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When the Phoenix Suns added Luis Scola to the roster last year it was in a last ditch effort to compete despite losing leaders Steve Nash and Grant Hill. All season the coaches struggled with how to use Scola and the team did not compete.

Now Scola is Indiana bound and the Bright Siders have takes. They have lots of takes...

Tenth Topic: Five Questions on the Remainder of the Off-Season

1. Breaking the Ice: What are your thoughts on the acquisition of Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and a 2014 first round pick for Luis Scola?

Jim Coughenour: When the Suns acquired Scola last season it didn't make sense to me. Adding a veteran presence who is a starter isn't the norm for rebuilding teams. Maybe Scola helped the Suns to a couple wins that moved them down in the draft order... But, IF Len was their first choice it doesn't hurt there. Now the team has flipped Luis for a first round pick in a stacked draft class. I still don't agree with the philosophy... Still, all's well that ends well.

Dave King: This trade was all about the future. The Suns needed to get Scola to a playoff team. He's a guy so used to winning he has no interest in riding out a three-year rebuild. He just doesn't belong in Phoenix. To turn him into a coveted 2014 first round pick is a bonus, given that he's a 33 year old backup at this point. Getting two other players in the deal was the cost of doing business, though Plumlee at least might be a serviceable backup.

Kris Habbas: If it were 2007 this would be a HUGE trade for the Suns, but with hindsight that might have been a disappointment even then. Green is a great athlete that progressed as a basketball player under the Indiana Pacers staff last year and add a first round pick (likely between 25-30) then this ends up as a good, slightly above average trade for the Suns.

Richard Parker: This is a very good trade for both teams. A deal like this is all about the relative value of assets. Scola is worth much less to this Suns team than he is to a Pacers team that wants to legitimately compete for a championship next year. Getting a 1st round pick for him is tremendous value, in my opinion. Having to take on Green's contract for two years is a slight annoyance, but a 1st rounder is worth adding $2.5M to 2014-15 payroll. Win-win-win deal (for Phoenix, Indiana, and definitely for Scola).

Sean Sullivan: Assets, assets, and more assets! It made a lot of sense for Indiana and it certainly made a lot of sense for Phoenix as well. The additional 2014 pick was definitely the showcase of the trade for the Suns. However, Miles Plumlee was also the 26th pick in the draft just last year, and could be another young asset this team specifically targeted in the deal. As for Green, he was the cost of making the deal happen...nothing more.

2. Scola brought back two contracts that add up to his money, but at different positions. How does this affect wins and losses this season?

DK: No impact. The Suns were projected, with Scola, to win the fewest games in the West by most people. That will still be the case without him.

KH: Well, in 262 games Green has a total win share of 4.1 meaning that he does not move the needle in wins and losses. I like the idea of Green as the back-up two/three to come in and provide athleticism, but he is not a shooter, play-maker, or individual scorer; all of which are glaring holes. On the positive side he is a quality defender and elite athlete. LOB CITY!

RP: It definitely makes the team worse. Scola's a vet that only would have taken minutes from younger guys on this rebuilding squad and add a few wins. No one wants that. Now, we have two guys that will probably be entertaining (and frustrating) to watch but will really not contribute much to the team's overall success.

SS: I don't think it helps, nor hurts the teams' chances of tanking winning. This was all about clearing the contract of a veteran player who could be much more useful on another team, and getting some value for him in return that can help the Suns continue their rebuild.

JC: Positively... or do I mean negatively? I think that this makes the team worse, which is good because a high lottery pick next year is imperative. Stockpiling meaningless wins to move from 3 to 7 is lunacy. At the very best, or worst?, the team is no better than last season's incarnation... pending Frye's contribution.

3. Overall the team seems to be looking to get more athletic no matter the cost in terms of shooting, skill, or other sacrifices... Is this a wise strategy?

DK: Got to start somewhere. That's where Houston started - stockpiling assets regardless of position - and it eventually worked out for them. However, other teams haven't had as much luck doubling up positions. We'll see, but I think McD will put together a solid team within 12 months.

