(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

[Note by Wil Cantrell, 01/30/12 5:48 PM MST ]

Per Paul Coro tweet: "Gentry just confirmed that Nash will not play tonight. Price likely will start."

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are posed with the task of taking on the defending champion Dallas Mavericks at U.S. Airways Arena.

The Mavericks are coming off an overtime victory versus the Spurs last night as Jason Terry led the scoring with 34 points. While the Mavericks do not currently resemble the team that won the NBA Title a year ago, they are leading the Southwest Division, winners of four of their last five.

After giving their big man a four game break to "rest," Dirk Nowitzki has returned to the hardwood for the Mavs. Jason Kidd is out tonight with a sprained right calf.

And now, as a special treat to you, my faithful reader, Mavs Moneyball manager, Lisa Rotter was kind enough to answer some Maverick and Suns related questions, including their reasoning for allowing Vince Carter on the team.


WC: After a slow start, do you think the Mavs will again be title contenders?

LR: The team is still way too inconsistent to say with any certainty if they can make it to the finals again. I do think that Coach Carlisle is desperately trying to limit minutes for the older guys to keep them fresh when the playoffs roll around, but it's going to take some major gelling to be finals-ready. We definitely have the offensive pieces to be a contender again, but as you have all seen, it's taking more time for those pieces to fit in the puzzle than we anticipated.

WC: Why Vince Carter? Wasn't there anyone else out there the Mavs could have signed? Derek Harper? Jim Jackson maybe? Obviously we Suns fans have a nasty taste in our mouths from his performance last year.

LR: The Mavs fans were split on Carter when we heard he was coming. Many people assumed we'd be getting the Magic/Suns VC who would be useless and fail to fit in with the team. Then there were those of us (myself included) who gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped we would get old school Raptors/Nets Vinsanity. Lo and behold, he has been contributing really well and really quickly. He was relatively cheap and doesn't necessarily have to be long term, so he was a low risk, high reward acquisition along the same lines of Lamar Odom and Delonte West. He's a veteran who has good basketball sense and has made an immediate impact.

WC: OK, let's get down to brass tacks here. Is there any desire among Mav fans and or perhaps the FO to bring back Steve Nash? If so, what do you think the Suns could obtain in return?

LR: For sentimentality's sake, Mavs fans will always wish for Nashty to come back. But the fact is, the direction of this team is such that taking on Nash to fill Kidd's eventual vacancy seems a bit redundant. Better to start looking for younger talent to take over when the old men of this team (Kidd, Terry, eventually Dirk) can no longer produce. Before the championship, the mentality was to find pieces that fit and give us an immediate shot at the title. Nash would have been one of those guys. Now that the Mavs are looking for long-term changes, he doesn't make as much sense.

WC: What are your thoughts on the Suns? If you were the Suns ownership and front office, would you trade Nash this season and begin the rebuild in earnest?

LR: If Nash is still producing at his high level, I see no reason to get rid of him just yet. It seems like the best results come when there's a transition period between the old and new. I am not personally fond of the overhaul tactic... I think it makes better sense to replace and start over a little bit at a time. It's always painful to watch your team struggle and the temptation to start from scratch is pretty strong, but patience is a virtue. Trust us on that one.

WC: As a Maverick fan, you had to deal with a few years of misery as Mark Cuban and Co. rebuilt the Mavs back into a contender. What advice do you have for Suns fans as we near the abyss?

See above... Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. And other such cliches. The Mavericks proved that once you have your centerpiece, all it takes is tweaking here and there to get the chemistry right before a deep run is possible.

WC: Bonus question: What's your prediction for tonight's contest? Sounds like both Nash and Kidd are out for this one.

LR: The Mavericks are doing better without Kidd at the moment. We are getting good burn from Beaubois and West, and Dirk had an abysmal night against the Spurs so he's about due for some improvement. I never predict scores, but I'm thinking that Dallas has a pretty good shot at this one, despite coming off an overtime win into a back-to-back.

