, nor Morris, will expand their games to any great deal a la Amar’e Stoudemire or Joe Johnson when Nash arrived in 2004.

That puts all of the pressure on the front office to make moves — big ones at that.

That dark hole Suns fans are staring into? Nobody knows whether there’s a light at the other end of it.

“It’s no fun,” head coach Alvin Gentry said of being left out of the playoffs. “I don’t like not playing. It makes for a long, long, long summer when you’re not playing at the end of April.”

If the Suns don’t have some tricks up their sleeves during this summer of uncertainty, they’ll be seeing a lot more just like it.

And an eight-year run of fans having faith in the franchise will be a distant memory.

  • A.J.

    Personally, I’d like them to pursue Goran Dragic and Eric Gordon, and if Gordon falls through maybe Nick Young but it’d be better to just wait until the summer of 2013 as there are plenty of better potential pickups next year, namely James Harden, who I don’t think OKC can afford after paying KD, RW, Ibaka, and others, if we keep Nash we’re just handcuffing him to roster only capable of a 5-8 seed in the playoffs, and that’s with one major signing

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    I totally agree with the Eric Gordon thing. And I think Goran would be a strong back-up plan, but I can’t see that happening since the Suns thought the Brooks trade was a good idea.

    Jamal Crawford and JR Smith are the other two interesting names out there, although obviously those guys don’t have the superstar potential as Gordon.

  • A.J.

    Yeah unfortunately Lon Babby made some bad personnel moves aplenty, basically blowing up a team that went to the 2010 Western Conference Finals, and now we miss the playoffs two years running, but hopefully he gets over his ego and just re-acquires Dragon assuming Nash splits town

  • A.J.

    Also, I don’t know how much basketball life Jamal Crawford has left, he’s been a dormant presence on the last couple teams he’s been on, and I think I’d rather have Shannon Brown than JR Smith, Smith can score but has some of the worst ball handling skills I’ve ever seen, contributing mightily to those 27 or so turnovers NYK had in game 1, he gets stripped more often than Slow-pez

  • Ty-Sun

    While I’m not in favor of this idea I’m surprised some of the Suns’ old Stoudemire fans haven’t taken note of Amare’s fall from grace in NY and mention him as a potential trade target. Let me repeat, I am NOT in favor of this idea but…

    Sportswriters are already saying that Amare’s cut up hand – the result of punching out a glass fire extinguisher case after game 2 of the NY/Miami series – is a blessing in disguise for the Knicks. Statistics seem to back it up since the Knicks seem to play better without him than with Stat in the starting lineup. One writer went as far to say that the Knicks should have used their amnesty on Stat instead of Billups last years and called Stat’s contract “the most undesirable contract in the NBA” because “Stoudemire is widely considered damaged goods because of previous knee injuries and a current back ailment”.

    Despite that, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few fans thinking that the Suns should try to trade for him IF Nash decides to stay a Sun. After all, Nash and Stat worked so well together and Phoenix has their magical medical staff to tend to whatever ails Amare…

    Not a good idea IMO but if Amare really has become the albatross around NY’s neck since Carmello entered the picture I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear about them trying to shop Amare around during the off season. And I’m sure the Suns will be one of the first teams they call.

  • A.J.

    I am a professed Amare lover actually, and during the days from before the Knicks traded for Carmelo, STAT looked like the mega-star he should be as D’Antoni was running him into the ground just so he could look good and keep his job, playing Amare in a ton of minutes every game. Ever since that period Amare lost nearly all his quickness and rhythym and finishing ability especially once Carmelo came in who took away all of STAT’S needed floor space not to mention all of his usage rate. Melo and Amare basically played the same iso-type of game and that being said, were never going to be compatible, ever. Especially now that Stoudemire is injury plagued and his only asset as a player was his offensive skillset, which is greatly diminished now due to injury and Carmelo. Phoenix’s medical staff wanted nothing to do with his knees while paying him the max, and they probably don’t want him now either, although a washed up Amare is still better than Lopez or Frye IMO

  • DS

    I can’t see Amare coming back. He’s even more of a liability now and they definitely won’t pay him the money he wants or give him a long term contract.

    Blanks and Babby are going to have a difficult time this coming year. Unless they manage to pull off some sort of blockbuster trade, the list of 2012 free agents just isn’t that impressive or desirable.

