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Here's a description of the interview:

Suns One On One: Aaron Nelson
Suns One On One host Greg Esposito sat down with Suns head athletic trainer, only the second in the team’s 45 year history, Aaron Nelson to discuss his almost 20 seasons with the organization. Find out which former Suns fan favorite is his brother-in-law and how two familiar names in Suns history almost became accountants rather than basketball players. Hear all that and much more on this week’s episode.

This is a fun interview for both fans of Suns history as well as those interested in the guy behind the best medical staff in the business. Listen here.

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Sitting at 16-32 the Phoenix Suns hit the road for three straight and what will amount to six out of seven total in the coming weeks. Challenging times for the team as they are currently sitting on two straight losses and it does not get any easier looking at the upcoming schedule.

What did they do?

Practice in general ran long. They were scrimmaging there at the end and ran a little longer than they originally anticipated, but that is how you get better as a team. But missing the flight to Memphis is not, so they better get on that bus!

After practice Interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter discussed the teams goals on the road and what they are trying to do, which are not very different than day one of his tenure here.

"The same thing that we have been preaching, getting better," stated Hunter on his goals this trip. "We had a really good, intense practice today and we will continue to do that and continue to build. Just trying to continue to sure up our foundation defensively and clean up our passing offensively."

Going forward the team needs to maximize the effort from rookie Kendall Marshall and lightning rod Michael Beasley, because they play major roles for the team, and without their play, the team is very limited in terms of depth. With Sebastian Telfair getting DNP (Did Not Play) Coaches Decisions the past two games it is even more important to get everything they can out of Marshall. More on him later.

Beasley was not down on himself after the Dallas loss and it showed with another quality showing at Golden State. The outcome was not what the team was looking for, but they got production out of their Six Million Dollar Man.

"We had a chance to win the game, but they broke out late," Beasley on the Dallas loss. "They really made the right plays, we didn't necessarily do anything wrong, but we just didn't do everything right. As far as me individually I just missed shots. Just missed shots."

The team needs to gain confidence in the system, which takes time, but all the coaches are looking for is confidence and for the players to get better, "I think indecisiveness brings questions of where to go. You cannot do it full speed until you are sure."

Injury Updates?

Jermaine O'Neal -- He stated he is ready to go in full on Tuesday at Memphis, interim head coach Hunter agreed, but insinuated the leash may be short.

We don't know yet. We don't know how he will respond after today's practice so we will see. We will talk to the trainers and play it by ear.

Interim Coach Lindsey Hunter on road games:

It is a lot of variables that go into it. I think experience, how good defensively you are -- I think that really counts when you are on the road, and not turning the ball over. Those are all areas that we can get better in and that will be our focus. Like I said, we will focus on the fundamental things we have been working on and everything else will take care of itself.

More Coach Hunter on Kendall Marshall as the teams back-up point:

There really is no timeline, just production and how he handles the situation. He is coming along pretty good. I like what I've seen out of him, our guys really love playing with him, and he just has to get used to the length and the speed of these guys. Some of those passes I am sure he could get away with at Carolina, but he just has to realize he cannot throw those halfcourt lackadaisical passes and he will get better at it.

Hunter also added, "If he keeps growing and he keeps better and producing, you know, we will push him until we see what we got."

Sebastian Telfair on the recent DNP's:

"Nope," stated Bassy on whether Hunter has spoken to him about his role going forward. "Just staying ready and when my number is called I will be ready. We are having a losing season right now and I guess I am one of the casualties of it."

The 2013 NBA Draft Update (Changing It Up)

As of today the team is slotted in the 6th spot and the 13th spot in the draft if it were to happen today. The 13th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft:

Prospects to consider: Ben McLemore, Alex Len, and Isaiah Austin

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Sometimes you have to move a few steps back to get the lay of the land, learn how to lose, and therefore see things clearer to know how to win. Right now the Phoenix Suns (16-32) are in the phase of learning how to lose. At times they trick themselves into thinking they are getting the lay of the land, but right now they are not there.

