Under the radar free agents for the Phoenix Suns

The worst action movies of the last decade and a half all have one thing in common: fighter jets. While the advent of jet planes has undoubtedly been great for America’s national security, air show fans, and people harboring grudges against geese, it has been almost universally putrid for action movies.

Sure, we loved Top Gun, but because of its success we were forced to sit through insufferable flops like Broken Arrow, Stealth, and Behind Enemy Lines. If you have seen any or all of these films, I am deeply sorry for you, but these awful movies have taught us one thing. To get close to a target, you must fly under the radar. Remember the F-18’s flying under the Golden Gate Bridge in The Rock. It’s like that.

This is a strategy the Phoenix Suns might have to employ this offseason if they miss out on Eric Gordon and need to spend their cap space elsewhere. Here are some under the radar guys for the Suns to consider, none of whom is as bad at basketball as Owen Wilson was as a fighter pilot/action star.

1.  Carl Landry – PF (2011-12 Stats: 12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 18.31 PER)

In his first five years in the league, Landry has played for three different NBA teams. This could be perceived as a lack of talent or value, but I believe Landry’s journey around the Western Conference had more do with crowded rosters than anything else.

In Houston, Landry was paired with Luis Scola, who played the exact same position as he. The Kings had a logjam of front court players and there wasn’t enough playing time for any of them. Landry seemed to find a home in New Orleans over the last season and a half, but the franchise has been in such disarray that I don’t think he had a chance to truly showcase his skills.

Carl is a consistent and efficient big man who could become an impact player if given the chance to start. ESPN has reported that Landry would prefer to stay in New Orleans next year, but his price tag (he made $8.5 million this year) and No. 1 pick Anthony Davis might force him out. If that happens, Phoenix would be an excellent landing spot.

2.  J.J. Hickson – PF (2011-12 Stats w/ Portland: 19 games, 15.1 ppg, 54% FG, 8.3 rpg)

What can be said about J.J. Hickson that hasn’t been said about the Mercury Grand Marquis? It’s long, not overly attractive, does most of what you expect it to do, and has lots of room (for improvement). Hickson is by no means the sexiest guy on this list, but he could be a solid rebounder and frontcourt presence for a team willing to give him a shot.

What impresses me most about Hickson is how he performed at the end of last year. He was acquired by Portland toward the end of the season long after the Blazers had thrown in the towel. Hickson started 10 games for Portland and posted five double-doubles in the process. Granted, his end-of-the-season run was the definition of a contract-year performance, but nevertheless, J.J. has the ability to score inside and rebound.

His athleticism could be great next to Gortat, although he isn’t much of a defender. I strongly believe the Suns need a more physical presence at the PF spot. Channing Frye is not that guy and Markieff Morris is still maturing as a player. If none of the other players on this list come to Phoenix, Hickson could be a good fit.

3.  Boris Diaw – PF (2011-12 Stats w/San Antonio: 20 games, 4.7 ppg, 59% FG, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 apg)

This addition may be a few months late, but a Diaw return to Phoenix could definitely help the Suns. Apparently Steve Nash pushed hard for the Suns to sign Diaw after he was bought out by Charlotte last season. The front office didn’t listen and Boris ended up becoming a key contributor for the top-seeded Spurs.

All the things Diaw did for the Spurs, he can do for the Suns in the coming year. Diaw entered the league as a point guard, so he has excellent passing skills for a big man. Marcin Gortat and Diaw could make a potent high post/low post combo. In addition, Diaw is solid post defender, which is always a good asset to have. The reason Boris is still in league is his unique combination of skills. If the Suns have any cap room left after the dust settles, they could get excellent value for it by signing Diaw.

4.  Steve Novak – SF (2011-12 Stats: 8.8 ppg, 2.5 3PM, 47% 3pt)

Who doesn’t need a floor spacer? Novak is one of the best shooters in the game right now. He led the league in 3-point field goal percentage last season and was tied for third in shots made from beyond the arc. Novak doesn’t give you much else aside from six fouls, but the Suns’ offense has always run better with a deadly 3-point threat on the floor, and Novak is as good a threat as any.

Even with Nash gone, a guy like Novak can only mean more space for Gortat and better driving lanes for new additions Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley.  Novak’s lack of other skills may actually be a good thing for Phoenix as it could help keep the price down should the front office choose to pursue him.

5.  Jerryd Bayless – PG/SG (2011-12 Stats: 31 games, 11.4 ppg, 2.8 apg, 17.80 PER)

The former Arizona Wilcat has had a crazy start to his young career. He was drafted by the Indiana Pacers and immediately traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. After two seasons in Portland, he was shipped to New Orleans. After just 11 games, the Hornets traded him to Toronto.

Jerryd averaged double-digit points in each of his two seasons in Canada, but ESPN’s Marc Stein has reported that Toronto has rescinded its qualifying offer to Bayless, making him an unrestricted free agent. Bayless had some injury trouble last season, which limited him to 31 games. This combined with four teams in four years might frighten some people away, but I think Bayless is still looking for the right opportunity to showcase his skills.