    If they decide to wait until 2013 when the free agent market is better, they can probably make more of a splash. The one and only interesting prospect right now is Eric Gordon. But… I think the Suns need quality big men more than anything and can then build around that.

  • grover

    The difficult part for us fans is there are always more players available than we know about. GMs talk and without being on those phone calls to hear what’s available and at what price, we tend to get locked in to just the UFAs and RFAs we see on lists – that or we blindly repeat whatever rumors circulate on the Internet and sports radio.

    My suspicion is this years playoffs could yield a few new players to talk about. If Miami craps out, they may get frustrated and look to go a different direction. Orlando may do something with Howard. If Harden plays great for OKC, they may feel compelled to sign him to an extension which could cause them to jettison Ibaka or other pieces. The Knicks may realize Carmello and Amare are better apart than together. Any of these plus half a dozen other big moves could make players directly available to the Suns or indirectly by causing other teams to look for partners. Add to that Nash… If Nash wants to move on or the Suns get outbid, any team over the salary cap (which would be many of the good ones interested in Nash as the last piece to a championship run) can only get Nash with a sign and trade with Phoenix or with their mid level exception of $5 mill.

    Long story short, we fans have so far been very lacking in imagination for fixing this team. The Suns have a ton of cap space available, and despite the lack of obvious UFA candidates, there are big moves possible.

  • A.J.

    All very true points, for example, I had no idea the Wizards were going to dismantle their entire team and trade all those players, same with the Blazers, so we as fans don’t know much except that this years FA’s are very undesirable with the exception of maybe half a dozen players who are all B± talents anyways

  • Tony


    The Suns desperately need a young franchise type player and those don’t come around very often. While Ibaka, whom the Suns originally drafted then sold his rights, is a very solid big, he’s not a franchise type player. Playing with Durant and Westbrook takes away a lot of the pressure away from him, so basically, he’s playing better than he likely would on a team without any star players. The other players you mentioned would only come via trade and considering the Suns only have one legitimate trade asset in Gortat, I highly doubt they can make a trade to bring in a star player at this point.

    In my opinion, the Three Stooges should let Nash go and trade Gortat for a better draft pick. While Gortat’s a good player, he’s soft and is unlikely to develop the mental toughness needed for a franchise player. The biggest reason though is that he’s already 28 and now in his prime. When you consider he relies so much on his athleticism, which is the first thing to go with age, it just doesn’t make much sense to keep him when he would otherwise waste his prime years as a Sun.

    After landing another draft pick or a better pick than they’re likely to get otherwise, by trading Gortat, they should resign Lopez. While he’s not nearly as athletic as Gortat, he plays with an edge that is lackiing in Gortat and is still only 24,

    Following this plan, the Suns would likely be awful next season but would enter the 2014 season with a top 5 pick, a stud player from this year’s draft, and a lot of cap room to sign more unrestricted free agents than are left at this point.

  • Roger

    Dragic trade wasn’t a trade, it was a smokescreen to get rid of 1st round pick saving Sarver plenty of $. Sarver is akin to Maloofs of my backyard team Kings, they’re bleeding money. I think Suns, Kings and other small markets can’t compete as long as we have recession in great cities like Phoenix, Sacramento, etc. These small market owners are barely clinging on to their assets in this recession, only billionaires like Cuban, the Russian dude can survive this downturn.

  • steve

    Selling picks doesn’t save money or generate any type of significant revenue for the team. It’s actually *more* expensive to sell picks than it is to keep them, even if the pick is a first rounder.

    Consider this: Josh Childress made $6,000,000 this season. Blake Griffin (the #1 pick in 2009-10) made $5,731,080.

    The notion that selling picks is all about finances is completely false. Signing free agents is much more expensive than signing draft picks, and it’s not even close.

  • steve


    I agree that fans’ vision is often extremely narrow. Everyone in the NBA is tradeable, for the right price. Given the so-so crop of free agents available this summer and the Suns’ immense cap space, if any significant moves are made, I expect them to be trades, rather than FA signings.

    The Suns have enough room that they could take on one or two albatross contracts along with a top-rate player and/or expected excellent draft picks. Does anyone know the rule about amnestying a traded contract?

    I’m not expecting a big trade, but if anything big does happen in this offseason, it’s probably not going to come through free agency.

  • steve

    And FYI, my post about signing FAs versus signing draft picks is not a defense of the front office. It’s actually me ripping them for doing something that makes zero sense whatsoever from just about any angle you can look at it from.

