The Suns have almost completed their likely roster heading into next season with the 12 players currently under contract:
However, the Suns are still thin at the center position, especially with Frye still rehabbing from a successful surgery he underwent in May to help repair a dislocated shoulder injury he suffered toward the end of last season.
Not only that, but the minimum number of players an NBA team can have on their roster is 13, so it only makes sense that the Suns add another center.
So who are the likely candidates for the Suns to choose from? Continue reading after the jump for a look at who's still out there.
The Suns still have around $7 million in cap space at their disposal, but that doesn't mean they want to spend it. In fact, they are looking to spend as little as possible so they can remain flexible enough to take on a player at the trade deadline this season and/or sign a blue chip free agent next season.
The current list of available centers include: Solomon Alabi, Tony Battie, Eddy Curry, Erick Dampier, DeSagana Diop, Kyrylo Fesenko, Darko Milicic, Jermaine O'Neal, Greg Oden, Mehmet Okur, Daniel Orton, Joel Przybilla, and Hassan Whiteside.
Since the Suns are officially in rebuilding mode, adding an older vet to play minutes behind Gortat doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. Instead, the Suns would probably be better off looking for a young backup center who could still develop and won't cost much money. For this reason I am going to focus on the three youngest, low risk/high reward players on the list who I believe would make the most sense for the Suns; Kyrylo Fesenko, Greg Oden, and Hassan Whiteside.
- Big and strong center who provides great post presence and decent rebounding
- Very good defender
- Can contribute and help Suns immediately
- Not athletic, doesn't run the floor well
- Foul prone
- Offensively limited, poor FT shooter
Fesenko's Basic Stats:
Fesenko's Per 36 Stats:
I believe Fesenko is the safest bet for a back-up center among the young players still available. Fesenko would provide the Suns with a big body inside and help solidify the post defense for the second unit. However, he is not a great up-tempo player and is very raw offensively. He is a 41% career free throw shooter and also has trouble finishing even at the rim. Still, I believe Fesenko could still be a legit back-up for the Suns because of his size, defense and rebounding.
- Very strong, skilled center
- Great rebounder
- Athletic, mobile
- Extremely injury prone in the knees: Had two micro-fracture surgeries on left knee and one on the right, also had surgery to repair a broken left kneecap (only played a total of 82 games since being drafted with the No. 1 pick in 2008)
- Huge gamble (see above)
Oden's Basic Stats:
Oden's Per 36 Stats:
If you're a believer in the magic of Aaron Nelson and are also a gambler at heart, then Greg Oden is your man. There's no question Oden is the most talented center available, but talent doesn't mean much when you're never healthy enough to play. Still, Greg Oden recently had the same platelet-rich plasma procedure done on his knee that Kobe Bryant had done (with success) last off-season; so if the Suns believe he is now healthy enough to play, and that Nelson and his staff of YUMS (young unorthodox medical staff *credit Shaq*) can keep Oden off the injury report, he could be the steal of free agency.
- Tremendously long with a 7-foot-7 wingspan
- Excellent shot blocker
- Nice athleticism, runs the floor well
- Very, very raw offensively
- Terrible free throw shooter
- Not very strong, still needs to add some size
Whiteside's Basic Stats
Whiteside's Per 36 Stats
Other than Greg Oden (and without the injuries), Whiteside has the most potential of any center still on the market. He's the youngest, longest, most athletic of the group ... but at the same time he is also the most raw. Whiteside was waived by the Kings last week after playing only 18 games in his two year career. He has all the physical tools to be a very good back-up center for the Suns, but will he ever develop into anything more than just a player with unrealized potential?
Remember, we're not talking world-beaters, all-stars, or even starters here. The Suns are already set with Gortat firmly established in the starting line-up. These are all candidates to get between 10-15 minutes per night as a back-up, or maybe not play at all if they end up being 3rd on the depth chart behind Frye. The Suns need depth, and not much more.
I believe any of these three players could be a viable option for the Suns' back-up center position for different reasons. It just depends on what the Suns are looking for, and also what kind of deal they can get. The only other option the Suns have is to wait until training camp and see if any other young players stand out on the other teams and pick one up if they happen to become available. That seems like a pretty risky gamble though, so I think the Suns will choose to address the back-up position sooner than later. So who will it be?
