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The potential marriage of Josh Smith and the Phoenix Suns has been wanted by Suns fans for years. Now that his contract is expiring this summer, the Atlanta Hawks are reportedly interested in getting some return for Smith in the event he leaves the Hawks' nest.

Once Smith hinted at wanting max money this summer, the Hawks got the message that the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent could be more interested in dollars than loyalty. If a team needing a star-quality player offered enough money this summer, then Smith could be gone with nothing to show for it.

Rumors of the Suns wanting Smith at this year's deadline have been shot down several times, even at the highest levels of the organization, but the Suns' name still keeps popping up.

A report out of Detroit this morning says that the Suns and Mavericks are talking to Atlanta the most.

Ferry is shopping Smith hard, and was in Houston for the weekend. Two teams to watch, according to league executives: Dallas and Phoenix. Phoenix went after Hornets guard Eric Gordon pretty aggressively in free agency last summer, signing him to a maximum offer sheet before the Hornets matched it, and is in need of a high-caliber talent.

Dallas is trying to reload on the fly with Dirk Nowitzki slowed by age and injury.

Of course, no names have been mentioned coming back from the Suns and there is little reason for the Suns to actually take on Josh Smith at this point in time. They could just wait and make a huge offer in July.

Smith makes $13.2 million this year and could make as much as $16.4 million next year (the first of four years, escalating at 4.5% per year). Being an unrestricted free agent, Smith could take that big contract from anyone in the NBA - not just the Suns. So, trading for Smith could be a 30-game rental.

Trading Smith for Marcin Gortat straight up, which the Suns could do this week under the CBA, would save Atlanta tons of money but cut a big swath through the Suns projected summer cap room. Smith would make up to $9 million in 2013-14 more than Gortat was going to make.

Logically, the Suns would want Atlanta to absorb more 2013-14 money. But would Atlanta take on Beasley or Frye's $6 million contract? Unlikely. Other than that, the Suns contracts are kids (Morris, Marshall, draft picks), Dudley, Tucker, Dragic and Scola. Scola can't be traded this week, and Dudley and Dragic are way too good to include with Gortat on a rental that might only last 30 games.

It's a good deal if the Suns could get Atlanta to take back Beasley or Frye with Gortat. Then the Suns have one of two outcomes: (a) a long-term borderline all-star talent or (b) tons more cap room to start over.

If Atlanta doesn't want to absorb any more 2013-14 money than, say, Marcin Gortat, then the Suns have to decide if Smith is their big summer free agent target anyway.

But if so, why not just wait till summer to sign him outright without giving up any talent?

Poll
Would you trade Gortat for Josh Smith with the understanding that it would take a max contract to keep him in Phoenix?

  868 votes | Results

The Phoenix Suns get back to work tomorrow, but before they take the court, the Valley of the Suns crew still has a few more futures to debate. Because he was acquired via amnesty auction, Luis Scola...

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1. Goran Dragic

First-Half Season Average: 14 points (.440), 6.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals in 32.3 minutes of play

Dragic is not Nash. That said, he has put up fairly solid overall numbers for the first half of the season, despite the lack of talent surrounding him. Goran isn't meant to be the number one scorer on a team, but here he is. If the Suns can surround him with better talent I would expect his numbers to increase; but for now, we should probably just appreciate the player he is, and what he's been able to do for the team as the best player on the roster at the moment.

2. Marcin Gortat

First-Half Season Average: 11.3 points (.525), 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 assists in 31.5 minutes of play

Gortat's production has taken a hit so far this season compared to when he played with Nash last season (15.4 pts, 10 rbs). However, he's still putting up the eighth best numbers of any center in the league, even on a bad team. That has to speak to just how productive he really is. Gortat is probably the most valuable trade asset that the Suns have, so who knows if he will be here after this week. But no matter what happens, Gortat has shown he is a force to be reckoned with in the post, with or without Nash.

3. Luis Scola

First-Half Season Average: 12.8 points (.463), 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assist in 27.4 minutes of play

Scola has been every bit the savvy vet and scoring option that the Suns hoped he would be when they bid on his contract after being amnestied by the Rockets before the start of the season. Scola has helped the Suns not only as a shooter, but also on the boards. Although the new coaching staff will continue to give the young players increasing minutes for the duration of the season, you can expect Scola to remain a key part of this team in the second half.

4. Jared Dudley

First-Half Season Average: 11.5 points (.475), 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists in 29.3 minutes of play

Dudley has been quiet lately, but his numbers over the first half of the season show what he is capable of. There is a good possibility the Suns could trade Dudz by the deadline on Thursday, but no matter what they decide, Dudley has proven to be one of the most consistent and efficient players on the team over not only the first half of this season, but the past couple of years as well.

5. P.J. Tucker

First-Half Season Average: 5.5 points (.458), 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 22.5 minutes of play

Tucker's role on the Suns continues to be mainly a defensive, energy/hustle guy...but his offensive production has been increasing as well. P.J.'s impact on the first half of the season can't really be justified by stats alone. But anyone who's watched the Suns religiously over the past 53 games can certainly tell you how important he's been to the team.

6. Jermaine O'Neal:

First-Half Season Average: 6.9 points (.498), 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks in 16.6 minutes of play

Jermaine O'Neal may be one of the greatest surprises so far this season, but should we really be surprised? The Suns' training staff of wizards and magicians has been re-building and preserving the bodies of former All-Stars for many years, and O'Neal is simply this season's success story. O'Neal is actually giving Gortat a run for his money as the best center on the team. But will he remain on the Suns for the rest of the season?

