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Tag:Suns
Posted on: February 15, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: February 15, 2010 2:09 am
 

Amar'e: Joining LeBron could be 'great'

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Amar'e Stoudemire said Sunday he'd heard "nothing solid" on his fate with the trade deadline looming, even with the Suns engaged in talks with multiple teams about trading the five-time All-Star.

Asked about the possibility of playing with LeBron James in Cleveland, Stoudemire said it was "great" playing with him on the 2004 Olympic team in Barcelona, but that a trade with Cleveland was "not done yet."

Once again, Stoudemire leaves the All-Star Game wondering if he'll be changing teams the morning after.

"Gotta stick with what I know," Stoudemire said. "Right now, I'm a Phoenix Sun, so until anything changes I'm going to play the same way. ... I'm planning to travel to Memphis (Monday) to play the Grizzlies."

Several league sources told CBSSports.com that the Suns remained in discussions with at least three teams -- Cleveland, Miami and Philadelphia -- in a poker game that features Stoudemire as the grand prize. Two of his would-be teammates were on the court with him in the All-Star Game Sunday night -- James and Dwyane Wade. Another, Shaquille O'Neal, sat courtside and watched.

While the Suns brass were weighing which team could offer them the best combination of cap relief and assets, Suns owner Robert Sarver roamed the rotunda of Cowboys Stadium, watching Stoudemire and other All-Stars walk from the mixed-zone interview area toward the locker rooms.

"It's definitely an important decision," Sarver said. "I don't have any more comment." 
Posted on: February 13, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Torch-bearer Nash still done with Team Canada

DALLAS -- Steve Nash's eyes lit up Saturday when recounting his experience as a torch-bearer during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in his native Canada. It was as though he were running a fastbreak and had spotted Amar'e Stoudemire alone under the basket.

But despite the thrill of rejoining Canada's Olympic movement for a day, Nash said Saturday he's still done playing for Team Canada in international competition.

"I'd love to play in the Olympics again, and I'd love to play for my country again," Nash said. "But it comes a point where it’s diminishing returns. You can't be everything to everyone. And the amount of time it takes me to prepare to play, I’d have to prepare most of the summer just to play at the standards that would be expected of me on the Canadian team. If I did that, there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t make it through an NBA season or be able to live up to my responsibilities in that respect. I gave over a decade to the Canadian team. I love it. I wish I could do it all. But I want these young kids to get a chance to build a team and a generation of basketball players that can exceed the expectation that we’ve set."

Nash called carrying the Olympic flame "the most moving experience of my life. ... I was feeling a sense of connectivity with Canadians -- in B.C. Place, our whole country proud in that moment to have the torch, to have my torch lit was a moment where I really felt connected to all Canadians. I had a huge smile on my face, a huge rush of emotion because of that pride."

It only gets better for Nash, who will start the All-Star Game Sunday alongside former Mavericks teammate Dirk Nowitzki.

Posted on: February 1, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2010 4:37 pm
 

Best and worst contenders in January

January is the month when NBA teams start figuring out what they are. The feeling-out period of November and December gives way a time when night-to-night performance dictates the tweaks that are needed at the trade deadline.

Based on the standings as we sit here on Feb. 1, there are nine teams legitimately in the Eastern Conference playoff picture (the line is drawn at the Knicks, who enter the month six games out of the eighth spot). In the West, 11 teams are strong playoff contenders (drawing the line at the Clippers, who are six games out of eighth). Of those 20 teams, which ones performed the best and the worst in the month of January, and why?

The “who” is easy. For the “why,” we need some statistical analysis. And for that, we turn to adjusted plus/minus expert Wayne Winston. In his blog, Winston opines on all 30 teams and why they performed the way they did in the month of January. Let’s break out Winston’s analysis of the playoff contenders with the five best and five worst records last month:

(To review, adjusted plus/minus tells you how many points better or worse a team would perform if a given player were paired with four average players against five average players. For example, LeBron James’ was plus-21 in January, meaning his team was 21 points better than average when adjusted for whom LeBron was playing with and against.)

