Rogers

Really good assistants are hard to find, yet almost no one outside of NBA coaching and front office circles even knows who they are.

I had never heard of Roy Rogers before two weeks ago, even forgetting that he was a marginal NBA player at one point. Since retiring, Rogers has been an assistant for all of five seasons with three different teams.

He spent last year working with Andre Drummond in Detroit, and two years before that working with Brook Lopez in New Jersey. His total years on an NBA bench in an assistant role: five seasons.

Yet, he's been coveted by many teams this offseason while head coaches are installing new staffs all over the country.

First, he was destined for Sacramento. Was even hint-introduced by new coach Mike Malone after he assisted Malone in a pre-draft workout.

Then, he was off to Phoenix to work with Jeff Hornacek. Word leaked a week ago, though not confirmed by anyone in the Suns organization. Only that there were finalists and nothing would be announced until the ink was dry on contracts.

Then last night, word leaked that Rogers was waffling again. This time to possibly reunite with his old head coach, Lawrence Frank, back in New Jersey to work for Jason Kidd.

At that point, the Suns decided they had enough.

Per Lon Babby to Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports:

"We couldn't finalize a deal with Roy Rogers," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "We have withdrawn our offer. As the contract process unfolded, we have decided that it's best for the Suns to look elsewhere. Financial considerations were not a factor."

The Suns will now need to hire two assistants to join Jerry Sichting and Jeff Hornacek on the Suns' sidelines.

Rogers

Really good assistants are hard to find, yet almost no one outside of NBA coaching and front office circles even knows who they are.

I had never heard of Roy Rogers before two weeks ago, even forgetting that he was a marginal NBA player at one point. Since retiring, Rogers has been an assistant for all of five seasons with three different teams.

He spent last year working with Andre Drummond in Detroit, and two years before that working with Brook Lopez in New Jersey. His total years on an NBA bench in an assistant role: five seasons.

Yet, he's been coveted by many teams this offseason while head coaches are installing new staffs all over the country.

First, he was destined for Sacramento. Was even hint-introduced by new coach Mike Malone after he assisted Malone in a pre-draft workout.

Then, he was off to Phoenix to work with Jeff Hornacek. Word leaked a week ago, though not confirmed by anyone in the Suns organization. Only that there were finalists and nothing would be announced until the ink was dry on contracts.

Then last night, word leaked that Rogers was waffling again. This time to possibly reunite with his old head coach, Lawrence Frank, back in New Jersey to work for Jason Kidd.

At that point, the Suns decided they had enough.

Per Lon Babby to Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports:

"We couldn't finalize a deal with Roy Rogers," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "We have withdrawn our offer. As the contract process unfolded, we have decided that it's best for the Suns to look elsewhere. Financial considerations were not a factor."

The Suns will now need to hire two assistants to join Jerry Sichting and Jeff Hornacek on the Suns' sidelines.

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Many people believe the Phoenix Suns have the worst collection of talent in the NBA. And with only Kendall Marshall and (now) #5 overall pick Victor Oladipo under 24 years old when next season starts, the potential development of the team to elite status as currently constructed is next to nil.

The league's second-oldest lottery team (Dallas was older) returns as many as 11 guaranteed contracts from last season's worst-in-the-West squad (if you count Shannon Brown and P.J. Tucker). After Marshall and Oladipo, only Michael Beasley, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are as young as 24. The rest of the squad is older than that.

The Plan

That's why, as the mock-Suns acting General Manager, I decided to shake up the roster as much as possible in the 2013 NBA Draft. Frankly, while the Draft is considered "weak", the top 10-15 players are still more talented and possess brighter futures than most anyone on the Suns' current roster.

Once the mock draft rules were in place and the doors opened for business, I worked feverishly to acquire up to two more lottery picks to send out there with Victor Oladipo.

I wanted a pivot man AND another shooter/scorer before the 13th pick was announced. And I wanted to use two of the Suns best players, Jared Dudley (28 next season) and Marcin Gortat (29 next season), as the bait.