Special thanks to the lovely Ms. Rotter. You can follow her on Mavs Moneyball and via twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LJRotter

Worth Pointing Out

  • As of 11.30 AM AZ time, Steve Nash is questionable for tonight's game. Obviously that puts a damper on thoughts of an upset over the Mavericks.
  • Will Robin Lopez ever suit up for the Suns again? Do we care? That guy isn't in the doghouse, he's in the friggin' pound.
  • In the last matchup vs. the Mavs, the Suns out-rebounded their opponent 52-42. Nevertheless, some timely 3's by Shawn Marion, coupled with 37% shooting doomed the Suns to a 93-87 defeat.
  • The Phoenix Suns are 6-4 when Jared Dudley scores in double figures. The Suns are 4-1 when Dudz scores more than 15 points.
  • In 36 games vs. the Suns, Jason Terry averages 17 ppg and shoots 41% from beyond the arc.
  • Dirk Nowitzki has played 50 games versus the Suns, averaging 23 ppg, 9 rebounds per game, while shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.

How Can the Suns Win Tonight?

Well, that's quite a question, now isn't it? Nash may be out for the Suns. But Kidd is out for the Mavs. Dirk is back for the Mavs, yet appeared a smidge rusty last night against the Spurs. The Mavs are playing a second night of back to backs after playing a good Spurs squad who took them to overtime before losing.

But none of that matters to the Suns, with the exception of Nash possibly missing this one. Nash is more important to the Suns than Kidd is to the Mavs. Dirk's crappy statistical evening against the Spurs most likely means he's going to light it up tonight...So it's the usual for the up and down Suns....PLAY D, REBOUND, COMPETE ON YOUR HOME COURT, oh and maybe shoot better than 30%, hit some 3's, limit the turnovers. Yeah, mostly things the Suns haven't done all season.

Yet anything is possible, right? Check out the Suns numbers. Just think if a few normally dependable players can reach career averages (yeah Channing, I'm thinking mostly of you):


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
Marcin Gortat 19 31.4 6.6 11.8 56.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.6 61.2 2.4 7.6 10.1 0.8 1.5 0.6 1.6 2.2 14.8
Steve Nash 18 31.4 5.7 10.7 52.8 1.1 2.8 39.2 1.9 2.2 85.0 0.3 2.0 2.3 9.9 3.5 0.6 0.0 0.6 14.3
Jared Dudley 19 29.7 3.8 8.7 43.6 0.9 2.9 32.7 1.6 2.1 77.5 1.2 2.9 4.1 1.8 0.9 1.0 0.2 1.5 10.2
Grant Hill 18 26.8 3.7 9.5 39.2 0.3 1.3 21.7 1.7 1.9 88.2 0.6 3.1 3.7 1.4 1.6 0.7 0.8 1.8 9.4
Shannon Brown 18 21.3 3.6 9.1 39.0 0.8 2.5 31.1 1.5 1.8 81.8 0.5 1.6 2.1 0.9 1.2 1.0 0.1 1.3 9.4
Hakim Warrick 16 18.1 3.1 6.6 47.2 0.1 0.4 14.3 2.3 3.2 72.5 1.3 1.8 3.1 1.1 1.1 0.2 0.1 1.3 8.6
Markieff Morris 19 21.1 2.8 6.5 43.5 0.9 2.0 47.4 0.7 0.9 77.8 1.2 4.1 5.2 1.1 1.4 0.6 0.5 3.1 7.4
Channing Frye 19 21.6 2.6 7.4 35.0 1.1 3.6 30.4 0.5 0.6 81.8 1.1 4.7 5.8 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.7 2.3 6.7
Robin Lopez 17 14.2 1.6 3.5 47.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 2.1 74.3 1.1 2.2 3.3 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.6 2.5 4.8
Sebastian Telfair 13 11.3 1.4 4.8 28.6 0.5 1.2 37.5 1.2 1.4 83.3 0.2 0.8 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.0 1.5 4.4
Ronnie Price 19 16.7 1.6 4.0 39.5 0.5 1.5 35.7 0.6 0.7 84.6 0.6 1.1 1.7 2.3 1.4 1.1 0.2 2.3 4.3
Michael Redd 7 10.7 0.9 3.9 22.2 0.4 2.0 21.4 1.1 1.7 66.7 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.6 3.3
Josh Childress 7 11.4 0.9 2.4 35.3 0.1 1.1 12.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.0 1.7 0.6 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.6 1.9


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Put away those "Farewell Nash" signs...for now.

Everyone has an opinion about Steve Nash but there's only two men who's minds matter -- Steve Nash and Robert Sarver. So far, those guys have been rock solid in their commitment to each other and the latest NBA trade rumor only reinforces that the #FreeSteveNash movement will be about as effective as #OccupyNYC was in getting anything done beyond...OK, let's not go to politics.

