More photos » Charles Krupa - AP
Can this man lead the Celts to the promised land?(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The boys at SB nation are running NBA Divisional previews. First up is the Atlantic Division. Next week we'll take a look at our Suns and the rest of the Pacific.
Here goes my hook:
CAN THE CELTS REPEAT THEIR 2010 FINALS APPEARANCE OR ARE THEY TOO OLD?
DOES AMARE MAKE THE KNICKS A PLAYOFF CONTENDER? (i know we've been through this one)
WILL NEW JERSEY AGAIN BE THE DIRTY DOORMAT OF THE NBA?
CAN LEANDRO BARBOSA LEAD THE RAPTORS TO THE PLAYOFFS? (um, huh ha ha ha um...)
ARE THE SIXERS AS AWFUL AS THEY APPEAR TO BE? DOES DOUG COLLINS MATTER?
Check out the brilliant blogger's expert analysis and predictions of the Atlantic
Here's the full list of Atlantic Division previews. Sixers: Liberty Ballers
Here's the full list of Atlantic Division previews.
Sixers: Liberty Ballers
What does the BSOS Nation think?
More photos » Ross D. Franklin - AP
The Phoenix Suns introduce forward Hedo Turkoglu, center, of Turkey (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Once again, the national media is not in love with the Phoenix Suns' summer moves.
Here's something to remember about summer moves, though: the teams who have the "best" summer fit into 2 categories: (a) they had the longest way to go, or (b) they were already good, and somehow added even more big "names" to their rotation.
So does a great summer portend a great NBA season? Hardly.
Let's go to the tape.
First, let's recall last offseason.
Do you remember who got the highest marks last offseason, according to the mother ship (who did not widely differ from any other prognosticators)?
22. Phoenix Suns
In limbo: Stromile Swift (U)
Phoenix GM Steve Kerr broke up one of the most enjoyable teams in NBA history to get O'Neal in 2008. But within about a year, the Suns went from title contender to lottery team. Last month, the Suns gave Shaq away for cap relief.
It appeared the team was beginning to embark on a major rebuilding project. However, there have been more recent signs that the Suns are still trying to compete. Talks of an Amare Stoudemire trade have cooled considerably; they signed Grant Hill and Frye; and they agreed to a contract extension with Steve Nash.
Still, do the Suns have enough to make a serious run in the West? With the Lakers still looking dominant, the Nuggets still a threat, and the Spurs and Mavs vastly improved, it's going to be harder than ever.
14. Phoenix Suns
After one last run in the playoffs for the always fun Suns, the sun began to set on Phoenix this summer. Steve Nash, the heart and soul of the Suns, is still plugging away at age 36. But the rest of his teammates have, one by one, left the team. Of the original run-and-gun Suns, he's the only remaining member.
The biggest defection of the summer came when Stoudemire bolted the team for the Knicks. If you've followed the Suns at all the past couple of years, you saw this coming, but when it finally went down, it still stung a little.
GM Steve Kerr also left the team, leading to an awkward situation where owner Robert Sarver used an NBA agent, Lon Babby, to help him navigate the summer free-agent waters without a GM. In the process, one of Babby's clients, Turkoglu, and one of his former clients, JChildress, landed in Phoenix and Barbosa was shipped off to Toronto. When the summer was over, Sarver hired Babby as the team's new president.
Babby is a respected agent and has been a voice of reason over the years, but his first moves this summer didn't wow anyone. Turkoglu is a good fit in the Suns' system but he's grossly overpaid with four years, $40 million left on his contract. Childress is super versatile, but was he worth a six-year, $33.5 million contract? And did I mention that he and Turkoglu both play the same position as another Babby client -- Grant Hill?
Meanwhile the Suns are very thin up front. Frye turned one good season shooting the ball off the bench into a starting gig and $30 million. The team also paid Hakim Warrick $12.75 million over three years to help back him up. Third-year big man Robin Lopez is the team's only true physical presence in the middle.
Gentry and Nash will still figure out how to get the most out of this squad and maybe even sneak the team into the playoffs -- but the direction the Suns are heading is clear and it won't be long until darkness covers the land of the sun.
Thanks to everybody who voted on the last edition featuring the Barley Tie by Nike. In case you missed it check it out.
This edition features a baseball cap that I have seen crop up on ebay with suspicious regularity. Made by GCC (who?), I can only guess that some warehouse in LA had these stashed for well over ten years and can now hawk them to teenagers as "retro." As if wearing purple and orange on your head doesn't draw enough attention, this hat uses the fire and flame motif on a white background. In case you can't tell that those are flames on your head there is the basketball cliche "ON FIRE" stitched on the back in red/black '80s metal band font. What goes best with a hat that has a flame design along the edge? Purple air holes, thats what! The bill is yet another color and reminds people who stand 1 foot or higher above you and can't see the other two Suns logos that this is a "SUNS." hat. It's adjustable too, so you can grow an afro or just have an annoying piece of plastic dig into your skull.
This is the worst Suns hat ever made. I can imagine this for sale at a gas station in 1997 next to NASCAR and pro wrestling items. The only thing busier then the design is the sweat shop from where it was made. But what do I know? Vote below and by all means explain your vote if you disagree.