July 20: I posted this article just over two months ago. Basically, the conclusion is that Eric Gordon is better than all the options, but that Mayo, Lee and Hill were NOT statistically any more valuable than Shannon Brown.
Gordon got 4 yrs, $58 mil; Hill got 5 yrs, $40 mil; Lee got 4 yrs, $20+ mil; Mayo got 2 yrs, $9 mil; Brown got 2 yrs, $7 mil (only $5.25 mil guaranteed, and with stretch provision could be as little as .58 mil in 2013 if released).
Let's walk down memory lane.
Originally posted on May 19, 2012:
As we anticipate the free agent frenzy that engulfs the lives of players, front offices and fans throughout the NBA, we fall in love with player A or player B on another team while discounting the guy we saw play nearly every minute of the prior season.
We look at player A and say "I just love ____ part of player A's game! If this guy just gets better at ______, he could be awesome with the Suns!" We all assume that player A will fit in perfectly with the Suns, and that he will be just as interested in improving ______ as we are.
The Suns need more scoring and playmaking from the perimeter. Even Steve Nash, at the end of the season in context of what needs to improve for him to return next season, mentioned the real need for playmakers. He understands that the Suns offense stagnates when he is resting or playing off the ball or being trapped and forced to give the ball up to the mismatch.
With Shannon Brown a unrestricted free agent and Jared Dudley truly being more of a swingman than a pure shooting guard, the Suns have an obvious opening or two at the shooting guard spot.
One early ranking of overall free agents mentions nearly a dozen shooting guards, but only a few match the Suns' desire for youth and "value", having no intention to overpay a free agent this summer if at all possible. To fit the criteria of young prospects, all of these guys are restricted free agents who have yet to reach their prime years.
Some rules I followed, to determine the 5 potential signings here:
- I looked only at the one ranking of free agents, so if I missed anyone it was an oversight due to lack of effort on my part and all blame should be foisted on me as a result.
- I have purposely focused only on the shooting guard prospects in this article, since the Suns simply have to sign someone to share 48 minutes with Jared Dudley.
- I have ignored older players, such as Vince Carter, Mo Williams and (not listed because he hasn't opted out yet) Jamal Crawford
As you'll see, the pickings are slim at shooting guard this summer. Much more plentiful are point guards, small forwards and bigs, though most of the best of those are RFAs as well. All numbers are from the 2011-12 season except for Eric Gordon's
due to his injury.
Click on the pic to make it bigger, or click on this link to the page on basketball-reference.com.
In looking through the prospective free agents this summer, I found 5 potential signings and compared them to the Suns' Jared Dudley.
I included Dudley here for reference because (a) the new player would ideally be a better player than Dudley or the Suns are just treading water and (b) because Dudley makes $4.25 million per season for the next 3 years.
Certainly, Eric Gordon will and SHOULD make more than Dudley. He is a better scorer and better passer, though not a better shooter or rebounder. But simply, Gordon can create and make his own shots, and he is 3 years younger than Dudley.
But what about the others?
George Hill is a better passer than Dudley, a better defender and at least as good a shooter, but he is small (6'2") and is a better fit as a combo guard coming off the bench. Hill is a winner - an efficient scorer and defender - but is he any better than the role players the Suns already have? Hill is, at best, a 5th- to 8th-best player on a contending team. The Suns boast 5 of those already.
Courtney Lee profiles similarly to George Hill. He can shoot and defend, but is a bit undersized. His ceiling, as well, appears to be a 5th- to 8th-best player on a contender.
O.J. Mayo? He numbers look awfully pedestrian is this context of being compared to peers. He is a scorer and can pass pretty well, but is not a good shooter or defender. He is still young though, so his potential may still be tapped by a team willing to give him the minutes. The talent is there, but is the drive?
Which brings us back to Shannon Brown.
Brown wants to return and has already finished his half-season adjustment to a new team and a new offense. He knows the Suns, the staff, the defensive and offensive schemes and, especially, his role. His second half was of high quality, and given the options out there that fit the Suns' criteria he just might be the best one.
If they can get Eric Gordon this summer, that's great. He's young and talented and worth a whole lot of money.
But if Gordon is gone, there is no need to overpay for the next best option. One of Brown, Mayo, Lee or Hill will come reasonably this summer and will provide roughly the same value that Brown gave us this past season.
The Suns can then spend their money on a PF (Brook Lopez?) or SF (Nic Batum). Or just wait until 2013 to break the bank.