The Phoenix Suns spent the offseason slashing veterans from their roster every time they found a playoff contender with a need for such a player. Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, Caron Butler and Marcin...

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The Phoenix Suns spent the offseason slashing veterans from their roster every time they found a playoff contender with a need for such a player. Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, Caron Butler and Marcin...

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While the Phoenix Suns might not want Houston Rockets center Omer Asik for themselves, the Suns do have exactly the return that Houston is looking for: a stretch four and lotto picks.

Setting aside for the moment that the Phoenix Suns might want Omer Asik for themselves (because I don't think they should), it is obvious that the Phoenix Suns have exactly what Houston wants in return for a trade of disgruntled center Omer Asik.

Recap on Asik

A year ago, after striking out on Dwight Howard in trade from Orlando, the Rockets used a little-known and lesser-available tactic to sign Omer Asik to an essentially unmatchable contract away from Chicago. Because Asik had been a second-round pick whose contract had expired, another team could offer a backloaded deal with money of essentially any amount up to the player maximum in year three.

The terms of the deal: $5 million in 2012-13, $5 million in 2013-14 and then a whopping $15 million in 2014-15. It's that third year which caused the Bulls to not match the offer. If the Bulls had matched the offer, their salary cap would have taken hits matching the salary going out (5, 5 and then 15), whereas Houston's cap is hit evenly in each year (8.33 million per year) though the salary is still the salary.

A year later, the Rockets got Dwight Howard in free agency and Asik is no longer needed. Asik is a 26-year old defensive and rebounding powerhouse who can't score from anywhere outside a couple feet from the basket, including the free throw line. You can't play Asik in crunch time because teams just make him miss free throws.

To Suns fans, he's Miles Plumlee at his NBA peak on the defensive and rebounding end, though Plumlee has a higher offensive upside.

The booty

Reportedly, the Rockets want some return on their investment despite being in an untenable situation. They can't play Asik and Howard together very effectively, and Asik wants out in the worst way. Latest reports are that the Rockets WILL trade Asik between December 15 and December 19.

The Rockets reportedly want a lottery pick AND a stretch four who can play full time power Howard out at the perimeter to leave the lane open for Dwight Howard.

The Suns

Interestingly, the Suns have the assets that Houston wants.

Need a stretch four?

  • Channing Frye - makes mid-level money to match Asik's cap hit, and makes 50% of his threes over the last few weeks. He's an older Ryan Anderson, but still provides the same skillset.
  • Markieff Morris - makes cheap money and isn't consistent, but fits the skillset Houston needs better than their current PF in Terrence Jones
  • Marcus Morris - was drafted by Houston in 2011 at #14 overall and fits the skillset they need right now, but was traded for a second round pick last spring so you can guess they don't like Morris enough to bench Terrence Ross. Still, Morris now makes 42+% of his threes - better than he ever did in Houston, and maybe will accept the role better than he did a year ago.

Need a lottery pick?

  • The Suns have up to three lottery picks in the 2014 Draft (though they project to be late in the lottery, in the 10-14 range)
  • The Suns have up to two lottery picks in the 2015 Draft (theirs and Lakers')

Do the Suns want to trade 30-year old Frye at this point, with the team overachieving thanks partly to his stabilizing and mature presence? Whatever you think of Frye on the court, he's a proven post defender and three-point shooter, but also a very calm, helpful voice in the locker room of a very inexperienced team.

I'm not sure the Suns want to trade Frye, or that Markieff or Marcus Morris are the answer in Houston.

The opportunity

I am not a fan of acquiring Asik for the Suns' use directly. He is older than both the Suns current centers (Asik is 26, while Plumlee is 25 and Len is 20), and he is paid a great deal more than they are. Plus, he appears to be a malcontent if he's not starting.

On the other hand, I think Plumlee does a lot of what Asik offers (though not as well) and Len really should either get time in the next 1-2 seasons to play big minutes or be traded. Len should not be pegged for 15 minutes a game for the next two years while a guy like Asik is under contract and demanding to start.

Yet, I do see the Suns having the return that Houston wants.

Could the Suns participate in a three-way trade with another team that wants Asik but doesn't have the stretch-four or lotto pick available in return?

This is where you come in, Suns fans. Here's your Sunday challenge.

Who out there wants Asik, and has assets to give back to the Suns befitting a lotto pick and Frye but doesn't match up well with Houston?

Remember, you have to meet salary cap restrictions of all teams involved.

The Phoenix Suns travelling contingent visited St. Jude's Children Research Hospital in Memphis, TN on Monday December 2nd while in town for a matchup against the Grizzlies the following day.

One of the benefits (and I do see it as a windfall) of being a professional athlete is the advantage of possessing more resources than most do to use in helping others.  From the benefits of affluence to the investment of something as simple as time, athletes are in a uniquely serendipitous position to bring joy to other people's lives. Professional sports organizations, more specifically the NBA, and most specifically the Phoenix Suns are also thoroughly committed to making a concerted effort to help others.

Everyone in Phoenix knows about the organization's continued effort to give back and build the community. From Suns in the Community to Phoenix Suns Charities, to local hospital visits and involvement in a number of other community programs the Suns are firmly entrenched in people's lives in the Valley.  But were you aware of the assiduity of the team in giving back at every opportunity, even on an off day on a road trip?

