Blog Entry


Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:14 pm
Their three-game winning streak and 22-gun salute from the 3-point line against the Lakers notwithstanding, these are delicate times for the Phoenix Suns. So delicate, in fact, that a speculative riff on an NBA writer’s podcast last week sparked a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Steve Nash.

Such is life in the NBA blogosmear, but there’s an element of truth to the speculation. Watching Nash play without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Stoudemire without Nash, is a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for. The Suns, like many NBA teams, were hesitant to lavish five guaranteed years on Stoudemire given the uninsurable state of his knees. The Knicks, boxed out of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, were in the rare position of being open to Stoudemire’s in-person overtures back in July. It was a match made in Desperadoville.

The Knicks were in Denver Tuesday night to face the Nuggets and the latest apple of their eyes, Carmelo Anthony. They arrived in a tailspin, having lost five in a row, and left with a 120-118 loss, a six-game losing streak, and much of the hopelessness inspired by Knicks teams of the past decade. No fewer than 15 power forwards playing at least 25 minutes per game are ahead of Stoudemire in efficiency rating, according to Among them are Michael Beasley, Charlie Villanueva and Hakim Warrick – who replaced Stoudemire in Phoenix. You don’t need data to see that Stoudemire is struggling in his new home. Watching him search in vain for someone who knows how to run a pick-and-roll is evidence enough.

Despite Warrick’s statistical accomplishments, things aren’t much better for Nash and the Suns. Lost in the Suns’ unconscious shooting exploits in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers Sunday night was the ongoing horror show of watching Nash dribble around desperately in search of someone to set a capable screen and roll to the basket. Both Nash and Stoudemire have lost something irreplaceable in each other.

While the Knicks plan to do their due diligence and inquire as to Nash’s availability, the Suns haven’t gotten to the point of entertaining offers, according to an executive familiar with their strategy. Coach Alvin Gentry already has made it clear publicly that the Suns aren’t trading Nash, and the executive familiar with the team’s posture characterized the flurry of rumors as “random” and “not factual.” But in Phoenix, as with many revenue-challenged NBA cities, basketball sense doesn’t always align with financial reality.

Without Stoudemire – and assuming they can’t make 20-plus 3-pointers a night for the rest of the season – the Suns will be struggling to get a whiff of the eighth seed come April. They’re the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding differential, and the loss of center Robin Lopez to a sprained knee certainly won’t help.

“We’ve got to be a little bit more scrappy than we’ve been in the past,” said Jared Dudley, a key member of the superior bench that made the Suns such a threat to the Lakers in the conference finals last spring.

But Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose non-basketball businesses in the banking and real estate sectors have been hammered by the recession, isn’t paying $63 million for a scrappy, barely .500 team. The Suns are comfortably below the $70.3 million luxury-tax threshold, so there’s no urgency there. However, Sarver has been one of the most vocal in a new wave of owners in the collective bargaining fight, and rival executives believe he’ll be on a rampage at the trade deadline if the Suns are out of the playoff hunt. That’s an eventuality the Suns hope to prevent, and despite their current upswing, it will prove to be a difficult fight.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins in a row so we can get those rumors away,” Dudley said of the Nash speculation. “You don’t want your franchise player to go. He makes everybody better here and he’s the face of Phoenix. If you think the transition is big with Amar’e, I can only imagine. It would be a journey having [Nash] leave.”

Which brings us to the next step in our journey, to the rest of the Post-Ups:

• With Jermaine O’Neal out several weeks with a sore left knee, you and I both know what name comes to mind as a free-agent replacement: Rasheed Wallace. While ‘Sheed’s agent, Bill Strickland, wouldn’t completely rule it out, it doesn’t sound like Wallace is even contemplating the possibility of coming out of retirement – for the Celtics or anybody else. “I have not talked to Danny [Ainge, the Celtics’ president] or Rasheed about that, but I think Rasheed is through,” Strickland said. Wallace, 36, isn’t believed to be working out on the court in any capacity in the event a team might be interested in his services. And while it’s hard to imagine Wallace coming back with the NBA’s tech-happy mandate to the referees, it’s more of a physical issue. As far back as when Wallace was still with the Pistons, he was known to sometimes leave his shoes on between games in order to keep playing. If he’d removed them, his ankles would’ve swelled up so badly that he wouldn’t have been able to get them back on.

