Suns' effort to maximize youth killing Brown's career year, trade value


The Suns’ youth movement was coming. For some, it came too slow. For Shannon Brown, it came fast and hard, sending him from his starting role and a career year all the way to the end of the bench, where he has stayed without moving for eight consecutive games.

Brown is unhappy. It’s hard to blame him. On a team that claims to lack a natural scorer, Brown (11.2 ppg in just 25 minutes per contest) is the closest thing to it (or was until Goran Dragic’s recent surge).

Phoenix, however, knows what Brown is (offensively aggressive, athletically entertaining) and what he isn’t (efficient, consistently smart with the ball). The Suns also know that, at age 27, Brown is who he is, and unlikely to improve.

With that in mind, the coaching staff made the decision to tap into their unknown talent. They wanted to find out how good Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall and recently acquired Marcus Morris can be. Even before the youth movement, it’s been clear that Brown’s offense wasn’t winning over the coaching staff as much as P.J. Tucker’s defense.

But while the team has made their preference of Tucker over Brown clear, the immediate results suggest the opposite should be true. In the 28 games boasting a starting lineup of Dragic, Tucker, Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola, the Suns are an underwhelming 9-19. Replace just Tucker with Brown in that lineup, and Phoenix is 4-4.

It’s a small sample size, but enough to illustrate what the Suns seemingly admitted at the trade deadline: rather than win in the short-term, they are building for the future — even if it means suffering defeats they might otherwise prevent.

It’s hard to criticize such an approach in and of itself. What is baffling, however, is the Suns’ subsequent decision to leave Brown rotting in warmups. If a youth movement was indeed the plan, the Suns missed a golden opportunity to sell Brown via trade while his value was high. Plenty of teams, be it playoff hopefuls needing a hole filled on the perimeter (Utah?) or contenders wanting an extra shooter and/or athlete off the bench (Memphis?), could have benefited from acquiring Brown.

Brown’s contract certainly didn’t impede a move. The veteran is slated for just $3.5 million this year and next, with the latter year not even guaranteed, making him a low-risk, high-reward investment. At the very least, the Suns could have created more cap space and added another draft pick to their assets. With Phoenix reluctant to part ways with its other pieces, it’s hard not to wonder why they didn’t cash in on the one player they clearly don’t want or need – but one that still had value.

Now, Brown’s sudden demotion and his resulting unhappiness are likely red flags to teams who might have had interest in acquiring him, leaving the Suns with a dead asset.

It’s a waste the Suns didn’t need to make. Even with a low return via trade, Phoenix still would have gotten more for Brown than they’re getting for him now.

Nothing.

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  • Ben Shockley

    If they were going to bench him, the Suns definitely should have traded Brown at the deadline (again, what is management thinking?), but I’m not sure that the 4-4 record with him in the starting lineup is significant. As you said, the sample is small and Phoenix probably just happened to be playing better at that point in the season.

    • deathbycoffee

      We have Brown for another year though. What if have a great draft and sign a decent free agent this offseason. We might be in playoff contention and Brown would be nice to have off the bench. If not, we can deal him in the offseason or next trade deadline @Ben Shockley

  • DBreezy

    How has Shannon’s value changed?  He’s a guy who is what he is and anyone interested knows it.  He struggled to find acceptable offers when he left the Lakers, and he struggled to find ones when he was a free agent again last summer. His FG% has dropped every season since his career best .473 in 2008-2009 and he’s shooting the worst 3pt % of his career this season.  His career best ppg is due to a career best mpg average, a classic scenario on bad teams that other gm’s and scouts are well aware of.  He is what is he is and at this point that’s basically someone who will likely have his greatest trade value as a contract that can be stretched by team needing cap relief for next season or later on as an expiring deal for a team looking to get itself under the luxury tax or salary cap for the following offseason.

    • deathbycoffee

      @DBreezy I completely agree man

  • hawki

    Only 4 NBA teams have a negative point differential of more than -3.5
    Those 4 teams are so bad that they are all -5.6 or worse.
    Charlotte….- 10.5
    Sacramento..- 6.4
    Orlando……..- 5.9
    Suns………….- 5.6
     
    Shannon Brown ?…..Yeah, I think I remember him…..used to play for the Suns.

    • DBreezy

      @hawki Yes but we have a clash of two of those titans tonight so buckle up!

  • john manhole

    The assumption is that someone would have wanted Shannon.  I am not sure that’s a good assumption.  I wouldn’t want Shannon anywhere near my team if I were a GM.  He’s a bad basketball player, simple as that.