Five Best

1. Cleveland (12-3): It’s all about Shaquille O’Neal, whose adjusted plus/minus through December was minus-4 but in January was plus-4.
1. (t)Denver (12-3): Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are overrated, according to Winston. Nene and Chris “Birdman” Andersen each had a plus-23 rating in January.
3. Charlotte (12-4): The Bobcats’ success can be attributed to Gerald Wallace (plus-15), Flip Murray (plus-11), and Stephen Jackson (plus-8).
4. Utah (10-4): Deron Williams registered a plus-17, but Andre Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Kyle Korver all were plus-10 or better, too.
5. New Orleans (12-5): Chris Paul (plus-8) and Marcus Thornton (plus-9) combined to form an effective starting backcourt – a plan that will have to be adjusted with Paul out indefinitely due to a left knee injury requiring surgery. Darren Collison, you’re up ...
5. (t) Lakers (12-5): Winston says Ron Artest (minus-1) has been fading steadily since his Christmas night fall and unrelated foot ailments. Remarkably, his system credits Sasha Vujacic with a plus-16 – same as Kobe.

Five Worst

1. Houston (5-9): David Andersen (plus-7) has been helpful. Chuck Hayes (minus-9), not so much.
2. Boston (6-8): The main culprit, as you might expect, has been Kevin Garnett (minus-11), whose offensive rating was even worse than his overall adjusted plus/minus (minus-21). Glen “Don’t Call Me Big Baby” Davis also struggled (minus-14).
3. Phoenix (7-9): Channing Frye’s rating went from plus-13 through December to plus-2 in January. Amar’e Stoudemire, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Goran Dragic, and Louis Amundson all hovered between minus-9 and minus-11. Robin Lopez was plus-9.
4. Portland (7-8): Nicolas Batum (plus-16), Andre Miller (plus-13), Martell Webster (plus-13), and Jerryd Bayless (plus-10) kept the Blazers afloat. But they need a big man in the worst way, as Juwan Howard (minus-18) and Jeff Pendergraph (minus-14) killed them.
5. Miami (8-9): Rafer Alston (minus-14) hasn’t solved the Heat’s point guard woes. Dorell Wright (plus-11) was solid.

No single statistical method is the be-all, end-all for evaluating a team’s performance. Depending on which front office you’re talking to, you’ll get different accounts of which data are most meaningful. But these numbers shed some light on some common beliefs about what certain contenders need to add or subtract before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. In Denver’s case, the performance of Nene and Birdman seemed to debunk the notion that the Nuggets desperately need to acquire a big man. In Portland’s case, the data proves that the Blazers need an upgrade in the frontcourt.

The Celtics? They need Garnett to be as healthy and dominant as he was two years ago. (Don’t hold your breath.) Do the Jazz need to trade Boozer? If they want to get under the luxury tax they do, but not if they want to continue playing their best basketball of the season.

Which team that’s currently a long shot to make the playoffs had the best January? That would be the Bucks, who went 8-7 in January – better than six teams currently in the hunt. The Bucks are an aberration to Winston, as well, because all he could come up with to explain their success was Charlie Bell’s plus-10 rating in January. It’s an imperfect system that nonetheless provides some interesting stuff to think about as we close in on Feb. 18.



Posted on: December 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2009 10:21 am
 

NBA swings and misses on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas from the NBA. Have you enjoyed your lumps of coal?

It was the league's signature day for national TV exposure, when millions of Americans are sitting around all day with nothing to do but become sick of opening presents and bored with relatives they won't see again until next Christmas. A perfect opportunity to gain a foothold among casual fans who don't appreciate the athleticism, drama, conflict, and strategy of the sport the way you and I do.

You can return the presents you don't like. But you'll never get back the eight hours of your life that was just spent watching this.

First, the Knicks and Heat engaged in a predictably sleepy noon ET tipoff on Friday that was barely watchable. I know, because I sat 50 feet from the baseline and tried to watch it.

Then, the Celtics and Magic played in Orlando, which despite Paul Pierce's absence had a chance to upstage LeBron vs. Kobe as the most thrilling matchup of the day. Instead, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that Christmas Day games should be banned , and then his team went out and scored 27 points in the first half. Oh, the pain.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., just as I returned home from the crimes against basketball committed at Madison Square Garden, it was time for the main event. Cavs vs. Lakers. Kobe vs. LeBron.

What did you get, you mainstream fan, you curious Christmas reveler? A hopeless blowout, complete with constant whining about the officiating -- primarily from the Lakers -- and utter classlessness from the Laker fans, who decided this would be a good time to throw foam fingers and water bottles onto the court.

