20121206_kkt_sx9_935

After losing 12 of their last 16 games to sit 11-20 on the season, the Phoenix Suns face a crossroads - should they rebuild now, or rebuild later?

Trading Mr. Do-it-all Jared Dudley for Mr. Potential Derrick Williams might be a good start. And you have to start somewhere.

(Programming note: we discuss a Gortat/Boston trade rumor on a different thread. We will have a different trade thread for each Suns player)

Salary/situation review

Williams makes $4.9m this year, $5.3m next and then has a team option for $6.7 in 2014/15 which has to be picked up by Oct 31, 2013. Then he'd be an RFA in 2015/16 with a $8.7m QO.

Dudley is owed $4.25m per year through 2014/15 w/ a player option at that same amount for 2015/16. Total obligation, $17m over 4 yrs. He's 27 now.

Player Review

Jared is a career 40% from three and has improved his ability to make plays on occasion and is crafty in the paint. At his best, he's a "junk yard dog" who saves/wins extra possessions. He is not athletic at all and gets beat off the dribble by most players but is a very smart team defender and has good intangibles.

We have no idea what Derrick Williams might be in the NBA, but it's safe to say his draft scouting report still applies (although he's clearly not produced which might be situational or he might just be ill-suited for the NBA). He did score 10 quick points in the Suns/Wolves game on two three-pointers and a couple close-in shots.

How would each fit?

For the Wolves, Jared would step right in as a bench wing and could eat up 20-30 mpg off the bench. He brings consistent outside shooting, the potential for the occasional "explosive" game, and solid leadership. Dudley is a perfect example of the term "role player" and is a great fit on a talented team but his ceiling has pretty much been reached (exceeded perhaps).

For the Suns, Williams is another risk/reward project who would fight for time at the four with Markieff Morris and the three with Beasley (again). Needless to say, this move hurts the Suns in the short term and helps the Wolves immediately. But without a clear long term solution at PF, Williams would leave Love's shadow and have a chance to MAYBE become a legit NBA starter.

Let's ask some folks their opinions...

1. Would you do the deal straight up?

Mike Prada, SB Nation: Yes. The Timberwolves are built to win now and need some more help on the wings with the injury to Chase Budinger. Dudley is the kind of player who will slot in well in Rick Adelman's system. Williams is not. For the Suns, though, Williams has a much better chance of being a core piece to the team moving forward as they rebuild.

Nate, Canis Hoopus (SB Nation Wolves blog): Yes. A million times, yes. Jared Dudley is worth significantly more than a toaster, which is Derrick Williams' current trade value. Actually, that's not completely fair. Derrick Williams has been playing better of late and his main drawback is specific to the Wolves: He plays the same position as the team's best two players, Kevin Love and Andrei Kirelenko. Also, Dante Cunningham gives the team all the backup 4 minutes it needs while being able to modestly produce on both ends of the court.

Dave King, BSotS: No. Dudley is a winner who makes all the right plays and actually has the best defensive rating on the team this season. He just does everything right (though not eye-popping) and would help any team win more games than the average player. Derrick Williams is closer to Beasley/Johnson/top-pick-bust than anything else right now.

Kris Habbas, BSotS/SB Nation AZ/SB Nation NBA: I say no. Straight up the deal gives the Suns a young player to groom, but subtracts a leader, shot-maker, and a very nice contract. Dudley has a Top 10 contract in terms of his productivity and that has to be discussed here. Straight up the deal gives the team another three/four leaving the bulk of the guard duties to Dragic, Brown, and Bassy? Tough.

Jim Coughenour, BSotS: No. I think Dudley's trade value will continue to increase as the trade deadline approaches and contending teams become more desperate for players with a desirable skill set like Dudley possesses. Career 41% three point shooters are always in demand without even considering other positives Jared brings (like a very favorable contract). Desperation is great for leverage.

2. Would you do the deal with modifications (picks, additional players, etc.)?

MP: I think Minnesota would have to throw in something else. Not sure what.