Game Recaps

vs. Los Angeles Lakers - W (92-86)

vs. Dallas Mavericks - L (109-99)

@ Golden State Warriors - L (113-93)

A 1-2 week is not a banner week by anyone's standards, but the team did "Beat L.A." spoiling the return of Steve Nash. That win was short lived as they dropped back-to-back games by double-digits. The first quarters were bright spots, but the rest of the game there was not the same energy.

With Kendall Marshall taking over as the primary back-up to Goran Dragic this week there has been an obvious drop-off in the teams execution with the second unit. They have not been bringing the same energy and effort on defense, and still not scoring the ball at a high level. There are some solid fixes to some problems, but a lot of the fixes have proved to be band-aids thus far.

Key Stats

2-10

That is the current record of the team on back-to-back games. Just to give perspective the best team in the NBA (San Antonio) is 6-4, the most average team (Boston) is 5-6, and the worst team (Washington) is 2-11 in the same type of games. That is a scope of three teams on three different levels, which one is the most similar to Phoenix?

The Highs

Steve Nash Came Home

Unfortunately the "Coming Home" video was removed by the team after putting it up for everyone to see, here is Nash in the post-game talking about the fans, his reception, the video package, and the game.

And even sweeter than that the Suns dropped the Lakers helping morale, team confidence, and their lottery standings!

The Lows

All season offensive rebounds have made a quality Suns defense look below average to bad because they did not finish the possession with the ball. In a lot of cases it was unacceptable. Against the Mavericks it hit a new low with seven offensive rebounds allowed. In the fourth quarter.

Marion with three (led to four points)

Mayo with two (led to three points)

Brand with one (led to zero points)

Collison with one (led to zero points)

The Mavericks scored 35 points in the fourth quarter, but seven on easy shots after misses.

Practice Report

Here is this past weeks Practice Report

Look for this weeks later today.

Grades

A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.

A- for P.J. Tucker: The stats won't tell the entire story here as Tuck clamped down on Kobe Bryant and O.J. Mayo playing great on and off ball defense. Is going too far to call him a Top 5 Off-Ball Defender?
D+ for Kendall Marshall: This is not an indictment on Marshall, but when you are given the opportunity as the back-up point guard in back-to-back games, basically given an opportunity to showcase your game, you cannot total three points and five assists. Not to mention the four turnovers. He has taken Sebastian Telfair's job, but now he needs to do something with it.
C+ for Michael Beasley: It was an up-and-down week for Beasley who brought his A Game (27 points 6 rebounds) against the Lakers, but didn't show up against the Mavericks (4 points 6 rebounds). A lot of the shots were the same, but the results were not.

    Player of the Week:

    Goran Dragic - 14.3 PPG 3.7 RPG 8.0 APG 41.2 FG%

    Those numbers tell the story of an entire game, but it has been the play of Dragic in the first quarter that has elevate the Suns offense early. On the season the team is averaging 25 points per first quarter and are typicalling giving up 25.5 to their opponents. Over the course of the last three games that is up to 28.6 while giving up the same to their opponents.

    Dragic is the one to credit with the extra energy in the first as he has averaged 8.0 PPG 2.3 APG and 1.3 RPG in the first quarter alone. He is bringing the energy and attacking early.

    Part of that is a newfound confidence or freedom in the offense. He had the ability to take over games earlier this season, but just didn't do it consistently, now it is a regular thing early in games. So far the only negative is that the second quarter has been a major drop-off, primarily because Dragic has to sit a considerable amount after playing so hard for the first 10+ minutes early on.

    Previewing the Week Ahead:

    Tuesday, February 5th @ Memphis Grizzlies (30-16)

    Wednesday, February 6th @ New Orleans Hornets (15-33)

    Friday, February 8th @ Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12)

    Sunday, February 10th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12)

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    1. Goran Dragic

    Weekly Average: 15 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals in 35.5 minutes of play

    Dragic continued his efficient and productive play this week, and at times showed absolute dominance on both ends of the floor. Goran has the ability to be a game changer when he is playing aggressive...Let's hope we see more of it.