According to Hoops World, the Suns are more interested in using their prodigious cap space in 2012 to keep Nash in Phoenix a few more years than they are to trade him:

NBA AM: Who Is Available In Trade? | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Suns fans are worried that the team may lose a future hall of famer to free agency, but sources close to the situation say the Suns may be willing to do a new deal with Nash this summer in the $8 to $10 million range to insure Steve stays in Phoenix and that kind of money may be more than anyone else in free agency would or could pay for Nash.

The story goes on to say the Suns, who have received only poop-level offers for Nash so far, would only consider a trade if "its clear Nash is leaving, that's when a trade will likely happen and the Suns are not there yet."

Bringing Nash back for a couple of years does make sense, especially since they will have all that cap space available and (likely) no max players worth spending it on. He's also clearly a better fit with Marcin Gortat than any other available options.

This summer Phoenix will have about $26.5m in cap space and $33m if they choose to amnesty Josh Childress. With Dwight Howard and Deron Williams almost certainly going somewhere else, there's no need to have all that space burning a hole in someone's pocket.

Giving Nash $8m still leaves plenty to throw at an RFA like Nic Batum or OJ Mayo and some left over to do a few other things. Does that make the Suns a contender again?

No, but remember that Robert Sarver doesn't have the stomach for a full blow up and rebuild through the draft:

"I don't know that I can sit there for four years and watch a terrible team play," Sarver said in 2010.

If you are a fan of the "Four Years Of Suck, Draft Plan" then put your hopes in Channing Frye and Jared Dudley continuing to play poorly; the Suns not getting anything of value for Robin Lopez; and Steve Nash being ready to leave the comforts of Phoenix for a ring-chasing move that doesn't seem to be part of his character.

Otherwise, get ready for a few more years of Nash and hopefully the addition of at least another couple of decent players this summer via free agency and a low lottery pick. It may not be great but it's better than over-spending on the wrong guy out of a free agent class with slim pickings.

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Dallas Mavericks 122, Phoenix Suns 99 PHOENIX — It would only be fitting for Steve Nash to break the Phoenix Suns’ all-time franchise assist record in front of his home fans against his...

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Make it stop. Please. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Your Phoenix Suns finalized a week of putrid basketball that most likely led to Mr. Orng taking a shower and tossing his Orange spray paint into a bonfire. Yet the week ended with the only victory in 7 days, a victory over a strong Grizzlies squad, 86-84. It was a rare victory in part to the Suns shooting 36% from the field, which is no big surprise this season, yet marked the first time the Suns had shot so poorly yet still managed a W since 2009.

This week we pondered the future, rosterbated with the best of them, and watched our tweets for the inevitable Lopez trade, and perhaps less inevitable, Alvin Gentry getting sacked

  • Record for the week (January 22-29): 1-3
  • Overall record for the season: 7-12
  • Western Conference Position: 12th
  • Offensive Rating: 99.3 (23rd of 30); Points per game: 91.2 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.5 (21st of 30); Points allowed per game: 95.1 (15th of 30)

and here, my friends, is why:

Monday, 1/23, @ Dallas L, 87-93: No Dirk Nowitzki, no problem ya? No. Shawn Marion haunted his former team with 29 points, including 4 3-pointers while the Suns shot 37% from the field en route to a loss in Dallas, where they have lost 9 straight. Gortat went for 19 and 17, while Hill chipped in 19, and Nash dished out 12 assists. Said basketball sage and the tallest man know, 7-Footer:

Although The Suns' plan to shut down Terry and Odom worked pretty well, they weren't prepared for Shawn "3-point" Marion to light them up from beyond the arc. Marion was just 5-15 from three since the start of the season, and never attempted more then two per game. That all changed tonight as the former Sun shot an impressive 4-6 from three and 11-21 overall for 29 points on the night, his highest scoring game of the season.

Quote of the night: "Shawn was Dirk tonight," said Phoenix's Jared Dudley of Marion, a former Suns star.

Tuesday, 1/24 at home Vs. Toronto L, 96-99: For the second straight night, a former Sun played a large role in killing his former employer. Leandro Barbosa looked healthy-he was fast and accurate, hitting 7-14 of his shots while coupling with Andrea Bargnani to down the Suns 99-96. The big man finished with 36 points, 27 of them in the second half and the Raptors snapped an 14 game losing streak to the Suns and an 8 game losing streak overall. Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Steve Nash had 17 points and 14 assists, while Hakim Warrick scored 17 points. The Suns shot 47% from the field yet allowed the Raptors to go 8-15 from beyond the arc. Said Alex "The Truth" Laugan:

The Suns suddenly decided they were tired. Tired from a 5-game road trip that ended less than 24 hours earlier. Tired from playing against tough teams in the Eastern Conference on their turf. Tired from ending the trip against a tough Dallas team with Shawn Marion hitting big 3s.