• Leave it to the Zen Master to decode the mystery of Utah’s amazing string of double-digit road comebacks last week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson pointed out that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is perhaps the only NBA coach who elects to have his team play offense in front of his bench in the second half. Most coaches prefer to have their team in front of them on defense down the stretch of road games. Lo and behold, the Jazz reeled off double-digit road comebacks against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by pouring on the offense in the second half. Visiting coaches choose which basket to defend in which half. “You can generate a lot of points in front of your bench,” Jackson said. “Defensively, a lot of coaches like their team to be in front of the bench in the second half on the road, because you can call stuff and give eyes to the players with their back to the basket. They’re the only team in the NBA that does it the other way.”

Brandon Roy’s future with bone-on-bone in both knees bears watching, given that his game is based on getting to the basket and he’s only 26 – with a lot of mileage theoretically ahead of him. But Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and former consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, said it depends on the extent of the damage and where it is. After his latest bout with knee swelling and pain last week, Roy learned that surgery was not an option because he has no meniscus left in either knee. DiNubile said Roy’s fate will be determined by whether he lacks cartilage, too. “It would be extremely unlikely at that age to have no meniscus and no cartilage,” DiNubile said. Whether the bone-on-bone condition is occurring in the actual knee joint (bad) or under the kneecap (still bad, but better) also is important. If the bone-on-bone situation is where the tibia meets the femur, “You’re kind of doomed,” DiNubile said. “That’s not compatible with up-and-down playing. If he were to have bone-on-bone in the main part of his knee, his career’s going to be limited one way or the other.” If the condition exists in the kneecap, DiNubile said athletes “can do surprisingly well.”

• As more than an innocent bystander in the Carmelo Anthony saga, Nuggets coach George Karl is more than doing his part by using his considerable powers of persuasion to try to keep Melo in Denver. But it’s impossible to evaluate Karl’s efforts on that front without noting his own pursuit of a contract extension. Two people familiar with the situation told that the Nuggets view Karl as part of their future, regardless of whether Anthony stays. Whether Karl wants to remain in Denver if he winds up with a rebuilding team post-Anthony – that’s another matter. But despite Karl’s disenchantment with the ouster of his friends Mark Warkentien and Tim Grgurich, the lines of communication between Karl, GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke, and team president Paul Andrews are very much open. And weighing on the matter more than Anthony’s future is Karl’s health. Karl, 59, has several more hurdles to clear in his heroic efforts to beat throat and neck cancer, and wants to be sure he remains cancer-free before asking the Nuggets to commit to him beyond this season. Everyone in the NBA, including the Denver front office, is rooting for him.

Tayshaun Prince’s repeated blowups, with coach John Kuester giving as good as he’s getting, aren’t expected to play a major role in the Pistons’ decision on whether to trade the swingman and his $11.1 million expiring contract. A person with knowledge of Prince’s thinking told that his frustration isn’t fully directed at Kuester; losing, after his time as a member of the formerly contending Pistons, is a bigger issue. But the biggest issue in the decision on whether to move him is the impending ownership change in Detroit. Trading an expiring deal, by definition, involves taking on future money – which is difficult, at best, to do when a new owner is entering the picture.

Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound game – an incredible performance and the first of its kind since Moses Malone in 1982 – was a quiet victory for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been trying to prove a point to Love by limiting his minutes: If you don’t play both ends of the floor, you’re not going to play. Rambis’ message finally got through, and the result was an example of what Love is capable of when he puts his mind to it. But this isn’t the end of the dysfunction in Minnesota, by any stretch. Just because Love performed in an historic way doesn’t mean he’s buying Rambis’ message long-term. And a person familiar with the Wolves’ locker room dynamics isn’t convinced it’s smooth sailing from here. “The team is a disaster,” the person said. Depending on who you ask, the issue is either lack of communication from Rambis, or an unwillingness to listen on the part of Love and others who are disenchanted with minutes. It’s going to take more time to sort it all out.

