At Media Day on Monday the Suns officially introduced their newest signed player Zoran Dragi? to the fans and media.

Ryan McDonough started the introduction describing how he's been scouting Zoran for a while now, but even more closely so, since last year's Eurobasket in Slovenia when the Dragi? brothers shined for the host nation. They repeated their success on an even bigger stage this year in Spain, with Zoki at times outperforming his All-NBA brother. After approaching Goran Dragic with the idea first and him of course being all aboard, the wheels turned and Zoran Dragic is now a Phoenix Sun.

As a Slovenian this presser got me all mushy and proud and every time I've seen him in a Suns uniform since it just makes me happy all over. Zoran, for his part looked confident enough, his English is better than I knew and he has this cool demeanour about him. I loved how he smoothly renounces the nickname his big bro tried to bestow on him. We get a little glimpse of Zoki-  the pleasant, bright, calm guy, who much like his brother transforms into an aggressive force (with the added energy of a 3 year younger Dragic gene) when stepping on court.

When asked who was more happy he'd signed with the Suns; him or Goran, Zoran's answer is "probably I was" though Gogi provides a better quip of camera: "Our mom" - surely true. But since Tom Leander pointed out in a later interview that he couldn't have slapped the smile of the Dragon's face throughout the press conference we'll call it a tie between the bros.

Two more fun things:

  • Ryan is only human; he mixes up his dragon's names and replaces the Z for a G by mistake. Wonder how many times that will be a problem.
  • Zoki speaks Slovene in this video. Okay, so it's only one word (something like "I mean") and he says it while correcting himself, but still. See if you hear it.
Courtesy of the wonderful BrightSide Staff we got the whole Zoran Dragi? press conference right here:


At Media Day on Monday the Suns officially introduced their newest signed player Zoran Dragi? to the fans and media.

Ryan McDonough started the introduction describing how he's been scouting Zoran for a while now, but even more closely so, since last year's Eurobasket in Slovenia when the Dragi? brothers shined for the host nation. They repeated their success on an even bigger stage this year in Spain, with Zoki at times outperforming his All-NBA brother. After approaching Goran Dragic with the idea first and him of course being all aboard, the wheels turned and Zoran Dragic is now a Phoenix Sun.

As a Slovenian this presser got me all mushy and proud and every time I've seen him in a Suns uniform since it just makes me happy all over. Zoran, for his part looked confident enough, his English is better than I knew and he has this cool demeanour about him. I loved how he smoothly renounces the nickname his big bro tried to bestow on him. We get a little glimpse of Zoki-  the pleasant, bright, calm guy, who much like his brother transforms into an aggressive force (with the added energy of a 3 year younger Dragic gene) when stepping on court.

When asked who was more happy he'd signed with the Suns; him or Goran, Zoran's answer is "probably I was" though Gogi provides a better quip of camera: "Our mom" - surely true. But since Tom Leander pointed out in a later interview that he couldn't have slapped the smile of the Dragon's face throughout the press conference we'll call it a tie between the bros.

Two more fun things:

  • Ryan is only human; he mixes up his dragon's names and replaces the Z for a G by mistake. Wonder how many times that will be a problem.
  • Zoki speaks Slovene in this video. Okay, so it's only one word (something like "I mean") and he says it while correcting himself, but still. See if you hear it.
Courtesy of the wonderful BrightSide Staff we got the whole Zoran Dragi? press conference right here:


Welcome to a new weekly feature at Valley of the Suns. Every Friday, I will answer reader questions from the week in a mailbag form. You can leave your questions for next week in the comments section...

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Over the past 12 months, the Phoenix Suns have risen from the ashes of their worst period of basketball since the inception of the team more than 40 years ago. Much of that success is on the back of a series of trades made during the summer of 2013.

In just over 18 months, the Suns front office led by new GM Ryan McDonough has shaped a playoff contender by either acquiring or re-signing every single player on the roster besides incumbent third team All-NBA player Goran Dragic.

Only Markieff Morris (draft), Marcus Morris (trade), P.J. Tucker (free agent) and Goran Dragic (free agent) pre-date Ryan McDonough, and three of those were re-signed to long term deals this off season. The Suns even tried to hedge their bets on Goran Dragic by signing his brother to a multi-year contract last week.

Conventional wisdom says that the prior GM was awful with a capital A, W, F, U and L. And that the new GM is a miracle-worker.

While that is likely true, one must give a bit of credit where credit is due. In the twelve months before the Phoenix melted into ashes, the Suns front office did make some future-oriented trades to help shape the Suns of tomorrow. Some of those deals have not yet come to fruition, but they can be graded nonetheless.

Let's compare the last twelve months of Blanks/Babby/Sarver trades to the first six months of McDonough/Babby/Sarver trades.

We are just looking at trades here. Not free agent signings or draft picks.trade-grades

The old regime

The Steve Nash and Robin Lopez trades were future-based, both netting draft picks that even now have not fully come to fruition.

The Nash trade has so far netted diamond-in-the-rough Archie Goodwin, but the Oriakhi pick was a dud. The 2014 second-round pick from the Lakers was used in the Bledsoe deal (either that or the Lopez deal, I can't tell). Still to come is the best pick of the bunch - a top-5 protected pick in the 2015 Draft. It's very likely a lottery pick. With Nash's injuries and decline, you have to call that a big win for the Suns even though they've seen no production from the picks yet.

The Lopez trade was a wash, and could ultimately turn out to be a big failure for the Suns. In the short term, it was a win for the Suns. The Minny pick looked good, and the Suns needed to clear the logjam between Lopez and Marcin Gortat. But the long-term benefit has yet to be realized. Lopez was traded a year later to Portland for a second-round pick, while Gortat was traded to Washington. The two players, despite being starters, netted a grand total of a two draft picks in the summer of 2014. Still, Lopez is in line for a raise in 2015, while Gortat got $12 million per year from Washington in a new contract.