    I’m just correcting you guys who are ripping the front office for a completely false reason. The motivation for selling picks wasn’t to save money. It doesn’t save money. Of all possible reasons you could pick, that’s virtually the furthest from the truth of all of them.

  • GoSuns

    I hope we look into ryan andrerson

  • Scott

    IMO, Hill will decide to play one more year with the Suns, if the Suns will have him. Then he’ll retire.

    The Suns will also try to re-sign Redd, and I think he’ll accept their offer.

    After these signings, Nash will re-sign with the Suns, as they’ll give him the 3 years he’s asking for, and no one else will.

    That’s my prediction.

    I don’t think Dragic is coming back. The door has closed there, at least until the Suns get a new GM.

    Amare’s not coming back, either. If he goes anywhere else, my guess is it would be Orlando, to play for his home crowd.

    On a related tangent, I plan to keep my eyes open this summer for mention of Nemanja Nedovic, a young European player with a game like Dragic’s, who may go undrafted. If he shows up in summer league, he should be given some scrutiny by the Suns. Don’t let him slip away, like Jeremy Lin! If Nedovic performs well, they should sign him and send him to the D-League for most of the year. After all, even if the Suns do sign Nash, Brooks, and Telfair, as I’ve predicted, there’s still going to be a spot open at PG a year from now. Nedovic could turn out to be an upgrade on Telfair.

  • Ty-Sun

    Amnesty cannot be used on traded contracts. Only players under contract by the team at the time the new CBA was agreed to can be amnestied.

  • steve

    @Ty-Sun – Thanks for the info. I was assuming that’s the case, as it would seem a bit unfair for teams to be able to acquire and then amnesty players. You never know with the NBA though.

  • Tony


    More ignorance. Why do you even bother to post such nonesense? Comparing the cost of Griffith as opposed to Childress to prove that selling picks isn’t about money? First off, let’s take Telfair or any of the other Suns players making less than Griffith and compare them. Griffith’s contract over $5 million Telfair’s current contract, $1.7 million. That’s over $3 million saved in selling Griffith’s rights and instead signing Telfair! Obviously, this was just a hypothetical to illustrate how selling draft picks saves money. Sarver had no obligation to sign Childress to such a ludicrous deal. However, the CBA sets the price for 1st round rookies and no owner has any direct control on adjusting that amount. Hence, if Griffith was drafted by the Suns, Sarver could not lower his rookie contract.

    The other, indirect method of using 1st round picks for salary dumping purposes is to use them as bait to trade away a current player whom the owner no longer wants to pay. For example, Kurt Thomas. Although he was a perfect fit for the Suns at the time, Sarver wanted him gone because his contract was too high for him. To do so, since there were no offers for Thomas alone, Sarver attached two 1st round picks in the Thomas deal so that another team would take on his contract and receive two 1st round picks. In exchange, Sarver got his salary off the books.

    The Sarver-defenders never cease to amaze me. Their ignorance is just astounding.

  • steve

    For the simple minded: first round picks still make less than the average nba player. It is cheaper to keep picks than it is to sell them.

  • Grover

    Draft picks / rookies = cheap labor, but highly uncertain what you’ll get. Longest, most uncertain way to rebuild, but the cheapest route.

    Free agents = fastest and most sure fire way to rebuild a team (you know what you’re getting), but the most expensive.

    Selling draft picks or undervalying them in trades does turn out to be more expensive in the long run as you will be forced to go to free agents in the long run to refill your talent pool.

  • Roger

    Talent pools are filled by your own picks whether you send them to NBADL or keep them on your roster. Baseball does a great job of developing their farm system and bring them on as the players get developed to be on the roster i.e. there has to be a defined system for development. Sarver never chose to have that system instead relying on free agency which would have been fine had he held on to his GMs and other staff but with him it was a revolving door since he bought the team. If you don’t have stability at the top, you can’t expect stability in the middle or bottom.

  • shazam

    grover is the light so far on this thread…tony you make amazing sense but people get distracted by your vitriol “More ignorance. Why do you even bother to post such nonesense?”…if you could resist the temptation to lower yourself you would be by far one of the most powerful bloggers on the site

  • Scott

    Suns 1st round picks since Stoudamire:
    2009 14 Earl Clark (gone)
    2008 15 Robin Lopez (still on the team)
    2007 24 Rudy Fernandez (traded)
    2007 29 Alando Tucker (can’t remember where he went)
    2006 21 Rajon Rondo (traded)
    2006 27 Sergio Rodriguez (traded)
    2005 21 Nate Robinson (traded)
    2004 7 Luol Deng (traded)
    2003 17 Zarko Cabarkapa (stunk)
    2002 22 Casey Jacobsen (stunk)
    Anyone who thinks Sarver can salvage this team through the draft is insane based on past history. He bought the team in 2004 and anyone who thinks trading Rondo and Deng weren’t traded to save money are fooling themselves.

