Phoenix Suns stories of 2012 that are without an ending


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

  • Polish_fan

    What a crap OMG! Gortat proved that he may play without Nash. The only difference is that he is not getting touches AT ALL or less minutes. Nevertheless, I suggest to compare points/rebounds and touches per game and You would see that he is very efficient shooting on high per centage but he is not getting passes.

    What I wanna add is that I would suggest to finish that borring topic. It won`t change anything. How many times we will talk about that? Gentry is Gentry and thats it :)

  • Luka

    Beasley got burnt when he forgot to use a roach clip.

  • azbballfan

    I think the Suns were playing it safe in drafting Marshall, and were in a situation where the draft was before everything else for the summer.

    However, they need to identify what future role, if any Marshall has with this team

    realistically, unless the suns trade dragic again, theres no way Marshall is going to start, baring an injury to dragic

    The Suns need to package marshall together and make a trade for more draft picks or young talent

    Gortat is not getting the kind of touches he was last year

    and with this team in a tailspin…….it doesnt make sense

    The Suns FO worshipped Gortat this time in 2011 so what gives

    really, Gentry, Babby, and Gortat will all be gone by next year anyway so in a way who cares

    The Suns dont seem to understand you have to have talent to win, or play such suffocating defense you can shut down teams and prevent them from scoring for long stretches

    in my opinion, you made a commitment to Dragic so he is untouchable.

    Even if he wasnt, who are you gonna get thats better?

    Either make a commitment to Beasley and play him, or buy him out, since i dont think anyone would take his contract at this point

  • DBreezy

    I think one of the bigger unanswered questions is the future of Babby and Blanks. It wasn’t mentioned in the article, but it really hangs over a lot of these open questions, outside of Marcin most likely. I think Gortat is gone no matter what, just a question of when. It’s hard to imagine this franchise paying him what he wants in a free agent contract and even harder to imagine him taking a discount on his perceived value to remain here.

    I think Sarver likes Gentry so he has a chance, but probably not if Sarver retains Blanks. In that case my guess is that Hunter is coaching next season. They’ll probably let Telfair go on free agency so Marshall will get a shot. The cap space and Beas thing are tied together IMO. I doubt the Suns find worthy takers for their cap space next summer and will once again find themselves below the cap with a multitude of short and rookie deals. In that case I believe they won’t stretch Beas much the same way they waited on Chilly until they absolutely needed the cap room.

  • azbballfan

    I agree with DBreezy

    If Gortat bolts via free agency, or we dont get a center back in a trade for him, we need to pick one up via the draft

    2013 draft may be short on depth, but there are good centers and power forwards in the 5-10 range where i expect the Suns to pick unless they really implode and we get like the 2nd pick overall

  • DBreezy

    @azbballfan,

    It will be interesting to see how they approach the draft since they’ve strictly gone with the positional need approach so far in the Sarver era. If guys like Gortat, Frye, Scola, Morris and Beasley are still on the roster come draft time, I’m curious what they’ll do if the best prospect on the board isn’t a 2 or 3.

  • Matt

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=acaha62
    Suns get tyreke and draft a center of small forward

  • SHAZAM

    saw 16 blocks last night…very good movie..bruce willis played the part perfect

  • Michael

    We won’t be able to trade Beasley. No one except our dumb FO wanted to sign him as a free agent, so why should any team trade for him? Dudley and Gortat, maybe the expiring contracts of Johnson and Bassy, are the players we could use for rebuilding. But you have to trade wisely, and that’s where it gets tricky. I cannot imagine our FO is able to do so. Dudley and Gortat have massive value, their contracts are extremely charming, so you can ask for a real good package in return. I love Dudley and would only trade him in case a long term positive outcome would be assured. The rumours of Dudley vs. Williams are all but this type of trade. Though it would be a typical Suns trade, where you give away your best pieces and get back nothing but expensive bench warmers without any upside potential… Ask for (nearly) unprotected 1st rounders and young players that will surely develop and help the team in 2014 and later on (can’t stop thinking of Avery Bradley) with high basketball IQ and a respectable character (like Dudley, and very much unlike Beasley, Cousins…). Additionally FO have to make clear how to use Dragic in the future (stop the Nash 2.0 bla-bla, PG or SG), whether or not there is a plan to develop Marshall (otherwise trade him), whether or not there’s a plan to establish Morris as the starting PF/ backup PF, trade mass, talk to Oneal whether or not he’s willing to stay another season and then go for a young C prospect (either via trade or via draft). Basically I don’t care of the results for the next 1,5 seasons as long as I can see those questions are answered and the franchise is heading to any direction. But for now it’s pure chaos, and that hurts…

  • john

    As disappointing as Beasley has been so far this season, his performance this year has been more of a statistical outlier than anything else when looking at his entire career in perspective. I’ve voiced my opinion about Gentry often, and I’ll do so again. I don’t think Gentry is the type of coach who coaches to personnel. He coaches to a system. If his guys don’t fit his system, then he shuns the player’s needs. It’s not necessarily 100% on Gentry, but I blame him a bit for this dysfuctional mess.

  • azbballfan

    The Suns are not doing themselves any favors

    if they wanna trade Beasley, play him

    you gotta show other teams he has value

    no one is gonna take him in a trade right now

    im dissapointed that Beas hasnt played consistently

    cause he has had some good games with the Suns

    21 points 15 boards, 7 assists 4 blocks against the Bobcats

    18 points 4 assists 5 boards in a half versus the Clips

    Yeah he isnt good defensively but the Suns as a team are terrible at D

    I doubt that is all on one guy

  • Polish_fan

    Agreed that they should play him to trade Beasley. We are loosing anyway so whats the problem? They can say – yes – we are loosing but we are close to the good result… but we still loosing, right? : )

    I think we all agree that they should use or trade Marshall. Stop loving so much Telfair – he is not so great PLUS he tries to play Dragi? style rather than Nash which is not a possitive thing (first shooting second passing and not opposite and spacing depands the most from a solid and smart play of PG)

    Play on Dudley or Brown few games and check if they can be consistent. I mean to let them have that 15-17 shoot attemps and check if one of them may be a leader. If we will play everyone then we will play nobody. Today Scola, tomorrow Dragi? and then Dudley and then Beasley.

