Miami Heat 97, Phoenix Suns 88 -- Groundhog Day


PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns are nothing if not consistent.

Saturday’s matchup against the Dwyane Wade-less Miami Heat followed the same forgettable script of most games this season. Start slow, fall behind by double digits, fight back into it, and falter down the stretch.

The story of this game — a 97-88 loss, their third in a row — was essentially written last night and Wednesday and a handful of other times this season, and now Alvin Gentry has seen this movie enough times to want to change the ending by altering the beginning.

Gentry vowed to mix up his starting lineup the next time the Suns hit the court on Wednesday against Portland, without giving any specifics as to whose lineup spot(s) he might be targeting and how widespread the changes might be.

“I haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do there, but we’ll do something,” Gentry said. “We can’t keep getting down 9-0 and then start the third quarter 13-4. Then we put in another group of guys and they fight their way back. We can’t play like that. We have to do something and take a look at another situation. Keep trying to make adjustments and changes until we can get the group out there where we’re not battling from behind. It’s just too hard to play against the world championship team, even without Dwyane Wade.”

It’s about time because the Suns’ starting lineup is the only Phoenix unit that’s played more than 24 minutes together, and it’s been horrid. In 191 minutes covering all 11 games, the starters have scored 93.0 points per 100 possessions and yielded 109.1, according to the NBA’s stats tool, for an overall negative 16.1 rating.

The starting lineup got off to a decent start to the year, outscoring opponents by 4.8 points per 100 through the first five games of the season, but it has been an utter catastrophe since. In the last six games, the starters have scored 75.8 points per 100 possessions and yielded 115.7, which means if the starters were playing all game at this pace they’d lose by about 40. Clearly a change must be made.

“We can’t keep playing like this,” Gentry said. “We have to make some adjustment. We can’t keep playing like this. We’ve got to do something where we can make an adjustment, and we’ll see what happens from there. I think that we tried to make sure we didn’t make any rash decisions or any snap judgments, and after looking at this and seeing what has happened the last four or five games it’s time for us to do something.”

I think it’s safe to say Goran Dragic will start at point guard against the Trail Blazers but no other change would necessarily surprise me.

Marcin Gortat figures to remain in the lineup, but he’s averaging just 6.8 points per game in his last five after putting up four in 23:32 on Saturday night. Before that weak performance, Gentry said, “We’ve just got to get him back” and that Gortat is going through “a little bit of a rollercoaster” right now.

Luis Scola played just 14:37 on Saturday. He has produced offensively but not defensively as per his reputation, but I expect him to remain with the starters.

Many people have been calling for Shannon Brown to replace Jared Dudley since JD is averaging just 8.5 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting whereas Brown has been dynamite in the fourth quarter. This would be no shock.

Finally, although it may have been unthinkable before the season started, the Suns have been much better with P.J. Tucker on the floor than Michael Beasley. The Suns are plus 2.3 when Tucker plays and  minus 12.3 when he doesn’t. By contrast, they are a whopping minus 13.3 when Beasley plays and plus 3.3 when he sits. Their defensive rating is 114.4 when Beas plays and 94.9 when he doesn’t although they are slightly better offensively with him.

Tonight after playing all of 26 seconds in the first half, Tucker defended LeBron down the stretch and did a fantastic job bodying him up and forcing him to take contested jump shots. For the quarter, the three-time MVP missed six of nine shots, and afterward Gentry said he did as good a job as you can do on LBJ.

“He just worked hard,” Gentry said. “He doesn’t get screened, he refuses to get screened. He keeps it in front of him on the dribble, and he makes them shoot it over the top. As great as LeBron is sometimes he’s going to make them. With a challenged shot it becomes much tougher than having an open shot where he’s driving it right to the basket. It’s just effort. He plays it with effort.”

Tucker said he attempted to keep James in front of him because he’s so strong and quick that if he gets a shoulder by you he’s gone. He really enjoys the pressure of being asked to defend a player like that.

“I kind of thrive off that, that’s what I do,” Tucker said. “I just play, fourth quarter, tie game, having to get stops. That’s growing up your dream to be in games like that, so for me I enjoy the time of being in and fighting for the game.”

The Suns fell behind 9-0 after missing their first nine shots (a few at point blank range), and then proceeded to torch the rims for 70 percent shooting the rest of the half against Miami’s vaunted defense, which resulted in a halftime tie after the Heat shot 57.1 percent in the half.

Miami soon charged out to a 19-4 run to take a 75-60 lead against the Suns’ starters with three minutes left in the third. Phoenix countered with a quick 11-0 spurt to make this a game going into the fourth quarter. They evened it at 79 with 8:29 to go before the Heat countered with a 9-0 run, which the Suns responded to with a 9-2 spurt to pull within two before going scoreless the final 2:10.

The Suns closed the game with an interesting lineup of Dragic-Telfair-Tucker-Beasley-Gortat to match Miami’s small ball lineup while keeping Tucker on James. It nearly worked as Beasley had a mid-range jumper that would have tied the game just rim out with 1:56 remaining.

