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Dnowit41
06-06-2005, 01:47 PM
Suns still rising?

Now matter how you slice it, the Suns' season was a smashing success.
They had the third-biggest turnaround in NBA history. They finished the season with the best record in the league. They led the league in scoring and brought the fast break back into vogue. Their big free agent signing, Steve Nash, won the MVP award. Their youngest building block, Amare Stoudemire, turned into a superstar. Their head coach, Mike D'Antoni, was named Coach of the Year.

Are the Suns disappointed that they didn't fare better against the Spurs in the playoffs? Sure. But then again, the Suns' season had exceeded even their own hopes and expectations.

Now, the question for Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo is what to do this summer. Should he pull a Mark Cuban and shake up the roster to avoid the criticism that a run-and-gun team like the Suns can't get it done in the playoffs? Or should he stick to his guns and fine tune the most lethal offensive machine the league has seen in some time?

Colangelo will have three tough decisions to make.

Should the Suns re-sign Joe Johnson?

Johnson is a restricted free agent and could get a huge offer from a team like the Cavs, Clippers or Bobcats this summer. While the Suns clearly love Johnson, their love will be tested.

If Johnson gets a contract that starts at $8 million or more ... is he worth it? His PER (John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating) suggests that he wasn't much more than an average player for the Suns this season. His plus/minus stats are just so-so. Everyone will focus on the fact that he shot 47 percent from 3-point territory, but on a team other than the Suns, would he ever get close to that?

It comes down to a cap-management question for the Suns. With Steve Nash and Shawn Marion already making the max and Amare Stoudemire expected to get a max extension soon, how many more guys can they give huge contracts to? If the Suns do match any offer for Johnson, their payroll will be hovering near the luxury tax next season and beyond, severely limiting their ability to add more pieces to the roster.

On the other hand, if the Suns don't re-sign Johnson, who do they replace him with? He was the team's best 3-point shooter. He was the Suns' primary ball handler when Nash was resting on the bench. On a team that's mediocre at best defensively, Johnson's defensive effort stood out.

Regardless of what the stats say, he was the most underrated member of the team's starting five this season. Without him, it's difficult to say they'd be as successful next season.

It's clear, in hindsight, that the Suns misplayed their hand last summer. Twice.

First, they traded away this year's first-round pick to clear cap room to sign Quentin Richardson last year. In retrospect, they could have kept their pick, drafted Andre Iguodala, and saved the cash they spent on Richardson for Johnson this offseason. As it stands, Richardson is taking up $6.4 million on the roster next season, and it's likely that the player they get at No. 21 this year (they swapped their first-round pick last year for the Bulls' first-round pick this year) won't be nearly as good as Iguodala.

Second, they had a chance to sign Johnson to an extension last summer for about the same numbers that Richardson signed for. The Suns balked, in part, because they had already paid out huge amounts to Nash and Richardson, and with a new owner signing the checks they wanted to see how things played out this season.

Those two decisions are now coming back to haunt the Suns.

What do you pay Steven Hunter?

Hunter is the Suns' other significant free agent. He was a vagabond last summer. Now, he suddenly looks like a legit, athletic 7-footer with a lot of potential.

Hunter's PER rating was actually on par with Johnson's this season. With Stoudemire pining to be moved back to the four (from the five), can they afford to lose Hunter?

The problem is that there will be a team or two out there willing to overpay Hunter. He looked awful in Orlando's system, but Nash and D'Antoni brought out the best in him. Do the Suns really want to pay Hunter a contract starting at $4.9 million (the mid-level exception) next season?

I don't think anyone believes he's worth that ... though you could see a crazy owner throwing that type of money around to get him.

Do you trade Shawn Marion or Quentin Richardson?

Both were disappointing in the Spurs' series. Marion, a third-team All-NBA player this season, was a perfect fit in the Suns' run-and-gun offense. But he struggles when the offense slows down and he's forced to operate in the half-court set.

With Stoudemire potentially moving back to the four, are the Suns better off trying to trade Marion for a more traditional three and some depth?

It's a tough call. Marion is a unique player who can defend, rebound and score from the small-forward position. I don't think the Suns could get a better player in return for him. However, given their depth and cap issues, it's going to be debated all summer.

Richardson is a bigger target. He's tough and versatile, with a great work ethic. He was often the glue in the locker room this season. But it's pretty clear that the Clippers knew what they were doing when they didn't match the Suns' offer this season. Richardson is very streaky. His PER was below the league average and he can just disappear for huge stretches.

If the Suns could dump him to a team that had cap room, it would free them up to re-sign Johnson, keep their first-round pick and use their trade exception to add some depth.