    Try more S/n/Rs which passed its exam in the last season with Nash. This team and Gentry type of offence NEEDS TO PLAY screen and roll offense. The same as Lakers and Howard cannot play such a happy basketball, Suns can!

  • PHX4LIFE

    The Suns are doomed this season, lets face it. What they can do is try and move some pieces and acquire some young talent. Making a trade with GS say Gortat, Morris, Brown and option to swap LA’s pick for GSW’s for Bogut, Thompson and Ezeli. Suns would get a young 2guard with size, talent and potential, a good defensive backup on a great contract, and a Center that when fit and health is an All Star Center and the best defensive big man outside of Dwight Howard. Bogut injuries have been freak accidents and the suns have best med staff in league. If anyone can help him then suns medicos can.

    GSW would look at this as Bogut is currently injured and not due back for a few months yet and would save them $$. Suns SHOULD look at it for the potential it brings with Thompson and maybe even Bogut, plus Gortat is going to BOLT when he can. He is not staying in PHX.

    Without Bogut and no Gortat Suns may fall further and get an even Better Draft Pick!! NO.1 pick here we come!!

    A trade for Paul George of Indiana would also be great, but I don’t see that happening T_T

    Who would you guys like to see Suns trade for (realistically) and why?

  • Voqar

    I don’t see how playing beasely helps his trade value. Having 1-2 decent games in a season doesn’t compare to every other game where he’s a disaster on both ends of the court. The last game he played in he barely drew iron on some of the worst looking non-desperation heave shots I’ve ever seen in a pro game.

    Gortat only playes well against the absolute worst competition. Anybody, including himself, who thinks he’s an exceptional player are delusional. He completely disappears against quality players. If you give him more touches against good players it just leads to more turnovers and missed shots.

    O’Neal has presence. He has size. I’ve never considered him to be all that big but he seems to eat way more space than Gortat. Gortat may get a few blocks here and there when he’s fully engaged (which isn’t recently) but he’s not intimidating anybody. Ever.

    It’s a lame time to be a Suns fan and I don’t see it getting any better as long as Sarver is around. The team has been in steady decline since Sarver arrived and unless they make some amazing lotto picks by accident how is it going to turn around?

  • PHX4LIFE

    Also forgot to mention that trade would open up more PT for B-easy at the 4 spot, which he is best suited for (he is they same player type as Carmelo Skill set to play the 3 but better at the 4 spot). Plus a healthy Bogut would more than cover up for his below average post D, Don’t believe me?? just look at how good MIL was with Bogut playing D

  • Ty-Sun

    Marshall will stay on the bench until he either improves his shooting so that other teams will have to regard him as at least a semi-serious scoring threat or he learns to play at least above average defense. Right now all he can do is pass. I doubt he would be getting many minutes this season on very many other NBA teams either.

    Gentry is still trying to make something out of this season which is why he isn’t playing Beasley. I don’t think there’s any chance of Beasley improving his game by the mid-season trade deadline and making himself a trade target. If he gets traded before then it would most likely be as part of a multi-player trade where for example the Suns might only trade Gortat to another team if they take Beasley too. But even that’s unlikely.

    If the Suns continue their downward slide, I would expect them to give both Beasley and Marshall more playing time in the later part of the season. By that time playing them wouldn’t hurt the Suns already fading chance of turning this season around and it would give Marshall some actual game experience AND give Beasley the chance to improve his trade value during the off season.

  • john

    Haha, again with the owner being at fault.

    Wasn’t it GSW’s owner that was booed off the court by fans about six months ago at a pre-game recognition of some franchise great of yesteryear? How do you think those GSW fans feel about their owner now?

    Is Donald Sterling not the same man who is widely considered the worst owner in professional sports, a bigoted, hateful, penny-pinching man whose only motivation was to make a buck at the expense of his fans?

    Ask anyone from Seattle how they feel about Clay Bennett.

    What was the general feeling on Mark Cuban before their Finals victory? I’ll give you a hint. It would inevitably involve the words “loudmouth,” “distraction,” “meddler,” and would accuse him of being too into “the numbers” and not in touch enough with the game going on on the court.

    It’s easy to be a doubter. Doubters are almost always right. But the fickle nature of sports fans is absolutely absurd. Just as I never heard a single complaint about Robert Sarver until that first Shaq season, I’m sure the complaints will fade into the background when the Suns return to contention. Just try to keep a level head in the meantime, people.

  • bill.thomas

    @John: So what system should we use for underperforming players like Beasley and whomever else fits that scrip, or should we just prioritize certain players in the rotation and coach/implement a system around their developmental needs?

  • john

    I’m not saying I have all the answers. Rather, what I’m trying to get at is that someone who gets paid $2M/yr to have those answers had better be able to come up with them.

  • bill.thomas

    @John: Do you mean Gentry, or Blanks?

  • john

    @bill.thomas – yes. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003442790379 Eadgar

    As teams start approaching the ten game mark this is what cahetcs my eye. The Grizz & Clips are playing very well, both look legit. Spurs & Thunder are as expected. Add in the Lakers and one of these teams will start the post-season on the road, and two will face each other in the 1st round. The plot thickens.