“You get down 15 and you have to fight your way all the way back,” Gentry said. “It’s hard to get over the hump, it’s too hard. You have to end up having a perfect storm, and that doesn’t happen very often, especially when you’re playing the world champions.”

Dragic said many of the Suns’ issues could be mental, and it certainly looked that way in the first quarter. The Suns were getting shots they normally make yet missed the nine in a row with each misfire seeing to beget another brick.

“Some minutes we play really well and some minutes no,” Dragic said. “I think this is our biggest problem right now that we play well and then suddenly we just black out for us. We cannot make a basket, we have too many turnovers and we have to correct those things.”

Indeed the Suns do, and now Gentry is taking the correct stance by switching up the starting lineup. Since Phoenix’s second-most played lineup has logged the equivalent of one half of basketball, all we really know is that the starters aren’t working and are playing far too many minutes together.

The Suns’ starting lineup with Morris instead of Scola has accrued a net rating of 28.1 in 20 minutes (obviously too small of a sample to base anything on but so long as we’re grasping at straws could be worth a shot). In 14 minutes, Brown and Morris with Dragic-Dudley-Gortat has a positive 36.9 rating.

We won’t know until they share the floor together whether there is a better combination than the current starters or whether such a change would just be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Gentry absolutely should make a move but perhaps the reason the Suns fall behind by double digits every game is that they cannot match the opposition’s talent level with their desire for a full 48 minutes.

“This team is still in search of what exactly we’re going to be, so we have to take a look and see if that’ll work,” Gentry said. “If that doesn’t work we’ll try something else.”

And 1

The Suns have now lost five in a row to Miami in US Airways Center, the longest active win streak for an opponent. The Suns last beat the Heat in Phoenix on Jan. 5, 2007, back in the heart of the SSOL era. They have not beaten Miami during the Big Three era. … The Heat improved to 16-1 with James but no Wade over the past two seasons. … The Suns have fallen behind by double figures in all six home games and 10 of 11 games overall. … Markieff Morris scored a season- and team-high 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

  • sun also rises

    I don’t remember Alvin ever sounding this clueless before. Even Mike Brown had the sense to try and up-sell his failures as a coach to the press.

    Points for honesty I guess?

  • Elviro (Italy)

    I believe that Gentry should begin to put things in their place!
    A guard (Brown) instead of Dudley that can only be a good bench player and then I’d like to see Wes Johnson … I do not understand why he is always out of the game!
    I also think that when the opposing small forward is strong in attack LBJ as you might think to put a defender in that role better than Beasley … that does not have the pace to keep players fast considering its size … B-Easy can be used as a tactical weapon but also by playing power forward because he has a good shot from outside the …

    P.S. I’m going to nba 2k13 definitely better than Gentry … ;-)

  • Luka

    The starters have been atrocious defensively. Scola, Dudley, and Beasley are just way too slow to stay in front of anybody. Gortat meanwhile just crumbles against any quality front court.

    On offense the Suns are still just a jump shooting team, and not a good one. Scola isn’t capable of really attacking the rim. Nobody outside of Dragic is really capable of creating their own shot. Defenses just pack it in against the Suns time and again. Dragic, and the bench unit of late, have been the only positives.

    At the end of the day this roster is just not a finished product. You have to expect at some point the front office will try to unload Scola and Beasley, along with some picks, to land a quality SG/SF. I’ve also got a feeling Gentry will be let go by all-star break. That will signify to the fans that the FO is throwing in the towel and going into full tank mode. Hopefully they can grab a PF top 5 in the draft, and use whatever cap space is left for more upgrades to the frontcourt.

  • Russell

    Why not trade Marshall for Lamb? The Suns have no use for Marshall because Dragic is the PG, and when Dragic plays the SG position Telfair plays PG because he can defend.

    Meanwhile OKC has no need for lamb he has been buried on the bench and with Martin playing great as 6th man and SG, he will most likely be resigned to a mid level deal by OKC. This leaves Lamb in no mans land over the next 3-4 years. OKC is desperate for back up PG, they have no one on the squad beyond this year besides Westbrook.

    Do a straight up deal Lamb for Marshall, neither guy fits their current teams.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Russell – i like that idea. I didn’t understand the Marshall pick at the time, and I still don’t today. Why would they draft a PG in the lottery after they signed Dragic long term? If OKC would take that deal, Gentry could use Lamb for a few minutes a game. If nothing else, he could be good for possibly a few points a game and get some much needed experience on the floor.

    By the way, I hate when Gentry uses Telfair at the point with dragic at the 2. Dragic isn’t a bad defender himself, and he is a much better playmaker. I just don’t get it.

  • DBreezy

    While he’s far from infallible, I think it’s very simplistic to heap as much blame on Gentry as it seems some fans are. Overall the team is playing hard (if not well) and and their constant comebacks are a big sign that they haven’t given up on him or the season at this point.