7. Michael Beasley

First-Half Season Average: 10.8 points (.400), 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists in 22.5 minutes of play

This is a reflection of his first half production, and remember, he was hands-down the worst player in the rotation for half of it. However, Beasley has come on much stronger over the past month or so, and is actually leading the Suns right now in points per 36 minutes (17.3). But still, his overall efficiency is still third lowest in the rotation. Let's hope we get more good Beasley and less bad Beasley in the second half of the season.

8. Shannon Brown

First-Half Season Average: 11.2 points (.418), 2.7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 steals in 25.2 minutes of play

Brown has had a very up and down first half of the season. At times he looks like the best scorer in a Suns' jersey, and at other times he looks like a ball-stopper who jacks up horrible shots and hurts his team. The problem with Brown's game is that when he isn't on offensively, there is little else he can do to contribute. With the new coaching regime, I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown's minutes continue to dwindle in the second half of the season (assuming he's still here after Thursday).

9. Markieff Morris

First-Half Season Average: 7.3 points (.397), 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 20.4 minutes of play

Morris has probably been the biggest disappointment of the season thus far, and that's saying a lot. Now that Beasley and even Kendall Marshall have begun to show signs of life, Morris who is in his second NBA season and who has showed flashes of great potential at times is becoming the new goat. Morris is definitely getting his opportunities, he's just simply failing to make the most of them. Morris is shooting only .397 from the field (ahead of only Telfair, Zeller, and Johnson), despite being a power 4 by nature who should be taking most of his shots from within 10 feet of the basket. Maybe his woeful .271 shooting from three point range has something to do with that?

10. Sebastian Telfair

First-Half Season Average: 6 points (.381), 2.5 assists, 1.5 rebounds in 17.3 minutes of play

Kendall Marshall has already squeezed Telfair out of the rotation. But for the first half of the season, Bassy made a greater impact overall. Although Sebastian has struggled to find his rhythm and lead the second unit, he did show the ability to be a quality back-up point guard at times. However, the only question now is whether or not the Suns will find a trade partner for Bassy before the trade deadline.

So there you have it. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!

It’s time to debate Michael Beasley. There is perhaps no player on the Suns’ roster who has brought more joy and at the same time caused more despair to Suns’ fans than Beasley has...

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Some of the more enlightened folks in this great land know that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. One such player is Jared Dudley.

"Just because our team's bad," he said to BSotS' own Jim Coughenour and SB Nation's Kris Habbas on Friday's podcast. "I don't want to jump off. No."

Listen to the whole, awesome podcast here. Really, it's worth your time.

He acknowledged that Suns players are definitely frustrated, but disavowed us of the notion that they all want out.

"I think there's a lot of frustration, and there should be frustration built in too," he said. "I don't care what anyone tells you. If you're on a team that's losing the way we are, people should be frustrated, annoyed, but still upbeat at practice to want to get better. So there's a difference. You can't be frustrated that you don't want to be a part of it.

"I am frustrated that we're losing. I'm tired of seeing the same mistakes. But I'm willing to put the work in to make those mistakes be very limited, if not at all."

He acknowledged the hanging heads we all see late in games, and that Luis Scola lamented earlier in the year while the notion was still newsworthy for post-game quotes.

"I definitely think the losses and the fourth quarters where a team makes a run and we can't buy a bucket, guys are like ‘here we go again' happens," Dudley said.

"But I definitely see Lindsey [Hunter] with the discipline and accountability in practice that the ownership wanted."

Dudley opined that, if he is traded, he would not want to go to another bad team. But even rather than go to a good team, he'd simply rather stay right where he is.

"It's easy to be in a good mood when you're winning," he said. "When you're losing, you need to stay in the gym, stay on guys. You never want to leave. I'll be the first one to tell you that if I had to leave, I don't want to go to a team that's bad.

"Phoenix, city-wise, is one of the top 5 destinations to go to, so why not just stay here and just get better?"

Jared Dudley is a realist. He knows that, once Nash and Hill left after Amare a couple of years ago, the Suns were going to struggle for a while to develop a new identity and to develop new stars to carry the team going forward.

He also knows he is not that new star. He won't be making any All-Star games, or joining the Dunk Contest or anything like that. And there's no "easy button" to get those new stars.

"Sometimes it takes a while," he said. "You gotta go through a couple dog years to get Derrick Rose or be the Thunder with Durant and Westbrook. I understand that.

"I know I'm a leader here, I know my role here. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I've been through the lows here and highs, all the way to the Western Conference Finals. For me personally, I can only do the stuff that I can control. And for me its working on my game and getting better each year. Being a positive attitude for the Suns."

Ideally, the Suns would be able to keep Dudley through this transition and have him as their veteran locker room leader when the team starts winning regularly again. Any team with young guys as their best talents need leadership on the court and the sidelines. Dudley would be a great fit in that role.

But before you can take advantage of that veteran leader to guide the new stars, you need those new stars. Otherwise, Dudley is just a captain on a sinking ship.

Dudley is 27 now and will be nearing the end of his contract when the Suns realistically start winning again.

Is it smart to keep him around before the going gets good again?

Or is it smarter to trade your best asset at the height of his value to a team willing to give up a good young player in return, one with a higher upside than Dudley?

Just be glad you're not the GM of the Suns. Tough decision indeed.

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