Hakim Warrick's role was a magic act in the 2011-12 season


Hakim Warrick’s act of “now you see him, now you don’t” could be a fun show in Vegas. But for Warrick and for the Phoenix Suns, his appearance and subsequent vanishing act during the 2011-12 season wasn’t so entertaining.

You know the story.

Warrick led the Suns in scoring through the first four games of the season despite not playing a minute in the season opener and it looked like a team struggling to score was going to need his production to survive.

Then, poof.

It goes to show how wickedly topsy and turvy the Suns’ season went.

That 13.8 point per game average after coach Alvin Gentry threw Warrick into the rotation following the Dec. 26, 2011, opener wouldn’t last, and by early February, he was out of the rotation altogether. He was back on the bench, the place Gentry thought Warrick would be when before the season he mentioned the scarcity of available minutes for the slender forward.

No, it’s not the the brightest of stories. The dependence of Warrick early and his role’s eventual shift back to the pine represented how frustratingly disjointed the team operated early on.

And for Warrick personally, it likely was disappointing.

He finished with averages of 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, numbers well below his career averages of 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and he only played 35 games in the 66-game season.

His win shares of 3.4 in 2010-11 avalanched to 0.5 this past season, according to BasketballReference.com.

An improved and consistent jump shot that Warrick displayed early in the season eventually faded, but his presence off the bench still gave Gentry the chance to use the 6-foot-9 forward when Markieff Morris or Channing Frye were sick, hurt or in foul trouble.

Still, it couldn’t have been fun for the player who, after his sudden scoring streak, looked as if he’d refined his game enough to give the Suns another consistent shooting big man.

Now, the future ahead looks murky (After writing this, I realized I’d also used the word ‘murky’ when I wrote Warrick’s bio before this season). This offseason, the Suns could use the amnesty clause to cut either Warrick or forward Josh Childress.

If Childress is the choice, then the future of Warrick’s role goes from murky to cyclical.

It would again leave him sitting behind the ever-important Frye, the likely-to-improve Morris and potentially a big man free agent.

There are many moving parts to determine his place in Phoenix, but with Grant Hill’s status up in the air, the investment already clear in regards to Morris and no guarantee the Suns will sign a big-time wing in the offseason, Childress might have a better chance at sticking as an insurance piece.

Like the Suns’ season as a whole, there’s no telling which way things will swing.

And like Warrick’s magic trick at the beginning of the year, there’s the possibility he makes his final vanishing act in Phoenix.

Breaking down the numbers from last season

  • Warrick’s statistics from the year prior dipped as he shot just 41.1 percent from the floor compared to 51.1 percent in 2010-11. It comes as no surprise that his strengths and most effective scoring came off cuts, in transition and off screens — in all three situations, he shot above 57 percent, according to mySynergySports.
  • According to HoopData.com, Warrick was the second-best Suns player at finishing at the rim with an accuracy of 73.7 percent. But from 3-feet out, Warrick couldn’t shoot more than 32 percent.
  • Warrick was the most efficient Suns player at drawing fouls, something that goes along with being a semi-prolific dunker. He took 0.55 free throws for every field goal taken, according to HoopData.com.
  • Overall, Warrick gave up 0.98 points per possession as a defender, according to Synergy. Playing mostly at power forward, his most vulnerable spot came as no surprise. Scoring 1.23 points per possession, opponents toasted Warrick in post-up situations and shot an alarming 61.9 percent. For reference, Channing Frye gave up only 0.78 points per possession in post-up situations, his opponents shooting just 37 percent.

Tags: Hakim Warrick

  • Ty-Sun

    I suppose it might come down to money but maybe not. Neither Warrick or Childress contributed much this season but who the Suns keep and who they amnesty will probably depend on off season acquisitions. Childress would save more money but Warrick could be even less useful depending on who the Suns draft and/or who they can sign as a free agent.

  • Bill-in-Tokyo

    Well said. The whole Sun’s future is murky. Frye, Hill and Nash…?…?…? A Polish center who respectfully defers to his betters at crunch time. Plays low ball too on offense!
    Lets live on the edge. Good Bye Hakim. Trade Polish guy for scorer/defender or draft pick for PG of our dreams. Draft SG/SF (Terrence Ross) or PF who has speed/skills/defense (Moultrie). PS: PG of our dreams is Marshall. The rap on him is based on what his college team needed from him.

  • Scott

    I’m surprised Kevin didn’t mention the Suns’ full front court woes. It’s possible Lopez leaves and either Frye isn’t sufficiently recovered or he re-injures himself (dislocations become more frequent once they’ve happened the first time).

    Speaking specifically of Warrick … he keeps getting played at PF when his body and game are those of a SF. Defensively, he’s got to be more effective at SF, even if he has trouble following his man on defense through screens. Warrick is the same height and build as Cavs wingman Omri Casspi, for instance, except Casspi is actually about 6 pounds heavier.

    We all talk about the Suns needing quality guards, but they’re really not set at all in the front court, especially with Frye’s injury, Lopez’s possible exit, and Warrick being only a stretch 4. The Suns, with all hands on deck, really only have 3 Cs (Gortat, Frye, Lopez) and 1 PF (Morris).

    What the Suns have lots of are SFs. Under contract are Dudley, Childress, and Warrick, with Hill and Redd likely to be resigned. If the Suns sign Hill and Redd, they’re not only squared away at SF, they’re squared away at SG too.

    If the Suns are able to re-sign Nash (assuming they get their star), and if they match and keep Brooks, then with Telfair they’re all set at PG. (Or, if there’s no Brooks, then they can always play Nash, Telfair, and Price.)

    So really the hole is at PF. What the Suns could use is a quality PF, preferably a star who can create his own offense and maybe help distribute the ball.

    The Suns turned down Diaw late last season, so creation of offense must be what’s seen as the top priority, with distribution secondary.