    That said, Alvin is a tough spot for a number of reasons. I was glad to see Bickley’s recent article, as I’ve said before that now that the season has started it is very unclear what exactly the goal of Suns management is. It’s nice to talk in generalities about ‘transition’ in the offseason, but the regular season shows how committed you actually are. From what I’ve seen so far, the front office hasn’t clearly communicated what they want from Alvin, so he’s doing the smartest thing for himself in the final year of his contract: win at all costs. People around the league will at least see the job he’s doing and it should at least get him an asst coaching gig going forward.

    As for the starting lineup changes, I don’t think it’s a surprise that it’s taken this long for them to be contemplated. There really isn’t a Hedo Turkoglu situation here. The guys in the starting lineup won their jobs fair and square in the preseason, and furthermore many of the guys behind them played poorly or unevenly in both the preseason and 1st few games. So how is it a surprise that Alvin has stuck with this lineup hoping that things would turn as guys get their regular season sea legs?

    This team is dead last in defensive efficiency and is 17th in offensive efficiency-a drop from 6th last season. I think some fans are being a bit disingenuous in their criticism of AG. They’re just not very good at this point as a team, and they may never be. It took Shannon making an incredible 6 of 8 3pt shots in the 4th quarter to avoid losing to the Bobcats. They absolutely should have lost to the Cavs and were one point away from losing to the now 1-9 Pistons. The Denver win was solid, but all of these games have been tough and this team could very easily be 1-10 and we’d have been hard pressed to say it was fluke.

    Lineup changes are certainly worth a try, but if the goal is winning and nothing else I’m not sure that it’s going to have a material effect. It wasn’t that long ago from preseason thru the first few regular season games that the starters were good and the bench was a clear issue for this team. Now a few games later it’s ‘clear’ that the starters aren’t cutting it relative to the bench and that changes to the lineup are needed. All 11 games into the season. Seems more like signs that at team just isn’t very good to me.

    Btw, how can anyone be surprised at Dudley’s drop off? It took the highest usage rates of his career for him to post a league average PER. Statistically it was Jared, not Marcin, who had the biggest dropoff in ORating without Nash on the court and I believe it was by a fairly wide margin like 5pts or so. Perhaps that’s a reason that Alvin has been reluctant to play Jared off the bench so far, and why when he’s benched in favor of Shannon that he stays benched vs coming back out there with the reserves? The bench unit has shown great energy of late, but they’ve often come back vs bench players or starters playing relaxed with big leads. Even then, how many times have we seen Shannon bail them out with a contested 3 late in the shot clock or some crazy drive? Good for Shannon, but does any of us see Dudley doing well in that kind of a role with the bench? Is this another reason that they’ve been reluctant to start Shannon?

    Seems like there are a lot of moving parts here and for the most part they aren’t moving well together. In fact in some respects, the team has probably overachieved so far. Is a coaching the answer if your Sarver? On the one hand the attendance looks bad. Looks like lots of empty seats even vs a team like the Heat, and the fans don’t look all that excited. The boo-birds have been out early in the season and I laugh almost every time FSAZ shows those pans of the crowd during one of the teams’ comebacks. The music is blaring, the dancers and gorilla are rocking, and then you see a pan over a sparse crowd that is sitting there nonplussed.

    On the other hand the team is what it is and everyone outside of Blanks is in the last year of their deals. Yet another new front office could be in store next summer, so why not let those people make their own decisions on the roster and coaches? Sarver didn’t like paying coaches not to work when he had a championship caliber squad, why would he want to for a lottery one?

    There’s also the curious case of Thunder Dan. He along with Mark West are pretty much the only remaining vestiges of the team’s past unless you count EJ and TC who clearly seem to be viewed as popular figureheads vs people with input. In hindsight, just how amazing is it that Colangelo put Barkley in the ring of honor? We’ve always thought that because of their contentious parting which was huge, but what are the odds that Sarver would have done it if Jerry hadn’t forced it? I’d say close to zero which is a joke considering he took them to one of their 2 finals appearances. Even Ceballos left the organization.

    So that brings us to Majerle. He along with Cartwright were on the outs with Blanks over defense and player development. They forced the addition of Turner and Gentry negotiated a one year reprieve on his current assistants at the time. He lost Cartwright and was given 2 more developmental coaches in addition to the one they hired in Blanks/Babby’s first summer. Just like with Bill, the writing is likely on the wall for Thunder with the current regime. If you’re Sarver, you can let him go along with the other coaches in the offseason somewhat quietly or make things a lot more noticeable for a fan base and increasingly a local media base who isn’t buying what you’re selling.

    If they fire AG mid-season, Babbly/Blanks are most likely to promote their guy Turner over Majerle which would be noted locally right away. If they promote him mid-season to coach this roster, they’re likely left publicly firing a local icon at season’s end without giving him a realistic shot(think Tony Perez and the Cincinnati Reds). As marketing oriented as this owner is, I doubt stuff like this is lost on him. Things could get really ugly and force his hand by the all-star break, but I bet he hangs onto AG for the rest of the season. Especially since Alvin is popular locally, if not in the front office. The good news is with 4 days off and a home game coming up before Turkey Day, they’ve got a good shot at a W and for a night we can act like none of this stuff exists!