The Suns dropped by St. Jude's Children Research Hospital as part of the Hoops for St. Jude campaign, a partnership between NBA Cares and St. Jude.  The hospital treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases, but unlike other hospitals that only provide treatment for children it is also a research facility that has made great advances in contributing to pediatric cancer survival rates in the U.S.

The Memphis Grizzlies are also involved with the hospital and helped build a short term stay facility, aptly named the Memphis Grizzlies House, that can house up to 100 families a night while children receive care at the hospital. Check on St. Jude's page for more information about their mission and ways to help. Residents of Phoenix are probably familiar with PCH, Phoenix Children's Hospital, which is a huge part of our community like St. Jude's is to Memphis.

I would like to assert that trips like these do make a difference and leave a mark, as I was personally visited by the Gorilla in a Phoenix hospital as a five year old after sustaining a knee injury that had doctors concerned I might lose my leg.

As shown in the photo, all the Suns' horsemen and all the Suns' men were in attendance.  Of course, this included starting power forward Channing Frye.

"It's huge," said Frye.  "I think any time you look at the opportunity we have to play basketball and the chance we have to give back I think it's a great chance for us to give back to kids.  When kids are sick it just kills you.  When you have kids you never want to see them hurt or injured.  We're just appreciative of this great organization that gives us a chance to give back and see those kids."

Channing is speaking from firsthand experience as his daughter was born with cataracts in both eyes and has gone through care that has partially restored her vision.

But Frye was just a small part of a large group.  Here is coach Jeff Hornacek teaching some kids the finer points of the pick and roll and the value of the corner three.  They all appear to be picking up on it rather quickly, too.  I don't see any of these future all-stars missing defensive rotations.

Jeff_hornacek_reading_to_st

I encourage everyone to find a way to give back as we head into the holidays... and beyond. Being around the Suns organization, I can tell you these guys really do go out of their way to help in any way they can.  But everyone can make a difference.  I have always liked the aphorism, "I may not be able to do great things, but I can do small things in a great way."  Well, even all of those small things add up and sometimes they're really not small at all.

The Suns had a good week, going 2-1 overall which included beating the Houston Rockets on the road. So many different players had big contributions at various times...but who deserves to be named the "Suns Player of the Week"?

The Finalists

Eric Bledsoe aka "Crunch Time"

Weekly Stat Averages:

Points: 15.0 FG%: .525 Assists: 6.3 Rebounds: 3.0

After being out for six games from what I can only assume was the king of all shin bruises, Eric Bledsoe appears to be finally returning to form. Over his five games since returning to the Suns line-up, Bledsoe has had a few ups and downs, which is to be expected after missing so much time. However, he's starting to look more and more like himself...With his game against the Memphis Grizzlies being the only exception.

Still, Bledsoe gives the Suns an added element that they just can't get from anyone else. He has that kind of star quality that you see in marquee players, in which he seems to play his best in the biggest moments. Whether it's a buzzer beating three, or an acrobatic and-1 finish at the rim...Bledsoe has a knack for changing the momentum and finding a way to be the difference.


Goran Dragic aka "Scorin' Goran"

Weekly Stat Averages:

Points: 16.3 FG%: .489 Assists: 2.7 Steals: 2.0 Rebounds: 3.3

Dragic once again had the most consistent week of any Suns player...registering 16, 19, and 14 points, respectively, in the three games he played. Scorin' Goran continues to get it done with aggressive drives to the basket, and dare I say, Nash-like abilities to dribble circles around his man and pull big's out of the paint and score over the top of them.

The only thing missing from Dragic's game this week were the assists...something he excelled in during the time when Bledsoe was injured. This makes me wonder if he's struggling to run the offense the same way with Bledsoe sharing the duties, or if it's simply a matter of having the ball in his hands less and focusing more on scoring. However, Dragic continues to be the most consistent player on the team when it comes to his production overall, and he was once again the leading scorer for the team this week.


P.J. Tucker aka "Lock Down "

Weekly Stat Averages:

Points: 13.7 FG%: .427 3PT%: .500 Steals: 2.0 Rebounds: 7.0

P.J. Tucker may have had the best game of his career this week against the Houston Rockets...not just because of his 18 points on 8-13 shooting while going 2-2 from beyond the arc, nor his 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 assists, and 4 steals in his 40 minutes of play. Tucker's greatest achievement that night may have been the defensive vice-grip he squeezed James Harden into...all but taking him out of the game for most of the night, and limiting him to 3-17 shooting including 0-10 from three.

There's no doubt in my mind that Tucker was the best player on the court that night. His all-around game, and especially his defense were the reasons the Suns were able to marginalize the Rockets on the road, and beat them convincingly.



Honorable Mention:

Markieff Morris aka "The Philly Finisher"

Weekly Stat Averages:

Points: 14.3 FG%: .493 Rebounds: 7.7



The Player of the Week

P.J. Tucker

P.J. Tucker was the biggest difference for the Suns this week. How did he follow up his outstanding performance against the Houston Rockets? With another great performance against the Toronto Raptors in which he scored 18 points, and grabbed a team high 13 rebounds!

Tucker has been proving he is much more that just a defensive energy guy this season, with his current ranking as the 5th best three-point shooter in the entire league to prove it. However, it's his all-around game that I think impresses me the most about him. He's obviously worked very hard to become a threat from the corner three, and it's paying off for him big time...but he does a little bit of everything out there on the court, and has turned into one of the best overall players on the team because of it.

Poll
Who do you think deserves to be named the Suns' player of the week?

  332 votes | Results

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