View Full Version : Suns at early crossroads — make changes or stand pat?

12-17-2007, 11:49 AM
Suns at early crossroads — make changes or stand pat?

SAN ANTONIO - On the surface, the offseason changes the Suns have made appear to be for the better.

Grant Hill is in the midst of a renaissance season and gives the Suns another shooting, slashing weapon. Brian Skinner has produced off the bench, offering a reasonably priced facsimile to Kurt Thomas.

But is this Suns team any better equipped to win a championship? Can they really get their hooks into a top-flight team when games and titles are won and lost?

And when you ask that, you’re really saying, “Do they have any better chance of getting past those darn Spurs?”

This season’s first meeting with San Antonio since that exciting, controversial and gut-wrenching playoff loss last May comes at an interesting time for the Suns. They have lost three of their past four games after a 16-4 start and the same old problems are at the root.

Management held an extended postgame huddle after Monday’s loss to Miami, and it wasn’t to talk about the rainy weather outside US Airways Center.

Has a core that has reached two Western Conference finals and won almost 200 regular season games in 3 1/3 seasons run its course? With eight players soaking up most of the payroll that is already over the luxury tax, cosmetic changes aren’t likely — which leaves only the option of a full-fledged makeover involving one or more of the top eight players.

NBA sources say the Suns brain trust is split between those who want to give this team another shot at success, those who think it’s now time for a major move and those who are on the fence after only 24 games.

“If we’re ever going to be a championship team, we have to improve defensively,” is as far as Suns general manager Steve Kerr would go Sunday. “We’re watching this run of games against top competition (Utah, New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas) very carefully. We’ve been talking about it but we talk all the time. Are there are concerns? Sure. I’d say we’re definitely in evaluation mode,” Kerr said.

And if the team’s final grade reflects Saturday’s 101-98 loss to New Orleans — where the Suns let a Hornets team that had been struggling and should have been tired run wild in the first 24 minutes of what was supposed to be a statement road trip — changes might be quick to follow.

The Suns are still scoring 110 points a game this year (a league-best 109.5), they still lead the league in field-goal percentage (.492). But if anything, Phoenix’s weak spots have taken a step farther backward this year.

It’s not just the 105 points the Suns are allowing a game, it’s the ease with which they are coming. After finishing near the middle of the pack in field-goal defense over the past three years, the Suns are currently tied with Minnesota and Cleveland for 25th in the league, allowing teams to shoot .463 from the field.

Only Charlotte, Memphis and New York are worse. And that’s not a company Phoenix wants to keep — hence the idea that something big might be on the horizon if current trends continue on this temperature-check.

The record isn’t bad (17-7), but some of the losses have been ugly and even many of the wins haven’t come with a sweet taste. And not being able to count on a consistent level of effort has become a tired subject.

“It’s very, very disappointing,” guard Steve Nash said. “I wish I could find a way to make sure each guy is ready to play. But what do you do, interview each guy before a game?”

Or maybe, you change things up?

Kerr expected a better team chemistry after clearing out the end of his bench and replacing it with a combination of youth and veteran role players. But Boris Diaw has struggled, Leandro Barbosa has been inconsistent and the back of the bench hasn’t been used — putting even more pressure on the starters to produce.

Suns coach Mike D’Antoni has settled on his eight-man rotation and thinks this team could be his best, despite the early-season hiccups. He likes what Skinner has brought to the team, sees Hill as another player who can create offense when the Spurs look to shut down Nash and Barbosa and is looking forward to seeing how those changes play out on the court.

“We’re a better team, better than last year,” D’Antoni said. “They are still really good, but I don’t know if they’ve gotten better. So when you consider how close we were last year … we feel good.

“We’ll see how different matchups might be created. We don’t know how that’s going to work out yet. But Brian has given us toughness and with Grant … as many weapons as we had to choose from last year, now I feel we have more and more guys who can break down their defense and help Steve out when things get a little sloggy.”

12-17-2007, 11:52 AM
This quote by Nash is very interesting.......

“It’s very, very disappointing,” guard Steve Nash said. “I wish I could find a way to make sure each guy is ready to play. But what do you do, interview each guy before a game?”

..........Going be a long season for a lot of teams.

12-17-2007, 01:09 PM
He misses the Big German's work ethic.

12-17-2007, 01:30 PM
great one DirkFTW

Go Mavs!

12-17-2007, 01:39 PM
I'm not buying it. The Suns still scare the crap out of me.

12-17-2007, 02:03 PM
They are sure using the old vet Grant Hill for a lot of min.per game
this has got to take a toll for someone with his medical history......

meanwhile our old vets can't seem to get their butts on the floor.

12-17-2007, 04:15 PM
Q: Make changes or stand pat?

A: MikeDanTony--"PLAY FASTER!"

12-18-2007, 01:28 PM
I'm scrolling through the Suns roster and I come to Grant Hill and wtf? He's putting up 16/5/3 a game? Didn't he sign for the minimum? Shooting 50% from the field? I thought he was finished.

12-18-2007, 05:09 PM
Yeah it's really just a product of playing time and the Suns' style of play. When you run with Marion, Nash, and Stoudamire you're bound to get plenty of open/high percentage shots.

12-18-2007, 06:39 PM
very little risk of being injured too. All he does is cherry pick.

12-18-2007, 06:55 PM
Personally, if I were the Suns, I'd try to add a quality defensive center, so they can start to defend the paint with teams like Utah, and the Spurs. The center couldn't be one that slows down the offense though, so he would need to be very athletic.

Marion moved to add size.

Right now, I don't think they could make it through a Utah, Dallas, SA. In fact GSW might give them a run for the money with what they do now, if they were to get hot.

If they had a true defensive center, Nash, Barbosa, Diaw, Hill, Amare would be able to provide plenty of offense in my opinion.

12-18-2007, 07:37 PM
i'll see you at the crossroads, so you won't be lonely

12-18-2007, 08:20 PM
They need a defensive stopper center. When they get up 10 or 20 points, they need to put a stopper in, where teams can't come back. Grant Hill has always been good but he has terrible injuries every year. They need 12 deep that is very good the way they run because the end of the season, several will be very tired.

Hill must be loving this as Nash sits him up good. Congrats on last night as they kept scorring and Hill hit some key big shots at the end with Nash sitting him up wide open but they was not layups. They must shoot good and they and he did.

Hill needs to stay healthy and can he? Then at the end of the year they must stop the elite teams inside and make key stops at the end of the game and this is where they have probs.

As far as crossroards. We hear this every single year, that Marion is being traded. He is playing in the best place he could be with Nash and Nash really helps him to the fullest. I take nothing away from Maion because he is very good. It might be hard to find a stopper center that can run up and down the pace they play but even at the end of the game, they need one. I am not so sure if they ever did trade Marion, who could help them more than him, in the style they play. Phx needs Duncan to retire. I actually pull for Phx when they play Sa but i figure in the end sa will get them but last night they didn't.

12-18-2007, 09:20 PM
Marion is playing unbelievable in big games this year.