"The burden for the ring won't be on your shoulders alone, young hobbit. We shall create a Fellowship of the Ring, Nine Walkers to go forth 'gainst the Nine Black Riders!" intoned that great elf-lord of nobility, he of the Elvin Gentry.

The young hobbit, little Stevo Nashins, his hair a disheveled mop after the arduous trek through the West, stood with head bowed, but an eager and determined gleam in his eye. "And what warriors would you send with me on this most perilous journey?"

"One of the Fair Ones, he from the FO, will declare who your mighty companions shalt be," stated the elf-lord, gesturing to a figure emerging from behind a far curtain.

"W-w-w-we will send some twuly gweat helpahs wif you, huh, huh, huh, huh," lisped the new speaker, a short Elmer Fudd wook-a-wike, er, look-a-like. "I will let Coach tell you."

Stevo's enthusiasm faltered at the sound of the buffoonish cartoonish character before him, but his heart stood firmly determined to battle on with whomever would walk beside him.

"Your first companions on this quest shall be an elvish long range archer, a war hammer-wielding dwarf, and this deadly canine," spoke the elf-lord, pointing to the three characters to step forward.

"What?" spake Stevo. "You mean this elvish fry-cook whose aim is questionable, this towering dwarf who had to have the faceguard of his helm modified to allow for his nose and whose handle of his war hammer is so long that it could be called 'pole-ish,' and this junkyard dog? Oh, well, I guess every band of warriors needs some second rank fighters."

"No, these will be in your first rank."

"But what of that fierce Gondorian swordsman, Boramar'e? Mighty were his sinews and prodigious were his thrusts!" exclaimed Stevo.

"Well, he turned traitor and went off to the big city of miNYs tirith to be the Man and get a Ring of his own, but he sliced open his own hand practicing his swordplay on a candle snuffer, I hear tell. It's unclear how could cut his own swordhand, but he was ever a fierce fighter."

"No, you don't get him, but here, take another hobbit on the trip!"

"What about some kind of wizard who can defend all manner of foemen?" posited Stevo.

"Er, no, we got nobody like that. How about having another hobbit?"

"There was that young Dragon from a far off land, who flamed fearsomely against the black and sable enemy of Saint Antonio a while back, burning them to the ground. What of him?" inquired Stevo.

"Oh, he was traded for a babbling brook that drifted off over the sea. Here's another hobbit to take along."

"My precious, my precious," croaked the new little brown creature.

"He's a hobbit? Why is he just clutching that rock and not sharing it with anyone?"

"That's just what he does. Look, Stevo, times have been really rough here in MiddleDesert. Hoards of treasure just don't grow on trees. We had to hock your mithril mail, and we sold your sword, Sting. But, you can wear this!"

"It's a hat..."

"It's a cap, and there's lots of space in there that will really help further down the road."

Stevo adjusted the straps of his backpack, and with a look of grim determination, once again set out on the quest for the Ring...

...

Meanwhile, in the next valley over, Aragorn was sharpening his sword to a razor edge, and Gandalf was honing his powers of fire and lightning, as these two agents of the Free Peoples prepared to pledge troth with Stevo in the valley of the sun, and join his search, to bring the Ring home...


The Suns can do their own Kurt Thomas fleecing.

There are a few statements that must be remembered this year in any conversation about changing the team going into next season.

Amnesty can only be used on guys who were under contract on your roster BEFORE the new CBA was signed.

The Suns are only under the salary cap for $23+ million if they renounce their cap holds on expired contracts, which means they would have no leverage over any other team to re-sign their own free agents.

And finally, for the first time since Steve Nash returned in 2004, the Suns can take on lopsided trades. For years, Suns fans have been forced to think of trades in terms of dollar-for-dollar exchanges. Or, outgoing salary dumps to teams with cap space.

In other words, the word "trade" is kind of a 4-letter word to Suns' fans thinking because its nearly impossible to outright WIN a dollar-for-dollar trade.

Well, those days are over (as long as the Suns renounce cap holds on Nash and Hill). The Suns now CAN take on bigtime salary, as well as accepting draft picks for the privilege to eat someone's big contract. The Suns can now take on a Kurt Thomas-like contract from a cap-hurt team, and get a draft pick or two for their troubles.

Do not discount this possibility in your planning for future greatness.

Remember the Oklahoma City Thunder. They kept open cap space for years, rather than spending on free agents to put around a young Durant. During that time, they acquired 4 #1 draft picks over 3 years in exchange for absorbing a mere 2 one-year bloated contracts (Kurt Thomas and Morris Peterson).

Remember the Memphis Grizzlies who needed a PF, and were able to absorb Zach Randolph into their cap for a kiss and a bag of skittles.