  • steve

    @Scott – “anyone who thinks trading Rondo and Deng weren’t traded to save money are fooling themselves”

    I’ll respectfully disagree on that one. There is a risk in taking on free agents, and there is risk in keeping draft picks. I’m not going to say that there is no risk in either scenario. However, in signing free agents, the risk is typically more weighted by price, because you feel rather certain about the type of talent you’re getting in return for your money (they’ve been in the league, earned their stripes, shown what they can do at the highest level). In signing draft picks, the risk is weighted toward uncertainty. Unproven players can’t command as high of a price tag (and the CBA ensures that).

    You can certainly find free agents who are signed for less than first round draft picks (Price, Redd, Telfair). But, the law of averages will show that it is more expensive to sign free agents than it is to keep draft picks. There isn’t a way around that. I don’t know the precise numbers off the top of my head, but the average NBA player makes somewhere around $5M per season (and that’s including all the players on their rookie contracts who drag the payscale down). The average first round pick makes somewhere around $2M per season (Kieff made a little over $1.9M this season, for instance).

    Fact is, you pay for your level of confidence. Free agents are more expensive. It makes no sense to say that Sarver sold picks to save money when keeping picks is cheaper.

    More likely explanations:

    1. The picks were sold because the Suns personnel evaluators did not believe enough talent or the correct fit was available at the time of the pick.
    2. The picks were sold because the Suns personnel evaluators believed the FA talent pool was more certain to yield a fitting product that would aid the Nash system.

    Those are just a couple of more likely situations. But least likely of all situations is that the picks were sold in order to save money. Why? Because draft picks are cheaper than free agents. Facts are facts.

  • grover

    I think the argument is Sarver made decisions based on short term finances and not long term. I can’t recall which ones, but I remember at least with one of the picks Phoenix was already above the cap and had a full roster of players available to them. By keeping the pick, they would have had to pay the draft pick plus luxury tax. By selling the pick, they got cash up front plus avoided the salary ands tax. Stupid decision in the long run, especially if you do it repeatedly as in the long run it pushes you to bring in more expensive free agents to keep from sucking.

    The other tactic that splits the middle would have been to draft international players and hide them in Europe for awhile or trade a current year draft pick for future year picks.

    Both arguments are correct. The Suns sold draft picks for short term financial gain, but it ended up being more expensive in the long run. Don’t blame it all on Sarver as Colangelo did several these. It’s convenient to put all the blame on the current ownership team, but the dismantling of SSOL started before Sarvers group took over. Sarver just drove the final nails in the coffin.

    I’m depressed… Bill Bidwell owes Sarver a thank you note for taking over as most despised sports owner in Phoenix.

  • grover

    By the way, my hope is that Sarvers mistakes were mostly of a rookie owner and that he’s smart enough learn from them and take advice others. The only sign he’s figured it out at all is that he set up this summer to give the Suns a ton of cap space. If he fills that cap space with long term crap, we’ll know he didnt learn. If he makes a couple good signings or if we can’t find good talent temporary signings that retain cap space to spend next year, then maybe he figured it out.

    In six months we’ll know.

  • Tony


    I appreciate your comments regarding my comments. I only resorted to “vitriol” as a consequence of Steve’s constant bashing and resorting to name-calling when those of us who have the nerve to disagree with him. Furthermore, I don’t have a problem with those who are ignorant, as I’m by no means declaring I am knowledagble on every front, but when those who are ignorant arrogantly assert their opinions as truth, despite any evidence or basis in fact, they should be pointed out as dummies. For example, this is a guy who labeled Shaq as one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA! Yet, when I criticize Sarver, this same individaul has the nerve to proclaim I’m “whinning” or “without any credibility.” Therefore, I have no qualms about responding in kind.

