Channing Frye faces tough road but should be thankful virus was caught now


This week is a sad week for Channing Frye, but in some ways it should be a happy one.

It’s beyond terrible that Frye was blindsided with news that he has an enlarged heart that will likely keep him out for the season and could potentially end his career, news that Frye said came “completely out of left field, in the stands left field.”

This was caught so early he had no symptoms or any inability to perform all of the physical duties asked of NBA players.

Really this should be seen as a blessing, as this was caught on a treadmill before training camp rather than at the tail end of a brutal two-a-day at training camp or in the fourth quarter of an early season game.

“We’re very, very fortunate we had the information we needed before it became catastrophic,” Suns PBO Lon Babby told reporters at Friday’s press conference.

Frye’s diagnosis should be chalked up as a major win for the league’s rigorous preseason testing program, and it’s a cautionary tale for people everywhere to undergo regular physicals because you never know what ailment might be lurking in your future, even if you’re a 29-year-old in perfect shape like Frye.

The Suns’ big man already started looking on the bright side by acknowledging that now he will have more time to spend with his young family during the middle of the season and that “this is my reality and I have to deal with it and be positive.”

Without Frye, many of the questions about the Suns’ big man glut disappear as the team is now one injury away from being thin in the frontcourt.

Jermaine O’Neal will now have a more important role as the primary backup center, a role Luis Scola can also play in a pinch. Scola and Markieff Morris will now be free to split the power forward minutes without any challenge from Frye, and Michael Beasley could see more action at the four as situations dictate.

“We’re somewhat disadvantaged and weaknened by not having him,” Babby said. “We planned for [Frye potentially missing the beginning of the season with his shoulder issue], we certainly didn’t plan for this. I don’t think we will do anything dramatic at this point.”

In the big picture that hardly matters. The Suns will find a way to fill Frye’s playing time void. Instead this weekend should be about wishing Frye well and being thankful this virus was caught when it was.

Why Suns are OK with Gentry’s lame duck status

Earlier this week, Mike Schmitz explained why Alvin Gentry deserves a contract extension.

Back in May, Babby explained why he sees no problem with employing a coach in the final year of his contract:

"“My view is if a person has a three-year contract you assess it after three years. That’s how I’m going to be judged. I’ve talked to Alvin about it. He’s perfectly fine with that, and you know there are a lot of very successful coaches in the league right now coaching in the final year of their contracts, so this notion that somehow you always have to be one year ahead, I don’t think it’s in his best interests, I don’t think it’s in our best interests, and it has absolutely nothing to do with an assessment of his coaching ability or his performance, and he understands that.”"

Gentry would be a very convenient scapegoat — albeit an unfair one — if the Suns were to seriously falter this season.

There are risks on both sides by allowing Gentry’s contract to expire at the end of this upcoming season, as a superlative effort from him could lead to another team offering him more money in a potentially better situation.

Since he has coached in Phoenix since 2004 during which time his young boys have grown up, I assume Gentry would prefer to stay in the Valley, and unless the team needs a scapegoat at season’s end I see no reason why they wouldn’t eventually bring him back.

Perhaps it is a bit ridiculous that coaches always need to be extended before their final contract year, but at the same time in a transition year like this choosing not to extend Gentry does not exactly send the message that the Suns want him as their coach for the long haul.

Gortat leads Poland to EuroBasket qualification

My apologies for the late nature of this note, but we were supposed to have a guest writer from Poland supply this weeks ago.

Still, Marcin Gortat did look awfully impressive in helping Poland qualify for EuroBasket 2013 by virtue of finishing atop Group E with a 6-2 record. EuroBasket 2013 will be held Aug. 4-22 in Slovenia.

Gortat ranked fourth among the 328 competing players in scoring by averaging 21.1 points per game (not a single basket of which was created by Steve Nash, I should point out), and he finished in the top 10 in a wide variety of categories, including rebounding (second, 11.6), field-goal percentage (second, 62.3 percent), defensive rebounds (first, 9.6), double-doubles (first, six), blocks (second, 2.3) and two-pointers made (first, 8.3).

In short, Gortat dominated the qualifying tournament that lacked the top European teams competing in the Olympics but still showed how well The Polish Hammer can play as “The Man” on a team albeit against relatively weak competition.

Dragon’s beach workout: Part 4

Check out Part 4 of Goran Dragic’s brutal beach workout below, courtesy of The Noc.

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Because the Suns are under the cap, they will not be eligible for a disabled player exception for Frye, per Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ. They do, of course, have around $7 mil in cap space remaining if they end up desiring a replacement for Channing.

If Frye ends up retiring due to this ailment, the Suns will receive cap relief in future seasons, as Coon explains in his FAQ:

"There is one exception whereby a player can continue to receive his salary, but the salary is excluded from team salary. This is when a player suffers a career-ending injury or illness. The team must waive the player, and can apply for this salary exclusion on the one-year anniversary of the last game in which the player played. Only the player’s team at the time the injury or illness was discovered (or reasonably should have been discovered) can apply for this salary exclusion.The determination as to whether an injury or illness is career ending is made by a physician jointly selected by the league and players association. The determination is based on whether the injury or illness will prevent the player from playing for the remainder of his career, or if it is severe enough that continuing to play constitutes a medically unacceptable risk."

The player’s salary can be removed on “the one-year anniversary of his last game in the previous season,” so if Frye ends up retiring after the season the Suns can receive cap relief from the remaining two years and $13.2 million on his contract that includes a 2014-15 team option year.