Remember the Boston Celtics, who were able to acquire Ray Allen for their first-round pick. A bad move by itself, but that move convinced Boston and Minny to execute the Kevin Garnett swap and win a title in 2008, one year after the Celtics had one of the worst records in the league.

The Suns can now relieve a team that needs to shed salary. In one year, the luxury tax starts escalating. Teams will be shedding big contracts left and right, and giving up draft picks to entice another team to take on their guys.

If the Suns really want to build through the draft as Babby said in the press conference the other day, then acquiring draft picks in one-sided trades is definitely a good way to go.


No comment.

There's three games on the NBA Playoff schedule for Friday, but before we get to that, how about them Knicks. The New York Knicks are now officially the worst playoff team in NBA history and they are (almost) officially done in this series. New York was back home and desperately needed a win over the Miami Heat, but instead their defensive issues were exposed right along with their lack of alternate scoring options, cohesion, depth, and coaching. LeBron James took over the fourth quarter (gasp!) and the Miami Heat rolled to a 17-point win and are up 3-0 in the series.

Goodbye, New York.

We can also say goodbye to the Dallas Mavericks who also got whooped on their home court and are also down 0-3 in their series to the Oklahoma City Thunder. If you are a Thunder fan, you have to be encouraged that your team played its best game so far on the road. They won two close ones late despite playing poorly and stepped up their game in a hostile environment. Can we call this the Derek Fisher Effect?

NBA Playoff schedule for Friday, May 4:

Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT on ESPN

It's not certain, but it sounds like Josh Smith (knee) will be able to go which is good for the Hawks who need every weapon they have to deal with the Celtics execution. Boston will also have Rajon Rondo back and he'll be pissed. You won't like Rondo when he's pissed (if you are Hawks fan).

Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2

The Bulls defense was MIA in game two and now they find themselves on the road tied 1-1. They can still win this series without Derrick Rose but not if they don't get their act together and get some many stops.

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN

Some people think that the Nuggets will somehow play better at home and make this a series. We'll see. Don't be surprised if Kobe and friends take a game one of the next two games off, but that doesn't mean Denver has a chance. L.A. will go home up 3-1, it's just a matter of which game they lose.

For more NBA Playoff coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.


PHOENIX — Lon Babby wants the Phoenix Suns to be an elite team. To him, that defines a squad “that’s going to legitimately compete for championships every year.” “That’s what we aspire to,...

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Did Frye add some muscle to his game during the 2011-12 season?

Here at Bright Side of the Sun, we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously. While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.
Today's review will be Channing Frye.

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Update: Frye has shoulder surgery

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Channing Frye has long had the reputation of being a stretch power forward/center who relies mostly on efficient three point shooting to be an effective part of the offense. Although Frye is 6'11" tall, he is not usually known for providing size or strength to his team down low, but rather is used mostly as a weapon beyond the arc who is best at catching and shooting when open.

Or at least that's how he was perceived in the past.

Read on after the jump for an in-depth look at Frye's statistics and an analysis of his overall play during the past season.

First, let's take a look at Channing Frye's basic stats over the last three seasons since he's been in Phoenix:

Here are his Per 36 Stats:

His advanced stats:

And Finally, here is how he compared to the rest of the Suns team:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Marcin Gortat 66 32.0 6.5 11.7 55.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 3.8 64.9 2.8 7.2 10.0 0.9 1.4 0.7 1.5 2.2 15.4
Jared Dudley 65 31.1 4.8 9.9 48.5 1.2 3.2 38.3 1.8 2.5 72.6 1.5 3.2 4.6 1.7 1.1 0.8 0.3 1.6 12.7
Steve Nash 62 31.6 4.8 9.0 53.2 0.9 2.3 39.0 2.0 2.3 89.4 0.4 2.6 3.0 10.7 3.7 0.6 0.1 0.9 12.5
Shannon Brown 59 23.7 4.3 10.1 42.0 1.2 3.2 36.2 1.4 1.7 80.8 0.6 2.0 2.7 1.2 1.1 0.7 0.3 1.1 11.0
Channing Frye 64 26.1 4.0 9.6 41.6 1.4 4.1 34.6 1.1 1.3 89.0 1.1 4.8 5.9 1.4 1.0 0.7 1.1 2.8 10.5
Grant Hill 49 28.1 4.1 9.2 44.6 0.3 1.1 26.4 1.7 2.2 76.1 0.6 2.9 3.5 2.2 1.3 0.8 0.6 1.8 10.2
Michael Redd 51 15.1 2.8 7.1 40.0 0.8 2.6 31.8 1.7 2.2 79.3 0.3 1.2 1.5 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.6 8.2
Markieff Morris 63 19.5 2.8 6.9 39.9 0.7 2.0 34.7 1.2 1.7 71.7 1.1 3.3 4.4 1.0 1.1 0.7 0.7 2.8 7.4
Hakim Warrick 35 14.4 2.1 5.1 41.1 0.0 0.3 10.0 2.2 2.8 76.8 0.9 1.7 2.6 0.9 1.0 0.2 0.1 1.0 6.4
Sebastian Telfair 60 14.9 2.4 5.7 41.2 0.6 1.8 31.4 0.9 1.1 79.1 0.3 1.2 1.5 2.3 1.1 0.7 0.2 2.0 6.1
Robin Lopez 64 14.0 1.9 4.2 46.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.2 71.4 1.4 1.9 3.3 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.9 2.0 5.4
Ronnie Price 36 14.4 1.4 3.6 37.7 0.4 1.2 29.5 0.6 0.7 80.0 0.5 1.1 1.6 1.9 1.3 0.9 0.1 2.0 3.6
Josh Childress 34 14.4 1.4 2.9 48.5 0.1 0.7 16.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.9 1.9 2.8 1.0 0.3 0.4 0.2 1.1 2.9