Oh and yes, how can we forget the most exciting moment of the game, courtesy of Robin Lopez?

NBA CIRCLE - Toronto Raptors Vs Phoenix Suns Highlights Jan 24, 2012 Game Recap (via NBACIRCLE)

Quote of the night obviously: Alvin Gentry on the ejection: "I don't know. I don't really give a shit to tell the truth. You have to talk to him about that."

Friday, 1/27 @ Portland L, 71-109: I suppose we all remember this one vividly. Why get into the details, the world is depressing enough sometimes. The Suns were outscored, outhustled, and outclassed by the Blazers. The 38-point loss marked the third worst margin of defeat in Suns history. Said 7-Footer as he dusted off his Air Jordans in preparation of the Suns' probable statewide search for talent:

Since there simply isn't any one thing to put a finger on as the reason for the complete and utter collapse tonight, perhaps it's best to sum up the game in a word...Pathetic.

Quote of the Night: "We are going to make a change," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of the lineup and rotation for Saturday's home game against Memphis. "We're going to do something because obviously this is not working with what we're doing now."

Saturday, 1/28 Vs. Memphis W, 86-84: Change evidently means a return to hopefulness as the Alvin Gentry restored the lineup that started the season against the Grizzlies at home, and it paid off. Well, for Jared Dudley it did, Channing Frye not so much. The Suns led by as many as 16 before losing their stranglehold on the Grizz. Jared Dudley hit 4 free throws in crunch time to seal the victory. The Suns shot 36% from the field but grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to aid in the win. Nash, Gortat, and Dudley did their thing, will rookie Markieff Morris had a nice game while coming off the bench. Said the always hygienically-concerned Eutychus:

I was very happy to see the team respond in such a positive manner with energy, hustle and focus after being embarrassed last night. Hopefully they can smell the sweetness of victory and seek to continue bathing in it.

Quote of the Night: "I've got cat feet, so usually I land on my feet," Dudley said. "If I don't land on my feet, you know it's a foul. I was trying to do a pull-up and couldn't get to it because I fell."

Weekly Awards & Criticism

Heroe(s): Alvin Gentry for returning Dudz to the starting lineup while benching Shannon Brown.

Who Sharted Their Pants: Easy. The Phoenix Suns.

I sharted.. - Along came Polly (via jaimebasurto)


Outlook:

Crappy. I'm not going to sugar coat this thing. There are a lot of empty purple seats at U.S. Airways Arena these days. And rightfully so. Remember those days when if the Suns didn't score 100 points, we all called it a "defensive battle," or an "off night?" Well scoring 100 points for this team would be a special treat. Like whipped cream inside a twinkie or a free beer at your local pub.

Jared Dudley has earned a starting role. Screw chemistry. If I were Mr. Gentry, I'd find away to keep him on the floor for 40 minutes a night. Why not? He's one of the few Suns that brings it every night. His shot may not be falling, but we all know it will come around eventually. He hustles, he dishes, he claws, and scratches and fights. He's like a feral cat with Nike's on his paws. And he can score. Yep, defend, rebound, and score. The trifecta my friends.

In conclusion...In most years 7-12 wouldn't look so awful. But the way the Suns have lost this season is awful. A 66-game season is awful, and in a year where the Suns can no longer be certain to claim 2nd place in the Pacific, there is little hope in turning things around for the long haul. Of course a trade could be in the works, but a deal this season would most likely set the team back instead of improve it to the point of contention.

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As a Suns fan, I can't give up on this. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ho, despondent Suns Fan, despair not, for all is not as bleak and dreary as it seems.

It's quite possible all of you will hate me by the end of this article but here goes.

The Phoenix Suns are having a down season, if you haven't noticed. Currently occupying the 12th spot in the Western Conference with Golden State and Sacramento close on their heels, and ranking 23rd overall in efficiency differential, the Suns have looked flat-out.....well, flat so far this season.