    The cost of signing a first round pick is more expensive than signing a free agent at the minimum. Facts are facts. Sure, Sarver could have sold a 1st round pick and signed a free agent of greater cost, but he DIDN’T! Furthermore, as Grover aptly pointed out, selling picks provides upfront cash. Sarver not only sold picks for the very same season, but sold multiple future 1st round picks that turned into very good players all to get the money up front. And again, using draft picks as bait so as to trade players who’s contract is too high is just another indirect way of selling draft picks. We lost two 1st round picks because Sarver didn’t want to pay Kurt Thomas! Two Steve! You really believe that had nothing to do with shedding salary? The picks were just the means by which to lower salary cap.


    good job listing out the picks Sarver sold over the years. You left off Gortat, as his rights were also sold by Sarver, but we all get the point.


    normally I would agree with you in that mistakes made early on in any prospective position are just a part of the learning curve. Normally, the ideal is that we learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them. However, I’m not so sure this is applicable to Sarver. For instance, a few years after letting JJ walk, he admitted that he underestmated his importance and should have handled the situation better. However, a similar scenario emerged with Amare and he once again did the same thing. Then, instead of hiring the most experienced front office people, he hired the two most inexperienced as neither Babby nor Blanks had ever worked in their current positions prior to being hired by Sarver. Lastly, Sarver refuses to take any blame for the predicament facing the Suns currently. As such, if the guy refuses to admit he made horrendous moves, there’s no indication why he won’t make them all over again. You have to admit you are wrong to learn and avoid previous mistakes. Otherwise, when a similar situation presents itself, the same mistake(s) will be made again.

    I guess some people just don’t learn, Steve, oops, I mean Sarver….Freudian slip!

  • grover

    I think Amare’s situation is totally different. JJ and Marion are more comparable samples – letting good, healthy players go because they demanded too much money and attention. What Sarver offered Amare is very reasonable given his injury history. Most people think Dolan was nuts for offering Amare 5 max guaranteed. I would separate the decision to let Amare walk from the bad decisions that followed.

    Of course if it were me, I’d also treat people with respect when disagreeing with them on this board, but what do I know.

  • shazam

    as of july 1st the suns will have more cap space than any other nba team…speaks volumes

  • Tony

    I agree,

    but some people resort to name-calling first and I am entitled to treat them in kind.

  • steve

    Just a few comments about Scott’s post a while back (which, by the way, was that really you, Scott? I would never expect you to misspell “Stoudemire,” but I do know someone who has misspelled “Griffin” about five times in one post). I’ll bring up some names that were new to the team (note, I said “new.” I don’t want to take the time to try to find out if these guys were traded to Phoenix or acquired in FA. My main point here is to say that established players are much more expensive than rookies) in the year of the sold draft picks and compare the salary of said new player to the salary of said rookie.

    Deng – What were the circumstances surrounding Jahidi White’s arrival to the Valley? Jahidi cost the Suns $5.7M from the free agent pool in a season where Deng, the 7th overall pick, would have cost them $2.2M. A top 10 pick cost just $2.2M, while a free agent who had been nothing but average his entire career cost $5.7M.

    Nate Robinson – Nate made $1.1M in his rookie season. That same year, the Suns signed Q and Howard Eisley for $5.8M and $5.2M, respectively. I think Voshkul might have been new that year as well, and he made $1.7M. $1.1M for a rookie, $12.7M for established players.

    Sergio Rodriguez & Rondo – Sergio made $912,000 in his rookie campaign, while Rondo made $1.1M. Kurt Thomas ($6.6M), Raja Bell ($4.3M), Jim Jackson ($2.6M), James Jones ($2.4M), Brian Grant ($1.7M), and Boris Diaw ($1.2M) were all new to the team that year. $2M for two first round picks, $18.8M for established players.

    Rudy Fernandez – $1.1M in his rookie season. Marcus Banks ($3.7M), Jalen Rose ($1.5M), and Eric Piatkowski ($1.2M) were more costly that season. $1.1M for a rookie, $6.4M for established players.

    That’s just to address the sold picks that were mentioned. In each case, there were established guys that were brought on in those same years for a much higher price tag that the rookies would have cost.

    It does not save money to sell draft picks. The numbers show that.

  • Scott

    Obviously that was another “Scott,” or someone else posing as myself, who wrote that last post about “Anyone who thinks Sarver can salvage this team through the draft is insane based on past history.”

  • Scott

    I don’t know where it is in this VotS comments database, but a couple months ago I wrote a detailed history about the picks the Suns are considered to have lost, and how Sarver was NOT being cheap, but was actually paying out significantly more money trying to fund the team in the way that D’Antoni wanted it funded.

