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PHOENIX - JANUARY 07: Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns talks with Steve Nash #12 Vince Carter #25 Goran Dragic #2 and Channing Frye #8 during the NBA game against the New York Knicks at US Airways Center on January 7 2011 in Phoenix Arizona. The Knicks defeated the Suns 121-96. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Suns have cancelled their schedule practice today, taking the day off after a horrible, nightmarish showing AT HOME against their former/future selves.
I expect Steve Nash will spend some time playing with his kids, Grant Hill will spend time with Tamia and fam (for a while, but then will likely head to the arena for a workout because he always does), and everyone else will either hang out in their hotel rooms or houses... all trying to forget what happened but figure out a solution at the same time.
Gentry, for his part, will likely spend the entire time with his coaching staff trying to figure out what the hell will work.
Let's do that too.
Before you scroll down to the comments section, please do me a HUGE favor:
For the purposes of this post, please do me a favor. Assume the trade deadline has already passed, and THIS is the team that's stuck together for another 49 games. Don't suggest trades. Don't talk about next summer or the draft. Take the day off from wishing the team was comprised of something else.
Talk about what can WORK for this team, this season. Hunker down, don't look around the league. Just look at this current team as if you're Gentry. What should he do, right now with what he has?
Hit the jump for my take (or not, your call), and then add yours.
Alvin Gentry is in a big pickle. What to do with this roster of overly-similar yet mismatched parts?
(again, the roster is the roster. For this post, it's not changing)
Two Guaranteed Starters
Gentry has used 11 different starting lineups. The only constants, so far, have been Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Should that change? Assuming the roster stays the same, then no.
There's 2 starters down, 3 to go.
Let's take the next easiest one: Shooting guard.
Your choices are an 8-time All-Star who is in steep decline and doesn't know the scheme at all vs. a bunch of career reserves (Pietrus, Dudley, Childress, Dragic) who for sure will be good one game, bad the next.
None of the options look great, but you can't really justify any decision besides Carter. With him, you'll get consistency. Sure it's maddening sometimes (a lot of the time), but at least it's consistent. Gentry knows he's gonna get 13-20 points every game on somewhat predictable shooting (45%). Defense is optional, but at least Gentry knows this too.
Dudley, Pietrus and Childress are all very similar, yet different at the same time. Understandably, Gentry can't figure out who to play consistent minutes since he can only really play 2 of these guys a game. They are, talent-wise, interchangeable. He tried to vote Childress off the island because he needs the other two's scoring, yet the other two can't hit the broad side of the barn often enough to justify that benching.
Now on to the next easiest, simply because there are candidates: Center
Gortat provides a modicum of defense, seemingly consistent effort, and the chance at rebounding. Yet, since he's stepped into the lineup the Suns have been out-rebounded immensely despite his own okay totals. Not sure what to make of that, but I don't think it's all Gortat's fault.
Robin Lopez provides the most potential and defense but can't rebound well, and he's playing worse than Jarron Collins right now. If you start him and give him 25 consistent minutes, he MIGHT re-blossom or he might contribute to a continued team meltdown.
Channing Frye is... well... missing. How can Gentry get his Channing back? Who knows, and this is extremely frustrating if I'm the coach. Frye was a great last year and somewhat consistent till the playoffs, yet all season he's been unpredictable. That's killer to a coach.
If I'm Gentry, I go with Gortat as the starter and Lopez as the backup. Simply because they are quality players who can't play any other position.
But I'm giving each of them a minimum of 15-20 minutes a night. They need consistency and predictability, no matter who the opponent is.
Finally, we have to play someone at the Power Forward position.
There's Hakim Warrick, who at least has played that position his entire career even though he basically sucks at it except for the occassional dunk. But at least he seems to understand the concept of rolling to the basket and floating to an open area for a Nash dump-off. On defense...well, there is no defense here.
After that, we're down to giving these minutes to a talented player who plays another position. Channing Frye has to get 20-25 here, doesn't he? Even though he's missing a lot of shots, you've got to play him.
If you're not sold on Warrick deserving more minutes than the loser of the Childress/Dudley/Pietrus fight for the 2/3 minutes, then you're down to a runoff for the final PF minutes.
That's why Gentry tried to go with Hill here. He figured (as he previously had done with Hedo) that a veteran could handle it, could make it work based on sheer effort.
But Grant Hill is not a PF. Neither is Childress, Dudley or Pietrus.
Still, Gentry has no choice. He has to mix and match till he finds gold.
So if you're Gentry and you're stuck with this current roster, what would do you? Can you see why there's been 11 different starting lineups? I sure can.
Gimme your options, and WHY.
One last time:
For this one post, please stick to the topic and just discuss the current team from the eyes of the coach. Pretend you have to coach THIS team for 49 more games.