A 5-game losing streak capped by a 21-point loss to the Bulls and Friday's 38-point drubbing by the Portland Trailblazers have left fans daydreaming about the 2012 off-season and wondering whether it's even worth it to try and sneak into the playoffs at this point. Even short-term boons like yesterday's win and Nash's amazing play haven't been enough to redeem this team that seemed destined for an NBA championship or two just a couple years ago. For Suns fans, one season missing the playoffs is quite enough. Two really poor, frustrating seasons push even the most die-hard fans into a dark, dark place.

Finished reading already? Don't quit on me.

I'm gonna pull a crazy here, and insist that we here at Bright Side of the Sun look at the bright side of every situation.

Read on and make fun of me in the comments.....

I'm gonna take some comments from the Game Threads this year and see what I can make of them. Extra points if you can figure out which game they are from!

Winning is overrated anyway –Acucrack

This is an excellent statement. Referring to the context of this comment, I believe it to be a sarcastic one, but it is spot on. Winning in a season like this IS overrated. The Suns aren't a huge threat to make the playoffs at this point, let's be honest, but how many teams can say that they compete for a championship every year? I would venture to say, none. All NBA franchises, even the "lofty" Lakers and Celtics, go through ebbs and flows, highs and lows. The Phoenix Suns are in a low right now, so let's get pissed. Absolutely. But with that comes the likelihood that the Suns are soon on the way up, so stay tuned.

The identity of the Suns is not that of a perennial bottom-dweller, even pre-Nash era for those who are too young to remember. The Suns own the league's 4th-best winning percentage all-time.

I almost feel like the guys have quit on Gentry. No way this team should play at this level. –Daryl Ray

Daryl, I know you're not talking about Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat here, so I'll focus on the other guys. This is a team that is scrapped together in the highest sense of the word. It's really impossible to objectively judge new acquisitions Shannon Brown, Ronnie Price, Sebastian Telfair, and Markieff Morris. They've played less than 20 games under Gentry, and there's a lot of evidence that Gentry's "system" isn't established at all anyway.

As for Grant Hill, he had trouble initially this season with his conditioning, and had fans worried that he was finally showing his age. This until he held Carmelo Anthony to 12 points on 5-22 shooting, and most recently stifled Rudy Gay en route to a narrow, ugly win for the Suns. I can forgive the fact that he's averaging career lows in almost every statistical category if he can play defense on the other team's best player.

You're probably talking about Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, Hakim Warrick, and Robin Lopez here. These guys are just in a funk. Here's the Bright Side: their attitude isn't the problem, they're just in a slump. Jared Dudley broke out of his last night, going all JunkYard Dog on the Grizzlies, and I expect Channing to break out of his soon. Robin Lopez has issues. No argument there, but anyway, the Suns aren't offering him an extension and a young 7-footer getting limited minutes in a rotation is a valuable piece.

Am I just being an apologist for an apathetic team? No. I genuinely believe that this team in general is in a slump, and slumps are made to be broken.

Damn, now the FO is going to think we're good and not make a trade. –Suns R Us

Wrong. What will the Suns Front Office see in the last win against the Grizzlies? They see that they still have some good pieces to build with in the coming years. I fully expect Jared Dudley to use this game as a turning point this season. He's undersized, but he's a great "glue" piece that can hold together a winning team coming off the bench. Steve and Marcin have been great this season. I truly enjoy seeing Markieff Morris improve almost every game. The Suns view these here-and-there wins as a sign that this team could still be competitive with some big changes. The 2012 draft combined with trading players not named Nash, Gortat, or Morris could quickly lead this team back into the "W" column in the 2012-2013 season.

This is getting to the point where even when we beat someone I'm going to roll my eyes, like the suns are a girlfriend who always cheats on me and then starts being really nice because she feels bad. –blanke

blanke, I see where you're coming from here. As a Suns fan, it hurts when my team loses. It hurts to see sparks of the former glory of Suns teams in the past, only to get dashed by a loss the next night. This 66-game compressed season toys with everyone's emotions. Don't take it personally.

As die-hard Suns fans, we tune in every single night for a reason. You don't want to miss a Steve Nash behind-the-back pass of over-the-head-and-off-the-glass layup. I, for one, don't want to miss the one night this season when Channing Frye goes 8-12 with five threes to lead the Suns to victory.

I know you don't want to get hurt, so you distance yourself from the team. Don't do that. Living the Phoenix Suns lows alongside the team will free you to experience the Phoenix Suns high highs when they come.

Stick it out, Suns fans. It's not as bad as you think.

At least we're not the Bobcats.

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