    Also, as I’ve said before, building through the draft is the cheapest way to go. But it’s not a guaranteed path to success, as it relies upon the skills of your team’s scouts and some luck. Building the roster through free agency, which is what the Suns have done, is more expensive, but the quality is easier to evaluate.

  • Scott

    Furthermore, I liked Casey and Zarko, even though they didn’t work out. IIRC, Casey’s first move in a NBA game, coming in off the bench, was to immediately take the ball right to the basket and score, against the Spurs, which earns him a gold star from me. :)

    (I don’t exactly hate the Spurs, but any Sun who sticks a fork in them like that gets my approval.)

    Zarko, as I recall, was playing well for the Suns in his first month until he got undercut in a game against Dallas and injured his wrist. He was tentative and lost confidence after that, and became practically useless. He had some good moments with Golden State after that, usually against the Suns, but nothing to make a career out of.

    I liked Alando Tucker as well, but he wasn’t able to gain any traction in the NBA and dropped right out. He was one of those undersized college PFs who was forced to try to make it at SG, and he just couldn’t manage it. He really, really needed a reliable 3 point shot, and he just didn’t have it.

    I opposed the Earl Clark pick from before the draft, as from interviews I gathered he didn’t have high energy or a high basketball IQ. I preferred Taj Gibson.

  • grover

    A little warning about counting on the draft to rebuild a team. I did a little manual research last night. I took the All NBA teams for the last 13 years (why 13? I was going to do 20 years but got tired of copy/pasting). Over the last 13 years only 59 different people were named to an All NBA team – first through third team. If the last 13 years are representative of how many new All NBA caliber players enter the league each year, then less than 15% of first round picks (about 3 per year) will ever make even a third team All NBA squad in their career. It’s actually worse than that as the distribution was heavily skewed towards first overall picks (20 of the 59 names were number one overall) and 14 of the 59 players were not drafted in the first round (including one undrafted player).

    It’s a long way of saying the draft is extremely uncertain unless you get one of the top 2-3 picks. Don’t count on it for stars or you have to suck in a Bobcats kind of way, get lucky with the lottery balls, get lucky which year you get the number one pick, and get lucky with your pick (Greg Oden syndrome). The draft is a great source for cheap labor for a supporting cast, but it is not where I want the Suns to be focused to turn this team around. Don’t ignore the draft or sell draft picks, but it is not the suns savior.

  • steve

    Wow, considering the fact that there are 15 spots available every year, that’s shocking that there were only 59 people named All-NBA. I mean, obviously Kobe and Duncan have had strangle holds on two of those 15 spots. Wade, Paul, and LeBron have locked up a few other spots for almost a decade now. Nash had quite a few All-NBA mentions. Dirk has been at it for over a decade now. Garnett has been a near-lock for forever. Shaq, J-Kidd, AI, McGrady, Robinson, Zo all were probably named All-NBA twice or more in that time frame…

    It becomes a lot more believable when you actually stop to think about the names. The All-NBA team is typically dominated by the same guys every year. Great research, grover.

  • Grover

    Add to that that some of the names are hardly what you would call “savior” type all NBA players. Mixed in that 59 names are a few guys like Eddie Jones or Ben Wallace – very good players, especially at their peak, but not players who turn around a franchise. I thought about expanding the definition of a Star to include the All Defense team and All Star, but I have an idea it wouldn’t add many people. I think the result will still be fundamentally the same – a shockingly low percentage of first round picks will ver be considered “star” material.

    I thought about taking this from the other direction and tracking draft picks over a couple decades and what happens to them, but this method, flawed as it may be, was much less work and I think fairly demonstrated the point. The NBA is driven by stars and there are so few of them… Maybe two new ones per year enter and two old ones per year retire…

  • Scott (the other one)

    Good discussion here. And, I am a different Scott and I’ll take the shame of messing up Stoudemire’s name there. My point with listing the draft picks was that the team has nothing to show for almost a decade of first round picks. Some of those discarded players turned in to great NBA assets (Rondo, Deng) and others were nothing players (which just points to the team’s inability to judge college talent).
    Now, I understand the Suns were fielding a quality, veteran team for much of that decade, which I am sure is what made these picks expendable.
    I guess the pessimist in me is just unsure if the current ownership team has the ability to build this team back in to a contender.