UPDATE: For those who were still tuning in, the Clippers and Suns gave us stinker No. 4. Brandon Roy and the Blazers saved Christmas with a stellar 107-96 victory over the Nuggets. Unfortunately, more than half the country was already sleeping when that happened.

If you enjoy the NBA the way I do, you know these things happen. You can't script thrilling finishes, competitive games, or superstar conflicts to coincide with a day when you have the national spotlight all to yourself. You know that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will go down as two of the immortals of the sport, faces that someday will join Jordan, Russell, Chamberlain, and Robertson on the sport's Mount Rushmore.

You know that on most random nights, when you're glued to NBA League Pass, the league delivers some of the best unseen drama and buzz-worthy competition in sports -- even if most of it goes unnoticed by the mainstream. 

You know the NBA is cooler and younger and more fan friendly than that dinosaur of a sport, baseball, which continues to dominate the sports coverage and fan discussion where I live -- even though the season ended two months ago.

But this was an unfortunate way for the NBA to publicly announce the unofficial beginning of its time in the national spotlight. You and I can marvel at the Cavs' stellar defensive performance against the Lakers, and how they attacked and exploited the Lakers' defense, which was No. 1 in the NBA in opponent field-goal percentage. You and I can enjoy Dwyane Wade's subtle yet effective performance against the Knicks. You and I can appreciate how the Celtics limped into Orlando and smacked the Magic around without their top scorer.

Did the NBA engage, intrigue, or attract a single casual fan out there in the captive national audience with these three lumps of coal? Not even close. In fact, worse than that, some annoying -- and erroneous -- stereotypes actually were reinforced: 1) The NBA regular season is pointless and unwatchable (witness Heat-Knicks and Celtics-Magic); 2) The officiating is biased, inconsistent, and causes players to spend most of their time whining about calls (witness Cavs-Lakers); and 3) Laker fans are cry babies.

With the possible exception of No. 3, you and I know that's a bunch of nonsense. But after three forgettable Christmas Day games on national TV, the average fan doesn't.

I don't know about you, but it's time for me to change the channel. Who knew the NBA would be relying on the Suns and Clippers to save Christmas?
   

  


Category: NBA
Posted on: November 11, 2009 11:50 am
Edited on: November 11, 2009 2:01 pm
 

Checking in with the Suns

The Suns have risen again -- there, I said it, I couldn't help myself -- by matching the franchise's best-ever start at 7-1. It's early, but they've gone from being a dysfunctional team on the verge of blowing up to one of the best stories early in the 2009-10 season.

GM Steve Kerr readily admits that he's to blame for the failed Shaq experiment, but he's erased that mistake and reinvigorated the roster faster than many thought possible. He resisted the temptation to blow it up and start over, something that would've clinched Steve Nash's departure and devastated the organization's ability to remain financially viable. With a meddling owner, Robert Sarver, whose proverbial eggs are in the ruinous banking and real estate baskets of the economy, this was no time for a rebuilding project. So Kerr signed Alvin Gentry, a Mike D’Antoni disciple, to a three-year deal, re-signed 37-year-old Grant Hill, and signed Nash to a two-year, $22 million extension.

"The most important thing to us was that we had good leadership and good mentors for all our young guys," Kerr told me. "So re-signing Grant and signing Steve to the extension was by design. First, they're still really good players. In Steve’s case, he's still an All-Star and in Grant's case, he’s still close to it. So not only do we have two good players, but they're as professional as they come. So we feel like we're making this transition towards the future in a really healthy way."

Here's what else you need to know about the resurgent Suns:

The stars

At 37, Hill is averaging 13.2 points per game and a team-high 8.6 rebounds. He and Jason Richardson (5.2 rebounds per game from the two-guard spot) have answered Gentry's call for the wing players to make up for Phoenix's lack of front-line size by crashing the boards.

Amar'e Stoudemire is still feeling his way after offseason eye surgery, but he's averaging 19 points and 8.5 rebounds while vowing to commit himself on the defensive end. Nash is, well, Nash; he already has five games with a dozen or more assists, including the 20 he dished out against Philadelphia on Monday night.

The bench

One of the byproducts of a soul-searching, 46-win, non-playoff season was the development of some reliable depth. Leandro Barbosa, Goran Dragic, Louis Amundson, and Jared Dudley form a versatile and effective second unit. Dudley already has made 11 3-pointers, nearly a third of his total in 68 games last season with Charlotte and Phoenix. The Suns have high hopes for first-round pick Earl Clark, whose locker has been strategically placed next to Hill's.