    Unless I’m overlooking someone, there are no star PFs on the market this summer. This means the Suns would have to look to acquire one by trade. Star PFs who create their own offense that might be available by trade (judging by rumors of disgruntlement or rebuilding) include Boozer, Pau Gasol, and Nowitzki. (I assume Love and Bosh are locked up.) There are other PFs out there of varying quality, but these are the only self-creating stars so far as I can see. (I think Nash might also accept Scola, but he’s not an All-Star, though he does have medals from international competition.)

    Of these, only Chicago is a trade out of the western conference, which is preferable. Boozer is a two-time All-Star and two-time Olympic medal winner (bronze, gold). Boozer’s contract is also the cheapest of the 3, at $13.5m, though he does have 3 more years. If Chicago is ready to drop him, as the rumors suggest, who would they take in return? The Suns could offer an injured Frye and Dudley, which sounds bad, but considering that the Bulls can opt out of Korver’s contract, the Bulls could save $3,650,000 on this trade alone, and either opt out on Korver’s last year to save another $5m, or trade Korver’s expiring contract to another team for another asset, as Dudley – playing backup for Deng – could replace Korver and be an improvement over Korver. The Bulls could then pick up an inexpensive FA PF like JJ Hickson, and use Gibson and Hickson at PF till Frye is healed.

    So it is possible for Chicago to save money and improve a weakness in their roster by trading a player they are unhappy with: Boozer. The Suns would lose two key starters in gaining Boozer, but neither is a star. In Boozer the Suns would gain a star PF who can defend, rebound, and shoot jumpers, giving a pick and pop option to go along with the Nash/Gortat pick and roll.

    The Suns would still have Childress and Warrick under contract, who can play backup SG/SF respectively, and can then re-sign Redd and Hill to play the starting SG/SF, respectively.

    If they retain Lopez, then they have 2 dedicated centers in Gortat and Lopez, with 2 PFs who can sub in at C if needed in Boozer and Morris. Warrick can fill in at PF in case of injury.

    This trade leaves the Suns wide open with respect to the draft, as they can truly select whoever they think is the best talent left on the board.

    Or, if the Cavs are willing to trade Casspi after an underwhelming season from him, the Suns could offer the #13 pick (plus cash, if needed) for Casspi, in exchange for two early 2nd round picks, which could be of similar quality to the #13 pick. (As you know, at the moment my favorites are PF/C O’Quinn and wingman Crowder, both of which appear to be fairly well-rounded, high-IQ, high-efficiency players.)

    These trades, drafts, and FA signings, however likely/unlikely, would give the Suns a starting unit of:

    Nash, Redd, Hill, Boozer, Gortat.

    Since Redd, Hill, and Boozer can create their own shot, and can assist, this should help Nash get the offense rolling. And though Redd and Hill didn’t play together much last year, since Hill is offensively efficient and defensively sound, he should be a good wing partner for Redd, who tends to be a volume shooter and a defensive sieve.

    The second unit would be:

    Brooks (or Telfair), Childress, Warrick, Morris, and Lopez.

    Where as with the Redd/Hill combo, Childress should act as the efficient offense and defensive foil for Warrick. Warrick’s numbers from last season were best when playing with Morris and Lopez, IIRC, so this is probably an excellent grouping according to +/-.

    This leaves the following players on the side, depending on what options the Suns have taken: Telfair (or Price), draft pick #13, and FA backup for C and SG. That’s a roster of 14, with the possibility of dropping to 13 if the draft pick is suitable for backup C or SG.

    If the Suns trade for Casspi and the two picks, as I’ve suggested, then the roster has leftovers of: PG Telfair (or Price), SF Casspi, PF/C O’Quinn, and SG Crowder. That’s a roster of 14, with every position from 1-5 having backup.

  • Rishi

    I think we should try and sign Oden to a minimum deal and forgo resigning Lopez. I like the tenacity of Lopez but if our renowned training staff can get Oden healthy I am sure his numbers can match or even eclipse that of Lopez.

    Also, since Sarver is all about making money, we should try to sign Lin or even sign Iverson for minimum money. Our team is better at resurrecting veterans careers rather than developing players so might as well go after KG or Ray Allen too.

    What do you guys think about my crazy ideas? A future without Nash is going to need players that put people in the seats, so signing Lin would be a great idea. Getting Iverson and Oden on the cheap could be a move similar to the one we made for Redd. We could get a great bang for our buck!

  • Scott

    This “3rd unit” of deep reserves, btw, should be sufficiently talented to be able to challenge the 2nd unit for court time. The Suns could rest Nash, Hill, and possibly Redd during practices and still have meaningful scrimmages.

    The team is also fairly resistant to injury, not just in terms of position, but in terms of who can play well with whom.

    When Hill, as a starter, misses some games due to injury, assuming Redd is starting Hill can be replaced by Childress, Casspi, or Crowder, as all of them play defense and none of them requires the ball.

    When Redd, as a starter, misses some games, he can be replaced by Casspi or Crowder, who can play across from Hill and shoot the spot up 3.

    If both Redd and Hill are out, they can be replaced by starting Childress and Warrick, followed by Crowder and Casspi. Or vice versa, depending on how swiftly the new players acclimate to the system.

    If Gortat is injured, he can be replaced by either Lopez or Boozer. If Lopez is injured, he can be replaced by Morris or O’Quinn.

    If Boozer is injured, he can be replaced by Morris. If Morris is injured, he can be replaced by Warrick, Casspi, or O’Quinn.

    If both Gortat and Boozer are injured, they can be replaced by Lopez and Morris, with O’Quinn and Warrick or Casspi as backups.

    Looking toward the future, which is helpful in team-building, in terms of expiring contracts next season, Warrick would be on his last year before team option, Casspi would be on his last year, the two rookies might be on team option (depending on their contracts), and it could possibly be that next year is the last year for Hill … who knows?