The Marcus Morris acquisition was seen by many as a gimmick to create twinnies, but to get a long-term rotation player for a second-round pick has to be considered a win for the Suns.

The new regime

Led by Ryan McDonough, with the support of Assistant GMs Pat Connelly and Trevor Buckstein and President Lon Babby, the new Suns regime cleaned up last summer in the trade market.

The Jared Dudley and Luis Scola trades were slam dunk wins, netting three starters (Gerald Green, Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee) and a quality rotation player (Ish Smith) for an exciting 48-win team.

However, the Marcin Gortat trade could ultimately turn out to be a dud. Gortat played very well for Washington, netting a $60 million contract this offseason, and even Kendall Marshall became a serviceable NBA player. In return, the Suns only have 20 year old Tyler Ennis, their fourth PG who will spend most of the year in a suit or in Bakersfield.

However, even the Gortat trade was a short-term win, in that it cleared a major rotational logjam, allowing the young Suns to flourish with well-defined roles and surprise the league with a group of castoffs and never-weres.

Summary

We would all agree that the new front office is Miles better than the old one.

The McDonough trades have been much more high-profile and had a better immediate return. I simply wanted to point out that some of the final trades of that old front office did set up the current team for success.

Double the Suns Swag!

Phoenix Suns Rubik's Cube

A fan of the Suns and puzzles? We've got the hook up for you.  Up for bid is a Phoenix Suns Rubik's Cube. A stadium giveaway, brand new, keep your mind sharp with images of Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns Gorilla. For those concerned with maintaining the integrity of the classic puzzle, there's a sticker that states "this is not a genuine Rubik's Cube." For those than can get past that and need something to keep themselves busy at work, it can be yours for a twenty dollar bill.

Bogdan Bogdanovic Jersey

A chance to rep the colors of your newest, favorite Phoenix Suns draft pick. We've featured a Bogdanovic jersey on Suns Swag before, but here's another opportunity to expand your wardrobe. This is Bogdan's jersey with the Serbian national basketball team. Most recently Bogdanovic won a silver medal with Serbia at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He averaged 12 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, on 47% shooting. This jersey is yours for $99 plus $12 shipping.

Phoenix Suns Vintage Pennant

I love vintage pennants, and this one is a real gem. It's not always easy to tell the size of the pennant on an eBay listing, but the seller states that this offering is "full size." The pennant looks to be in fantastic condition, save for a small thumbtack hole. This can be yours for about 23 bucks after shipping, but the seller is taking offers so take a shot and I bet you can snatch this beauty up for less than twenty.

Phoenix Suns Beer Tap Handle

More vintage Suns swag for your collection. The seller's honest, he doesn't call it "rare," rather, "less common." He's got a bunch of them, and buy it now is not an option but this item has no major flaws and I'm guessing there's not a lot of competition when placing bids. If you can get it for the rock bottom price, it's headed your way for $17.50 after shipping.

D.J. Strawberry Autographed Jersey

Certainly among the rarer of autographed Suns jerseys you'll find. Strawberry was a late second round draft pick of the Suns in 2007 out of the University of Maryland. In all, Strawberry played in 33 games with the Suns, averaging just over two points in eight minutes before he was traded to the Houston Rockets for Sean Singletary. He has not appeared in an NBA game since, and is presently playing in the Turkish Basketball League. Evidently this was not proudly displayed by the owner, though the only identified problem is that it's wrinkled. No COA available, bidding starts at $66, $7 to ship. You can probably wait until it's half that.

Phoenix Suns Denim Jean Jacket

I've got half of your Canadian tuxedo figured out for you. I'll be honest, my eyes widened when I can across this one. I'll tell you why. While this is a laughable piece, and that I cannot deny, it's simply a bargain. 29 bucks after shipping! You spent more than that on an Alando Tucker jersey! This can certainly be incorporated into a Halloween costume for the diehard Suns fan. Jump on it.

Quentin Richardson Bobblehead

There's no shortage of bobbleheads available on eBay, but if your shelf already includes Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, and Amar'e Stoudemire, this could be a nice addition. Q spent one season in Phoenix, and the 2004-05 campaign ended with his name in team record books. Richardson set a Suns single season record by sinking 226 three pointers. He also set the single game record by drilling nine treys against the New Orleans Hornets. A little pricey in my opinion, the seller is looking for just under 32 bucks after shipping, but offers are welcome, so take a shot.

Phoenix Suns Bluetooth Headset

Further evidence that they will throw an NBA team logo on anything. What you see is what you get. This runs $11, free shipping, but does not even include a charger. One has to wonder if it even works. Who cares. Put it in your ear and go Suns!

Phoenix Suns Model Airplane

A sharp piece, the seller describes this as "a very limited edition model." I'm in no position to dispute that claim. The seller has a lot of model planes for sale, including another Phoenix Suns model. 52 bucks if you utilize buy it now, though you may be able to get it for about 12 dollars less if you bid.

1970-71 Phoenix Suns Signed Team Photo

A little expensive for my tastes, but too cool not to share. The 1970-71 Suns finished 48-34, good for 3rd in the Midwest division and fourth best in the league, though did not make the playoffs. The team was led by Dick Van Arsdale with 21.9 points per game, and Connie Hawkins who averaged 20.9 to go along with 9.1 rebounds. Paul Silas set a Suns record by averaging 12.5 rebounds per contest. All the signatures are here, and it's a good looking piece. If you can part with the $400, do it. If not, bidding starts at about $100 less.

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