  • Ty-Sun

    FYI, the draft was done before the free agency signings began. Marshall was picked BEFORE Dragic was signed by the Suns. When the draft happened, the Suns had no idea if they might be able to sign Dragic as a FA so drafting Marshall made sense at the time.

    I do like the idea of at least looking into a possible trade of Marshall for Lamb as it seems like it makes sense for both teams… at least in the short term.

  • john

    I blame gentry more than any other individual. He is the slowest adjuster I have ever seen as a head coach.

  • Big P

    Personally I’d be glad to see Gentry make a few changes… In my mind the first unit needs more speed and energy from the wings than its been getting from Dudley and Beasley respectively. Move them to the bench in place of Brown and Tucker. Play Beas at the 4 and Duds at the 2 with Morris spending time at pf and c and Beas sliding back to the 3 when O’Neal comes in alongside Morris to play big off the bench.

  • George Z.

    I like Gentry as a person nut not so much as a coach for this team. He did well when he inherited the reigns of the old “7 Seconds” suns, but realistically…who wouldn’t be successful as a coach with that team. I believe Gentry has been riding out that Finals run for the past few years and has had the fans support. In my opinion it is time for it to come to an end. I hope for the sake of our Suns that Gentry doesn’t get an extension and finds a great job as an assistant somewhere else. Everyone likes to talk about the fact that we don’t have a go to scorer for when the game is on the line, if we had a coach that can squeeze every bit of talent out of a player and can really incorporate defense we wouldn’t be in such a need for one. When it comes to thinking of a coach that gets the most out of each player I think of Nate Mcmillan. How many times have the Blazers had players injured and had to resort to the last spots on the bench to contribute, but have ALWAYS been in the mix come playoffs. Nate could get these players to perform better than they do right now. I also do believe that these players are giving Gentry their best, but Gentry can’t get the best out of them all. In my honest opinion based on what I have seen from games…Gentry is a HORRIBLE play caller/maker. I have hardly if ever seen the Suns come out of a crucial timeout with the game on the line and make a great offensive play. I would just like to end it there and say Thank you Gentry for all you have done, but I think it is time to move on. Please share your feedback.

  • DBreezy

    @Fan in Chi town

    I think the Goran/Bassy lineup has become the unexpected answer to what adjustments would be required post-Hill. With Shannon Brown as the only pure 2 on the roster, and a poor defender at that, the Suns struggle mightily with that ever popular nba creature; the combo guard. Guys like Dion Waiters torch them because Dudley has to stay back to guard against the drive and isn’t athletic enough to still contest jumpers from that position like Hill could.

    @George Z,

    Nate McMillian is an interesting case. Along with D’Antoni and Avery Johnson he was considered an up and coming coach in the West not too long ago, with possibly the brightest future of the three. However whatever happened up in POR must have been ugly as he just doesn’t seem to get mentioned seriously for openings, despite his record and Team USA resume. When Blanks got hired, I mentioned over in AZC that he might like to hire Mike Brown but that Brown could get a much better job, a true fact at the time. Now he’s been tarnished by his CLE and LAL experiences and may be desperate to take any job after the inevitable pr run as an ESPN analyst. Just like Avery Johnson to NJ. Not saying he’d be a good hire, just a plausible one if Blanks stays.

  • Tony

    @Dbreezy,

    Excellent posting. You are one of the few Suns fans who understands basketball.

    In particular, you are spot on about Gentry. The fact tha tthe FO declined to offer him an extension has put Gentry in an untenable position of trying to balance player development with short term goals of racking up enough wins to give him a better shot to continue coaching next season, whether with the Suns or elsewhere. They way the Three Stooges has treated Gentry is appalling. First they pay hum a ridiculously low salary, then each season they make major roster-overhauls, and then, they bring in players with less talent than previous ones. Yet the FO and some Suns fans expect him to coach this team to 40+ wins???? A coach can only do so much.

    Moreover, as you said, this Suns team is fortunate to be 4-7 and the fact is that this team is performing on par with how most, if not all, national NBA analyists predicted. In fact, they are doing better than some originally predicted. Face it people., this Suns team is just not a good team. Expecting Gentry to suddenly transform a team full of a couple good players and the rest role players into a playoff team in the much more talented western conference goes beyond mere hope, but to delusions of grandor.

    I am surprised there hasn’t been much mention about the lack of playmaking by the team, and Dragic in particular. I don’t think he’s had one game with 10 assists yet. He’s done a great job scoring and playing defense, but his scoring ability is not going to compensate for the rest of his teammates inability to score on their own. He needs to be more of a facilitator, not a scorer, especially since he’s not a great scorer anyway. With the pace the Suns are playing, he should be racking up double digit assists nightly, but the fact that Gortat and Dudley, the two Suns probably most in need of being spoon-fed, are struggling, is indicative of Dragic and Telfair being unable to consistently create for them.