KH: Long-term that is a wise strategy, but in the short term it is going to lead to some tough basketball for the eyes. If Channing Frye returns and plays to form then he is the only shooter on the roster higher than 35.2% career. having solid interior scorers and attacking point guards is borderline useless with no shooters to space the floor.

RP: While the team has definitely gotten more athletic and and worse at shooting, I think that's just a byproduct of the asset game that McDonough is playing. The lack of shooting honestly won't matter during this season since we seem to be headed towards a high 2014 draft pick. Shooting is easier to develop, especially with an expert shooting coach leading the way, than athleticism or pure talent. It's also easier to find in free agency.

SS: This team has desperately needed some youth and athleticism for many years now. I think it's a great strategy for the time being, as many of these younger players can still develop their skills in other areas. Not to mention, the Suns can always address other skill sets that they still find themselves lacking in with the multitude of draft picks that they have lined up for the future.

JC: I think the moves have been more focused on moving pieces that don't make much sense at the Suns' current station and acquiring youth and draft picks. I'm not sure if these moves are dictated by athleticism or whether that's just based on the best available packages. The Suns have stated they want to run, so these moves should help implement that philosophy. I think the wisdom involved is dictated by the results. The Rockets have seemed to garner success with a strategy that might be similar to McDonough's endgame.

4. This has been a spectacularly active off-season so far with time for more moves and changes... What are your thoughts to date?

KH: The team has accomplished a lot of really good things and have more assets in a three month window than they were able to do in a three year window. Despite having better assets three years ago, Ryan McDonough (McMiracle) has put his reputation to work and churned out a young, athletic, roster that now has potential going forward.

RP: I am very pleased with the way the Suns' summer has turned out. The team has gotten significantly younger for the future and has continued to stockpile assets. I really do believe that they have the assets required to be part of the next big deal when a disgruntled superstar wants out of his current team. Meanwhile, the Suns can continue to develop our the guys, aim for a high 2014 pick in a stellar class, AND have great cap flexibility in the future. I like this team's future.

SS: I couldn't be happier. It's hard to believe how much has already changed in the one month that McDonough has taken the reigns. It will still be a while before we can accurately measure just how effective these trades were in making the Suns better...but you can at least see they have already made the team younger and given the team the opportunity to acquire assets which can be used to further improve the team going forward; as long as they draft or trade for the right players.

JC: Very optimistic. McDonough's moves have have been somewhat tempestuous, but I haven't had a problem with any of them. Glad to see some legitimate change after the stasis over the dark age overseen by Lance Blanks. Although... credit from last summer may seem appropriate since the Goodwin pick was acquired before McMiracle appeared on the scene. Ryan still had to nail the pick, and there's at least potential that he may have. Once Gortat is off the roster I think this will easily be the best summer in several years.

DK: So far, this offseason earns an A in my book. Every move is made with a purpose and has brought back needed future assets. The Suns had the flexibility to eat the contracts Butler, Lee, Green and Plumlee to net Eric Bledsoe for Dudley and a 2014 first rounder for Scola. Nice haul, with credit to both Babby/Sarver and McDonough.

5. Should the team look to make more moves? Are there any more moves to be made?

RP: Definitely. A team like this should ALWAYS looks to make more moves. While a big deal to land a star might not present itself for a while, the team should focus on smoothing out the roster a bit by getting rid of some of the clutter. A 2-for-1 or 1-for-none type deal to get rid of a player or two the team doesn't need would really help. Obviously, more trades to add to the asset pile should also be pursued.

SS: There are plenty of moves left to be made...the Suns are far from a finished product at this point. I believe the roster is still in flux and there are some necessary moves that will need to be made to ensure that the team maximizes their current assets. When those moves will come? Who knows...but I think they will.

JC: Gortat.

DK: Definitely more moves have to be made. There are 16 guys under guaranteed contract, with 7 of them 25 or older on a rebuilding team. On top of that, only two young players (under 25) have previously earned regular minutes in the NBA (Bledsoe and Kieff).