Looking at all of the above stats, there are a couple of things that jump out. Although Frye's basic stats appear to show a slight decline in his offensive production, his 'Per 36' stats show that he actually had a slightly better performance than last season, but not quite as good as the year prior. This means that he played less minutes overall than in the previous seasons, but still managed to score more points during his time on the floor.

This season, Frye was the Suns 2nd best rebounder, 2nd best shot blocker (overall), 2nd best free throw shooter, 5th highest scorer.

Furthermore, these stats also show that Frye made improvements in his rebounding, his defense rating (the lower the number the better), his free throw percentage, and his blocked shots. However, these stats do show a decline in his three-point attempts, three-point makes, three-point percentage, and his overall field goal percentage as well. Frye shot an uncharacteristically low .346 from beyond the arc this season which explains the drop off in these categories, but as it shows above, he still managed to score at a higher rate when he was on the floor this season...and for most of those who watched the Suns this year, it's probably fairly apparent as to why...He was much improved this year in his scoring inside the three point line.

So why don't these stats show that big of a difference, and still show an overall decline in his field goal percentage? Well, like the Suns, Frye's year was a tale of two seasons....His pre All-Star break stats, and his post All-Star break stats.

Split Value G GS MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS FG% 3P% FT% MP PTS TRB AST
All-Star Pre 34 29 827 125 309 48 142 31 35 36 197 35 25 34 28 93 329 .405 .338 .886 24.3 9.7 5.8 1.0
Post 30 30 843 130 304 43 121 42 47 35 182 53 17 36 35 83 345 .428 .355 .894 28.1 11.5 6.1 1.8

As you can see, Frye was a much different player in the second half of the season, just like the Suns were a completely different team. He was much more aggressive in getting to the basket and much less likely to settle for the three point shot. He shot 19 fewer three-point attempts but made them at a higher percentage. This shows he was much more selective in his three-point shooting during the second half of the season and it made a difference. He also attempted a dozen more free throws after the all-star break, which also shows a more aggressive style of play in the second half of the season. Looking at this split, you can see that he improved across the board in every single category after the all-star break, and when Frye is playing well, the Suns usually follow suit.

I don't mean to make it sound as though Frye is the end all and be all to this team, but it should be obvious to everyone who watched the suns last season just how big a part of the Suns' offense, and even their success at defense and rebounding that Frye is. When Frye was injured late in the season during their playoff push, the Suns struggled to move the ball effectively and the two-man game between Nash and Gortat also suffered because of it.

Frye had a very slow start to the season that even prompted Gentry to replace him in the starting line-up for a couple of games. However, he bounced back after the all-star break in a big way and was one of the biggest reasons for the Suns turnaround in my opinion. And once he injured his right shoulder, I believe his absence was the biggest reason the Suns didn't make the playoffs as well.



My overall grade for Frye this season: B


Frye's unique skill set gives the Suns the ability to spread the floor to let Nash operate and either find Gortat in the paint, or kick it out to an open shooter (like Frye). What these stats show, and what we should all hope that Frye is learning, is that he is able to contribute much more to this team than just being a spot up shooter. Although the Suns want to use Frye's three-point shooting ability to spread the offense, they don't want him to just settle for that shot when he can also give the Suns an inside scoring and rebounding presence.

These stats give me hope that Frye is still developing into a better overall player for the Suns, and if he can learn what aspects of his game gave both he and the Suns greater success this season, he could become a much more efficient player for the Suns for years to come.

In other news, it was reported that Channing Frye also underwent a successful surgery on his right shoulder yesterday that should hopefully remedy the problems he's been having with it over the last couple of seasons. Get well soon Channing...The Suns need you!

*All stats used in this article were provided by basketball-reference.com

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