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Since joining the Phoenix Suns in a last-minute deal with the Houston Rockets to beat the NBA's trade deadline last season, Aaron Brooks has been an enigma of sorts.  At times he has shown flashes of still being the same lightning-quick slasher and deadly three-point shooter that earned him a reputation of being one of the young, up-and coming point guards in the 2009/10 season.  However, at times he has also been the inefficient and hotheaded player that quickly fell out of favor with the Rockets less than a year later.  Brooks is now a restricted free-agent this summer after Phoenix extended him a qualifying offer of three-million dollars shortly before the lockout began. This ensures Phoenix will have the option to either match any offers Brooks receives from other teams when free-agency resumes, or allow him to leave if they choose. 

 

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic recently wrote an article about Brooks after catching up with him at Seattle's H206 Charity Basketball Classic.  When asked about the possibility of a future with the Phoenix Suns, Brooks answered, " I love Phoenix. I think they like me, too. They picked up my qualifying offer, didn't they?".  He also went on to say that, "Despite how things went, I think Phoenix is a good place for me...The players, management, fans; everything about the team I liked. That's not something you always find".  Brooks believes that many of his struggles last season in Phoenix were due to changing teams mid-season and trying to learn the offense.  He seems to believe he can be much more successful with the Suns if given the chance to go through training camp and mesh with the other players.

The comparisons between the stories of Aaron Brooks and Goran Dragic, who Brooks was traded for, are eerily similar.  Both Brooks and Dragic had high expectations going into the 2010/11 season after having very successful seasons in 2009/10.  Once hailed as the future of the Phoenix Suns after a breakout season in 2009/10, Goran Dragic seemed to regress in the 2010/11 season and failed to lead the second unit with much success.  This lead the Suns' front office to make a change and bring in Brooks instead who also had a disappointing start to the season in Houston after losing his starting job to Kyle Lowry.  The Suns likely believed that Brooks had a better chance of recapturing his success since he had already shown that he could be a successful starting point guard in the league.  But after a lackluster performance to close out last season, will Brooks be given another shot to prove that he's the right player for the job?

 

Source:  The Arizona Republic

Poll
Will Aaron Brooks play for the Suns next season?

  8 votes | Results


Steve Nash isn’t the only Sun to play another sport for charity this offseason. Channing Frye staged his second annual Kick for Kids kickball tournament Saturday in Portland, raising close to...

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Robert Sarver's priorities and challenges aren't the same as Jerry Buss'.

On the evening the NBA lockout started, our conversation centered around owners vs. players. Did you favor the owners' attempts to force a hard cap on the players, or the players' refusal to accept the huge cuts the owners were demanding? Frequent commenter jc79 astutely noted that:

The way I figure it, there's more than just players vs owners

It’s more like Big Market owners vs. Small market owners vs. High-Value Players vs. work-a-day Players.

I mean, who really thinks that the Knicks ownership and the Grizzlies ownership have a lot of common goals?

An excellent point, and one that Kelly Dwyer echoed in a piece posted this morning to Yahoo Sports. The NFL lockout was settled with the loss of only one preseason game, the only other impact being that their free agent signing period has been tightly compacted. All in all, the NFL lockout left most parties largely unscathed. That probably won't be the case in the NBA labor dispute, in large part because NBA owners haven't figured out revenue sharing the way NFL owners have.

For good measure, Dwyer pounds on our beloved owner Robert Sarver for his perceived mismanagement of Suns' finances, and questions why other owners would be willing to share revenue with Sarver only to see him "needlessly overpaying for middling talent".

Follow the jump for more on the potential infighting among the owners.

Much like Wil's story Sunday night regarding the players potentially decertifying the union, I'm sorry to report that there isn't a lot of optimism in Dwyer's piece. As neither the owners or players are unified among themselves, and since little is being lost by either side yet, meaningful, productive negotiations are not close to starting. Dwyer:

The factions are just too far apart -- and we're not talking about the players and owners. The owners and owners have to come up with a better revenue sharing system, and swallow the fact that certain owners ignored the dozens of ways small market owners failed to take advantage of the myriad ways to improve a team all without spending like the New York Yankees.

The interesting twist here is that Dwyer's not blaming large market owners for helping to ensure their teams' success by using their bountiful resources to hold onto players even as they go over the cap, driving salaries up overall. Instead, he's blaming middle and small market owners for failing to take advantage of ways to improve without spending a lot. Here, he calls out Sarver specifically:

You think the Los Angeles Lakers want to send a single penny to Phoenix's way after Suns owner wildly overpaid for the team years ago, then spent the next six years either needlessly overpaying for middling talent or outright selling off draft picks to add to his bottom line? Why should they help fund Phoenix's stubborn choice to hang onto Steve Nash(notes) instead of parlaying their best asset into something that can help them become a better (and, holy cow, cheaper) basketball team?