Nate: Only if Phoenix is willing to take Lou Amundson or Greg Stiemsma. Minny has something of a shortage on the perimeter and they simply can't throw in anything else right now.

DK: Only if Minny adds a #1 pick that has little/no protection (in addition to the one already owed for taking Johnson). Not sure if Minny has any extra picks, but the Suns have to get something more than Williams, and more than Williams plus second-round pick.

KH: Add in a 2014 unprotected first round pick and I would deal any Suns player to any team right now. If the Wolves are willing to send back Stiemsma or Cunningham they can have back their pick this year.

JC: I think I would do it if they make the transfer of draft picks (between Memphis, Minnesota and Phoenix) less muddled by giving Phoenix control of both. I'm not sure I like any other players on Minnesota's roster (that they'd be willing to trade) so any other variation would have to include a third team.

3. Who wins this trade?

MP: It's a win-win for all the reasons I noted above. I do think the biggest winner is WIlliams, though. He gets away from a coach that clearly doesn't like his game and returns to the place where he starred in college.

Nate: Derrick Williams. He will finally make his way to a team that can play him at his natural position and for a coach who doesn't have him in the doghouse from day 1.

DK: Minny, no matter what they send back.

KH: No question if this trade happens the Wolves are the winners.

JC: Minnesota short term, with Phoenix having a chance at the biggest potential payoff in coming years.


4. Final Thoughts

MP: I do think the biggest winner is Williams, though. He gets away from a coach that clearly doesn't like his game and returns to the place where he starred in college.

Nate: Pleasssssssssse let this happen. Pretty please. The Wolves are hurting in a bad way on the wing and they need someone who can play the Chase Budinger role. Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick are the two most obvious D-Will trade targets in the entire league.

DK: I really don't like it because I really don't like Williams. He is a tweener that won't find a starting position in the NBA on a winning team - too small for PF, too slow/heavy for SF. Just not good enough at any one thing to be a difference-maker. He will be a disappointment in the NBA for his entire career.

KH: Obviously not the most politically correct thing to say, but trading one of your best players on a GREAT contract for another project that has proven he is a failure to launch in this league is not the answer. Gentry is struggling to set a rotation this year, picture next year with Gortat, Scola, Morris, Beasley, Tucker, and Williams. Thanks, but no thanks.

JC: I'm in favor of any trade that makes the Suns worse or better. I am absolutely not in favor of the Suns standing pat and venturing back into the tristful gloaming of purgatory that is the back end of the lottery. I'm fine with moving Dudley, but I'll actually be disappointed if they don't move Marcin Gortat.

Summary

How about you, Suns fans?

Are we overvaluing Jared Dudley? Or should we hold out for a lot more ransom? As Jim says, Jared might increase his trade value further as time passes. But then again, he might not.

(Programming note: we discuss Marcin Gortat trade rumors on a different thread. We will have a different trade thread for each Suns player)

Oklahoma City Thunder 114, Phoenix Suns 96 It’s one thing for the young Suns, who are 2-13 on the road, to end a five-game losing streak away from U.S. Airways Center but quite another to do it...

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20120310_ter_st3_052

The Suns have lost some very close games over the week that easily could have resulted in wins instead of losses...but they didn't. As the saying goes, good teams find a way to win, bad teams find a way to lose. However, this team still doesn't feel as bad as their record currently appears. The players compete every night and give it their all...well, at least the majority of them do.

The Suns as a whole struggled on offense this week shooting only 43.7% overall. There are clearly some players doing more to help the team than others at this point, and we are beginning to see a trend in this respect. Here is a look at which players I believe helped the Suns the most over the past week.

1. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 21 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 38 minutes of play; -10

Dudley continues to be the Suns' best player. While that's definitely good for Dudley, it just goes to show how far the Suns have fallen. Still, Dudley is doing everything he can to help his team, as his stats clearly show. He also registered a career high 36 points this week in a loss against the Knicks.

2. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 15.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assist in 32 minutes of play;-9

Scola had a very good week. He played solid overall and capped it off with a huge 33 point, 10 rebound performance against the Timberwolves. Luis makes up for his lack of athleticism with craftiness and veteran savvy, at least on the offensive side of the court.

3. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 11 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in 30 minutes of play; -5

Gortat had a solid week overall, but really struggled against the massive Nickola Pekovic in Minnesota who held him to only 9 points and 3 rebounds, while managing 28 points and 11 rebounds mostly against Marcin. Gortat has to find a way to use his agility and skill against bigger, stronger centers like Pekovic...but Marcin is still a very good starting center overall who helps the Suns much more than he probably gets credit for.

4. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 9 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds in 27 minutes of play; -4

Dragic had an up and down week, and his injury halfway through the Knicks game certainly didn't help. However, Dragic actually played his best game coming off of his injury against the T-Wolves, racking up 16 points and 12 assists while playing good defense against the opposing guards as well. This is the type of performance most Suns' fans expect to see from Dragic on a more consistent basis...He certainly has the ability.

5. Sebastian Telfair

Weekly Average: 9.5 points, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 25 minutes of play; -4

Bassy played solid as a back-up this week and also when asked to lead the starting unit for a game and a half while Dragic was injured. Although his offensive production was terribly inefficient (14-45 for the week at .311...yuck!), he was able to run the offense fairly well on both units .

6. Shannon Brown

Weekly Average: 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 36 minutes of play; -6

Brown is another player who is trying to do all he can, but who's inefficiency is probably hurting the team. Brown shot 25-63 on the week (.396) overall and still has the tendency to take far too many bad shots, especially when taking the ball up court and shooting before his teammates are there to set up the offense or have a chance at rebounding the missed shot. Brown is certainly giving it his all though; he just needs to play within himself and it's up to Alvin Gentry to ensure he does.

7. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in 15 minutes of play; -2

Markieff quietly had a pretty solid week overall. With the exception of his game against the Knicks in which he went 0-3 from the field and only played 7 minutes, he was efficient and effective on both ends of the floor and helped the second unit. I would still like to see more hard-nosed defense from Markieff and more explosiveness inside on offense, but he's playing solid right now, if nothing else.

8. Jermaine O'Neal

Weekly Average: 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 16 minutes of play; -7

O'Neal is doing a great job on defense in his limited minutes even when he doesn't make much of an impact offensively. His best game came against the Pacers where he was giving Roy Hibbert fits, only to be inexplicably pulled in the fourth quarter after helping to mount a great comeback to re-take the lead. O'Neal is another player struggling to find the basket though, shooting 5-14 for the week, mostly at the rim. He also missed the T-Wolves game because of back spasms..Let's hope he get's healthy soon.

9. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 1 point, 2 rebounds in 15 minutes of play; -3

Tucker doesn't seem like he should be sitting near the bottom of the rankings, but here he is. The fact is, he has to find a way to make more of an impact with the minutes he is being given. Yes, his defense has been solid. But offensively, Tucker shot only 2-6 over these four games, and while he's not expected to be an offensive key, he missed some crucial shots in critical moments that the Suns really needed. But the real problem in my opinion is his rebounding. Tucker should be averaging more than 2 rebounds in 15 minutes of play...even Beasley is averaging more. This ranking isn't based on heart or effort, if it were Tucker would be near the top every week. Instead, it's based on overall impact, good or bad, and Tucker needs to find a way to make more of an impact than he is right now.

10. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 16 minutes of play; -1

Beasley still isn't an efficient scorer and often hurts the team with his shots selection, but he has been trying to contribute in other ways, and has helped set up his teammates on occasion. He had two pretty decent games this week against the Knicks and the Pacers, before going 1-8 against the T-Wolves. And that's the problem with Beasley right now...you just can't count on him. If he happens to have a good game or two you just have to take it as an unexpected bonus.

So there you have it...Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below!

20121229_jla_ah7_699

To follow this year's edition of the 11-20 Phoenix Suns is to enter a new realm of fandom that has not been tread by Suns fans in more than a decade.

While fans from a dozen other teams have been through big-time losing in recent seasons, many Suns fans are loathe to embrace the idea of a season whose brightest outcome might just be to lose the most games possible.