The newcomer

After wandering aimlessly through the first four years of his career in New York and Portland, Channing Frye has been a revelation. The Suns knew he could shoot when they signed him to a two-year, $3.8 million deal. They didn’t know he'd shoot with this kind of range. Frye is 22 for 50 from 3-point range and says the Suns' coaches "get mad when I don’t shoot."

Kerr, not a bad marksman himself back in the day, recalls being blown away in August when Frye showed up for workouts and pickup games.

"His first couple of years in New York, he was great from 21, 22 feet," Kerr said. "That would've been fine for us, too. What happened was, he came in and started working out and playing pickup games and was draining 3s from the wing and the top. We were like, 'Wow, this is more than we bargained for.'"

Frye's hard work paid off. He was up at 5 a.m. for weeks at a time during the early part of the summer, working on ball-handling and mid-range shots on the move from 6-9 a.m. He was back in the gym from 5-6 p.m. to shoot "nothing but 3s." Now he’s hitting nothing but net.

The numbers

It’s way too early to draw conclusions, but through eight games, the Suns are back to playing the style that made them so entertaining and successful under D'Antoni. It's not exactly seven seconds or less, but Phoenix is getting 39 percent of its attempts in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, according to 82games.com. That's comparable to the 43 percent achieved in 2006-07, the last time they got past the first round.

The Suns are averaging a league-high 110.9 points per game -- 114 per 100 possessions -- which is virtually identical to the 110.2 and 114 in '06-'07. Yes, defense is still an issue. Phoenix is allowing 105.8 points per game, which is sixth-worst in the league and nearly three points more per game than in D'Antoni’s next-to-last season before bolting for New York.

What's next

After a 4-1 road trip that included wins over Miami and Boston, the Suns return home Wednesday night to face the struggling Hornets. Then, it's off to L.A. to face Kobe and the Lakers on the back-end of a back-to-back.

The Suns ultimately will struggle against teams with size, and their style still doesn't translate to playoff success. But given the cards Kerr dealt himself when he reached for Shaq, Phoenix's resurgence is nothing to scoff at. At least the Suns are relevant and fun again.

Having played for Phil Jackson, Kerr believes that basketball teams take on a certain "life force." After a lifeless 2008-09, the Suns have been resuscitated.

"We got panned by a lot of people for not going young and breaking it up and starting over," Kerr said. "But we've seen a lot of teams do that and fail, too. If you go too young in this league, then you’re rudderless. You have guys fighting over shots and minutes, no hierarchy, no totem pole, and that's a recipe for disaster."
Posted on: November 8, 2009 5:31 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2009 6:21 pm
 

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

WASHINGTON – It’s bad enough that the Wizards have lost four straight games, dropping to 2-5 at the start of a season that began with such high expectations. When your coach and best player can’t even agree on what’s wrong, that’s a sure sign of more losses to come.

Yes, it’s early, and the Wizards are without two key players, Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller. And yes, Sunday’s 102-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns came in a game that tipped off at 1 p.m. ET, an anomaly that elicited a smile and guffaw from the suddenly talkative Gilbert Arenas after the game. One thing you don’t want to do in the NBA is roll out of bed and start chasing Steve Nash and the Suns around.

The Wizards are too talented to be scuffling like this for long, and when they get healthy, they’ll be right about where people expected them to be – a team in the mid-40s in wins seeded somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But not if they don’t erase some bad habits that simply have no place in an offense constructed by Flip Saunders. And not until everyone understands what the problem is.

The good news is that defensively, the Wizards are no longer a pushover. I wasn’t as impressed with their defensive performance against Phoenix on Sunday as Saunders was, but maybe he was trying to mix in a little positive in his post-game analysis of an effort that produced only 15 assists – five of them by Fabricio Oberto. That was two fewer assists than Nash dished out all by himself.

Saunders was right when he described the Wizards’ offense as “stagnant.” Arenas was right when he said the team is still “trying to find out where we are, what we are.” The common ground ended there.

“We’re just trying to figure out how we can put the ball in the basket, what coach wants from each player,” Arenas said. “That’s what we’re struggling with.”