KH: If teams field offers for Marcin Gortat when he is medically cleared, yes. Other than Gortat the teams assets are more in the players that they recently acquired.

6. BONUS: With the team moving on from veterans like Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, and Jermaine O'Neal how do they replace the leadership on the roster? Also, final thoughts on The Luis Scola Era in Phoenix?

SS: I think you let the leadership position occur organically with a younger team like Phoenix. We are not in the position to where we need that leader in order to compete for a championship right now...so why not let the players figure it out on their own? Certainly nobody saw Jared Dudley as the future locker room leader when he was acquired from Charlotte...we may have another guy ready to step up and take on that role. As for Scola, I thought he was the consummate professional here in Phoenix. You could tell the losing bothered him, and I'm happy to see him go to a team like Indiana where he can help them compete.

JC: Hornacek will play a big role in this. It would be great if Dragic can take on more of a role in this facet. Frye can be a sage mentor as well. Scola was a mistake that ended up working out well. I wasn't a fan of his game in Houston, but grew to appreciate him here. He tries to play the game the right way (except for egregious flopping).

DK: All three are in a better place now on deep playoff contenders, and the Suns got assets for two of them. Good for them, and good on the Suns. Scola was a great guy and a model for the kids to follow, but he just didn't connect with any of the kids professionally last season. Coaches loved Scola, though, and his effort will be missed.

KH: I felt bad for those three in particular this past season. All three have been around, won games, and should have been on a contender, but that didn't happen. Now all three have a realistic chance to make an appearance in the NBA Finals in 2014 so good for them. I will be rooting for them.

RP: Although the current roster doesn't seem to have a true leader, some of the leadership lost during this youth transformation can definitely be replaced. Caron Butler mentioned his role as a leader and mentor and seems to embrace it. PJ Tucker can even be a vocal leader on the court. I also look for Dragic to make strides in that department this season. As a rebuilding team gets younger, it definitely loses some of the poise and savvy that vets like Dudley and Scola provide, but the point is for the young stars to eventually develop those exact characteristics to go with their immense talent. Scola was very professional during his tenure in Phoenix and will be missed. I wasn't a fan of his before he arrived here but definitely am now. Mostly, I'm glad that he will be able to contribute on a contender next year, just like Dudley on the Clippers and O'Neal in Golden State.

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The NBA has been regarded as a trendy league by many, more interesting to the younger demographic, and appealing to the masses that want to be entertained. Over the years internally the league has set many trends.

Whether that is with dynasties like the early 1960's Boston Celtics or with fashion like Russell Westbrook's fish lures T-Shirt at the 2012 NBA Finals; trends are set and followed for years or generations.

One of the more recent trends seemingly was started when LeBron James decided to join forces with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat. They did not create this trend, but rather perfected it.

That trend was set a few years prior with the blockbuster trades of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics for a package of talent that allowed the disgruntled star the opportunity to land on a winner. It seemed as if loyalty was going to be the downfall of a brilliant career for Garnett, but after wading through four losing seasons, seven straight losses in the first round, and no direction for the future Garnett finally had enough to make the decision to move on.

In recent years there have been numerous stars that have threatened to jump ship, but only after a handful of years of service, much different than Garnett.

All of those teams faced the same decision as the Minnesota Timberwolves with Garnett and brought back package deals of talent for their disgruntled star. Garnett and the Wolves did not invent this system, but they were a part of the recent plunge into superstar trading and teaming up to make on-court replications of The Avengers sent out to defend their cities sending the rest of the NBA into a black hole in space.

Superstar talents such as Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and most recently, Dwight Howard, have delivered ransom notes to their teams a la Garnett six years ago.

The Garnett trade was years in the making as the Celtics were transitioning from the Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker Era to the next wave. Those two had a run that came close several times, but never cultivated the type of winning that the Pierce-Garnett-Allen trio would. It took type, three years specifically, to build the required assets to make this type of move as well as the right circumstances.

"When teams have maybe a disgruntled superstar, what are they looking for in return? Well, they're looking for picks, that's what they want," Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough stated.