    2. Marcin Gortat

    Weekly Average: 10.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block in 29.5 minutes of play

    Gortat had another very productive week for the Suns, which has become the norm lately. Suns' fans know what they can expect out of Marcin on most nights and he usually delivers. He and Scola have been the two most consistent players over the past few weeks.

    3. Michael Beasley

    Weekly Average: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assists, 1.5 steals in 29 minutes of play

    Beasley followed up his breakout week with another very productive week with nearly identical stats overall. Other than his game at home against Dallas in which he scored only 4 points on 2-13 shooting, Beasley has been fairly efficient and made a positive impact on the team.

    4. Luis Scola

    Weekly Average: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assist in 29 minutes of play

    Scola continues to be Mr. Consistency for the Suns. His veteran play and his hustle are present every night. Scola almost always finds a way to help the team, and his stat line from week to week is rock solid.

    5. P.J. Tucker

    Weekly Average: 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists in 32 minutes of play

    Tucker to a step up offensively this week and began contributing as more than just a defender. With his increased minutes, this is what I was hoping to see from P.J., and this week he delivered. Tucker isn't ever going to be a star player or an offensive juggernaut, but he is proving he can be a solid starter in this league with his defense and all-around hustle on both ends of the court.

    6. Jared Dudley

    Weekly Average: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists in 29 minutes of play

    Dudley had a decent week, with his best game coming against Dallas at home in which he scored 17 points on 7-12 shooting. However, he is continuing to slip in the rankings due to other players like Beasley and Tucker stepping their game up. I wouldn't be too concerned about J.D. though, he knows what his role is and is playing well overall.

    7. Shannon Brown

    Weekly Average: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assist in 18 minutes of play

    Brown improved over last weeks drop-off, and had a 20 point game against Dallas in which he went 7-11 from the field. But overall, Brown's minutes seem to be declining due to his defensive deficiencies. Head coach Lindsey Hunter appears to be keeping his word so far regarding his focus on defense, and is rewarding players who are producing in this respect.

    8. Markieff Morris

    Weekly Average: 3 points, 3.5 rebounds in 24 minutes of play

    Morris had a bad week. After quietly being one of the most productive overall players on the team over the past few weeks, Morris derailed. He went 4-17 from the field over the week (ouch), and failed to even register a point against either the Lakers or the Mavs at home. His rebounding also dropped off significantly this week, which is something he can't afford to let happen when struggling with his shot. Markieff is still a young pup though and is still figuring things out, so I wouldn't be too concerned at the moment.

    9. Kendall Marshall

    Weekly Average: 2 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist in 11 minutes of play

    Marshall played significant minutes in every game this week other than against the Lakers, and he did ok with the minutes he was given. Marshall is still very much a work in progress, but we are starting to see some of the abilities he has as a player and what he can bring to the team. The key word here is patience.

    10. Sebastian Telfair

    Weekly Average: 3 points, 1 assists in 11 minutes of play

    Bassy only played in one game this week which happened to be the lone win against the Lakers. However, Telfair has been unable to prove that he deserves to keep the spot as the back-up point guard over the development of Kendall Marshall, and we are seeing now that his minutes and playing time are being significantly reduced.

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

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    A case can be made that the Phoenix Suns have their plan in place: a bag full of first-round draft picks and a roster full of role players to surround those draft picks with veteran leadership and skill.

    As many as three players are worthy of starting on a playoff-caliber team: Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley. None of those players are likely a #1 or #2 option on a contender, maybe even not a #3, and maybe not all three on the same team, but before you go too far with the bashing of these guys' league-wide value let's look at how they fare compared to their peers.

    Very few teams have an entire starting lineup of players better than anyone on the Suns. One example is the Los Angeles Lakers, and look how that's turning out for them (21-26, 10th place in the West as I write this post).