    @Russell,

    why in the world would OKC trade Lamb for Marshall? Marshall doesn’t even belong in the NBA at this point. That’s not to say he can’t develop into a legitimate backup pg in the NBA, but Lamb’s potential far exceeds Marshall’s. Marshall has one skill, passing. He can’t shoot, can’t play defense, and has got to be the most unathletic pg in the league. I bet Dudley could beat him in a foot race. So, there’s no way OKC trades Lamb for Marshall straight up. Now if the Suns throw in Morris and a couple draft picks, in addition to Marshall, for Lamb, then I think it becomes much more reasonable for the Thunder to consider that deal.

  • DBreezy

    @Tony,

    I don’t think there is much mention of Goran as a playmaker for two reasons. One he is playing extremely well: 16-17ppg, 7+ apt, a 3.3/1 assist to turnover ratio, and 2 steals per game. Those steals highlight something to your point about the pace. The Suns are 24th in the league in pace, but 18th in fastbreak points as most of their transition scores are off turnovers. The second reason is that pointing out anything with Goran’s facilitation does nothing but highlight the woes of the supporting cast. Goran generally starts most games like Nash, not trying to score but ends up having to do so because of the holes others dig.

    Imo, that Goran and Duds don’t get the shots they want, particularly against better squads, is more a function of personnel than Dragic. Scola is most effective in S/R, pick and pops, or operating from the elbow. That necessarily means Gortat is going to see fewer of his favorite play, the S/R. His usage rate has dropped from 20.8 last season to 15.1 so far this season. Goran has pointed out that Marcin could use his speed advantage vs. most centers to get some more scores, but Marcin doesn’t do that. Randy Hill from FoxSportsAZ points out that Marcin could utilize weakside motion in the corner offense to get scores like Scola, but that he prefers to simply waive Scola to the weak side and attempt his own inefficient post game on the strongside. You can really see this as Scola often gets scores coming from the weakside on Beasley’s drives, but Gortat is often not ready for the same passes often resulting in turnovers.

    So with Marcin basically sulking offensively if the play isn’t called for him, a lot comes down to Beasley. There’s no Frye spacing the floor anymore and I’m not sure that some fans and EJ realize that teams are more than willing to give Scola that long two. It makes sense because it keeps Scola out of the paint where’s he’s most effective and off the line.

    If you look at Luis’ previous two seasons he basically took between 58%-60% of his shots as jumpers and 38-39% of his shots from close in and has pretty much been a 50% shooter overall from the field. This season he’s shooting 69% of his shots as jumpers and only 28% from in close. He’s still shooting nicely in close, but his eFG% of .407 on jumpers has brought his overall FG% down 3pts off his career averages to .47%. So most teams will say fire away Luis, and if you want to go to the 3pt line where you’re shooting 33% for the season 10% for your career have at it! Those teams will pack it in regardless making it harder for Goran to penetrate, especially with Gortat moping around since the play likely wasn’t called for him.

    So if Beasley isn’t being effective enough as a scorer either spacing the floor or driving to create attention, where are Goran’s driving lanes for dishes and dropoffs to guys like Marcin and Duds? Also if teams aren’t as spread out defensively vs the Suns as they were before, it really messes with Duds’ game. Not only is he easier to guard at the 3pt, but he’s much easier to recover to. Jared has scored so many points when spread out teams rush to recover to him and he puts the ball on the floor to get open J’s, and fouls sending him to the line. The stats also show that Goran is shooting more jumpers and fewer close in shots this season, mostly probably due to the wall in the paint. Watching the games, you can see that a lot of his scores are truly of the crafty variety. Perhaps Shannon could shake things up a bit in the starting lineup, but offensively at least I have a hard time seeing how Tucker for Beasley would improve things. People will let him have all the J’s he wants and force him to shoot over the top inside which he struggles with due to size.

  • DBreezy

    I also agree that OKC wouldn’t trade for Kendall, but I applaud the thought as something has to be done with the guy. This is a likely lottery team coming off two previous lottery seasons, all with the best player on the team being a pg. Marshall can’t even get burn as a 10-15mpg backup from his coach as a lottery pick, something that might become a point of contention with Blanks at some point in time.

    This will probably come off harsher than I mean it to be, but he currently has no chance of beating out a Sebastian Telfair for a backup role. Telfair, a guy who has never posted a league average PER, shot better than 41%, and has career similarity scores of Royal Ivey, Mitchell Butler, Doug Overton, and Pat Riley. It’s not just that he’s unathletic, he’s not skilled beyond passing. He’s not the shooter a Nash or Bibby was. He’s not crafty inside like a Nash. He’s not the post player that Mark Jackson was. He’s not as fast or as physical as Kidd was. He’s not even a strong defender type for his size like an Eric Snow was in his prime. Then there’s the matter of AZC reporting that he isn’t exactly a gym rat, not showing up for extra work with the staff.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Tony, I am not sure our problems come from Dragic’s playmaking ability. ESPN says he’s averaging just over 7 assists a game. That’s not bad considering the personnel he has to work with. Nash averaged ten with about the same crew last season.