Fan suggestions to start Luke Zeller, Wes Johnson, Diante Garrett and Michael Beasley ahead of better players is to suggest we simply forfeit every game from here on out in an effort to qualify for the largest chance at the #1 pick in the draft.

As a 30-year Suns fan, that notion brings a wash of bile to my tastebuds. I can't stand the idea, and I don't believe it works.

But I do see the logic for those forward-thinking to next season and the season after, as long as you don't consider the people involved in the current season. Getting a high draft pick is a benefit from losing most of your 82 games. How high the draft pick is partly based on luck and partly on ineptitude. There are many bad teams in the league - to "out bad" all of them can be difficult and still "win" the top pick is a crap shoot.

Do you realize that, despite twin losing streaks of 7 and 5 games in the past 16, the Suns are still tied with or better than seven other teams? As bad as the losing has been, the Suns are still "only" in 8th position.

But there's another problem with tanking, in addition to the "fight for futility" and rolling the dice on the lottery.

The biggest problem is that a "lose on purpose" mentality flies in the face of competition.

Players and coaches alike have no idea how to lose on purpose and keep their self-respect at the same time. Luke Zeller could not reconcile in his own head how he's playing more minutes than, say, Marcin Gortat other than to admit he's a pawn. A rube. A loser who's only playing because he will help the team lose. Alvin Gentry could not reconcile with himself by doing such a thing either.

Once you tank, you stank. And once that foul stank gets on you, it never goes away.

As fans, we can sit there and pine for losses because we have the ability to tune out the season, change the channel and come back next year.

The coaches, players (and media, for that matter) don't have that luxury. They must play and coach every second of every day until the end of the season. To do so with a mentality to lose on purpose would be to go against everything in their soul that made them the best players and coaches in the nation.

The only way to accomplish a successful tanking season while players and coaches can sleep at night is for the front office to orchestrate a shift to "development" mode and completely remove the pressure from the coach to win games.

But as long as the coach is surrounded by veterans, he is not going to be able to pass that along to his players with any success. Jermaine O'Neal. Sebastian Telfair. Jared Dudley. Marcin Gortat. Luis Scola. Goran Dragic. None of those players is interested in losing games in order to improve draft position. None of them is going to play half-speed, or give up their minutes to a worse player. And Alvin Gentry will have no interest in trying to sell them on the concept. He wants to win games. It's in these guys' nature to win basketball games.

Nay, to take away the need to win games would require a gutting of the roster. That's a huge commitment to lose without guarantee (or even heavy odds) of success. And what message does that send to the remaining players? What message does that send to players from other teams who will be free agents?

This tactic works for a young/fresh front office and coaching staff at the beginning of their contracts, with an owner who has accepted losing for the next few years while the team rebuilds.

Such is not the case for the Suns.

Managing Partner Robert Sarver wants to win games while also controlling the budget. He would have to experience an "awakening" to accept that you cannot win games with journeymen players on middling contracts. You need a superstar. And the best way to get a superstar is to draft in the top 3. They don't come through free agency or trades. They are drafted.

Can Robert Sarver accept that you have to get a lot worse in order to get a lot better?

Fans are proving they need a superstar in order to buy tickets. The Suns are facing an all-time low attendance.

The team is proving they need a star as well, with failure after failure in the final minutes of close games. An 11-20 record, combined with the prospect of being favored in only a handful of the next 35 games, may help Robert reach that understanding.

He would have to relieve Lon Babby of the pressure to win games to keep his job, or the Suns will muddle through this frustrating season winning just enough games to make the draft pick underwhelming.

In turn, Babby would have to relieve Alvin Gentry of the pressure to win games to keep his job.

None of that is likely to happen with each in the last year of their contract.

And none of that happens if Robert Sarver wants to win as many games as possible this season.

The Phoenix Suns continue to invent new ways to lose thanks to poor late-game execution. In a shootout defined by dominant frontcourt play from Minnesota and Luis Scola’s best game as a Sun,...

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