My thinking was that Dudley and Gortat couldn't help the team win more than 25 games, so how much worse could it get if they were each replaced with one or more younger players? Plus, getting younger would help the Suns acquire a good player or two in the much stronger 2014 draft as well.

There is no quick fix in the NBA, so it's completely unrealistic to imagine the Suns being completely made over in one summer AND still have Gortat and Dudley in the rotation. With Gortat expiring in a year, potentially leaving with no compensation whatsoever, and Dudley at the peak of his trade value, it was time to strike.

Marcin Gortat

As soon as the bell sounded, the Portland mock-GM emailed me the offer everyone's been talking about on the interwebs. It's an offer I would not be surprised to see in real life too: Marcin Gortat for the #10 and Joel Freeland.

I wanted to use this #10 pick on the next best available pure center on the board - the one with the highest upside regardless of the time it would take to develop him.

For a while, I tried to replace Freeland with Myers Leonard, but even I was lukewarm on that given that the center the Suns would draft at 10 would likely be better than Leonard, while Leonard might stunt our rookie's growth. It's not really a good idea to have two guys who need the same amount of development playing the same exact position. Plus, the Suns would need a veteran stop-gap center to play minutes too, leaving either Leonard or the rookie on the end of the bench. Other than Leonard, Portland didn't have much to offer in place of Freeland, since half their roster would be free agents in a matter of days.

We spit-shook on the trade, giving each other an out: as long as Portland didn't use the #10 in a trade to move up, and as long as the Suns hadn't found a better trade for Gortat and as long as the Suns saw someone on the draft board they liked.

Before the Suns took Oladipo at 5, I engaged OKC on Gortat for #12. They needed an upgrade on Kendrick Perkins, and the Suns had a big hole at shooting guard. We were both willing to discuss Gortat for Perkins and the #12, straight up. The Suns would be eating about $12 million in salary over two years, so I had to decide if the #12 was worth that much sunk cost.

But then I got the Portland offer - a better pick and lesser salary in return for Gortat. In order to add Jeremy Lamb to the pot, we briefly discussed adding Lamb and Dudley to the trade.

That would have returned Jeremy Lamb, #12 pick and a $10 million salary hit for two seasons in exchange for Gortat and Dudley.

Tick tock. Teams on the clock. Portland offer (#10 and Joel Freeland) in the pocket. With the #10 or #12, I would want to get the best remaining center on the board.

Jared Dudley

Let's see what I can get for Dudley on his own. If I could trade Dudley for something equivalent to, or better than, Jeremy Lamb then I could tell OKC to take a hike. I really didn't want to eat Perkins 2-yr, $20 million contract.

I tried to engage Sacramento at #7 for Dudley, but got a quick "no thanks". I was surprised, considering Sacramento really needed a solid veteran like Dudley to supplement an already-young core, but wasn't going to squeeze too hard trying to get blood from a stone. Moving on.

Two hot options for Dudley were #8 (Detroit) and #9 (Minnesota). At 8 or 9, we could grab C.J. McCollum to play combo guard between Oladipo and Dragic. Hornacek loved his three-guard lineup in the late 80s with the Suns, and MCollum's presence would provide the Suns the secondary scorer they so badly need while allowing Oladipo to play the Tucker/Sefolosha role as defender and spot-up shooter for kick-outs.

Detroit needed a steady presence for their young squad, so Dudley was a draw for them. They also were struggling with too many combo guards and not enough pure playmaking to take advantage of their big men, so Kendall Marshall was an interesting option for them too.

As it stood going into their pick, Detroit was holding firm wanting too much back for the #9 and a combo guard, who would have just duplicated McCollum and potentially stunted his growth. The other shooting guards in the draft (KCP, Shabazz) besides McCollum would have stunted Oladipo's growth, in my opinion. We needed a playmaking combo guard who could spell Dragic and provide scoring in the second unit while playing alongside Oladipo.

Minnesota was another option for the Suns with the #9 pick in exchange for Dudley. But Minnesota played hard ball, wanting a lopsided trade in their favor that made it unpalatable. They wanted the Suns to take back a long-term contract, plus too many draft considerations, really diluting the value of the #9 pick. Plus, I wanted McCollum at that pick.