Since: Apr 9, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2010 11:51 pm


Who didn't see the Amar'e and Suns problems coming? I mean there were games where at least 4 or 5 straight plays they would run a pick and roll that ended with Amar'e dunking, getting fouled, or Nash hitting a 3. Now who does Amar'e have? Raymond Felton? I think he took Steve Nash's talents for granted.

As for the Suns, they were not good at rebounding last year even with Amar'e. Although, Amar'e is not the best rebounder either. The point is is that the Suns insist on playing this up-tempo Euro-style of play and you can't win that way. It took 22 3's to beat the Lakers the other night and even then the Suns won by less than ten points.

Since: Nov 17, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2010 11:38 pm


If Suns trade Nash it is over for us down here in AZ. As far as basketball goes that is. Robert Sarver doesn't seem to be an owner where winning is everything. Times are tuff and even for men that are extremely rich. But if winning isn't everything then owning a professional sports team shouldn't be what you do. This was a team that made it to game 6 in the West Conference Finals last season against NBA Champions Lakers. The Suns were knocking on the door to the NBA finals last season. Then this off season owner, Robert Sarver, Let a key ingredient  to the teams success in Amar’e Stoudemire go without any serious pursuit.  The Knicks are paying Stoudemire near $100 million for 5 years. The Suns are paying about $40 million for 4 year to Hedo Turkoglu and $30 million for 5 years for Channing Frye.  Both these player are good and don't want to say anything bad about either one, but even combined do not replace Amar'e Stoudemire. And even more interesting Frye and Turkoglu combined salary for this season is $15million and Stoudemire $16,486,611. Very comparable! With how contracts and trades workout in the NBA the fact that this season the Suns are going to choice to pay $15 for those 2 players and could have Stoudemire for $16,484,611 is a very relevant statistic. I am a season ticket holder of the Suns and have been for multiple  season. I have done a little research and with the research I have done the Suns ticket prices are some of the highest in the league. If Robert "Saver" Sarver decides to trade Nash, I will not be renewing my season tickets next year. And I truly believe I'm not the only fan that feels this way!  So, Robert Sarver, please do some soul searching and come to the concussion that winning is everything and make the correct choice that will help the Suns be the best team on the court.  Period!

Since: Nov 26, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2010 10:43 pm



Amare missed 79 games a few years ago and The Suns still won 54 games and the Pacific Division.

This was more than a few years ago; since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol they have won the Pacific Division as well as the Western conference.  The 2005–06 NBA season began with Stoudemire undergoing micro fracture surgery in his knee on October 18, 2005. He missed all but three games that year.  What you failed to mention was that Phoenix also had Shawn Marion (All-Star), Boris Diaw (6th Man of the Year), Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell, Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas, and James Jones.  Many credit this success (despite losing Stoudemire) to the emergence of Diaw, Bell and Barbosa as clutch playoff performers; and an overall team depth they did not possess at all the previous season.

The Suns are stuck with Nash and his remaining contract of two years and $22 million, I cannot think of one contending team that would trade for him unless the Suns can somehow buy him out.  His age and durability would come into question for a possible trade with Atlanta for PF Josh Smith.  Also the Hawks would have to be crazy to send the 24 year old phenom for an age old point guard that never learned how to play defense.  Phoenix had a nice run starting in 2004 but IT IS OVER for them.  The only reason they made the Western Conference finals was due to the injury of Brandon Roy of the Trailblazers.  Nash even mentioned at the start of the season that the Suns wouldn't make the playoffs!

“To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs considering all the changes and the new guys,” team leader Steve Nash said after Sunday’s team practice.

He wasn't joking or making calculating remarks to lower fan's expectations he was serious and you need to take him literally. 