    In these cases the Suns are fairly well covered, because the expirations are occurring mainly at SF, where the Suns have gobs of flexibility. The Suns can pick and choose who they want to keep.

  • Scott

    @Rishi -

    IIRC, the latest on Oden is that he won’t be available next year due to medical issues.

  • Tony

    @Scott,

    no thankyou in regards to the injury-prone and no heart Boozer. There’s a reason why Utah grew tired of him and why the Bulls have now tired of him too.

    Again, as with Okafur, the Suns don’t need to go out and overpay for players past their prime in Boozer or those not as good as their salary indicates in Okafur. This would put the Suns in the same position they were in when Sarver made all those dumb moves following Amare’s departure.

    Furthermore, it really makes no sense to make any sort of lateral trade anyway. The Suns are so in need of talent that trading away what little talent they have for one player past his prime and injury-prone would just leave the Suns with more holes to fill. The only trade at this point the FO should be looking for is one in which another team just wants to dump salary and basically gives away their player. For example, following the failed Marion for Shaq trade, Sarver dumped Shaq onto the Cavs without getting anyone in return. (Sarver subsequently bought out Wallace and Pavolich). Or Sarver’s giving away of not only Kurt Thomas, but also two 1st round picks so that he could dump more salary. This is where the Suns FO must set its sights on possible trades because any other type of trade would just open up more positions to cover for the players used in a trade.

    In my opinion, the best option for the Suns FO is to try to either trade up in this year’s draft or to try to get extra 1st round draft picks by putting Gortat on the trade bloc. They should then basically plan on being a bottom-3 team in the NBA next season and try to maximize their position with respect to the draft.

  • Scott

    Tanking and trading top players for draft picks are horrible ideas, worthy of the worst GMs in the league.

    In fact, it sounds like Michael Jordan’s plan for the Bobcats.

  • Tony

    @Scott,

    as opposed to staying a perpetually mediocre team? I’m normally not in favor of tanking either, but with the Suns having no foundational players to build around and with so many holes in the roster, they are likely to be a really bad team next season regardless. But if the FO makes a couple minor moves or lateral trades like you’re suggesting with giving up Frye and/or Dudley for Boozer, it will only serve to give the Suns a few more wins but still not be a playoff team. At that point, getting a few extra wins serves only to make it less likely they land a top-3 pick, which would be counterproductive to rebuilding.

    In other news, there’s a rumor surfacing that if the FO cannot resign Nash, they are going to go all out to sign Darron WIlliams. The funniest and most ridiculous part is that according to this “inside” source, since Williams apparently is an avid golfer, that Sarver is going to try and sell him on the idea of playing for the Suns by telling him about all the golfing opportunities in Phoenix!

    If this rumor is true and if they plan on selling Williams on the idea of playing for the Suns by telling him all about golfing opportunities in Phoenix, then that has to be one of the worst sales-pitches to play for an organization in NBA history.

  • steve

    I bet they could have got Jordan that way. I think it’s also the closest nba city to Vegas. Why was Jordan not a sun?

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    Williams, as I understand it, already wants to be in the west. He wants a sunny, warm climate.

    IIRC, he’s familiar with Texas, Utah, and California. He may not be so familiar with Arizona. So what can you sell him on? Golf courses, low humidity, swimming pools, and no snow are pretty much the things to brag about in Phoenix, so you can’t be too surprised it comes up.

    Everyone knows you can golf in Phoenix in the winter. If you’re into golf, it’s a selling point.

    And Steve has a good point about Vegas. It’s just an hour away if you want to meet friends there, or take the ol’ SO or a group of friends up for a night on the town.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Well, if Williams wants to be in the west, Phoenix might actually be an option. You always sell the player’s interests to him so if he loves golf that much you may as well add it to the pitch.

    Also, if the climate is that important then PHX is a good choice.

    More importantly, as the teams out west sit now there aren’t many holes in rosters for him.

    I doubt the Lakers are able to afford him even if they manage to move Gasol or Bynum. Bryant is making killer money the next two seasons and they’ve already set their sights on Nash or Dragon.

    Clippers have CP3. OKC has Starbury II. Denver is cold. SAS have Parker. MINN has Rubio and is cold. Utah is cold and filled with bad memories. SAC and GSW don’t fit really. HOU has Lowry, though I could see them signing Williams and shopping Lowry.

    So you’re left with NOH, PHX, DAL, POR, MEM and Houston possibly.

    Portland just blew it up but still have LMA and Batum. The NBA basically restored the vital signs to New Orleans in a bid to sell it. Does Williams mind starting over with lottery picks?

    Memphis would appear to be the best fit if he’s wanting to contend now. Cuban in Dallas is guaranteed to spend to help him even after Dirk is gone. Though, Cuban did say that when Dirk is gone he’ll blow it up and start over.

    What does Phoenix have to offer him?

    Besides basketball, it’s a warm climate. People golf there. Vegas is nearby. Alright…

    On the court, he has a mobile center. Also, he has, uh… Hmm.

    But what the Suns do have is a ton of free cash with an Amnesty still at the ready. If Williams signs there it’s a near-instant turnaround because they can pretty much lure anybody else in to play with him and have the money to pay him.

    He would have to give up a year of winning basketball though. After two of those in New Jersey he might not want to.

    I don’t see it happening, but if he wants to be out west there aren’t many softer places to land with the combination of contention and personal needs.

  • Rishi

    Guys, I have always thought of Deron Williams playing for Phoenix and to me its not that far fetched as you think it is. We always have great point guards here in Phoenix, its a tradition so why wouldn’t he want to play here in point guard friendly Phoenix? Sign and trade Nash to Brooklyn, I heard Chris Brossard talking about that earlier today on ESPN. Its not far fetched, Nash likes NY so much anyways, and we traded PG’s before to the Nets before (remember the Jason Kidd trade?)