Over the three year window from 2004-2005 and 2006-2007 the Celtics shrewdly acquired assets that resembled a youth movement and rebuilding process. The team won 102 games over that stretch and drafted six attractive first round picks filled with potential, athleticism, and versatility.

Instead of going full fledge rebuild the circumstances presented themselves to Danny Ainge to flip three of those young talents (Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, and Gerald Green), two first round picks, and cash for Garnett.

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That move was made possible due to long-term planning and a rare, unique situation presenting itself. The team had struggled for years, but had a star in Paul Pierce.

Jefferson had just come off his third season in the NBA, at 23 years old, and was poised to be a double-double machine (16.0 and 11.0) going forward with his size, strength, and skill in the paint. He was the centerpiece in this move as a player that had a modest chance of replacing the star power of Garnett.

Add to that a 22 year old Green; athletic, high-flying, and filled with potential that would allow him to rival Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady as they were on their way out of their individual primes. Gomes was steady, an additional asset added, and a piece to add to the transition for the Timberwolves.

The picks wound up to being false hope as they turned into Wayne Ellington (2009) and Jonny Flynn (2009).

Throw in Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff to make the trade financially achievable, then you have a transcendent move that shakes the basketball world to its core.

Circumstance played a major role in the move happening as the Celtics also built up other assets to land former All-Star Ray Allen on draft night. The combination of Allen and Pierce were enough to sway Garnett into allowing the trade and moving on from the team he had been the face of for 12 years.

Making a defining move like this takes years of strategy, planning, circumstance, and luck. Obviously lots and lots of luck.

Winning only 102 games in three seasons also means losing 144 games and acquiring six Top 25 picks and other assets along the way. A three year strategy of building up young assets is tough to watch, but can have a payout that is immeasurable as seen in Boston.

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Translating that from Green and Yellow Prestige with a Championship to Purple and Orange might be a complex game of connect the dots, but the dots are starting to form. It took the Celtics three years and 144 losses to build the assets that allowed the right circumstance to turn into the perfect storm for them.

In a sense the Suns just wrapped up season number three with 132 losses (lockout shortened 2011-2012 season included) and just now they are building assets on the roster.

The Suns are four years removed at the start of this season from a trip to the Western Conference Finals; a boxout from a Game 7 in Los Angeles where they could have been in the Finals against those same Celtics.

They were recently very good and as a franchise have always been consistently competitive with the rest of the league. Since then the team has stripped away the roster and eroded the competitive gear that they have always had. That is a necessary evil as the Celtics were five years removed from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals before their massive overhaul.

Today the Suns are seemingly putting themselves in a similar situation with The Deputy (Ryan McDonough) stepping into his former boss The Sheriff (Danny Ainge) job in a new city. He has begun the process of building the assets needed to watch a young team go through growing pains or to make a bold move.

With the coaching staff and decision-makers all locked in and on board the roster is something that needed cultivating and to be massaged.

Instead of that McDonough took a jack hammer to the team carefully sidestepping the holdover talent that will be a part of the future while shaping the roster in his image. Lots of young, athletic players that can be assets or building blocks for the future. Based on the philosophy Ainge has seemed to embed in McDonough this is a part of a much more masterful plan.

"I think we're well positioned to strike if and when the next disgruntled superstar becomes available," McDonough recently said in a 620 KTAR Radio Interview.

The current roster is a list of assets at this point.

Here is the list: Eric Bledsoe (No. 18 Overall, 2010), Markieff Morris (No. 13 Overall, 2011), Marcus Morris (No. 14 Overall, 2011), Kendall Marshall (No. 13 Overall, 2012), Alex Len (No. 5 Overall, 2013), and Archie Goodwin (No. 29 Overall, 2013). Mix in the future picks for 2014 (three first round picks) and 2015 (two first round picks) giving this team ample assets to rebuild through themselves methodically or with a dramatic, league altering move.

Add in veterans with value such as Marcin Gortat, P.J. Tucker, and Channing Frye and the Suns are in a position to make a big splash for an impact player.