Though he’s listed as a point guard, Bayless plays better at the two spot (his career average of less than four assists/game would seem to agree with me). Kevin Love and Bayless came up together and played against one another at the AAU and Collegiate level. Appearing on the BS Report with Bill Simmons, Love was asked which guy from his class was most likely to break out. Love answered Bayless without hesitation.

Now that was over a year ago, but for a star like Love to vouch for Bayless’ talent, it could mean that Jerryd warrants a look from the Suns. At the very least Bayless can shoot and get to the hoop, and the Suns are in need of those skills right. Perhaps a return to the desert could help Bayless rediscover the magic that made him a star at Arizona.

When I began writing this list, there were 15 names on it. Many of them have agreed to deals in the last few days, while others were removed simply for being Ivan Johnson. The point is that come July 11, many of these guys will get snapped up quick, so if any of them are the missing piece in Phoenix the Suns will have to move quickly as they won’t be the only team flying under the radar.

Tags: Boris Diaw Carl Landry Ersan Ilyasova Free Agents Jerryd Bayless JJ Hickson Phoenix Suns Steve Novak

  • http://www.hornets247.com Michael McNamara

    Hate to tell you guys, but we have been informed by the team that Gordon offer will be matched and there will not be a sign and trade. Personally, I was really hoping we could unload him to you guys.

    But Michael is right about Landry- he would be a good get for you guys as a low post scorer. His rebounding leaves a lot to be desired, but you have Gortat.

    Best of luck next year guys. See you in the playoff chase

  • https://twitter.com/ZeroWolf88 John Devance

    Mayo should be our target if we cant get gordon.

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

    If we can’t get Mayo, we shouldn’t go crazy and overpay anybody else. The roster, (for the first year post-Nash), is pretty decent.

    You find a bunch of guys who will sign “Shannon Brown” 1-year deals, preserve cap space, draft picks, and let our youth run the show for a year.

    No Mayo if he’s expensive. No Hickson or Bayless if they’re expensive. None of that.

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

    If we can’t get GORDON rather. No overpaying Mayo.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Behind Enemy Lines wasn’t THAT bad, was it?

  • Scott

    No problem with the loss of Gordon, IMO. It would have been nice if the Suns could get him, but coming into the offseason it looked awfully unlikely.

    I will be ironically amused if he fails to play the full season for the Hornets, though. ;)

    As for Bayless, when I heard he became unrestricted I was wondering if – in conjunction with Dragic – he could play 2 spot on offense and 1 spot on defense. His PER is up there with Dragic, and well above that of Mayo, and he’s got a fierce motor. Assuming Gortat’s PER comes down as a result of Nash leaving, Dragic and Bayless could be the clear team leaders in PER.

    Bayless could also play SG alongside Marshall.

    Keep in mind that Bayless greatly resembles Brown in that he’s small (6′ 3″ in shoes), he can dunk and shoot the 3 (42% last season), and he doesn’t get to the line, steal, block, assist or rebound. Bayless loses on length and weight to Brown, but he can pass; he’s not locked into being the finisher once he gets the ball.

    Carl Landry is another intriguing 18 PER guy. However, he does not shoot the 3 at all. While I love his effort and believe he’d perform PF duties better than Frye, the question is: does he fit the system?

    And, as noted, Landry only nabs 5 rebounds a game.

    If the Suns get into a situation where they’ve lost Lopez and Landry is still available, then IMO they should try to get Landry.

    Diaw is an interesting choice for the Suns, but I think it’s possible his time in Phoenix has gone. The Suns don’t have established scorers, so bringing a guy who doesn’t score onto the court might be difficult. Furthermore, I could see Diaw either staying with the Spurs or joining the Lakers. (If it’s possible, I could also see Marion joining the Lakers, in place of Artest.)

    I don’t really see Novak or Hickson as likely choices for the Suns, though they’re fine players. Hickson is a “poor man’s Carl Landry” who also doesn’t shoot the 3. Novak does fit the system, but he’s a SF, so I wouldn’t pick him unless it’s clear the logjam at SF is gone.

    (As I see it, the team SFs currently are: Beasley, Childress, Dudley, and Warrick.)

    Players I can see being added late and cheap to fill possible roster holes are: SG Zoran Dragic, SF John Shurna (3 pt marksman), and C Garret Siler.

  • OZzy

    I vote for Terrence Williams. Good defender

  • Chester Poindexter

    Why would he post this on a thread that has nothing to do about Gordon?

    Sounds like a scab reporter trying to make a name for himself.

  • http://nba.com/hornets Dell Demps

    Well hey now here, I will try to bring him back.

  • http://nba.com/hornets Tom Benson

    Shut up, Dell.

  • http://suns.com Eric Gordon

    I hate New Orleans :(

  • Robert Sarver

    Actually we are giving NO the rights to Jalen Rose and the 2 of the draft picks from the Nash trade for Gordon and Davis.