  • Rishi

    @Tony,
    I like your idea of tanking and starting from the bottom up. I don’t like tanking but I think getting top 5 picks is what its all about. Also, I do not think that by doing so we would perennially be like Minnesota or any of those teams that have that churn because players like the Suns organization.

    Of course LA is also a great place to play too and thankfully I don’t think Sarver is as much of a tightwad as Don Sterling has been in the past but you never know. Sarver sold those draft picks to “keep the core together” the core of Marion, Nash, and Amare, and he didn’t want to pay luxury tax. He essentially mortgaged the future by not wanting to go over the cap and keeping those draft picks. He didn’t see the value in player development or that those rookies could actually find playing time in D’antoni’s 8 man deep rotation so I suppose he figured whats the point in keeping draft picks… hopefully now the organization as a whole has learned something.

    I know that they have learned to let their franchise player know that he has been traded, as a Jason Kidd trade incident has not happened in the past decade. Here’s to my fellow Wildcat Robert Sarver to learn from past travesties like letting Joe Johnson walk…

    PS maybe if we all start collectively believing in Sarver we might see some miracle happen. Have faith Phoenix faithfuls! Trust me I grew up in Yuma, AZ and you have to have faith as a Suns fan growing up there amidst all the Lakers sell out fans, haha

  • Scott

    @Rishi -

    I suggested the Nash / Deron trade months ago, so I agree with the premise. I see it as a real possibility, as – like you said – Nash genuinely likes the NYC area, and the media would be very friendly to him there. The Nets could hardly ask for a better ambassador to the public while they build their team and new audience.

    How would this go down?

    First, the Suns would have to confess to Nash they could not find a suitable star to put the Suns back into contention. They tell Nash that Brooklyn is rebuilding in a new city, with a new arena, and they’d like to have him as their star player when the season opens.

    If Nash accepts, the Suns could then re-sign Nash to a large contract with all 3 years on it, and even a fourth at player option, if Nash wants it, and send him to Brooklyn in exchange for Williams. Assuming Nash agrees, that’s probably one of the best deals Brooklyn can get in trade, as what other star would voluntarily go there in exchange for Deron?

    Deron’s remaining year is at player option. So he can opt out this year, and he could potentially do so as part of a sign and trade. While I don’t know the details of his contract and the CBA, I believe the gist of it is that if he gets a new contract with the Nets, they can sign him to a significantly more lucrative contract than anyone else.

    So if the trade is amicable between all parties, I can see the Suns trading Nash for D-Will straight up, with both players re-signed to the contracts they want. The Nets benefit because they stood to lose D-Will for nothing, and instead they get Nash, who they know will play hard, interview well, provide leadership, and otherwise benefit their team for the next few years. The Suns lose Nash, but gain one of his few suitable replacements, albeit at a significantly higher cost. I think D-Will is looking for $20m on his next contract, and five or six years, which he can only get from Brooklyn. If they sign him and trade him, then – for better or worse – that max contract becomes the obligation of the Suns.

    Now, while the Suns can – I believe – trade Nash straight up for D-Will (my approximations work in the ESPN Trade Machine), they might be able to use the leverage of the trade to, say, add Childress, since the Nets hardly have anyone signed for next year and have plenty of room. The Suns also, if they wish, might be able to ask for MarShon Brooks back in the trade, since evidently he didn’t get along very well with coach Avery Johnson, and played few minutes. Childress is actually probably more to AJ’s liking (and AJ is probably more likely to use him correctly, unlike Gentry).

    I could even see the Nets signing Shannon Brown, as a FA, as he’ll be looking for work and the Nets know he can play with Nash.

    What’s in it for Deron? He goes to the fourth most competitive team in the west, known for its top point guards, and he’s got a supporting cast of players who are all easy to get along with. Plus he gets out of Jersey with his good name intact and plenty of dollars in his pocket.

    BTW, if the Suns make this trade and successfully send away Childress, I still at this point recommend trading the #1 pick for this year to Cleveland for Casspi and their two #2 picks, if that’s possible. :)

  • Rishi

    @Scott
    Thanks for the insight. Id hate to lose all our cap space though, your saying 20 million a year on Deron? That would practically eat up all of our cap space and we wouldn’t have any really left to throw at Dwight Howard or anyone else for that matter in the coming year, but then again it would be hard to get him to come to the Valley.

    Deron Williams would probably attract other free agents though and if we can get rid of Childress and his contract we still can sign other players. We also have that MLE. What about bringing Aaron Brooks back like someone mentioned and if his production is back to where it used to be then we can have even more money to spend on free agents. Only thing is though that if we get Williams, this would become a destination for free agents again much like it has been with Nash around.

    Draft picks wise, I think it would be great to start stockpiling first round picks with any assets that we have, but this years draft is deep since last year a lot of players held out because of the lockout. I think this year’s pick that we have might be more valuable to hang on to than to trade to Cleveland. Whats with Casspi who is he? I need to do some research to find out what all the buzz here is about.

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  • Scott

    @Rishi -

    Actually, the max contract the Nets can give Deron is slightly bigger than $20m. I don’t know how the numbers are distributed over the years, but the contract would be 5 years at $109m, which comes out to an avg of $22m a year. Other teams can only sign him for 4 years, at a total of $81m … which is still $20m a year.

    That’s Kobe-in-his-prime money. Hopefully GMs will be able to avoid paying Deron that much, because that’s a potential team-killer, but you never know. Desperation makes the shaky pen sign big checks.

    With luck, in a deal as I’ve described for Nash, Deron would accept something closer to his current annual value of about $17m, but take the extra year in lieu of trying to goose up the salary. That would total $85m.