    Beasley is a scorer who chooses not to score efficiently and likes to run isos for himself.

    Gortat can’t catch a pass.

    Dudley can’t make a shot this season, and Brown is extremely streaky.

    Scola is really the only dependable shooter Dragic can consistently count on.

    Based on those things, I’d say Dragic is doing a pretty decent job.

  • http://none Mikel

    It be great if we could deal for Lamb!! Marshall and one of the lakers picks would be good! I also wanna see Wes Johnson play!! On the trade for Lamb I really doubt they would make that trade :(…..These are the same guys that signed Beasley instead of Mayo…just keep wishing!

  • http://none Mikel

    P.S. you people that got Dudley fever y’all Need to stop please! Do us all a favor!

  • Tony

    @Dbreezy,

    Excellent points. I had thought the Suns played at a faster pace than 24th, so I am surprised I was so wrong in that regard.

    I get what you are saying about Gortat and I think missing Frye is having more of an impact on Gortat’s game than a lot of people might consider. You are right that the spacing isn’t good in the Suns half-court offense and Gortat’s really only consistent offensive ability is as a roll-guy on the S/R. I’m curious what you mean by Gortat pouting though? Have you noticed him getting frustrated with the offensive-schemes the Suns are running? If that’s so, I wonder how much of an issue it might become further down the season, especially if the Suns continue to play poorly?

  • DBreezy

    @Tony,

    Pouting was really just the word I used to describe his play off the ball this year more than describing his visible emotions out on the court. He’s just lazy off the ball a lot of times these days, not trying to get open and not ready when the pass comes from the strong side. He was a main part of nearly every play last season, and now he isn’t. Yet so far he hasn’t gone back to what allowed him to score prior to being Nash’s main S/R big.

  • Scott

    Three players I could see leaving the starting unit: Dudley, Beasley, Gortat.

    Three players I could see joining the starting unit: Telfair, Tucker, O’Neal.

  • melon head

    The Lakers game said a lot to me about Gortat. He juust cant seem to hang mentally when he’s clearly being dominated. He couldnt hang with Utah either. On the other hand Oneal just smiled at Howard like he didnt give a crap about Howard. Too bad Oneal is as old as he is, he seems to be more of an ideal center. Suns should be looking to trade Gortat asap in my opinion.

  • Alvin Gentry

    Our team just gotta make shots. I thought we did a good job competing, but we just gotta make shots. But if we compete, we can make those shots.

  • john

    @Alvin Gentry – Haha, hilarious, and so true to what Alvin would say.

  • Andres

    The main problem that I saw from the last 5 games is Beasley’s inconsistency. He is keeps firing and missing long 2′s when he’s clearly better driving to the basket. Also as someone mentioned on a different post he doesnt seem to have a consistent shooting mechanic. Also Dudley has been terrible. How can you put almost all blame on Gentry when 2 of the “main” contributors are struggling so badly? If you actually watched the majority of the regular season games you saw the Gentry tries to adjust although I admit sometimes it takes a bit too long for him to do that. I just think from watching the games that the Telfair/Dragic combination as 1/2 has paid off very well the majority of the times. People that are talking against Scola are clearly not watching the games and just basing their comments on box scores. He has been the most consistent Sun so far and the main reason the Suns have been able to hang on the majority of the games. The Suns were able to hang with the Bulls mainly due to Scola’s great game. After he fouled out during OT against the Bulls the Suns were just horrid. Telfair has been GREAT on both shot selection and involving the rest of the folks. Dragic is obviously an upgrade over Nash on defense. He just hustles to get those steals and on offense he seems to be the only Sun to be driving with confidence to the basket, I just wish he could play the PnR with Gortat as often as Nash did.
    The good thing is that the Suns could win the next 6 games to be 10-7 by Nov 30th. I think we should all be a little bit more objective and not start taking about firing Gentry so soon especially with 3 straight lossess against better teams.

  • Freddy

    I so read Alvin Gentry’s Comment in Alvin Gentry Voice. LMAO

  • Michael

    Get Tucker in to the starting lineup. This man is just crazy on the defensive end, I love watching him playing. This energy, the fight he did against LBJ, marvelous.
    Alvin should avoid playing Brown/ Beasley or Dudley/ Beasley for a longer period of time. I think both combinations just kill us on the defensive end AND with the shot selection and flow in the offense.
    I could imagine Tucker/ Beasley fit quite nice on the 2/3.
    And with the second unit, a combo of Brown/ Dudley seems to be fine as well, at least in theory.
    I´ll be happy to experiement with Marshall for some minutes, he could be a boost for both Brown and Dudley in terms of shot selection. But I doubt Alvin sees anything of an NBA player in Kendall.
    At the C spot, give Gortat a rest, plug in O´Neal at the first unit and be happy with his energy. With the second unit and Bessy (or Marshall) running the game, the Polish Wall could find some more Pick and Rolls. Apart from that he needs to get back to show the energy he expressed during the first games of the season.
    Starting unit: Dragic – Tucker – Beasley – Scola – O`neal
    Second unit: Telfair/ Marshall – Brown – Dudley – Morris – Gortat

    O´Neal won´t be able to play 30+ minutes every night, so Gortat should still see heavy minutes, but starting on the bench might do the trick for him mentally for the time being.