Would either MInnesota or Detroit cave, in time for the Suns to end up with McCollum for Dudley?

Would the Suns take Portland's offer of #10 and Freeland for Gortat? Or would we find a better deal?

Tick. Tock. #7 on the clock. #8 through #12 coming up soon.

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It sounds perfectly easy, or lazy, or both, for the Phoenix Suns to have selected Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo in the SB Nation Mock Draft after Noel, McLemore, Porter and Len had been taken 1-4. Oladipo was (and is) clearly one of the five best talents in the 2013 NBA Draft.

But nothing is that easy, nor should it be.

We kicked off our Mock Draft on a Sunday night, with Cleveland on the clock. Each pick would be given 24 hours maximum so teams could consider trades and consult with their "front offices."

While waiting for the Suns pick at No. 5, I received a couple of offers to trade down but declined them immediately. The Suns needed the best possible talent they could acquire, and trading down from a top-5 pick wasn't going to get it done.

I went into the draft determined to get the Suns a wing player. Specifically, I wanted either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo with the first Suns pick. My assumption was that C Nerlens Noel (or Alex Len) was going Np. 1 to Cleveland and that SF Otto Porter was going No. 3 to Washington. Neither team needed a two-guard, since they'd just drafted two-guards a year ago at 3rd and 4th overall.

That left two slots (No. 2 Orlando, No. 4 Charlotte) ahead of the Suns into which those two favorites could easily slip and be gone by the time the Suns were on the clock.

So I got scrambling. I am not one to sit idly by with crossed fingers.

I explored trading up from No. 5. I first talked with Orlando for the No. 2 pick, but Orlando wanted me to take back long-term salary just for the right to jump three spots. I thought about it and posed the question to the "front office." Did we really think buying a guarantee of McLemore or Oladipo was worth an additional several million in salary for years (the cost of a higher pick, plus the cost of a veteran)? One of them might fall to us anyway.

Barring trades, Charlotte (No. 4) was the wild card. Orlando would take one of Oladipo or McLemore. As mentioned before, Cleveland and Washington were not a threat. But what about Charlotte? Would they take a wing, or a big (Bennett or Len)?

Considering that Oladipo/McLemore would just duplicate Charlotte's restricted free agent Gerald Henderson, I concluded that Charlotte was better off taking a big. The Bobcats had to get better in this draft, and the only way to do that was to add a big and re-sign Henderson.

Another consideration was whether Cleveland (No. 1), Washington (No. 3) or Charlotte would trade out to a team that really needed a wing, resulting in both McLemore and Oladipo being taken before the Suns pick.

That was always a possibility, but I gave the other GMs the same logic I used for myself - none of them would trade out of the top 5 this season. If anything, they'd only jockey amongst themselves for positioning. The lower teams woudn't offer enough talent to justify dropping into the lower lotto picks.

So, we declined the Orlando offer and stuck to our guns. Oladipo or McLemore would drop. And if they didn't, I liked C Alex Len, PF Anthony Bennett and SG C.J. McCollum enough to be the consolation prize. I'd try to trade down a couple spots if it got me another asset.

Ultimately, the draft went clean. No trades. Cleveland, Orlando and Washington all drafted according to form. When Charlotte took Len, Victor Oladipo was all ours.

Now, the fun starts.

It's time to pair Oladipo with another lottery pick or two...

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The entire SB Nation network ran a mock draft, with each lead blogger acting as his team's General Manager. Check out the diary for Phoenix Suns blog to see how much was involved in shaping the next year's Suns.

Here we are, folks, just 11 days from the actual, real live 2013 NBA Draft!

To add a little intrigue to the waiting period, SBNation.com decided to have each blog participate in a FIRST ROUND MOCK DRAFT. The Draft was conducted via email, texting and whatever other communication technology each team wanted to use, over the course of 7 days, from June 3-10.

RidiculousUpside.com is posting a few picks per day, starting today, over the course of the week before the draft.

The Skinny

Each NBA blog picked a designated General Manager and most of them used their entire blogger core as their de facto Front Office.