    Of course, spoiling that idea is the rumor that Cuban will offer to sign him to the non-Nets max deal (4 yr / $81m) if Deron opts out from his current contract. Many hearing this believe Deron will cut loose from the Nets and sign with the Mavs. However, Deron publicly says he hasn’t decided. Maybe the truth is that he can’t announce his decision due to legal reasons or something. Or maybe Deron really IS weighing the possibility of getting that 5 yr / $109m contract from the Nets, or something close to it, which is more than what Cuban can give.

    The only way the Suns would have an edge over a max offer from Cuban is if Nash wants to move on, but is willing to consent to a sign and trade with the Nets for more money and more years than he would normally be able to get; much like the Amare sign and trade deal the Suns did not long ago. The Nets might like this idea, because they’d get something back for Deron. But Deron has little reason other than money to agree to a sign and trade to the Suns, which is why I’d expect he only agrees to it if his contract goes higher than what Cuban can give. So I estimate $20m a year, for 5 years, to trade Nash for Deron. A total of $100m. Worth it? Eh, who knows.

    Also, as far as the Nash/Deron trade goes, if the Nets only pay a slightly higher salary to Nash – say $13m – the Suns would have ample room to trade Nash, Childress, and Warrick for Deron (and possibly get MarShon Brooks, too, if desired). So at the cost of Nash, the Suns could at least clean out the cellar, and be in better shape to tolerate a $20m contract.

    But even in the worst case scenario – if Nash leaves and there is no real compensation – it’s not necessarily the end of the world for Suns fans.

    There’s more PGs to be found in next year’s draft. At this point, Michael Carter-Williams sounds interesting: a talented young 6’5″ SG, a scorer, who intends to play at PG for Syracuse to showcase and further develop his PG skills.

    So if the Suns end up losing Nash, losing Brooks, and being run by Telfair and Price next year, relief could still be just around the corner.

    As for the separate trade for Casspi, my thought is that he had such a disappointing year after getting traded from SAC to CLE that maybe the Cavs would be willing to give up on him in order to stockpile another 2012 #1 pick.

    Casspi is a 6’9″ SF, age 23, drafted #23 in 2009. He’s a tenacious defender who can shoot the 3. He’s not a star, he’s just young talent who is cheap ($1.3m), he fits the Suns’ system, and he might be available.

    While getting Casspi would be good, the main thrust behind my proposal is to get the 2 early 2nd round picks the Cavs have, because at this early point in draft evaluations it doesn’t seem to me there’s a whole lot of difference in talent between the Suns’ #13 and the 2 Cavs picks. This way the Suns would give up 1 good player on a cheap contract to get 3 good players on cheap contracts. And at this point, I recommend O’Quinn and Crowder. They’re high IO players with efficient offense and good defensive skills who would fit the system. They sound like the type of player that makes a solid bench, not too different in talent level from most of the Suns, like Dudley, Frye, and so on.

    Right now, so far as I can see, the top drawer talent in this draft falls off after the first 9 picks. Then there’s a big pool of roughly equivalent talents that doesn’t really fade till the latter half of the 2nd round. My opinion on this may change during this month of evaluations, but I’m throwing my idea out there so people can enjoy thinking about the unusual strategy.

    Basically, if the Suns want to have cap room for stars, they need to start thinking of ways to sign young cheap talent. Too many veterans with middling skills and middling contracts can eat up your cap space.

  • steve

    There’s no way in the world a PG is worth $20M per. No way. Max I’d pay any PG in the NBA right now would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $15M, and that would be reserved for only D-Rose and CP3. The next tier of guys might be worth $12M (Nash, Rondo, Williams, Westbrook, Parker).

    I don’t believe there are any undeniably dominant PGs in the NBA right now. D-Rose (healthy) could have been, but he settled too often for long and/or fading J’s. Paul might have been before his knee injury, but he seems to have lost an ever so slight amount of his explosiveness that has dropped him to the realm of the halfway guardable. Regardless, I don’t believe any of the PGs I just named are ever going to be the clear leader and dominant player of a championship team, and no PG would ever get $20M from me if I were a GM.

  • Ty-Sun

    Whether D-Will is worth $20+ mil a year or not I think he’ll still get it. Even with the new CBA, teams will still overpay a lot of players but going forward may also underpay a lot of their reserves to try and save money.

    Regardless, I really don’t want D-Will in a Suns uni at that price. While I don’t hate Sarver, I do think that would give him an excuse to underspend on other players as long as D-Will’s contract lasts and Sarver will never sign TWO max contract players at the same time. Too many eggs (salary) in two baskets (players). One goes down with an ACL tear and that’s $20+ mil that still counts against the salary cap with a player gone for the season. That’s not my way of thinking but an assumption of how Sarver may think. I’m sure that’s why he didn’t offer Amare a fully guaranteed deal which is why Amare is now a Knick. Sign D-Will and he’ll be the only “star” player on the team until his contract ends or the Suns get very lucky in the draft.

  • Tony

    This speculation about WIlliams is ridiculous. Does anybody really believe that Williams is going to choose to sign with the Suns because of golfing???? If the Suns were a contending team or even close to it, then advantages such as better weather and golfing opportunities probably would be somewhat of a factor but the Suns aren’t even close to a contending team, even with Williams who is over-rated anyway. It simply makes no sense for Williams to leave a younger mediocre team with better potential at this point for a less than mediocre team with Gortat as the team’s second best player. Furthermore, Williams will have the choice of going to the Mavs if he really is committed to playing in the west. Now really, even for the Sarver supporters on this site, do any of you really think that Williams would believe he has a better chance of winning a title with Sarver as owner or Cuban as owner of his respective team?

    @Scott,

    did you forget about Nash’s wishes? If Nash wanted to leave the Suns to win a championship, why in the world would he then agree to go to the Nets? The Nets are in a better position than the Suns with respect to young talent, but even with him, they would at best be an 8th-seed playoff team that gets sweeped in the first round. So why would he agree to it? If playing in NY was that important to him, don’t you think he would prefer to play for the Knicks, who are a better team at this point than the Nets.
    Also Scott, the Suns history of being the 4th most winning franchise in NBA history means very little considering 3 out of the past 4 years they’ve been a lottery team.

