There is a lot of speculation on what will happen to Robin Lopez in the next few months. Rather than create an open dialogue on a hundred different possibilities, I thought I would narrow it down to one particular, realistic scenario for us to consider in this article.
I know we Suns fans are holding out for a better deal (Houston's Courtney Lee maybe, or Memphis' OJ Mayo, or just a late #1 pick), but today I just wanted to find out which of the "Houston 4" you'd want if we had no other offers and had to choose one.
The Suns have a recent history of being able to work with the Houston Rockets. Last year's trade was a bust for the Suns - Goran Dragic and a late #1 for Aaron Brooks - but at least we know the two teams can work together.
We are not here to talk about that trade. Really, we're not. We are here today to talk about trading Robin Lopez for one of the "Houston 4" - four lottery picks from the 2009 draft who were just told yesterday that they would be unrestricted free agents this summer. These are all young guys with talent who just couldn't make their careers happen yet. Kinda like Robin Lopez.
I know there are potentially other, better trades out there for Lopez. But you have to understand that the better the trade is for the Suns standpoint, the less likely it's going to happen. It's most likely that the best the Suns can do with Lopez is to trade him for a 2-month trial on someone else who, if they play well, the Suns would own that player's Bird Rights and would have recent familiarity with their "fit". At worst, the Suns still get the cap space this summer.
Hit the jump for a rundown of each of the 4, and then vote on your fave.
2009 #2 overall pick (by Memphis): Hasheem Thabeet
Measurements: 7'3", 263 lbs. Age 24. Shot-blocking machine who, in limited minutes, has shown the ability to block shots and rebound the ball. His problem is his motor, and probably his basketball IQ. He has poor instincts on both ends of the floor and is foul-prone. No post game. Houston is DESPERATE for a C, yet Thabeet gets zero playing time. And this for 2 different coaches (Adelman and McHale). Only appeared in 2 games this season.
2009 #6 overall pick (by Minnesota): Jonny Flynn
Measurements: 6'0", 185 lbs. Age 22. Quick, reputation for pick-and-roll ballhandling, but more of a shoot-first PG with poor decision-making. Does not draw contact, poor shooter, poor finisher. Terrible defensive player due to his lack size and strength. Graduated college with a great shot-making resume, but obviously has not translated to the NBA. When he was drafted, all I think could think of was Acie Law. While he profiles like Aaron Brooks, he's not even close in NBA talent.
Measurements: 6'10", 235 lbs. Age 24. Was a star at U of A and considered a potential steal by New York - then eventually traded to Houston in a package for Tracy McGrady's expiring contract. Hill is has been a part-time starter for Houston this year, though Sam Dalembert is going to take that spot any time now. Lacks strength and ball skills. Softer than he looks. Poor defensive player, poor production in his minutes, but can block a few shots (while fouling like crazy). The only power forward worse than Hill last year in +/- numbers? Hakim Warrick. Ugh.
Measurements: 6'6", 235 lbs. Age 24. Probably the best overall set of basketball skills in the bunch. He's very athletic, can create shots for others, rebounds well for a shooting guard. Can do a little of everything on the court. However, he can't make shots with consistency in the NBA and is turnover-prone. And worst of all, he has shown an uncoachable attitude, getting stuck to the end of the bench in each of his stops.
All of these guys are young and talented, but every one has disappointed his current team. There's a chance that another new environment would allow them to flourish, but there's also the chance that the Suns would just let them walk at the end of the year the way Houston wants to. And that means we got nothing for Lopez.
Footnote: everyone praised Houston GM Daryl Morey for stockpiling young talent. Well, most of that young talent is being simply let go for nothing this summer. The four above, plus Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic. All acquired through trade. All young and talented. All gone for nothing.