If a package of Jefferson, Gomes, Green, Ratliff, Telfair, and two future picks were worth a superstar why can't a package of current Suns do the same thing? The Celtics were able to keep Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo in their trade as well to make the team a legitimate contender. That was an afterthought in the trade, but in building the assets to make a major move it is pivotal to gain more than you need to make the move. This way you do not bring in the stars to an empty roster and become the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets, good, but not Championship material.

Could a package of a few young prospects, a few veterans, and picks sway a team to part with a "disgruntled" superstar talent?

The element the Suns are missing is that "Paul Pierce level talent" that attracts others to the team like Garnett and Allen while gluing together a high profile trio or ensemble. This is just a theory, but looking at the current make-up of the roster it is clear that some pieces fit while others do not. Having luck and circumstance has to play into the teams favor for any of this to work, but the assets acquired are similar, if not better, than the package that brought together a trio that won a Championship just a few years ago.

Will that situation manifest for the Suns in the near future?

Maybe and then again maybe not, but one thing is for certain. The team has the pieces and just the right man to pull the trigger on a bold decision that would alter the basketball world. After all, he was already a part of it once before.

Join us at 5 p.m. to discuss the Phoenix Suns’ trade of Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers, a look at what they got in return and the roster outlook moving forward.

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Mercury_meter_logo

Record: 9-9

Place In Standings: Third

Points Per Game: 83.0

Points Against: 85.2

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The Phoenix Mercury did not have a lions share of games this past week with the All-Star Break taking up the weekend, but they did play one game against their elemental basketball Kryptonite... the Minnesota Lynx. This season the Lynx have taken apart the Mercury in impressive fashion.

On the season they have out scored the Mercury by 80 points and out-rebounded them by 30 in five games.

Injuries have played a major role in the last 24 months for the Mercury and they are not going away. Penny Taylor underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. This is not the same knee that sidelined her all of last season, but will be the knee that sidelines her for the next 6-8 weeks. The season ends on September 15th giving Taylor an outside shot to return during the regular season and the playoffs. She has played 90 total minutes scoring 58 points so far. Not a loss in terms of how the season has gone so far, but more more of a loss for the long-term and playoff potential for the team.

The team also resigned Jasmine James to a new 7-day contract on July 28th keeping her on the roster through this Sunday (August 3rd). James was signed after former first round pick Samantha Prahalis was waived a little over a week ago.

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All-Star Game Recap

With two All-Stars on the Mercury roster only one saw 18 minutes of action, Diana Taurasi, while the Western Conference cruised to a victory. She scored her only points on a three-point shot in the first quarter and then after that the collective talent took over the game. Brittney Griner saw no action due to injury, but was out there soaking in the experience with her peers.

The West continued their dominance winning their eighth All-Star Game in the eleven year history of the event.

This was a good opportunity for the team to get healthy, rest, and get used to each other even more heading into the final stretch of the season. New faces like Jasmine James and frequently injured Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Penny Taylor, and Candice Dupree will have had eight days off between games before taking the floor next.

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Second Half Season Preview

This has been mentioned a few times here in the Mercury Meter, but the season as a whole is going to be defined by how the Mercury fair against teams above .500 in the standings. In the "first half" the team was 3-7 against teams above .500 including 0-5 versus the Minnesota Lynx and 2-1 against the Los Angeles Sparks. That translates more to the playoffs than it does the regular season because to get back to the WNBA Championship the Mercury will have to beat one or both of those teams in September.

Looking forward to the final 14 games the Mercury's schedule lightens up.

Only three games in the second half are against teams currently with a .500 or better record. They have a great opportunity to collect wins against the lower level teams that they were a combined 6-2 against in the first half of the season. While they have 11 games to pad their lead in the standings against lower level teams, in the end, it will be their performance in the three games against playoff teams that will define the team this season.

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Upcoming Schedule:

Thursday @ Seattle Storm at 7pm AZ Time

Saturday vs. Atlanta Dream at 7pm AZ Time

It’s just about that time. Under new general manager Ryan McDonough, the Suns have made two compelling draft picks and two trades that will result, or have already, in fine returns. Jared...

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