  • steve

    Tony, you should really try to go a whole month without mentioning Sarver. Just try it. I think you’ll find yourself able to think more clearly about situations, and definitely more able to hold a constructive conversation with any of the other commenters on this site. You are obsessed. I don’t remember the last time you commented on a thread without mentioning how much you hate Sarver and how he has destroyed the franchise.

    Anyways, it’s not all that ridiculous to think Williams could choose the Suns. Do I think it’s going to happen? No. But that’s an easy conclusion. He’s not going to choose 29 NBA teams. Odds are better that any team will be one of the 29 rather than the team Williams ends up with. So, am I going to come on here and call everyone who is hoping for a Williams signing ridiculous? No, of course not. That would be foolish and rude. It’s *possible* that Williams will come to the Valley, and it’s *possible* that the great golf here might play a big role in that decision. Until someone says, “Williams is DEFINITELY coming to PHX, and the golf just sealed the deal,” I’ll keep my blind hatred to myself.

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    you should really try to stop defending Sarver for once. If you could somehow shake your fantasy dream world in which you believe that Sarver has been a good owner, then maybe you wouldn’t make such ridiculous statements, such as Shaq was one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA! LOL!

    Anyway Steve, my point was not so much about Sarver as it was about Cuban. Even you must believe that Cuban has been a far better owner than Sarver and is willing to spend a lot more if it means bringing a championship to his organization than Sarver has shown right? With that being the case, it’s just basic logic that a player interested in winning a championship, such as Williams, would be more inclined to sign with an owner who has deeper pockets and is committed to winning a championship than an owner to the contrary. So, you could substitute most owners in the NBA for Sarver and it would still be more likely that Williams would choose Cuban, who is considered one of the best owners in the NBA.

    Also, since you’re such an opponent of hypotheticals, you are violating your own supposed “beliefs.” Of course the Suns might sign Williams, just as the Bobcats might sign Williams. There’s always a possibility that it might happen. So besides being hypocritical, you are also incorrect in claiming that I am being foolish or rude. I’m being realistic. Scott’s claim of a Nash for Williams trade is silly because he forgets to look at Nash’s perspective. If Nash was only going to leave the Suns to play for a contender, than why would he want to play for the Nets? This is just common-sense stuff.

    So Steve, I have a suggestion for you…why don’t you try posting without any mixture of arrogance and self-righteousness. You might find that it is actually possible for you to be wrong about something!

  • Brian

    Brooklyn doesn’t need to s&t to get Nash. I don’t think we have a chance at Deron anyway. I think Brooklyn might s&t him to LA for Gasol, sign Ilyasova, a good stretch 4 for Nash, let Brook Lopez go, sign Gerald Wallace, and sign Nash to play with those three in the frontcourt and Brooks/Green at the 2.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    We need to send you back to NBA Psychology class. You’re way too focused on the notion that winning championships is what motivates players. It’s more complicated than that.

    Sure, players will always say in interviews they want to win the championship. That’s because it is universally viewed as crass for them to say, “Hey, I’m all about the money, man. I need to feed my children.” But let’s face it: a major reason these young guys play b-ball and try to get into the league is they want the big money.

    So money is a primary motivator for most players, way above winning a championship. Very few players, and normally only those veterans who’ve already made their money, will take lower salary in order to join a contender.

    Another highly significant motivator is to “be the man.” These athletes are highly competitive people, and while winning is important, for many of them just being the top dog on their team, or at their position, or beating their individual opponent every night is the most gratifying thing.

    Consider these stories you know very well. Amare left the Suns, who were much closer to winning a championship than the lowly Knicks, because of money. In fact, Amare’s first job at the Knicks was to try to instill a culture of winning, to spread the idea that winning games was possible.

    Joe Johnson left the Suns to go to Atlanta. Was Atlanta a contending team? No. They were a perennial bottom feeder who was willing to grossly overpay JJ to come play there and be “the man” on their team. After playing behind Nash, Amare, and even Marion on the Suns, JJ wanted his moment to shine brightest … just like Amare wanted when he moved to the Knicks.

    Grant Hill came to the Suns for almost no money, and he stayed with the Suns for many years on low salary despite the fact they weren’t really a championship team, even though contending teams like Boston and Miami asked him to join. The reason Hill is with the Suns? The Suns will start him, not bring him off the bench. Even an old vet like Hill, who has made his money, still wants to be “the man” more than win a championship.

    So if players like Nash or Deron talk about how important it is to win a championship, don’t take that at face value. They’re simply saying what they’re expected to say and what’s politically wise to say, because anything else – however realistic – makes them sound crass. But the truth is, as ex-players will tell you, they’re in it for the money and to prove they’re “the man.” If they can win a championship, that’s great too, but it’s rarely for any player the primary consideration.

    Additional considerations, rarely mentioned, include the desires of the player’s spouse and children. These are usually secondary to money, but they play a role. Consider Odom’s recent plea to get a job in NYC. I suspect that’s more of a desire on the part of his Kardashian wife, and less because Odom really likes NY or is buddies with Amare and Carmelo, or that he thinks he can fit in with that team.

    So you, Tony, as a fan, may believe that it’s all about the championship. But you are not in lock step with the players, who usually see things differently. For that matter, owners are not necessarily all in for the championship either, though just like players they have to tell the press otherwise, because fans typically don’t want to hear any other motivation.