At the risk of sounding like a Sarver apologist (I'm not really, and freely acknowledge his mistakes), this isn't entirely fair. First, yes, it's possible to field a competitive team without being in a huge market or going overboard on salaries. Teams like the Spurs, Jazz and, yes, the Suns have helped prove this point. But the fact that the highest paid teams seem to always reside at the top of the standings is evidence that having the ability to spend a lot surely provides an advantage. Building a sustainable winner can be done without a huge market enhancing a team's revenue stream, but it leaves little room for error.

As I have written here before, all 9 of the teams who exceeded the salary cap last year made the playoffs. When those teams are in doubt about whether to pay a player, they err on the side of keeping him. Smaller revenue teams don't have that luxury, and that luxury helped the Mavericks to be one of the league's deepest teams in their championship run last year. Making the best of the salary level you can afford to pay is one thing, but lower revenue teams are still screwed when the high revenue teams also maximize their value. It's not possible to compete, at least not for a championship.

Dwyer's suggestion that the Suns trade Nash, and that doing so would help them become a better and cheaper team is oversimplified at best, and asinine at worst. There is little chance that trading a 37-year old Nash will return the Suns a bevy of blue-chip young players or premium draft picks. Nash is almost certainly worth more to the Suns than he is to any other team. Furthermore, it's highly unlikely that the Suns could replace what Nash provides on the court and at the box office for the $11M Nash is due next year. The conventional wisdom that a team on the decline should trade its most valuable veteran player doesn't always hold true, and it doesn't in this case.

It's true that the owners need to put their house in order and get serious about revenue sharing to be able to arrive at a lockout settlement anytime soon, and for the league to have more competitive balance. Blaming the middle and small market owners for the way they're being streamrolled by large market owners won't help the owners get to that point.


 

As the NBA Lockout comes to a standstill, with no constructive meetings between the player's union and the league likely to occur until lost games and lost paychecks are imminent, the Greed Theatre between the players and the owners grows, furthering the contempt and mistrust of loyal NBA fans everywhere. 

Matt Moore from ProBasketballTalk recently wrote an article about NBA agents having a principle role in creating what eventually was partially responsible for the lockout: wanting the most money and the longest-term contracts possible for their players, and thus taking advantage of a broken system to guarantee that. 

Moore interestingly seperates the "sides" in the NBA Lockout Greed Theatre into not two, but six pieces: " the rich owners, the poor owners, the moderate owners, the superstar players, the role players, and… the agents". Each piece plays a part, each piece wants the most money possible, and everyone knows that it's simply not possible for everyone to get their way. That's why negotiation is a lofty but reasonable goal: because in this lockout, nobody is going to score a home run. 

The drama that we're seeing now is nothing compared to what it will be in a few weeks when additional pressure on the players, agents, and owners causes everyone to lose. Then all we can do is sit back and watch the action unfold, hoping that someone will fold. 

Poll
Who's going to get the worst end of the deal when a deal is made?

  142 votes | Results


One of the most significant and contentious issues facing the Phoenix Suns and their plans for the future is the decision they must make about the two-time league MVP, seven-time NBA all-star, and current face of the franchise, Steve Nash.  The 37 year-old veteran point guard is currently under contract with the Suns until the end of the 2011/12 season (assuming it is played), and although his age may cause some people to question his worth, Nash has shown little if any signs of slowing down.  Steve has lead the NBA in assists in five of the last seven seasons, including the last two in a row.  He has also continued to shoot the ball at a very high level with .492% FG, .395% 3pt, and .912% FT stats in the 2010/11 season.

Michael Schwartz from the blog Valley of the Suns recently wrote an article detailing the three options the Phoenix Suns are currently facing regarding Steve Nash.  First, the Suns could choose to trade Nash either before the season or prior to the trade deadline in exchange for another star player and or future draft picks.  Second, the Suns could re-sign Nash to a two or three year extension and allow him to retire as a Sun.  And finally, the Suns could opt to simply let Steve Nash walk at the end of this season to save cap room going into the 2012 summer of free agency in hopes of landing another superstar.

Steve Nash has proven that he is still one of the best offensive point guards in the league, but without any other legitimate stars playing along side him there is little hope of winning a championship. With the Suns' decision to let fellow perennial all-star Amare Stoudemire sign with the New York Knicks before the start of last season, rather than to offer a guaranteed max contract deal, the Phoenix Suns all but conceded their quest for a title and instead chose to re-build. Many people believe that it makes much more sense at this point to either trade Nash for value in return, or to let him walk at the end of the season and officially rebuild.  But with Steve Nash being the only real draw left for season ticket holders and merchandise purchasing, can the Suns afford to lose him?

Poll
What should Phoenix do about Steve Nash?

  210 votes | Results


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