In the final episode of the Sunscast as you've known it we discuss all the moves the Suns made this offseason. We talk about remaining roster holes, give early predictions for next season, and speculate about all kinds of other stuff.
Hosted by Bryan Gibberman and Seth Pollack and presented by Arizona Sports 620 and SB Nation Arizona.
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The Phoenix Suns' roster has undergone a massive overhaul during this off-season. Gone are the veterans that served as the faces of the franchise for the last several years. Steve Nash and Grant Hill have both relocated to Los Angeles. Michael Redd, another veteran, probably will not return. Even role players Robin Lopez, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick have moved on.
The departure of Nash marked the end of an era in Phoenix. However, the front office has expressed its distaste with scrapping the team and starting over through the draft. This team will not bottom out. It will not perform a complete rebuild.
That being said, it is clear when looking at the moves made this summer that the team was looking to get younger. Goran Dragic, Nash's replacement at point guard, is 13 years younger than his former teacher. Michael Beasley, the early favorite to start at small forward, is 16 years younger than Grant Hill. Overall, the Suns have managed to shave over two years off the average age of the team.
Many here are excited for the new direction. Some grew bored with the Nash-led teams and feel this new team will, if nothing else, at least be entertaining. All I have to say to that is be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.Getting younger is probably the right call for the team at this point in time. However, doing so usually entails taking a step (or two, or three) back in the short term.
When I think about the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns and try to predict what I'm going to see on the court, the ancient Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times," comes to mind. This team is going to be very interesting, and that isn't necessarily a good thing.
The truth is, this season has the potential to be very frustrating for the fans who watch the games. The Suns may have acquired some younger players, but included in that haul are two former top-five draft picks who have been major disappointments thus far in their careers. The Suns also return a couple of players who are not exactly known for their decision-making and level-headed play.
I wrote about what to expect from Beasley in-depth before, but it bears repeating that he is on his third team in five years for a reason. He will likely be playing on the wing for the Suns, which only increases the potential for frustration. Plenty of ball-stopping, long jump shots and turnovers on offense and frequent mental lapses on defense are to be expected with SuperCoolBeas on the wing.
Wesley Johnson will probably be backing up Beasley at the three, and the frustration factor shouldn't have much of a drop-off, if at all, when Beasley takes a seat. 7footer has already talked about Johnson's struggles. He's the guy that looks the part ... until you see him play. He's a long and athletic 6-foot-7 wing with a pretty-looking jump shot and a big smile, but he isn't actually very good at basketball things and his passiveness and inability to handle the ball specifically can be maddening.
Suns fans are all too familiar with Shannon Brown's game. Brown is master of the dribble-the-clock-down-and-jack-up-a-twenty-footer move and his shot selection is absolutely terrible at times. Brown seemed to figure it out a little bit towards the end of the season once he became a starter alongside Steve Nash, but a starting spot is not guaranteed and Nash is gone. Will we see the same improved Shannon Brown, or will there be a relapse?
Sebastian Telfair was one of the worst players in the NBA for most of last season before going on a tremendous run to close out the year. Can Telfair sustain his high level of play? If not, we're either going to be having an incompetent veteran or a rookie in Kendall Marshall who has a long way to go backing up Goran Dragic (who has yet to prove consistency in Phoenix himself) at the point.
Only six players return from last year's rotation. The team has a lot of new players to incorporate and likely a new offense to learn (trying to run a Steve Nash offense without Steve Nash is a bad idea). A slow start as the team comes together and builds some chemistry is more than likely.
This season is a rebuilding year of sorts. The team brought in some young prospects who have yet to prove themselves and are hoping a fresh start does them some good. This season is about developing the young players on the rosters and keeping the team's flexibility moving forward. As long as we understand this and see this season for what it is, things should be fine.
Watch for the little things, and a lot of good can come from this season. Pay more attention to improvement in the younger players than wins and losses. Watch to see if Beasley and Johnson can turn their careers around. Look for Goran Dragic to continue his development and become a leader.
But if you start expecting too much from this team, you're probably going to be in for plenty of disappointment and frustration.
Things are about to get interesting on Planet Orange.