    The Miami Heat start Mario Chalmers. Atlanta starts Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia and John Jenkins. Denver starts Kosta Koufos. Indiana starts Lance Stephenson and George Hill. Memphis starts Tony Allen. New York starts Chris Copeland. OKC starts Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha. San Antonio starts Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. Utah starts Jamal Tinsley and Randy Foye.

    None of those guys are categorically better than their positional counterpart on the Suns, and that's just to name a few.

    With three weeks until the trade deadline, the Suns front office must decide if those three are (a) a good fit in the same lineup going forward and (b) worth more to the Suns than someone else.

    A lot of factors go into a player's trade value: talent, skill, basketball IQ, attitude, age, years under contract, salary per year. Additionally, the player's own front office has a value they place on each player which may or may not coincide with the front office of an interested buyer.

    All of those factors have to be in alignment with the acquiring team. The last factor - current team's sense of player worth vs. acquiring team - is usually the one that scuttles deals and/or eventually costs GM/Presidents their jobs.

    Let's take a fan's point of view (which is almost always wrong and/or unrealistic) of which players on the Suns have the most trade value. This is just me writing from my couch, so none of this is verified or even necessarily accurate. Take that for what it is.

    Goran Dragic

    • Talent: starting quality point guard, top-10 in league. Can pass, shoot, create own shot, man-on-man defend.
    • Skill: nearly as good as talent, but not quite there. Not as effective on defense as athleticism would allow, and not shooting high enough percentage on jump shots. Also, not enough 'alpha' mentality to be the top-dog on the floor.
    • Basketball IQ: high
    • Attitude: really great teammate, well-liked, but not an "alpha" dog who runs the team
    • Age: 27 - at prime of career, will likely still in prime through end of contract (Age 30)
    • Contract: 3 more years at $7.5 million per year. Bargain for starting quality PG.
    My guess: I can only see the Suns trading Goran to get back an even better, younger point guard. What team would do that?

    Marcin Gortat

    • Talent: starting quality center, top 15-20 in league. Can rebound, block shots and play solid post and help defense. He has quick feet to slide left and right, and strong nose for the ball.
    • Skill: topped out - no real potential for dramatic improvement, but that's not a knock. He's good - just not going to step into All-Star status. But he has no consistent self-made offense and rarely boxes out his man while he goes for rebounds, which can hurt the team's total rebounding effort.
    • Basketball IQ: high
    • Attitude: nice guy, but kind of a loose cannon. Could not have helped himself by complaining about role in offense while team trying to find itself earlier this year.
    • Age: 29 - at prime of career, but about to roll down the back side
    • Contract: 1 more year at just under $8 million. Bargain for starting quality C.
    My guess: Gortat has great production for his contract price, which has to be attractive to buyers. However, he only has 1 year left on it and will likely want a huge raise on his last big contract. He will be a free agent, able to sign with any team in 15 months. This means that teams will likely offer less talent back to the Suns than the Suns want for a top-20 C. Only a desperate team wanting to make a playoff push right now would offer an equitable package (Boston?)

    Jared Dudley

    • Talent: Rotation-quality guard/forward. Can pass, shoot, defend.
    • Skill: Tons higher than talent. Loads. While Dudley's talent profiles as a middling rotation player, he far exceeds that by clearly deserving starting minutes because he does everything with such purpose and efficiency. He can play either wing position and will always be a net-positive on the court.
    • Basketball IQ: high High HIGH
    • Attitude: really great teammate, well-liked, always talking about TEAM over individual accomplishments
    • Age: 27 - at prime of career, will likely still in prime through end of contract (Age 30)
    • Contract: 3 more years at $4.25 million per year. Bargain for starting quality SG/SF.
    My guess: Dudley's skill so far exceeds his talent that I wonder what another team will offer. His talent alone would garner no better than a second-round pick, but his skill should command one or two #1 picks. The challenge is matching the wants of the seller with the needs of the buyer. How bad does someone want the intangibles that Dudley should be able to provide?