The bottom line is that the Suns' future remains bright as long as Nash and Stoudemire remain healthy. However, if they're going to push past the Spurs next season, they'll have to tinker a little bit with the formula. Given the cap limitations the team is facing, I'm not sure how easy that will be.

jayC
06-06-2005, 02:17 PM
The Suns should dump Richardson . Marion makes the Suns special. If they dump him then who guards the other teams best player. If Joe Johnson doesn't get hurt in the Dallas series the playoff run for the Suns could have ended with a title. The thing they should worry about is a drop off in play from Steve Nash. The guy is on the otherside of 30 and was incredible in the regular season and the playoffs. I just wonder had the suns added nash and Dampier would they be the best team in the league.

vjz
06-06-2005, 09:24 PM
I agree that the Suns should dump QRich. He can't create a shot if his life depended on it, and his 3-pt shot is reliable only when Nash is feeding him and giving him open looks. He was totally shutdown by the Spurs, whose superb transition defense made sure someone always had a hand in his face.

JJohnson will provide the same production as QRich and more for the Suns.

Marion is a tough call, but with Amare moving to PF, I think they should trade him and get some flexibility. Teams will be willing to pay a lot to get Marion, and the Suns can then build a solid bench.

StylisticS
06-07-2005, 03:40 AM
What does Q Rich contract look like? Because if it is a big contract I really do not see how they can keep Johnson and Amare. I believe JJ won't be in Phoenix next season.

aexchange
06-07-2005, 09:31 AM
would the suns pull the trigger on a daniels/harris/bradley deal for shawn marion?

howard/marion/dirk would be a stud combo.

dalmations202
06-07-2005, 12:49 PM
would the suns pull the trigger on a daniels/harris/bradley deal for shawn marion?
maybe, but why would Dallas. If Dallas were going to do it, Harris wouldn't be part of it, somehow KVH would have to be because Marion would be the sf and then backup at 4. Also, you would have to move at least one more swingman, I would think. I can't see this happening, because it would have to be a pretty big deal, and I don't think the Mavs make any "big" changes this offseason. 2 of (Terry, Stackhouse, Dampier) + 1 of (Daniels, Bradley) seems to work for Marion/QRich --- I just don't see it happening.


howard/marion/dirk would be a stud combo.
Agreed..... that would be a very good 2-4.

LRB
06-07-2005, 01:07 PM
Wonder if next year's Suns might become this year's TimberWolves.

aexchange
06-07-2005, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by: dalmations202

would the suns pull the trigger on a daniels/harris/bradley deal for shawn marion?
maybe, but why would Dallas. If Dallas were going to do it, Harris wouldn't be part of it, somehow KVH would have to be because Marion would be the sf and then backup at 4. Also, you would have to move at least one more swingman, I would think. I can't see this happening, because it would have to be a pretty big deal, and I don't think the Mavs make any "big" changes this offseason. 2 of (Terry, Stackhouse, Dampier) + 1 of (Daniels, Bradley) seems to work for Marion/QRich --- I just don't see it happening.


howard/marion/dirk would be a stud combo.
Agreed..... that would be a very good 2-4.


my thoughts on getting marion are that phoenix isnt going to give him up for nothing, and you would have to make it worth their while. that being said i think a stackhouse/daniels for marion/spare get this deal done.

phoenix gets more depth. they can plug in stack at the 3 spot, slide stoudamire to the 4 spot and resign hunter to man the middle. conversely, they could also go small ball and trot out nash/3 guards/ and stoudamire. this allows them to manage their cap (stack comes off in 2 years) and daniels is a nice plug in for johnson and nash.

this is a silly pipedream on my part, but if you can get marion, you have to do it. he is exactly the kind of player that would allow dirk to thrive.

dalmations202
06-07-2005, 03:43 PM
my thoughts on getting marion are that phoenix isnt going to give him up for nothing, and you would have to make it worth their while. that being said i think a stackhouse/daniels for marion/spare get this deal done.

phoenix gets more depth. they can plug in stack at the 3 spot, slide stoudamire to the 4 spot and resign hunter to man the middle. conversely, they could also go small ball and trot out nash/3 guards/ and stoudamire. this allows them to manage their cap (stack comes off in 2 years) and daniels is a nice plug in for johnson and nash.

this is a silly pipedream on my part, but if you can get marion, you have to do it. he is exactly the kind of player that would allow dirk to thrive.

I might do a Stack/Daniels for Marion/spare deal as well. At least you would be doing a 2 for 1 at the swingmen, and somewhat clearing up a jam there. But Harris, Daniels seems to me like you put the Mavs in kind of a hole for a PG --- just to sure up the SF position which has arguably the 2nd best player (Howard) on the team playing it now.

kg_veteran
06-07-2005, 07:04 PM
I don't want the Mavs trading Harris in a package for Marion.

Also, IMHO, if the Suns trade Marion it will be to try and get a center. As long as they're going small, he fits their system perfectly.

EDIT: They're certainly not going to trade a 20/10 guy for Stackhouse and Daniels. No offense to those guys, but that's overvaluing them.

sike
06-08-2005, 09:55 AM
They're certainly not going to trade a 20/10 guy for Stackhouse and Daniels. No offense to those guys, but that's overvaluing them.
there's probably only 15 or so players in the entire league they would trade Marion for.....and I doubt any of our bench qualifies....