Since: Dec 9, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2010 8:15 pm


It truly is sad watching the spoiled coddled primadonnas that once were considered elite athletes. The formerly known as NBA players need a severe wakeup call. I would love to see the data on how much money has been paid to players over the last decade in guaranteed money that never stepped on the court either due to "injury" or simply being bought out and told to disappear. I quit paying to watch the NBA for one reason, honor... There is no honor left in the way athletes present themselves or in the way they treat fans and the public.

It is now time for the owners to lock them out; to demand the repeal of guaranteed contracts. The money needs to be paid the same way as in the NFL with the signing bonus being the cavaet. When a player no longer performs or whines, the team simple cuts him and his fat contract. The last game I attended I watched Kevin Garnett laugh as his T-wolves were getting hammered upon. I knew then that it was useless to attend games any longer. Without major changes in the NBA and most major sports, there will be a slow erosion of fan base as technology makes it easier and less expensive to attend games. In my lifetime, we will be able to watch all sports in 3D and do it from our couches. Why would I even consider spending the money to attend a few games, when for the same money I can watch an entire season from my home in comfort.

As the major sports continue to price the average fan out of the arena, they will have to make smaller packages available. I believe the next offering will be the ability for out of market fans to purchase a single team viewership right to allow them to see their favorite team. Allow every team to have an equal share of the license fees and who cares which team sells the most packages. All I know, is that I am done paying for 200.00 tickets and 10 dollar beers to watch an elite athlete put in half an effort because he knows he will be getting paid no matter what. If I decide to be a bum at work I get my ass canned...Its high time we can the entire league and start fresh....

Now Im done..

little ceasars
Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2010 5:22 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Oct 27, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2010 4:31 pm


Urgirlwitme hit it right on the money. Every year is supposedly the year that Nash is "too old" and the "sun has set," but I am certain that Nash will decide when he is too old and will then retire. As long as he is playing,  his team (which will probably be the Suns until he retires) will continue to have a winning record. 6-4 to start the season against mostly playoff teams, including 2 games against the Lakers? That doesn't sound like a bad record to me at all. In fact, if you are 6-4 in the playoffs, you have won one series and are on your way to winning another. So the Suns aren't going to win it all any time soon, but I still enjoy watching this team play - as do many other fans.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2010 3:33 pm


Amare missed 79 games a few years ago and The Suns still won 54 games and the Pacific Division.  I'm not here to claim that the Suns will win a Championship, clearly they are not as good as LA but to claim that Phx will all of a sudden become a a bottom team is just beyond childish. 

For the last 3 consecutive seasons The Suns were suppose to be done, The "Sun" was suppose to set...and yet every year they find a way to  be in the thick of things.  Phx is a franchise much like Utah, neither team has been able to get the final prize but they always win alot of games and they always make the playoffs.  The Suns have been to the Playoffs 20 of the past 23 years and the high majority of those years have added up to 50+ wins almost every automatically.

So there are a couple of things to look at.  One, Basketball is a business and Sarver will not give away nash because much like Derek Jeter with the Yankees, Nash is a revenue generating and merchandise selling machine.  Nash puts people in to seats, he sells tickets.  Can Phoenix trade Nash?  Maybe, but considering how much money Nash brings in his 10 million salary is well worth it.  So what would it take for Sarver to trade Nash?  A-lot! No doubt about that.  Unless you have 2 first rounders that are top 5 picks and a Kevin Love type Franchise player you will not land Nash.  Sarver will keep Nash and make sure his Arena is full.

Again this wont mean that Phx wins a Championship unless they make a trade like the Lakers did and add a Pau Gasol type player.  What will happen is 50 wins again, Phx will get their usuall 52-56 wins, and they idea that they are not good enough is just silly.  Look at the Suns and take away the Lakers, whose really that much better than them in the West....No one.

Sorry to break the news.

Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: November 17, 2010 3:17 pm


The Suns should trade for Troy Murphy. He's stuck on the bench in NJ and would help that front court.

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