If you want to talk about something that isn't already covered in an article on BSotS, posting it here accomplishes two things:
1) you're not highjacking a story someone spent hours writing by posting a completely unrelated topic
2) you're saving yourself the time of having to write a fanpost to get the convo started
On the surface, this appears to be the start of irreconcilable differences where yet another Suns star gets walked out of town when his deal expires.
But this impasse with Marcin Gortat is a most logical, reasonable impasse given the parameters of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement signed a year ago. Under the terms of the new CBA, the Suns can only offer Gortat up to two new years for about $16.8 million (or, $8.4 million per year).
Veteran Extensions (per cbafaq.com)
Veteran extensions are limited to four seasons, including the seasons remaining on the current contract.
The salary in the first year of a veteran extension may be any amount up to 107.5% of the player's previous salary
Gortat still has this season ($7.258 million) and next season ($7.727) on contract.
With the new CBA only allowing four total years, including those remaining on the current contract, the Suns could only offer two "new" years.
In addition, the Suns can only offer up to a $463,262 raise per year (7.5%) over of $7.727 million, the last year of his current contract.
Each of these guys waited until their contract was up, then re-signed with their teams like any free agent that's limited only by their years of service. By that time, Gortat will qualify as an unrestricted free agent for up to $17 million per year if a team wants to offer it.
Big difference between $8.4 million and $17 million per year.
"We just said we're going to wait," Gortat said to Paul Coro. "I want to finish this contract, and we'll see where I go from there. It didn't even bother me or change anything in my attitude or performance."
And you can't blame the Suns for trying. They might as well, just in case Gortat really wanted the job security because he will be 31 years old by the time he's asking for more money than $8.4 million per year.
Oh well, it was worth a shot anyway.
I don’t know about you, but I like Chanukah. I also like Hanukah, Hanukkah, and even Chanukkah! Not only for its superfluity of spelling options, but also for plethora of gifts one can amass. You see, us Jews get one gift for each night of however you spell it-akah. [I would have said ‘we Jews’ if not for both my short-man syndrome and distaste for proper grammar].
So, in that spirit, here are eight gifts I would like to bestow upon our Phoenix Suns.
FOR: Marcin Gortat
All your blabbery and what do we get from it; one night of impassioned play followed by inconsistency. DUDE, you are playing for a contract [now that you declined your extension], so put on the muzzle Marcin, and let your game speak for itself.
FOR: Our Starters
We are -50 points with a 3-10-1 first quarter record. Our third quarters are similarly bad [-33 with a 5-7-2 record]. Conversely our 2nd [+32 8-4-2] and 4th [+19 8-6] quarters. We are having a problem getting the engine to turnover, but once it is started, it will run great until we make a pit stop, then it won’t start again. It could be the alternator or just a dead battery. Either way, jumper cables can get the thing going.
FOR: Alvin Gentry
What better way to quickly check 82games.com for some easy stats to determine who should be playing. Tops on the team is PJ Tucker, with a +69, a team best .98 defensive rating, and a record of 9-3 when he is on the floor. O’Neal comes in second [+36, .99 DR, 5-2], while Beasley is dead last [with a whopping -104, team worst 1.19 DR and 3-10]. He can also check his 5-man units and realize that the Dragic-Dudley-Beasley-Scola-Gortat lineup has played to overwhelming majority of minutes [39%, more than 4 times the minutes of the next group] despite that group producing a team worst -68 and a 3-8 record. Access to that information over the LTE version of the Ipad Mini might give him that extra knowledge quick enough to sit Beasley and play Tucker.
FOR: PJ Tucker
Let’s face it, the guy needs to be on the floor, the number don’t lie. Yet despite the fact he is getting more time lately, and in crunch time, he needs to no longer be considered the "hustle" guy, and move into the "glue" guy role. I mean, if Bruce Bowen can start and play big minutes on championship level teams, Tucker warrants more minutes here and Beasley should be sitting on the bench next to Wes Johnson. Yet still he remains in the starting lineup and continues to gobble up uninspired minutes that do more damage than good. Maybe if Tucker had some evidence he could use to blackmail Sarver into forcing Gentry to play him, we might see better results.
FOR: Goran Dragic
For some reason, I get the feeling Goran still lacks confidence at times. While his play has been consistent [and good], I would love to see some swagger from that guy. I want to see him demanding the ball from his teammates and not settling into running off to the weakside when dumb and dumber are handling the ball [guess who is who and you win a prize]. What better way to get some swagger than a Russian bride [or at least borrowing one for a few nights].
FOR: Robert Sarver, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks
I wrote an article in March extolling the virtue of being proactive in regards to moving players and making trades. The theory was that the market for players often heats up to its highest point right before something causes that player to drop rapidly from relevance. Back then I suggested trading Gortat amid a period where Suns fans were most coveting of the big man.
