The Phoenix Suns roster went through a major overhaul during this past offseason. Many have questioned Robert Sarver's decision to overload on wings this summer rather than replacing the departed Amar'e Stoudemire with a more prototypical power forward. Phoenix's contingent of "14 small forwards" has become something of a running joke with NBA fans.
But Suns fans knew better. There was a plan, a method to the madness of the front office's decisions. They realized that incumbent starter Grant Hill was thirty-eight years old and figured he wouldn't be around too much longer. In fact, many believed that this would be Hill's final year before he rode off into the sunset. Knowing this, the Suns signed Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress, and extended Jared Dudleyto go along with Jason Richardson and Hill.
The belief was that Richardson and Childress would hold down the shooting guard position, Hill and Dudley would continue to play small forward, and Hedo Turkoglu would step in to replace Amar'e Stoudemire at power forward. The following year, when Hill retires, Turkoglu would slide back over to his natural small forward position and the Suns would find a new power forward, either from within or via free agency.
That is the plan as Suns fans saw it, myself included. We can deal with watching Hedo Turkoglu get repeatedly man-handled on the inside. He's only there for one year, right?
But watching the Suns thus far on this very young season, I had begun to wonder if that is how things would truly shake out. Grant Hill does not look like he's thirty-eight years old. He does not look like this is his last year. In fact, he has been one of the Suns' best players so far.
Then I came across this article on NBA Fanhouse, and in an interview Hill says he's "not even close" to retiring. He feels great and is still playing at a very high level. "The way I feel now, I want to go another couple of seasons," he says. "I'd like to be playing when I'm 40."
If you're anything like me, the fanboy (or girl) in you exclaims a jubilant "YES!" after reading an article like this. Grant Hill is a great player and a stand-up guy. He's the kind of veteran presence every team needs. What he brings to the table for this team is vital to its success.
But then after you calm down, you start to think. But what about the plan? If Grant sticks around, we'll still have too many small forwards. Sadly, this is true. So what do we do?
The first option is to trade him now. Send him to a contender so he can play for a championship. The Suns aren't championship contenders now, right? Shipping him out gives him a chance to get that elusive ring and also clears up the Suns' logjam on the wings. But can we really trade Grant Hill? Does he even want to be traded?
The second option is to just let him walk. His contract ends after this season. Letting him go rather than re-signing him gives him a chance to play where he wants to for as long as he wants to, and it again clears up the logjam. How would the fanbase and other players respond to letting Grant move on? What happens if he doesn't want to move on?
The 3rd option is to trade one of the other wings. Hedo Turkoglu is virtually untradeable. That leaves Jared Dudley and Josh Childress. Although Dudley hasn't played well so far, he is still JYD. And the organization just gave him a nice extension. How would the fanbase react to one of their favorite players, who is still young, being traded away? Josh Childress is a newcomer, but he's also young and brings major upside. Would it really be wise to part with one of these guys in order to keep two small forwards who are both over the age of thirty?
The fourth option is to maintain the status quo. Keep everyone and continue to roll with the unconventional lineup. We can hope the team adjusts with more time together and that some of the players step up their games.
So Bright Siders, let your voice be heard.