Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby remarked in October that this team is more talented than a year ago, but the results don't reflect that yet. True enough, they are only 1 game worse than a season ago (8-14 after 22 games), but the 7-game streak and despondent roster appear much less optimistic than a Nash/Hill-led team of yesteryear.
Robert Sarver gave a vote of confidence to Alvin Gentry yesterday to ESPN.com and to USA Today Sports.
"We've got confidence in our coaching staff and we're not considering making changes," Sarver said in a telephone interview Monday.
"Things can turn quickly in this league."
Neither players nor coaches have a clear plan to success, beyond playing better and trusting the system more. But it's difficult for the coaching staff to trust the players if they're inconsistent, and it's difficult for the players to trust the coaches when they're in a losing streak.
Sometimes, it's just not the best mix of players. You need players with both big time talent and consistent effort to win in this league.
Maybe that kind of player is currently on a different roster. It's Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby's job to see if that's case. And being in the last year of his contract, it behooves him and the Suns to do something this season when they still have time.
SB Nation Arizona's Kris Habbas recounted a discussion with Lon Babby after practice today at US Airways Arena.
Babby would not quantify the teams interest level in making a move, but one thing he did state is that he does not want to wait until the trade deadline to make a move.
The team would prefer to pull the trigger on a move sooner if there is a trade to make. The team is listening to inquiries and making calls however to gauge interest in potential moves with the current assets they have.
You can keep beating your head against the wall, or you can make changes.
The key is not to make change for the sake of making change. There's no point changing anything on the roster unless it gets you (a) better individual talent right now or (b) better individual talent in the future. The Suns have all the role players they could ever want.
Either commit 100% to rebuilding, or commit 100% to making the playoffs now.
Don't expect the Suns to trade Marcin Gortat for two or three more role players. If Gortat is traded, it's got to be for a better future asset than he currently is at his peak. The Suns should not sell low on Gortat. They should require teams to give up assets worthy of a 15 and 10 player on a meager contract for this season and next.
Don't hold your breath on this one. Beasley had little interest on the free agent market, and likely has even less interest now that he's proven (so far) that he can't make it work on his third NBA team. Couple that with a $6 million/year salary through 2015* and you've got the worst trade asset on the team.
*In the new CBA, a team can release a player and spread his contract's cap impact over twice the remaining years plus one - meaning that Beasley could be released at the end of the season and only count as $2.5 million per year for the next 5 years on the cap. IF that's what it comes down to, if Beasley does not improve.
You have to at least consider trading your best player when that best player is not an All-Star. Just like with Gortat a year ago or Nash three years ago, the Suns have to consider trading a guy at the peak of his value.
Dragic would be an excellent #2 or #3 on a playoff contending team, but he is not a #1. His contract is reasonable and his talent is evident. He is also young enough for a rebuilding team to acquire (ie. a team with a lottery pick to give away).
Do you consider trading Dragic for a younger potential All-Star, or a lottery pick?
For me, I keep him. He loves the Suns and is a great player to have on your team because he's always willing to give it everything he's got.
Luis cannot be traded until at least July 1, 2013. So no, Scola is going nowhere.
He's young and affordable and shows flashes of good, starting-quality talent. Just the kind of guy to package with another player to trade up, especially if your return is a better Power Forward who would take Morris' minutes anyway.
He is Mr. Average and Mr. Consistent. Everyone in the league knows what Dudley provides - 40% three-point shooting and all-around good play. Dudley has a stellar reputation around the league as a glue guy, and could bring back more future talent than he provides this year's Suns. The problem is that Dudley is most valuable to a contender and contenders don't like to give up good assets. Maybe a future #1?
All the other guys are fringe NBA players who won't bring back anything of value. Their greatest asset is being included for salary reasons.
Let's take a look at the salaries of all players for the next three years.
As you can see, the Suns have only committed $42 million to next year's books, NOT counting the cap holds for their draft picks. More on draft picks later.
The $42 million also only includes the half of Brown's contract that is guaranteed.
Items in yellow are team options or non-guaranteed salaries. Only a fraction of Scola's 2014-15 salary is guaranteed, and according to Shamsports.com the Suns have a team option on Beasley's third year. Now this is news to me. I worked hard all summer to find out if the contract was guaranteed, and all indications were that all three years were. But Shamports is generally right, so... I am putting in another query to the Suns for further clarification.
The Suns have no bad contracts, but they also have very few enticing trade pieces.
Gortat, Dragic and Morris are their most valuable assets, which makes them the least interesting to give away.
The other thing to consider as trading pieces are their upcoming draft picks.
The Suns have a very interesting set of draft picks coming up in 2013, with all kinds of conditions on them. But listed below in the most likely scenario:
That's five picks, all bunched together. Three of them in the first round. There are some conditions:
*Minnesota must make the playoffs for this pick to transfer in 2013. Otherwise, it rolls into the first year they do.
**If by chance the Lakers MISS the playoffs this season (they are 9-12 right now), the Suns get their pick outright. LOL.
Those picks, as well as their likely-lottery 2014 and 2015 picks and Laker's unprotected 2015, are good trade assets to give teams who want to meet their "I need to get a first-round pick to appease my fans" trade requirement - just as the Suns did with the Robin Lopez and Steve Nash trades and countless other teams have done as well.
There you go Suns fans.