While there's no doubt that 19 year old Archie Goodwin is currently one of the brightest beacon's of hope for the future of the Phoenix Suns franchise, it's also possible that he could be the primary source of frustration and disappointment for many fans next season who are too eager to see immediate results.

Goodwin gave fans plenty of reasons to be excited about his arrival during Summer League, where he was consistently aggressive and at times appeared almost unstoppable.

In addition to demonstrating a knack for attacking the basket and drawing fouls, which he was known for in college, he also showcased what appeared to be an improved and much more reliable jump shot from beyond the arc, shooting an impressive 57%, which was an area of his game he struggled with as a freshman at Kentucky.

His play for the Suns in the Summer League was a breath of fresh air for a fanbase who has been searching for a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

But is Goodwin really ready for prime time?

Perhaps we should take it from the guy who drafted him, general manager Ryan McDonough, who said himself that he believed Goodwin would have been a top 10 pick in 2014 if he had stayed in school another year.

Clearly McDonough saw Archie Goodwin as more of an investment for the future, rather than a "win now" type of player who was ready to make an immediate impact for the Suns.

Conventional wisdom would certainly agree with his assessment, as Goodwin struggled to find his niche at the University of Kentucky last season and looked like anything but a finished product. There was no question about his talent or his potential, but Goodwin struggled to find any consistency and it looked as if the game was just too big for him at times.

Here is a look at his stats from his freshman season at UK:


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
2012 - Archie Goodwin 33 31.8 4.8 10.8 44.0 0.5 1.9 26.6 4.1 6.4 63.7 1.5 3.2 4.6 2.7 3.1 1.1 0.5 2.9 14.1

The biggest positive you can take from these stats is that his aggressive style of play that fans loved about him in summer league was also his trademark in college. Averaging 6.4 free throw attempts per game is very impressive for a guard (and was the highest in the NCAA at any position last season).

However, his 63.7% shooting from the stripe is another story. Add to that his 44% shooting from the field overall, and dismal 26.6% from beyond the arc, and you can start to see why Goodwin hurt his draft stock last season after initially being ranked one of the top prospects coming out of high school.

Goodwin's struggles were further exacerbated when asked to play the point guard position, where the Wildcats were searching for anyone to step up and take the reigns. Although by all accounts, Goodwin is a more natural two-guard, he tried his best at running the point for Kentucky with less than stellar results, as evident from his negative assist to turnover ratio.

Still, there's no question what Archie Goodwin can do...attack, score, and defend. He is super athletic, has a high motor, and plays with energy and effort on both sides of the court.

Since head coach Jeff Hornacek stated that he plans for Goodwin to make an immediate impact this season, this is what I believe the Suns will use to their advantage right off the bat from him. Despite what looked to be an improved jump shot in Summer League, I wouldn't count on him suddenly becoming a three point specialist for the Suns overnight, nor would I hold my breath that the Suns will actually make good on their original plans to make him into a point guard (at least I hope not).

Archie was still learning to play the game at the college level last season, so Suns' fans may do well to temper their expectations for him this year. Goodwin will have to make a huge adjustment to the fast pace and level of talent in the NBA, and for a 19 year old kid who is still so young in not only his age, but in his development as a basketball player, it may be unrealistic to expect much more than the minimum while treating anything else as just a bonus at this point.

I am extremely optimistic about Goodwin's future with the Suns, as I believe he has the potential to be one of the best players on the team in the near future. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this season is more about patience than production.

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Here's the whole enchilada of Suns podcasts with Kris and Jim during the 2012-13 season, through June 30, 2013.

Some of the topics discussed include the Suns woefully pathetic defense, rotations, personnel, scheme, coaching, organizational changes, (lack of) talent, over/under on a player going for 30, the TNT refund game and a look ahead into the coming week.

Like I mentioned, it's a pilot, so please have mercy on us me. It can only get better (or not). Special thanks to Kris for joining me in this undertaking.

I was also thinking about doing some artwork (even better than my current creation) for the standard tag image for the podcast posts and a name, so any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Enjoy.

Podcast #1 12/4/12

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Bright Side of the Sun has been predicting a Beasley release sometime after September 1 since the day after the news broke that Beasley was pulled over again for speeding, and then suspected of possession of illegal drugs.

As with any troubled person you might know, when they get in trouble yet again you're disappointed but not surprised. Beasley did not progress over the past year in laid-back Phoenix with a management team committed to his success. In fact, he regressed into his worst NBA season yet. Maybe the pressure to grow up made him retreat even further into this own brain than ever. Whatever it was, Beasley got worse.