    Sebastian Telfair

    • Talent: Rotation-quality backup point guard. Can defend like a mad-man and make open jumpers (38% on threes this year), but otherwise has trouble running an offense and creating his own shot.
    • Skill: Matches his talent. A good backup PG.
    • Basketball IQ: Not sure how to rank Bassy here, so I'll punt.
    • Attitude: Hard-working teammate, does his job and goes home
    • Age: 27 - at prime of career
    • Contract: Expiring, at $1.5 million this season
    My guess: Sebastian probably has the 4th-most value on the trade market, only because Jermaine O'Neal has the heart issue and has not played for a couple of weeks. Several teams could use a strong backup point guard who will defend his heart out and make open three-pointers as they come. His expiring contract helps to drum up interest, but will also drive down the trade price since the buyer only gets two months of service. Bassy is likely worth a second-round pick that will actually come to fruition (as opposed to those conditional ones), unless the Suns find a home for Bassy with the team of his choice rather than taking the highest bidder.


    Other Expiring contracts - Shannon Brown (mostly), Wesley Johnson, Jermaine O'Neal, Diante Garrett, Luke Zeller


    None of these guys will return a first-round pick all by themselves. Maybe in tandem with someone else, it could happen. It's also possible the Suns use these guys to bring back a worse (longer or higher or both) salary if it nets a good draft pick in the near future. But that all depends on the offers on the table.

    But if traded by themselves at this point in time (February 2), they won't get a lot back.

    (If Jermaine O'Neal returns to form, he probably has the same value as Bassy if not a little more: a sure-fire second-round pick, unless the Suns are placing him with his favored team rather than finding the highest bidder.)

    Young guns on cheap rookie deals - Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall

    By themselves, they are not worth the price the Suns originally paid for them at this time - a #13 pick. Yet, they do have talent and it's possible another team will swap one of them for their own comparable rookie/second-year player. But that rarely happens.

    If guys like these are ever traded, they are usually included as icing on a cake to increase the return on a bigger deal (ie. Gortat and Morris for player A). You saw it a few months ago, when Houston used #12 pick Jeremy Lamb to help close the deal on getting James Harden.

    Little to no trade value - Luis Scola, Michael Beasley, Channing Frye

    For sure, Luis Scola cannot be traded until July 1 at the earliest. That's part of the deal with an amnesty claim. So he will be donning the purple/orange/black all year.

    Michael Beasley is being paid too much ($6 million) for too little production to net anything worth consummating a trade. The Suns just signed him a few months ago. It is way too early to give someone else a draft pick to take him off the Suns' books, and almost no one has that much free cap space anyway. It is also too early to trade him for someone else's bad contract.

    I would guess that Channing Frye will almost certainly remain a Sun at the deadline. He has two years left on a contract paying more than Beasley, yet his future is totally up in the air. No one knows if he will play again, and no one can count on him retiring to free the cap space.

    Wrap up

    I wrap this up with another disclaimer: this article is purely one of a blogger opining from his couch. I used no inside sources (they wouldn't be completely candid right now if I tried, anyway) and am only assigning value based on my personal knowledge of past NBA trades.

    These deals are complicated. That's why so few come to fruition.

    Since Dudley was mentioned in talks for Rudy Gay (that Memphis decided against pursuing), none of the Suns have bubbled into any real trade rumors. Bassy was recently mentioned on the Knicks radar (what?) and Gortat was mentioned in a since-refuted Josh Smith rumor. But that's really it.

    If I had to guess, I'd say that Jared Dudley, Jermaine O'Neal and Sebastian Telfair are the most likely to be traded in the next three weeks.

    Some contending team will give good value on Dudley (a protected #1 in the next couple years, or a recent high draft pick), and someone will give #2s for Bassy and O'Neal.

    Other than that, I don't anticipate a lot of moves.

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