  • Voqar

    It’s hard to blame Gentry for the fact that the players do the most boneheaded stupid mistakes and miss shot after shot, but if players are taking horrid shots and not executing, they need to be removed from the game – and that is something he can control, and far too often, he lets that go on for too long.

    Some of these clowns need a wake up call. I did like that in that game he sat gortat, scola and others that weren’t effective. I thought he kept Dragic on the bench too long but Dragic is probably tired from trying to carry the rest of the starters – that’s a lot of dead weight.

    Gortat has nobody to blame for himself for his weak play. He’s getting quality looks at the rim from nice (nash-esque) passes and failing to finish (strong). The passer can’t help him grow the balls to finish strong.

    Beasely – what can you say? Every shot he takes seems like a bad shot where he’s lucky if it goes in. Reminds me of when VC was here – he’d make these spectactular spinning out of control drives to the lane – then throw the ball over the backboard and mostly you hoped he never got the ball.

    I could go on, but what I can’t do is go on watching this team. Maybe the team does need a coaching shake up or maybe Gentry just needs to say starters be damned and play people who are actually TRYING.

  • DBreezy

    Well I guess it’s no longer a theory or poor choice of words that Gortat is pouting. After the Lakers game, he gave an interview in Polish expressing his displeasure with how things are going here. You can find the main article on hoopshype for those interested, but it’s in Polish.

    I tried using some translators and it’s clear that some words just don’t translate clearly. NBC Sports had this though:

    “After the game against the Lakers, Gortat didn’t hold back. He said changes with the Suns have been “for worse,” and said that both pick and roll and post up opportunities have been taken away. Gortat also revealed that he really misses Steve Nash’s ability to create for Gortat in the offense, but that’s not exactly groundbreaking news. “Unfortunately, I dont think I’m even an option for (Alvin) Gentry,” Gortat said. “He doesn’t even take me into consideration.” Ouch.”

    If you go to the Polish article, it says more. It says that negotiations for an extension have broken down and that Marcin is worried that the declining offensive numbers in the new sets without Nash will cost him money and that basically he wants to be moved before that becomes so specifically pointing out his performances vs LA and MIA. It also points out that Marcin is clearly aware of the consequences of making these statements publicly and that he’s interested in returning to ORL, DAL, BOS, or CHI.

    First of all, Foreveris if you’re out there, I know you’ve gotta be mad! You really have to wonder when said extension talks occurred relative to the draft and Lopez deal. I was previously cool with keeping Marcin for now, but if they knew any of this over the summer, why not move him then?

    While I have little doubt that they’ll be able to keep this quiet locally for at the least the near future, this has to be a big consideration for the front office when looking at how long of a leash to give this team. The article reports that he wants a 55-60M extension in the neighborhood of guys like McGee, Hibbert, etc. That’s more than they offered Eric Gordon, and most importantly Sarver has never relented and paid a guy big money after he’s decided that said players demands were too high. At best we’d see another ‘market value’ saga like with JJ, Amar’e, and quietly Nash. Considering how the league has tended to treat the Suns in trade offers when they know Sarver won’t pay a player, my bet is that they’d be better off striking sooner rather than later.

  • Andres

    @Dbreezy – Thanks for sharing this info on Gortat

    Clearly, Gortat is not worth a 55-60M extension. If a team is willing to pay that well I’ll just say “Good luck!!”.
    If those comments from Gortat are accurate then I’d say lets trade along with Beasley for a good 2 and/or 3. Although I’m worried that no team would want Beasley right now…

  • Michael

    Given the trade “request” from Gortat, what do these teams “interested” might have that could really help us? It has to be a big man involved in return.

    Bulls: nothing
    Celts: Bass + Bradley could work, and THIS would be huge for us.
    Mavs: nothing
    Magic: Afflalo + Vucevic (if we give up on a Lamers pick, that could work as well)

    I´m wondering what kind of problems Gortat has all of a sudden, but he´s an annoying baby for now.

    Either Afflalo and Bradley would be a great addition at the 2 on the defensive end, Afflalo has a killer 3pt shot as well.
    Bass might be a bit overpayed, but Bradley seems underpayed. :)

    But I´m very sure the Three Stooges won´t get a deal done that get´s us more than we give away.
    So realistically it could end up with a deal like Kaman vs. Gortat or any other crap…

  • Scott

    @DBreezy and Andres -

    Well … to be fair, Gentry isn’t calling for the pick and roll with Gortat. However, if in a new lineup a perimeter PF like Morris or Beasley starts instead of Scola, then I could see a return to the Gortat P&R.