    • DBreezy

      @john manhole You do realize that now that you said that, he’s going to end up in San Antonio next season and shoot lights out for them as a bench sparkplug right!!!

  • mileHighfan

    What are the odds the Suns beat the Nugs on Mon?

    • DBreezy

      @mileHighfan I’d say pretty low.  The Suns haven’t been good at home this season and more importantly they struggle to score 100 points in a game.  It took overtime to get 105 vs the Spurs and that was after only scoring 84 in an overtime game vs the Wolves.  By my count, they’ve only gotten to 100pts 14 times this season.  With the Nugs looking for playoff positioning and neither team playing the night before, I expect a fairly ugly loss for the Suns who also may not have a center beyond Hamed Hadaddi for that game.

  • mileHighfan

    Hey hawki, bigDave,….this is formerly Sammi.

    • DBreezy

      @mileHighfan Whatup Sammi?  You aren’t alone in not watching many Suns games, it’s been a tomb both at the arena and on the boards relatively speaking.  The defense in general this year has been awful, probably worse than at any other time during the SSOL era.   It’s picked up a little bit because they changed coaches and they’re also feeding a bit off the energy of bench players who hadn’t been used much previously.  I don’t think they’ve used any zone since Hunter came on board, they used it sparingly with Gentry depending on matchups.

    • mileHighfan

      Thanks Dave. Yeah I feel bad for the Suns, doubt I can think of anything real positive to say. Marshall isnt playing much anyway. I wonder if they remove Hunter’s interim label next yr, u think hes doing a worthy job at least? Was sad Majerle left. Wheres my love ebjm? ?????

      • DBreezy

        @mileHighfan My expectation is that Hunter will be the coach next season, although there is at least one fan around here who believes that Golden State’s lead assistant Malone will get the job.  If Blanks is retained however, I think Hunter stays with a staff that’s handpicked by the two.   I think Lindsey is doing a solid job under the circumstances, but he’s got a lot to learn about X’s and O’s, in-game management, and how to push buttons with veterans.  I think he’s definitely best suited for a young team at this point, hopefully with some good assistants to fill in the holes for him.  He’s definitely not afraid to try things though.

        • TySun

          @DBreezy  @mileHighfan Hunter has the advantage of – at least seemingly – being open to trying new things.  Since the Suns probably won’t be much better next season, I’m starting to believe that he has a good chance of returning as the head coach next year.  He will need some strong assistants that know the X’s and O’s as you point out, DBreezy.

  • mileHighfan

    Havent been watching a whole lot of Suns games, but do they still zone D? Hows the defense in general?

  • deathbycoffee

    This article makes it seem like we are leaving a star on the bench or something. His FG% is down, his FT% is down, and 3PT % is rock bottom. And these are numbers basically playing against backups. If he actually randomly does help our team win, why would we want that? We are not going anywhere. We have Brown for another year, and on the off chance we draft the next Lebron, Brown would be a nice piece to have playing the SG/PG/SF role.

    • DBreezy

      @deathbycoffee I think Brown being here depends on his attitude right now, the draft and potentially free agency.    Seeing as Shannon is going down the same road that Peaches did a few years back, right now it’s hard for me to imagine him back next season, it’s just a matter of when and how he departs.  At this point if they know that it’s going to be another long season next year, it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to bring a guy like Johnson back on a one year min deal instead.  If not Wes, than someone along those lines who has remaining upside and is cheap. The unspoken added benefit is that someone like that is unlikely to complain about minutes in a youth movement.  Shannon isn’t the only one losing minutes due to this and he might not be the only one replaced by someone more down with the program.

  • TySun

    Brown is and always has been a loose cannon and a black hole whenever he gets the ball in his hands.  The person who has hurt his career most is him.  For all we know, the Suns DID shop him around before the trade deadline and just found no interest.  Brown is very athletic and has some great nights occasionally but he’s just not a real team player.  But after saying all that, I’m still surprised that he’s gotten zero playing time lately.  It makes me wonder if there is something that we just don’t know about that got him into Hunter’s doghouse.

  • Philcc

    Management really messed up on this one.  Brown is a deserving player who can create wins, the numbers are there.  To blame him for his own faults is lame excuse for management calling the shots over the coaching.

  • Edward Williams

    Thats not surprising with the history of the Suns . No loyalty to the fans or players.

  • Ben Shockley

    TySun,

    So Phoenix found a taker for Telfair, but not for Brown? Maybe, but …

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