    One last point to make: players are aware that winning a championship depends a lot on luck. Deron going to Dallas does not remotely guarantee a championship. Sure, Cuban will spend, but Cuban’s been spending the whole time he’s been there, and not always intelligently. He’s won 1 championship, and then what does he do the following summer? He blows up the team, saying he’s made it better, when anyone can look at it and tell it’s not right. And Dirk … if he’s injured, what does Dallas have? Not much. And Dirk was injured, or playing injured, most of last year. Will Dirk ever completely recover, or is time and wear catching up with him?

    If Deron goes to Dallas, chances are it will be because of the money and the familiarity of being at home. But right now his wife and kids are in SoHo, and he has no other houses except for an empty one in Utah he’s trying to sell. He says he’s open to pitches, which to me means … “show me the money.”

  • Scott

    @Brian -

    You’re absolutely right that Brooklyn doesn’t need to sign and trade to get Nash. However, players will get more money if they agree to a sign and trade, just like what happened with Amare not long ago, and doing so is also seen by fans as a generous gesture, as it allows the player’s old team to get something in exchange, even if it is just a trade exception.

    As for players wanting to go to Brooklyn … someone is going to have to go there and make it seem like a happening, desirable place and not a basketball graveyard. Deron couldn’t do that, and Gasol wouldn’t do that, but I think Nash can do it.

  • Tony

    @Scott,

    when did I say money isn’t a factor players take into consideration when deciding where to play?? I don’t recall saying that and I don’t really see the relevance of it in this context. WIlliams will get the max whereever he chooses to go. As you stated, the Nets can offer him the most or a team can do a sign and trade so that Williams can make what the Nets could pay him but on another team.
    Is your point that Nash is only looking to where the money is and would play for the Nets despite no chance of winning a title there? If Nash only cared about the money, then don’t you think he would stay with the Suns? His kids are in Phoenix, the training staff he loves is in Phoenix, Gentry is a coach he loves playing for, and the system is designed for him. So why in the world would he give all this up with the Suns likely going to offer him the most any team would just to play for the Nets?

    As far as Cuban is concerned, I agree that no way was this year’s Mavs team as good as last season’s. Also, if Cuban is unable to land Williams or Howard, then his strategy will have failed and he wasted two of Dirk’s last really productive years in the NBA.
    With that being said, Dallas even at this point, has a much brighter future than the Suns. Gortat is their best player at this point and he’s not even a number 2 on any good team. If Williams was only in it for the money and winning a championship wasn’t a priority for him, then why would he even consider leaving the Nets? They have far more young talent than the Suns at this point, are in a much bigger media market than Phoenix, and have a billionaire owner instead of a guy who needed the gov’t to bail his bank business out because just as he destroyed the Suns franchise, he was close to insolvency with his banking business if not for the bailout.

    So, using both sides of your logic would still have the same result, that Williams will not be a Sun. If he wants to earn the most money, he’ll probably just stay with the Nets and play under a billionaire owner. Or, what is more likely, he wants to compete for a championship, he’s not going to sign with another lottery team in the Suns but is likely to choose Dallas. The same goes for Nash. If just wants the money, he’ll resign with the Suns where he’s likely to get the most lucrative offer. Or, which is also more likely, he wants to win a ring, he’ll sign on only a team close to contending for a championship.

    By the way, you underestimate the desire some of these players have in winning championships. For most of these guys, the competitive drive to excel was a prime reason for their making it to the NBA. There are of course exceptions, but I think it’s far more likely that most NBA players want to play on contending teams versus simply playing their careers on lottery teams. In particular, with elite players like Williams, who will be offered the max from multiple teams, other considerations besides money come into effect at that point.

  • Ty-Sun

    I think that the best players in the league really are all about getting that championship ring. They can get top money wherever they play and make even more off endorsements. Being “the man” is probably more important to second tier stars than the real big dogs in the NBA or any other sport. The real stars know that the money and recognition will be there wherever they play and whoever they play with.

    As for Nash going to Brooklyn… I doubt that very much even if they are willing to give him a max contract for 3-4 years. I think that if Nash leaves he will go to LAL, Dallas (if they can’t sign D-Will), Portland, NY Knicks, Chicago or – God forbid! – Miami before he signs with Brooklyn.

    Yes, I’ve heard rumors that Chicago might go after Nash. Think of that team with Nash coming off the bench to spell Rose. If Rose comes back from the ACL tear at anything near full strength, Nash might only have to play no more than 15-20 mins a game which could extend his career greatly. Or letting Nash play the point with Rose at the 2… don’t even try to tell me that wouldn’t improve the Bulls no matter how they used Nash and Rose together.

  • steve

    There’s a fine line between “realist” and “jerk.”
    You don’t walk it.

    @ Ty-Sun – Nash in CHI would be pretty sick. I like that idea. Regarding your “best players in the league” being about the ‘ship comment, I think that every second tier star believes they are a first tier star. At the highest level, everyone is an alpha dog. For instance, Amare has always thought of himself as a first tier star. He didn’t go to NYK for the rings. He went there for money and fame. That’s it. Championships are far more vital to the average fan’s perception of a player than the player’s perception of himself.

    What I mean by that last statement is that Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, LeBron, Nash, or any other amazing player who has never won a championship don’t feel any more or less validated as a player by winning it all. Or at least they shouldn’t. It’s a team game. No single player has ever won a championship. If you had the choice between $50M and a potentially better shot at a ring or $80M, you would take the $80M (or at least 99% of humanity would if they ACTUALLY had that choice).

  • Scott

    @steve -

    Just to add to your comment about taking the money, joining a contender is by no means a certain route to the championship. And getting a top contract isn’t necessarily consigning yourself to a horrible losing team.

    Note that LeBron is still looking for his ring after having taken his talents to South Beach. Maybe he’ll get it this year, maybe not. It sounds like he’s sacrificing to get a ring, but factor this into your money equations: LeBron, from his first year in the league, has always made more money from endorsements than from his NBA salary. So when he took a cut to go play with Bosh and Wade, he’s probably actually making more endorsement money now that he’s out of small market Cleveland.