    Also, Gortat should be worried that the changed strategy for the team doesn’t highlight him as much as it used to, especially when attempting to negotiate an extension.

    Furthermore, Gortat may believe he’s being shopped.

    If ORL wanted Gortat, I’d extend him and trade him for Vucevic and Harkless. If DAL wanted him, I’d extend him and trade for Mayo and Crowder. I don’t see any workable trades with BOS or CHI.

    I don’t know what team is going to want Beasley. The Suns may end up keeping him. If the Suns had waited, they probably could have picked Beasley up for the amount of money Barbosa commanded.

  • john

    Gortat is following in the footsteps of the successful NBA stars who came before him. Whine, force your way out, you’ll get the huge extension you want regardless of whether or not you deserve it.

    I don’t blame him, really. He likes winning, the Suns aren’t going to be doing much of that. He likes money, the Suns won’t pay him if they’re smart. It’s not a good fit for him in Phoenix, unless this particular Suns squad can turn things around.

    With Gentry as coach, I don’t see that happening.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    Yes Gortat isn’t being used as much, his usage rate has dropped about 5% so far this season. It is what it is though as the Suns just don’t shoot well enough from the perimeter to open up the middle for S/R’s. I don’t think lineup changes are going to change that much either, outside of maybe a hot shooting performance vs POR after multiple days off and an angry coach.

    If he’s worried about his value then he should probably spend more time working on his game than worrying about strategy. Coming out and publicly knocking Goran on the S/R vs Nash probably isn’t the brightest locker room move.

    If you read some of the comments from his interviews, he complains about Gentry telling him that Scola is the #1 option in the post. Does he honestly think he’s a better post player than Luis? He’s got one move, a fading turnaround J, that’s inconsistent and he has zero counters. He’s getting 2 less shots per game(9) than last season or basically what he got in his first season here.

    He doesn’t really work off the ball anymore, and has been waving Scola off the post so that he can post-something that is going to look a lot worse to his teammates after these latest comments. Plus complaining that Alvin told him that he was their #1 defender and that he’s beyond all of the ‘dirty work’ he’s done throughout his career doesn’t do much for his market value either.

    As for Gortat feeling he’s being shopped, it’s been reported that he turned down an extension offer so he must believe it’s possibility. He may have even requested it previously.

    I haven’t looked at trade possibilities, but I certainly wouldn’t limit it to his list. Get the best deal you can that returns youth and picks without harming cap space beyond the current season. I wouldn’t include Beasley in the deal for two reasons. One, they’ve taken a flyer on him so they should see it through for at least one season especially since it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. Two, including Beasley so soon into his time here almost certainly means that the Suns are going to have accept somebody else’s garbage in return and they really can’t afford loser deals.

    They aren’t on the verge of going anywhere, so unless they get a great deal, they can afford to wait things out. Worst case scenario in a league with an escalating luxury tax, he should have value as an expiring deal in 2 seasons filling a Hakim Warrick or Chilly role until then. If they need space before then they can always use the stretch provision on him which I believe would drop him to about a 3M cap hit over four seasons after this one. I’m not fully convinced yet that it will be that bad, but the point is they do have options other than moving him in a bad trade now.

  • Ty-Sun

    Regarding Beasley, let’s not forget that the 3rd year of his contract is non-guaranteed. At worst he could turn out to be a fairly good quality bench player at both the 3 and 4 spots if he doesn’t eventually get his sh!t together. I don’t like paying $6 mil a season for two years for him to be that but you have to admit that he’s at least an upgrade from Childress and Warrick who were both making about the same money to keep the far end of the bench warm. And because of his contract, Beasley will only be on the payroll for two seasons if he doesn’t work out.

    I know that there are several reasons that Tucker shouldn’t start over Beasley but the guy plays his ass off every time he sets foot on the court. I think his effort should be rewarded. Bassy has also been playing his ass off as have Dragic and Scola. Brown also always plays hard, just not always smart but I have to give him his due for the effort.

    Maybe a starting lineup of Dragic, Brown, Tucker, Scola and O’Neal is in order. If Gortat is dissatisfied, tough. If he wants to be traded, let him prove his worth off the bench. As someone else said, he would probably still have to play the majority on mins at the 5. $55-60 mil extension for Gortat? He’s going to have to step it up this year to earn that whether he starts or comes off the bench. As for the bench unit, maybe Telfair, Dudley, Beasley, Morris and Gortat would work. I don’t know why Gentry keeps Johnson at the end of the bench but I trust him enough to know that he has a good reason for it.

    If there was a “perfect” solution to the Suns’ woes I think Gentry could have already figured it out. I don’t think he’s a genius but he’s certainly not dumb.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    My impression is that Gentry worked with Blanks and Babby to get these various pieces on the team. He should have some better idea of how they go together than he apparently does, or he should have picked players better.