The most fun part of the mock draft was the ability to execute trades with each other. As long as the trade involved at least one team's first round pick, any trade that fits in the salary cap would count. We also decided that trade "promises" could be made, to finalize the trade once the new league year began in early July, if that was necessary to complete the trade under the cap rules. These trades have been promised for years in real life, so why not in the blogosphere?


The Front Office

On the Bright Side, the whole writing staff participated in the selection and trades process. We got offers to consider, as well as proposing trades of our own. Just as I suspect is true in real life, some GMs were interested in making trades while others had no interest at all. And the longer the draft went, the more interested were the later teams in making a trade.

We didn't play parts, like in a movie, or draw straws on who was who in the Suns real front office.

But what did play out was quite similar to the Suns actual front office today:

Seth Pollack, NBA league manager for SBNation.com and former editor of the Suns blog, happened to play the part of Robert Sarver. He participated in trade and pick discussions and even proposed one trade to another team without consulting the rest of us! But overall, he let the day-to-day guys run the show, so props to Seth!

Jim Coughenour offered advice and suggestions but went out of his way to remind people that he wasn't a prospect talent evaluator. He weighed in more on trades and cap rules than anything else. Yep, sounds like Lon Babby to me too.

Kris Habbas, our resident NBA Draft Insider who scouts in real life all year long, played a part that I imagine mirrors John Treloar (Suns' Director of Player Personnel and draft guru) in real life. Kris ended up being the guy who offered the most insight on each prospect but did not participate much in trade discussions. When we couldn't decide on which prospect to draft, Kris often helped us break the tie by giving us an on-the-spot scouting report and recommendation.

Sean Sullivan acted as a scout on draft prospects and weighed in on trade suggestions and discussions. He was a jack of all trades that appears to mirror the contributions Ronnie Lester was hired to perform in real life for the Suns.

Jacob Padilla was also a scout and confidant for the GM, providing insight in all areas of the draft. Let's call him our very own Bubba Burrage, who remains a scout for the Suns after the front office shakeup. Jacob has been around BSotS for years and still provides great insight into the current team and where the team should be headed.

Brand new blogger Richard Parker played an active role in the discussions on all levels, from capology to data analysis to trade offers and prospect evaluation. He played a key role in many decisions, so let's call him our Pat Connelly (Suns new Asst. GM) - new to the scene but with a high level title.

That leaves one major role left, and I appointed myself the perfect guy to fill that role. Acting as the team's General Manager, the loudest voice in the room, I initiated and ended all discussions when the time came. I made all the final picks, good or bad. I was our Ryan McDonough.

The only problem is that I haven't watched a whole lot of anything on these prospects, while McD watches everything and has been watching and evaluating for years, I fully expect that I made dumb decisions (at least one that the rest of the FO disliked, that's for sure). But that's what happens when you put bloggers in charge of the draft: dumb decisions.

So I used as much input as I could handle from the guys, and I made the best decisions I felt I could make.

The Plan

First up, I had to decide the course of action for the Suns this season.

My first issue was that the Suns were one of the oldest lottery teams in the league (second to Dallas), and yet the Suns collection of veterans had still only won 25 of 82 games. Let's not forget that. The Suns won only 25 games all season - the second worst winning percentage in the history of the franchise.

That winning percentage was consistent all season, with the first 41 games at 13-28 and the final 41 games at 12-29. In the first half, Gentry played the veterans the most minutes and enjoyed almost perfect health. The second half had Gortat missing most of the games, and O'Neal missing many. But otherwise, no more injuries. Stlll, the Suns nearly matched their first-half totals.

In short, this roster as constituted is "old" and unlikely to significantly improve to contender status with time. So, I decided it was time to shake things up with the draft.

First order of business: getting the best possible talent with the first selection.

Did we draft Alex Len? Or Ben McLemore? Or Victor Oladipo? Or someone else? Did we move up from 5? Did we drop down?

Coming later today, ridiculousupside.com will reveal the Suns' first pick in the MOCK 2013 NBA Draft. Once that pick is made, I will post my diary of how that pick came about.

Watch ridiculousupside.com all week for who picked who, who traded who and how it all affected the Phoenix Suns.

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