With regard to the two-time MVP and 2012 All-Star Steve Nash, you can guess that the Suns will be given an opportunity to match or exceed any offer that Nash likes from Toronto or New York, but the likelihood gets slimmer every day. While Nash is being courted in Manhattan, the Suns are courting a whole different set of players in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Who is on the Phoenix Suns' immediate radar? Apparently, the Suns are focusing on young players with a great deal of talent who have yet to realize their full potential as an NBA player. Each player has an upside, with varying degrees of NBA success on their resume.
Players contacted so far by the Suns, via the wonderful world of twitter:
PG: Goran Dragic, Raymond Felton, Ramon Sessions (in that order, according to John Gambodoro)
SG: Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Terrence Williams (according to Alex Kennedy)
SF/PF: Michael Beasley
C: Robin Lopez
Other names had previously been reported (Chris Kaman, Jared Jeffries to name a few) but nothing new has come out since initially logging their interest on July 1. We will add more names as the Suns get down their list.
For now, we know the Suns' priorities are to shore up the PG and SG positions with youth. It's unclear how far the Suns will go with regard to money, but they are at least putting on a good show. SG Eric Gordon got in to town last night for dinner and is being courted further today, while Dragic gets into town on Gordon's heels for the same treatment.
SG Eric Gordon is looking for a max offer (4 yrs/58 million) and PG Goran Dragic is looking for $10 million per year. Would the Suns sign both? Probably not. Will the Suns sign either? Who knows.
Gordon's current team, New Orleans, is already floating that they would match a maximum offer despite having just drafted SG Austin Rivers at #10 overall last week.
Goran Dragic may be more accessible, as talk with Houston broke down yesterday when Dragic wouldn't accept $8 million per year to return without hitting the wine-and-dine circuit. Dragic wants more money and his agent thinks he can get it from another team. Dragic wowed the NBA for 28 games last season, averaging 18 and 8 and basically hitting every big shot for the Rockets during their improbable playoff push.
Even despite the money, the problem with a matchup in Phoenix is the presence of rookie PG Kendall Marshall. Dragic will want big minutes for four full years (the most years the Suns can offer), and has proven in Houston that the more minutes he plays the better he is. Yet, do the Suns want Marshall to play only 15 minutes a game? My gut says no.
The backup plans on those two players?
The Suns initially expressed interest in O.J. Mayo on Saturday night, but no meetings have been scheduled yet with any teams. Mayo seems to be several teams' backup plan at SG, and has already said he's expecting more than the mid-level next season. By wanting more than midlevel, he's limiting his options to teams well below the salary cap. Hello, Phoenix.
Just this morning, Alex Kennedy of hoopsworld.com tweeted that the Suns have expressed interest in swingman Terrence Williams. I've always loved his potential, but the young man has now been buried on no less than 3 different teams in his short career - New Jersey, Houston and now Sacramento. When he got run, he produced. He can pass, rebound, score and defend. But he never earned respect from his coaches and quickly moved on.
O.J. Mayo, Terrence Williams. Just like Michael Beasley. Would any or all of these players realize their potential in Phoenix? Not likely. But then again, you can't win if you don't play. The Suns need to get lucky and you have to bring in the underproducing players and give them a chance, or you'll never know.
Note: Apparently, the Suns' primary competition for Beasley and Williams is the Detroit Pistons. That's how far the Suns have fallen, folks. Competing with the likes of Detroit, rather than San Antonio or Dallas.
Raymond Felton is scheduled to visit Phoenix later this week, clearly the Suns' primary backup plan to Goran Dragic as the interim starter until Kendall Marshall is ready to start. Felton has a reputation of being out of shape, and basically played his way off of Denver AND Portland the last two seasons after flourishing in Mike D'Antoni's system in New York. Felton, who is also NY's backup plan to Nash, might cost $7 million or so but might take a 2 year deal. His last deal was 3 years, $21 million when he was younger and had fewer problems.
No idea when or if Ramon Sessions would visit the valley, but John Gambodoro just tweeted yesterday that Sessions is on the Suns' radar after Dragic and Felton.