    No feels they have the next MJ in Austin Rivers and don’t wanna anyone on the team to get in the way of his greatness!

  • Steve Nash


  • http://suns.com Grant Hill

    Steve, how could you leave us?

  • Mike L

    I live outside Portland and people here loved Bayless. His best performances came from the 2 and I’d LOVE to see him in PHX. I remember watching Blazers games and thinking he would be perfect for the Suns.

    I could get really excited with a team like this if you add Bayless and Landry!

    And as I said yesterday, I really think there is something going on behind the scenes between NOLA and PHX regarding a EG S&T. Of course McNamara would hear this. The first thing NOLA would do is leak info saying they’re putting their foot down to see how EG reacts. I’ve never been an EG fan so it’s no skin off my teeth. It’s too tempting for us fans to like the offseason “splash” when it’s more important to make the RIGHT move.

  • http://suns.com Alvin Gentry

    Okay. Eric Gordon is coming to the Suns, okay? Okay. I think Eric Gordon makes us a very good team, okay? We need good character guys, okay?

  • http://suns.com Hakim Warrick

    It’s my birthday today, if anyone cares….

  • Tim from British Columbia

    I think the Suns should sign Bayless as I watched him alot last year with the Raptors. He is a great shooter and dunker and team player. I like the way Hickson rebounds and plays and he was good with Cavs and as said above the games he played for Blazers who were out of contention when he came there. I like Diaw too.

  • sun also rises

    Watching the two Michael McNamaras in this thread is like watching Tony talk to himself on two different SNs.

    “I hate Sarver!”

    “I’m a first time poster who showed up six seconds after the above post and I hate Sarver too!”


  • Josh Childress

    Hakim, We need to celebrate… While we’re Still in Phx

  • ESPN

    da da da, da da da

  • Austin Rivers

    I’m the next face of the franchise, Gordon needs to get out of town

  • David Stern

    I am forcing the Suns to trade Dragic, Marshall, Dudley, Beasley and Gortat to New Orleans for 1 second round draft pick .

    This is for Basketball reasons

  • Hans

    I do not want any of these players!!!! Boris, I can only go right, Diaw is an emphatic no for me. I can’t have that goon going up for a wide open layup only for him to pass it to, there’s a reason why he’s wide open, Josh Childress, who will only make suns fans cringe as he attempts to shoot a three pointer to the effect of confused fans wondering how his shot got into the NBA!

  • Lance Blanks


  • http://yahoo.com Eugene Wigglesworth


  • http://yahoo.com Stuart Scott


  • Patrick Omega

    Nice trolling mates. But on a serious note, can Gordon pick up a 1 year option and become unrestricted next year? because that is a good idea.

  • http://prescottwebhelp.com Matt

    Pretty sure Bayless once stated that he didn’t like the Suns at all. I think it was right after he torched us while with the Blazers.

  • Scott

    @Matt -

    I think I vaguely recall that. But it probably relates to the idea of being soft and playing no defense. The Suns were getting A LOT of criticism around that time for playing no defense.

  • Scott

    Hornets just made a great RFA move, BTW.

    RFA PF Ryan Anderson was going to sign a 4-year $36m contract with the Hornets, but the Magic declined to match and keep. Instead, they did a sign-and-trade, and in exchange for the 21 PER Anderson (16 ppg, 8 rpg) they sent over undrafted reserve center Gustavo Ayon.

    The Hornets got a good deal there on a player the Suns could have used.

    And notice, BTW, that the Hornets did not give up franchise players, picks, and whatnot. They gave up their rookie backup center, who is 6′ 10″ and averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds.

  • cha cha cha

    Ayon’s decent. He started 24 games last year, and averaged more minutes/game than Lopez.

  • Scott

    @cha -

    Lopez was decent for part of one year too. He once scored 30 on the Lakers.

  • David Stern

    Do you still beat your wife?

  • cha cha cha

    still, i’d take the Ayon + added cap space over Lopez in a heartbeat.

  • Greg

    Robin Lopez showed alot of promise in 09-10 but foot surgury set him back and the true 7 footer hasnt fully regained his athleticism that made him a quality pick rol option. I feel with a normal off-season and the Suns training staff we could see Lopez approach or improve upon his 09-10 stats (8ppg 5rbpg 1 block). He blocks shots and his length disrupts. He doesn’t rebound well, but he helps others get rebounds by boxing out his man and others at times. Gortat was fatigued down the stretch, he hasn’t played those type of minutes in his career. Lopez is essential for our second unit and he spells Gortat effectively.

  • Freddy Fuentes

    All these moves look good on paper, but knowing this new Suns owner we ain’t going to do crap in the next 10 years… HE NEEDS TO SELL THE TEAM BACK TO JERRY…. WE MISS YOU JERRY PLEASE COME SAVE US :(

  • Scott

    @Greg -

    I think Marshall leading the 2nd unit could make a huge difference for all the 2nd unit players, including Lopez.

    Telfair is not a floor general.