It hasn't been a good few years in the free agency market for the Phoenix Suns. I'll repeat what I wrote above. The Suns will likely be paying Childress and Beasley $13.18 million this year to watch basketball from the sidelines.

By releasing Beasley after September 1, the Suns can eat all $6 million of this season's pay this year without stretching it over 5 years and wishing in 2014 they had just a few more dollars for that role player they need as they rise from the ashes. Or 2017 or even 2018 for that matter. Why make the Beasley pain last 5 more years!??

Now, we're all waiting for the day.

Finally, new Suns GM Ryan McDonough let slip the Suns best-laid plans last week in response to a question about the relationship between the Butler salary dump and Michael Beasley.

"Trading Caron Butler has nothing to do with the Beasley situation," McDonough said to Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports late last week. "We thought this was a good deal for basketball reasons. I'd imagine over the next week or so we would have resolution (regarding Beasley)."

Sometime in the next week. Meaning, sometime in the first week of September.

Previously, the Suns had been completely tight-lipped about their next action with Beasley. Some people take that as biding their time until the best opportunity arose (ie. after September 1) and not wanting to show their cards too early, while others let their minds wander into dark corners and assume the worst: that Beasley would never be released.

Frankly, I've been of the mind this entire time that Beasley would be released sometime conveniently after September 1, and that the Suns just didn't bother broadcasting it to the nation. I took their silence as simply a preference to DO the right thing over TALKING about doing the right thing. The latter is disingenuous, and potentially damaging to both the team and the player if unexpected twists and turns come about by September 1.

Anyway, now it's just a matter of convenience. Training camp starts in 4 weeks, the season starts in 8 weeks, and the league-year's first paycheck doesn't come for 10 weeks.

Sometime in there, the Suns will most likely release Beasley.

The question is when

  • September 1 is a Sunday
  • September 2 is Labor Day
  • September 3 is the podcast recording day. Maybe the Suns don't want to give Jim the satisfaction of releasing Beasley before he records the podcast?
  • September 4+ is... well, boring and anticlimactic
  • October 1 is just before training camp, but enough time to see if anyone wants to take Beasley for anything of value. It's still better to trade Beasley than eat the contract. The Suns traded Butler for the same reason
  • October 29 is just before players start earning their 2013-14 money, and teams' last chance to change their rosters before their season starts

Let's have a BSotS SUPERCOOL RELEASE DATE contest!

It's your turn to guess the date!

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When the Phoenix Suns acquired Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler earlier this summer, much was made of GM Ryan McDonough's "man-crush" on Caron Butler. With the Suns' recent decision to send Butler to Milwaukee for Vyacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith, McDonough actually revealed that his true infatuation is not with any one player, but with the idea of flexibility.

True, the Suns did unload a veteran leader on an expiring contract for two largely no-name players (one whose name is a nightmare to pronounce, while the other's is hilariously easy). However, this trade was not about either of these two players, but about a third, mostly invisible and underrated entity: flexibility. The Suns are now under the salary cap and have the luxury of financial flexibility, something that will be sure to help them in future trade negotiations this season. The Phoenix Suns will now be entering the Vyacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith era with a solid foundation of assets, flexibility, and tankability.

Revisiting the Dudley-Bledsoe Trade

Bledsoe-dudley-butler_medium

Back in July, the Phoenix Suns traded Jared Dudley and a second round pick for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. It's easy to forget that the reason the Suns were even able to throw their hat into negotiations for Bledsoe was because they were equipped with the cap room to facilitate a three-team deal. In order for the Clippers to upgrade their wing talent by acquiring Dudley and JJ Redick from the Bucks, they had to unload Caron Butler's $8 million contract to a team. At the time, the Suns were approximately $6 million under the salary cap, which allowed them to take Butler's contract, which was the price (along with Dudley) for landing Eric Bledsoe.

This trade put the right at the 2013-14 salary cap, giving them relatively little flexibility heading into the season. This is exactly why the team turned right back around to trade Butler to another team under the cap.


Goodbye, Caron

Smith-butler-kravtsov_medium

When the Suns announced their trade sending Butler to Milwaukee for Smith and Kravtsov, many fans were left wondering why the team traded a projected starter for two players that may not even make the final roster. After all, wasn't Caron supposed to play the team's new "big brother" role, imparting his wisdom to this young, inexperienced team?

