Now that the season is over we come upon another season of tumult. The burning question is do we reload or rebuild. There is a core that can be built around but before construction, there must first be deconstruction.
Last season the question was keep Amar’e Stoudemire or let him walk. This season the same question lingers over Steve Nash. What should the Suns do this offseason? Here is a player-by-player breakdown of The Greg One’s plan for Suns improvement, starting at the top.
Steve Nash– Nash went on record after the season to say he wants to stay a Suns and compete for a championship with the Suns. You have to love the loyalty Nash exhibits with those words, but is he also throwing a softball into the Suns front office? He wants to compete for a championship. The Suns just went from Western Conference Finals last season to not making the playoffs this season. Could he be subtly telling Suns management ‘Get me a big time player in here to help me or I am gone?’ Nash is the best point guard in the NBA and he deserves at least one NBA Finals appearance before he retires.
Once Jason Richardson was traded there was no number one option on offense. Nash thrives when he facilitates, not when he has to be the lead scorer as well. Nash has shown no signs of slowing down, but he did accumulate more injuries than usual carrying this team all season. The Suns need to bring a big time player into the organization and let Nash return to his usual role. If a major name can’t be brought in a trade, Nash still has great value to a team that is in contention for a championship and get some pieces to rebuild with in return.
Vince Carter– Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Channing Frye– Frye got the big money contract last season and performed like a big money player. The Suns did manage to get one thing right last offseason. Frye will be a solid piece of the core unit for years to come.
Marcin Gortat– Gortat ran circles around incumbent center Robin Lopez in production. Gortat took Lopez’s minutes, dwarfed Lopez’s stats and finally claimed his starting role by the end of the season. The Suns finally have found their center of the future.
Grant Hill– For a man who has had the worst luck in his professional career, Hill has made up for all that lost time by showing he still has loads of game. He’s not the high flyer he was coming out of college after numerous ankle surgeries, but he has made up for that by playing smart and playing *gasp* defense! Hill’s leadership has saved the Suns more than once and he deserves more than the Suns can offer. Hill is best friends with Nash on and off the court and they may be a package deal at this point in their careers. Neither really wants to have to play without the other. In this last two seasons of constant change, they were one of the few constants they had to rely on. If the Suns add a big name then Hill stays, if not Hill needs to be sent to a contender, preferably along with Nash.
Robin Lopez– Lopez folded like a deck chair after Gortat arrived and looked slow and lost on the court even before the trade that brought Gortat to town. Lopez has had enough time to rise to the occasion and he has failed miserably. Alvin Gentry pointed to Lopez as one of the three biggest factors in the Suns success this season. All eyes were on Lopez and by the end of the season none of those eyes, (including Gentry’s) could stand the sight of him. Good riddance Robin.
Josh Childress– No fire off the bench. Even with a year in the system you couldn’t do better than five points per game? Not good.
Mickael Pietrus– See Childress. However, since he did come over in midseason, we’ll give Pietrus a pass because he can shoot the three and play defense. One more shot Mike.
Jared Dudley– Dudley was a stud all season. Even when he was in the midst of a horrific shooting slump he hustled on defense and filled the stat sheet. Dudley will be a solid part of the Suns core moving forward.
Hakim Warrick– Warrick showed a few flashes of promise, but not nearly enough considering what he was brought in to do and who he was replacing. Warrick had starters minutes for a good portion of the season, but didn’t start producing until he was coming off the bench.
Zabian Dowdell– He was the best backup point guard the Suns had this season. Aaron Brooks came over at the trade deadline, but showed nothing to set himself apart from the rookie Dowdell. There needs to be a solid, consistent backup point guard in place for next season. Dowdell is better running the offense and cheaper (Brooks makes almost $2 million more than Dowdell, who is playing for the minimum).
Aaron Brooks– Brooks has shown in the past he can be an impact player. This season however, he landed in the doghouse in Houston and struggled mightily in the Suns offense. Perhaps a good offseason will benefit Brooks, but as of right now, I see the Suns bringing in or drafting a point guard. Brooks will be released and Dowdell will head back into the farm system.
Gani Lawal and Garrett Siler– Lawal will stay put and continue to learn the system. Siler will head back into the D-League and get called upon if someone gets injured. Neither player got much of a sniff of the court and this season won’t change things. Due to his status as the Suns second round draft pick last season, Lawal will see the floor sooner than Siler, but their job description won’t go beyond being an extra body at practice and guarding the Gatorade.
The Suns have two options. Rebuild means letting Nash and Hill go while they will be valuable to a contending team that is a veteran or two away from a championship. Think the Lakers, Blazers, Thunder, Hawks and Heat. Nash running the Lakers offense would be scary and Kobe Bryant would win the scoring title in addition to another ring.
The Lakers have pieces (Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum) that would fit in well at the power forward position and form an awesome twin towers tandem alongside Gortat. As much as I would hate seeing Nash in a Lakers uniform, Nash deserves a ring before he retires.
The Blazers have young pieces that would fit the Suns style. (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and LaMarcus Aldridge). The Thunder would be mortgaging tomorrow to win today, but Russell Westbrook for Nash would give Oklahoma City the best point guard in the league and establish Durant as the number one option on offense.
Westbrook wouldn’t be there eating up Kevin Durant’s shot attempts. I would give Nash and Hill for Westbrook today and walk away happy. Is it likely? No. If you’re talking a deal with OKC, there’s no way to send Nash and not get Westbrook back. The two would not work in the same backcourt. Sending a couple players not named Nash to OKC for Serge Ibaka would be a awesome get to fill that power forward slot also.
The Hawks have a couple great pieces in Al Horford and Josh Smith that would be great to fill in the frontcourt. Nash would be a infinitely huge upgrade to Jamal Crawford, Kirk Hinrich or Jeff Teague at the point guard spot. Trade Nash and Hill for either of their bigs and you have a deal.
The Heat need veterans to fill in the void after the big three, but who are they going to give up? Would they part with Dwyane Wade? Doubtful. Chris Bosh? Maybe. Bosh if the prototypical power forward and he seems to prefer blending into the woodwork than standing out like Wade and LeBron James want to do. Of all the possibilities I would want to see Nash and Hill in Miami in exchange for Bosh or Wade. If not those two, give us Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller and call it a day.
The other option is pick up a big name in free agency and go at it with the core of Nash, Dudley, Frye and Gortat. There are plenty of big names to fill in that still open power forward slot.
Jeff Green will be taking phone calls. Tyson Chandler will be taking offers. Carl Landry, David West and the aforementioned Oden will be looking for a change of scenery. Any of those names would solidify the Suns starting five and take them from also ran to legitimate playoff team. Those guys would add toughness and defense, hustle and another big to clean the glass and challenge penetrating guards.
Which way do the Suns go? This writer wants to see the Suns go with option two, but whichever move they choose, they must go at it guns blazing and not half ass it the way they did last offseason by bringing in Hedo Turkoglu. We’ll be watching.
Talk to me Sunszoo, which option would you choose?