    And to support the idea that having a big contract doesn’t mean you play on a bad team, just look at Kobe. Huge contract ($25m), successful team. Look at Dirk ($19m). Look at Garnett ($21m).

    Deron doesn’t have to stay with the Nets to get the big contract they can offer him. If he agrees to a sign and trade for a player or group of players that the Nets want, Deron can have his big contract AND be off playing with another team, one that he wants to be on.

    Tony’s wrong in thinking Deron has to stay with the Nets to get the billionaire to sign him to a max contract. Of course, Deron has the option to stay if he wants. But if there’s a trade offered to take him out west, where reportedly he’d rather be, then he could have the money AND relocate. Or he could threaten to leave the Nets on his own, and they’d get nothing back.

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    It’s funny how you claim to know what elite players in the NBA are thinking… Do you not understand that winning generally promotes a player’s image which subsequently leads to more money from advertisers and the like who want to capitalize on winners. Even if what you say is true, that is that winning a ring isn’t that important to these elite players, which I doubt is true, the increase in exposure caused by winning generally has the effect of increasing players’ monetary value from non-basketball related activities, such as more appearances in TV commercials and etc.

    Since you claim to have such intimate knowledge about NBA players’ priorities, why don’t you tell us all where Williams is going to play next season….

    @Scott,

    With all due respect, I don’t understand what you mean by claiming that having a big contract requires a player to be on a bad team. Kobe and Dirk are not on bad teams and they have hefty contracts. So what’s your point about that? Unless I’m missing something, I really don’t get what you’re trying to say about that. In other words, who ever said a player has to choose either making more money by signing on a bad team or making less and going to an elite team? It’s not necessarily an either or situation, although at times it can be.

    Of course joining a contending team doesn’t guarantee a championship but you cannot seriously argue that a player such as Nash would have a better chance of winning a title by staying with the Suns than if he decided to sign with the Heat. There’s obviously never a guarantee of winning, otherwise what would be the point in going through the season? But if Nash wants to win a ring in the next couple seasons, I think it’s fair to say that he should choose to sign with the Heat over the Suns.
    In addition Scott, I never said Williams has to stay with the Nets to get a max contract….Again, I don’t know how you are coming to this conclusion. Williams can get the max from a number of teams. However, as you yourself correctly stated, the Nets can offer him more because he plays for them. However, he can sign this max contract with the Nets and then be traded elsewhere, so I’m not disputing that. But again, what does that have to do with anything?? If Williams wanted to do a sign and trade, firstly the Nets would have to approve and the Suns are not the only team in the west that has the cap space to make that happen.

  • steve

    I never claimed to have any more intimate knowledge than anyone else. I just have a different opinion than you so your response is to piss and moan and cry like a little girl.

    History shows us not every star has a championship. History also shows us that fans highly overrate the value of team success when considering the quality if any individual player. Those two facts lead me to believe that your average narcissistic athlete doesn’t care as much about rings as his own bottom line. And in that sense, NBA superstars are just like the rest of us. They even piss and moan and cry like you too, Tony.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    You said that Deron would probably rather stay with the Nets, for the money and larger media market, rather than come to the Suns. However, as you clearly understand, he’d be making the same money in Phoenix as he would in Brooklyn, if he was part of a sign and trade, and he’d be part of a winning team in Phoenix. Phoenix narrowly missed the playoffs. It could have gone either way. The Nets, on the other hand, missed by a country mile, despite some huge scoring efforts by Deron. Furthermore, the Nets are far behind the Suns on rebuilding their team. So why would Deron stay?

    And of course, the Nets could make that sign and trade with any team that Deron approves of. Yet which teams have trade material that would be appealing for the Nets? I never said that the Suns were the only destination, I just said they could have an edge if they were to offer a sign and trade of Nash for Deron under some very specific circumstances.

    I think your real main idea is that no star player will come to Phoenix because of Sarver. You might as well just stick with it, instead of bringing up all the other things.

  • Rishi

    @Scott
    The Suns haven’t even started rebuilding the team. I think the Nets at least have better young talent from their recent high draft picks than the Suns do.

    Anyways, I hope that you and Tony can get along, I mean we are all Suns fans here for crying out loud!!!!

    So just to let you guys know, I live deep in enemy territory now as I have moved to San Antonio. Just the other day I met JA Adande and Mark Stein from ESPN. I asked Mr. Adande about why we haven’t seen that many sign and trade deals as of late and he said it was because the league has made it harder to do it. He said that it doesn’t make financial sense for the players to agree to a sign and trade anymore because they can’t make as much money compared to if they just sign with a team on their own as a free agent.

    It must be something with the CBA. I talked to him him about a Steve Nash for Deron Williams trade but the salaries wouldn’t line up…

  • Scott

    @Rishi -

    Well, there’s rebuilding and there’s rebuilding. The Suns are rebuilding after the loss of their starting PF (Amare) and SG (Richardson). Those positions aren’t settled, and it’s a big problem. There’s also been some lack of clarity on who backs up Nash now that Dragic is gone.

    The Suns this offseason are also not settled at starting PG and starting SF, with Nash and Hill not signed, and Nash possibly leaving.

    So the only starting position the Suns have settled at the moment is C (Gortat), and the backup for that is not clear, as Frye is out with injury and Lopez is not certain to return.

    Still, the Suns do have 7 players under contract for next year.

    The ESPN Trade Machine shows that Brooklyn only has 4 players signed for the upcoming season: Morrow, Petro, Brooks, and J Williams. They’re in a heavier rebuilding stage because they’re trying to make room for Howard, but so far it seems like that isn’t working. Also, they weren’t real competitive before that anyway, so you could say they’ve been rebuilding since Kidd left, with Deron being a piece that might not stick.

    BTW, don’t worry about Tony. He’s not happy unless he’s being contrary. ;)

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