Make no mistake, this move was definitely about shedding salary. However, it would be unwise to think this was a "Banker Bob" decision stemming from the team's need to cut costs and be "cheap" (I really despise that argument). In fact, shedding salary helps the Phoenix Suns heading forward. As mentioned above, Caron Butler was not a secondary "prize" to be had from the Dudley-Bledsoe deal. On the contrary, he was the means through which the team was able to acquire the high-potential, much-desired commodity that is Eric Bledsoe.

This is not to say that Caron Butler has no value. He definitely could have been a mentor for the younger players and a steadying force on the court as well as in the locker room. But in the end, the flexibility of being a few million dollars under the salary cap is worth more to this Suns team than an aging veteran with little to provide in terms of on-court value or future returns.

By letting the LA Clippers unload Caron Butler and his $8 million price tag on the Suns, the team was agreeing to sacrifice short-term flexibility for the right to acquire Bledsoe. By turning right back around and dealing him to Milwaukee for just $2.5 million of salary in return, they've regained flexibility. Just like the Dudley to LA and Scola to Indiana trades, this deal was beneficial to all parties involved: the Suns get to maintain flexibility heading into the season, Butler gets to go home to Wisconsin, and the Bucks get some ammo to aid their efforts to be a terribly middling team with an 8th-seed ceiling in the Eastern Conference.

Goodbye, Caron. I'm sure you would have been a calming presence in what will surely be a rocky year for the Suns. At least you will forever be immortalized as a member of Scott Howard's exclusive "Never ORNG" club.

This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe. -Ryan McDonough

Thanks to this trade, the Suns have positioned themselves to again be opportunistic buyers in future trades this season. McDonough emphasized this stance when announcing this trade, stating "This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe." Never mind the part where he goes on to discuss the "two young players" the team also acquired through this trade. That's all good-PR hogwash. I would be very surprised to see both guys still on the roster after training camp.

Let's now take a look at where this trade leaves the Suns' cap situation...

Phoenix Suns Capology

The Suns' 2013-14 salary total is now $53.437 million, leaving them $5.241 million under the salary cap.


As can be seen in the spreadsheet above, the Phoenix Suns now have 17 guaranteed contracts after the Butler trade and the official signing of Alex Len (whose contract details were excellently covered here by Dave). The roster payroll now sits at a total guaranteed 2013-14 salary amount of $53,437,163, leaving the Suns $5.241 million under the salary cap for this season. The Suns now have more cap room than any other team in the NBA except the Philadelphia 76ers. It looks like the Suns and the Sixers will be battling all season long for flexibility and tankability (as things stand, Philly would be ahead of the Suns in reverse-power rankings).

By negating the acquisition of Butler in the Bledsoe-Dudley trade, the Suns have reversed the cap hit and are now almost exactly where they were in July, before "mini-Lebron" came to town. This means that Phoenix has effectively traded Jared Dudley and a second round pick for Eric Bledsoe, Vyacheslav Kravtsov, and Ish Smith, all while retaining their cap position.

What's Next?

1) Before the start of the season, the Suns will need to get rid of at least two of their 17 players in order to reach the roster maximum of 15. Prime candidates for the Suns to be "waiving" goodbye to next seem to be both players the Suns just traded for (Kravtsov and Smith), Malcolm Lee, and Michael Beasley. I expect at least two of these guys to be off the team by the end of training camp. Which brings me to my next point...

2) "What's next for Michael Beasley?" seems like it could have been a weekly headline ever since B-Easy arrived in Phoenix last summer. Fortunately for Suns fans (and unfortunately for Beasley), all signs point to Beasley being off the team soon. If the team waives Beasley on or after September 1st, his 2014-15 guaranteed salary of $3 million would be stretched over three seasons. The cap ramifications of "stretching" Beasley can be found in the second sheet of the spreadsheet above ("Salaries with Beasley "stretched"").

Although we never quite know what's next for the Phoenix Suns with ever-active Ryan McDonough at the helm (seriously, was anybody expecting this Butler trade? Or the Bledsoe deal? Or even the first round pick for Scola?), these are the moves I expect to be made next. The Suns could also make a minor trade or two to cut the roster fat (Kendall Marshall's hold on his roster spot seems to always be in flux) or perhaps immediately trade for their next "exciting player" (doubtful).

Regardless of what's next, the Phoenix Suns are in great position heading forward. I very much expect the Suns to be in the thick of several trade discussion throughout this upcoming season and especially near the February trade deadline. Equipped with several desirable contracts and draft picks, along with the luxury of cap space (which will allow them to take back a hefty contract), the Suns will reap the benefits of shrewd cap management and effective use of their ample flexibility.

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