Yesterday, we took a peek at five stories about the Phoenix Suns from 2012 that had conclusions. Today, we discuss what happened in 2012 that will be telling of the Suns’ fortunes in 2013 and beyond.
Marcin Gortat expresses frustration over his utilization
Heading into the 2012-13 season, Marcin Gortat made it known that he’d still be an offensive force for the Phoenix Suns despite the departure of Steve Nash. What he’s proven so far, however, is that he’s more of a force with the media than he is in the post without the former two-time MVP.
After a Nov. 16 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Gortat’s frustrations boiled over during a candid one-on-one with a Polish journalist. Just 10 games into Phoenix’s season, the team’s starting center had seen enough and proceeded to question, among other things, his role in the offense, his relationship with head coach Alvin Gentry and the Suns’ direction without Nash.
While Gortat had his most efficient scoring night of the season (22 points on 11-of-14 shooting in a blowout win over Portland) two days after his remarks were released, Gentry made it clear that the Polish Hammer’s outspokenness wouldn’t be rewarded with more touches.
And frankly, that’s been rather evident.
Heading into 2013, Gortat’s minutes (31.2), points (11.3) and shots (9.1) per game are all down from last season.
– Dave Dulberg
Alvin Gentry’s contract isn’t extended
Should Alvin Gentry be the Suns’ head coach next season?
Of all the questions circling around Phoenix right now, this may be the most important. Thirty games into the year, the Suns are struggling mightily, and Gentry is facing his toughest challenge since taking over as head coach.
Phoenix’s roster has been completely overhauled since Gentry and the Suns reached the 2010 Western Conference Finals. Only Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic (in a roundabout way) remain, and the Suns have missed the playoffs in both seasons since. While Gentry did an admirable job turning around last year’s team, it appears a repeat performance is already out of Phoenix’s reach this season. He is currently in the last season of his contract, and Phoenix’s front office has to answer a few questions before deciding whether or not to extend him. Are the Suns’ struggling because of their talent or their coach? Can Gentry win without Steve Nash?
Gentry will have 50 games to adapt his style, get more involved on both ends of the floor and get this team back to respectability. Only then will he prove he’s worthy of an extension.
– Ryan Weisert
Phoenix selects Kendall Marshall in the 2012 NBA Draft
Before it was clear how the Suns would handle Steve Nash’s free agency, they took North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall in the draft, seemingly getting ready to usher in a new era sooner or later.
But just a few weeks afterward, “later” appeared to be longer of a wait than expected.
The Suns signed Goran Dragic as the point guard of the future, and with Sebastian Telfair as a backup, Marshall’s development has been unclear. In 2012, a nine-game D-League stint is all that Phoenix can offer in terms of how far he has to go.
The 21-year-old led the D-League with 7.6 assists per game but shot 31 percent from the floor. Now, it’s a question of why the Suns took Marshall, then signed Dragic. After that, it’s a wonder how they’ll find minutes to develop the rookie into the player everyone thought they were getting with the 13th overall selection.
– Kevin Zimmerman
How will the Suns use their cap space?
The Suns swung for the fences by offering Eric Gordon a max deal to be their go-to player, and all they have to show for it is the quote in which Gordon said his heart is in Phoenix.
Whether that’s all the Suns really wanted is up for debate, but what’s not is that Phoenix still must somehow fill that franchise player void.
The Suns will likely be able to carve out max cap space once again, and potentially more if they dangle Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola as I feel this rebuilding team should do next summer. To me getting as much as you can for those vets is the next step because the Suns aren’t one star away from contending, and no such star is coming to Phoenix anyway.
Next the Suns should continue to focus on accumulating assets and making smart draft picks before striking when the time is right.
Sarver said a few years ago he feels the Suns will acquire their next star via trade, so it’s time build the supporting cast and trade war chest so that the Suns will be prepared to act when such an offer presents itself a la Houston and Harden.
– Michael Schwartz
The Michael Beasley experiment
The Phoenix Suns admitted that a phone call to Michael Beasley was their first of the free agency period, and a three-year, $18 million contract made him the marquee signing of the offseason along with Dragic.
So far, the Suns’ stretch to find a go-to scorer has been a train wreck. Phoenix rolled with Beasley in the starting lineup for the beginning of the season, and finally benched him as a plus/minus rating that was the worst in the NBA corresponded with what the eye test showed — Beasley was struggling mightily.
Alvin Gentry admitted that the team had put the spotlight on Beasley, and metaphorically it appeared it was so bright that the hybrid forward got burnt. Now, it’s not only an issue of where to play Beasley, but if he can unearth any semblance of confidence after he received his first “DNP-coach’s decision” in the final game of 2012.
As it stands, it’ll be mighty difficult for the Suns to dump Beasley’s contract on any other team.
– Kevin Zimmerman