Once again on Sunday, the ball wasn’t moving, the cuts weren’t crisp enough, and there was little trust in the system that Saunders brought here. The typical offensive set consisted of someone getting the ball on the wing, dribbling toward the basket, and shooting. Yet listen to Arenas’ assessment: He thinks the Wizards aren’t shooting fast enough.

“I say it’s when we have shots open, we’re not taking them,” Arenas said. “We’re trying to do the extra dribble, or get closer to the rim, or pass the ball an extra time when we could just take the first shot. If you look at a team like Phoenix, the reason they don’t have turnovers is they’re launching ‘em. They’re letting it fly so they don’t have a chance to turn the ball over.”

Contrary to Arenas’ assessment, the Wizards’ brass knows the opposite is true. The Wiz need to play more structured offense and pass the ball more, not less. Under previous regimes, bad habits ruled. Saunders’ efforts to eradicate those bad habits have been met with the kind of resistance that results in a team with three 20-point scorers (when healthy) hitting the 100-point plateau only twice in seven games.

“We’ve just got to get better acquainted with one another and believe in one another,” said Caron Butler, who needed 20 field-goal attempts to score 19 points against the Suns. “But it’s early.”

It is, but the Wizards already are exhibiting some tell-tale signs of a team with fragile chemistry. After a deplorable 102-86 loss at Indiana Friday night, Jamison unleashed a profane tirade in the locker room. It was first reported that Jamison overturned a fruit tray in the process, but there were indications on Sunday that the perpetrator might’ve been Saunders, who wouldn’t fess up. Either way, somebody had better nail the postgame spreads to the table if the Wizards don’t get on the same page soon.

Jamison and Miller will be back in another week or so from their respective shoulder injuries, and things will get better. Until then, it doesn’t get any easier Tuesday night in Miami against Dwyane Wade. At least that game tips off after the sun goes down.
Posted on: July 10, 2009 3:59 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2009 4:54 pm
 

Hill back with Suns; expects Nash, Stoudemire

Grant Hill considered plenty of issues in deciding whether to re-sign with the Suns or accept offers from the Celtics or Knicks. Paramount among them is Hill's expectation that Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire will be joining him.

"It's important for Grant that Steve be there next year," Hill's agent, Lon Babby, said on a conference call Friday. "I know they have had conversations, so I think he’s quite confident that the team that’s coming back next year is going to be a highly, highly competitive team. And obviously, that would include Steve Nash."

As for Stoudemire, who has been discussed as a possible trade chip in discussions with Golden State that emerged on draft day, Babby said, "That's certainly a concern. I wouldn't say (Hill) has been given any assurances, but I think the expectation is that (Stoudemire) will be there bext year. He has opt-out after next season, but I don’t think there’s any reason to believe he’s not going to be there next year."

Nash, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, is in discussed with the Suns about an extension that would keep him in Phoenix.

Hill, 36, accepted a one-year deal with the Suns for $3 million with an option for a second year at $3.2 million, Babby said. The Knicks, who hosted Hill in New York earlier this week for a free-agent visit, offered a one-year deal at the full mid-level exception of $5.9 million. New York also offered a two-year deal with an option for the third, but it was not at the full mid-level for all three years. A longer deal with Phoenix also was discussed, but Hill preferred the 1-year deal with an option, Babby said.

Hill also met with Celtics coach Doc Rivers at least once, spoke numerous times with team president Danny Ainge, and also spoke with Ray Allen, who also is represented by Babby. Like the Knicks, Boston offered all it was able to under the rules, but the Celtics only had the bi-annual exception of about $2 million per year available.

"He thought long and hard about the alternatives," Babby said. "He did not come to this decision easily or lightly. Each of those three places had a lot to offer and very different things to offer. That’s what made it challenging."
Posted on: June 26, 2009 1:14 am
 

Curry not in Amare deal ... if it happens

NEW YORK -- Talks between the Suns and Warriors that would send Amare Stoudemire to Golden State picked up momentum during the NBA draft Thursday night, but stalled to the point where one executive familiar with the situation said it "likely won't happen."

The sticking point, however, was not Golden State's No. 7 pick, Stephen Curry, who was not involved in the trade as it was being constructed Thursday night, the executive said.

If the teams revisit the discussion, there is plenty of time. Andris Biedrins, who was included in the deal being discussed along with Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright, can't be traded until July 1 because he is a base-year compensation player. Further complicating the Suns' efforts to move Stoudemire is a termination clause in his contract after next season that would require an extension with his new team for him to waive it.





 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com