Again in July, I strongly urged consideration for making this trade, much to the chagrin of my BSOTS brethren. Now, Gortat has gone and shot his mouth off, declined his extension and played like crap. Suns leverage = disappeared. So, for the Suns front office, you need this book.
FOR: The Suns Roster
While I am not sure if you can buy this on Amazon [frankly I wouldn’t be that shocked, you can buy almost anything there]. Wouldn’t it be great? Imagine being able to take DNA from two sources and combining it to make a brand new cloned player. While this could spark a whole different kind of debate [and a fun one at that], I would take some DNA from both players and create Markieff Tucker, superstar power forward.
FOR: The Fans
One guy that causes teams to game plan for. One guy that efficiently scores, gets to the line, and keeps the offense flowing. One guy that can defend multiple positions, knows how to help, and has the aggressive streak you need to lead the defensive charge. You add that guy to this roster and in the words of George Costanza, "SOLID GOLD, JERRY!"
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The following is not meant to foreshadow the results of the next three games. From all accounts, the Suns are likely better than their next three opponents. But... winning on the road in the NBA is difficult. Even most good teams struggle mightily to win half their road contests. For bad teams one could consider a different factor, because while bad teams are historically putrid on the road they generally have a chance at beating the great majority of the teams in the league on any given night.
At first, it would seem like the preponderance of players wearing purple should prevail. But you already know that's not what this article is about (or at least I hope you do). Look at the slim pickings from the next three adversaries.
So the Suns are going to trounce this trio, right? Don't be so sure. Allow me to present a cautionary tale... At the crux of my argument is what I alluded to earlier. Home court advantage. This article from hoopdata.com makes my case for me (and I didn't even have to lift a finger - just clicked one a couple times). The median (not mean, because I don't like being atrabilious) is 3.1 points from the study. Not too bad, right? That's 3.1 based on a neutral site. Since we all know that NBA teams don't play on neutral sites the real difference is 6.2 points. Last year the median difference between playing at home versus on the road was 6.2 points per game.
By now you're probably asking, "What does that have to do with this article and the Phoenix Suns?" But I jest. In actuality, I'm sure you all know what I'm getting at by now. You're a pragmatic, keenly discerning bunch.
**Warning - small sample sizes are not to be trusted (but the 2011-12 stats pretty much make the case)**
Cleveland Cavaliers 3-10 (2-2 home, 1-8 road)
Cleveland hasn't had a very large gap in their home/road performance. Burn the outlier! For a heads up, I'm linking all of these splits to their pages on basketball-reference.com, my personal Mecca for NBA stats (this is my Mecca of all that is basketball).
Only one insignificant point. That means that the Suns 107-105 thrashing of the Cavs in Phoenix earlier this year should hold up, right? More on this later. Can a bad team beat a good opponent at home? Well, Cleveland beat the same Philly team that just snuck by the Suns by nine points at home earlier in the season, 92-83.
Detroit Pistons 3-11 (2-3 home, 1-8 road)
There we go, some meat and potatoes, or turkey and mashed potatoes for those of you that still have some leftovers in the refrigerator (Damn, I talk a lot about food in my articles).
That's an 11.2 point swing. Jumbo large. Based on that, and the Suns 92-89 victory over the Pistons at home this season, that means Detroit is going to pummel us by eight points. That would be no bueno. The Pistons best home victory was a 103-83 debacle for the Boston Celtics.
Toronto Raptors 3-11 (2-4 home, 1-7 road)
Toronto +1.0 home, -7.3 road
8.3 points. That's still pretty significant. With no previous match to base a rematch on, let's just surmise the Suns better show up for this game. Like the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't, when the Raptors crushed them by 19, 105-86.
Now, we get to our beloved Suns. Our purple paladins riding in on their orange chariot to vanquish the insolent heathens.
Phoenix Suns 6-8 (5-3 home, 1-5 road)
14.7. That's the biggest disparity of the lot. The Suns are the most bipolar team of this grouping. Let's take this back to Cleveland. The Cavs game could turn from a nailbiter to a cushy win for Cleveland based on the Suns mercurial nature. What also seems alarming is that the Suns road record is shockingly similar to these other "bad" teams. In fact, teams with bad road records, like the Suns, are traditionally what these other bad teams feast on at home. Deliciously bad teams. The Suns do have a road win against a team with a winning record, the Charlotte Bobcats, but at this point I don't think that qualifies them as worldbeaters.
What do all these stats mean? Nothing... I think not. The splits throughout time support this same dynamic, which is also a perfectly reasonable assumption. If it looks right, sounds right and is supported by the complete history of the league in terms of empirical evidence then it must be... unreliable in predicting the outcomes of games over a very small sample size. Do you like how I used that one way to make my point and then flipped the script to discredit myself? I knew you would.
What it ultimately means to me is that the Suns need to be focused and play with heart and desire. Anything less could lead to a truly catastrophic road trip. This could be a tipping point. There are no gimmes. Not this season. Not for these Suns. And if this incarnation of Phoenix basketball starts counting chickens they might just get their asses plucked.
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