The NBA has unveiled its full 2013-14 schedule of 1230 regular season games. The Phoenix Suns will play in 82 of those, debuting at home on Wednesday, October 30 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
That first matchup will feature Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, and
Micheal Beasley other Suns squaring off against the likes of Damian Lillard, Lamarcus Aldridge, CJ McCollum, Robin Lopez, and Terrel Harris other Trail Blazers.
The Suns will have five nationally televised games: four on NBA TV, one on ESPN, and ZERO on TNT. Check out the full 2013-14 NBA TV National Schedule here. Phoenix will have 18 back-to-back stretches through the season.
Some quick observations: Steve Nash and the Lakers will come to town for the first time this season on Monday, December 23. Eric Bledsoe will play against the Clippers in LA on December 30. Jared Dudley doesn't return to Phoenix until March 4, 2014. The Suns will end the season with 9 out of the last 13 games on the road, which will no doubt hurt the team's late-season playoff surge!
Check out the full 2013-14 Suns schedule below. I bolded the games that I think might be "of note." Be sure to check out when the Sixers visit Phoenix on December 28th in a premier Tankapalooza matchup.
Wed. 30 PORTLAND 7:00
Fri. 1 UTAH 7:00
Sun. 3 at Oklahoma City 5:00 NBATV
Tue. 5 at New Orleans 6:00
Wed. 6 at San Antonio 6:30
Fri. 8 DENVER 7:00
Sun. 10 NEW ORLEANS 6:00
Wed. 13 at Portland 8:00
Fri. 15 BROOKLYN 7:00
Tue. 19 at Sacramento 8:00
Wed. 20 SACRAMENTO 7:00
Fri. 22 at Charlotte 5:00
Sun. 24 at Orlando 4:00 NBATV
Mon. 25 at Miami 5:30
Wed. 27 PORTLAND 7:00
Fri. 29 at Utah 7:00
Sat. 30 UTAH 7:00
Tue. 3 at Memphis 6:00
Wed. 4 at Houston 6:00
Fri. 6 TORONTO 7:00
Tue. 10 at L.A. Lakers 8:30
Fri. 13 SACRAMENTO 7:00
Sun. 15 GOLDEN STATE 6:00
Wed. 18 SAN ANTONIO 7:00
Fri. 20 at Denver 7:00
Sat. 21 DALLAS 7:00
Mon. 23 L.A. LAKERS 7:00
Fri. 27 at Golden State 8:30
Sat. 28 PHILADELPHIA 7:00
Mon. 30 at L.A. Clippers 8:30
Thu. 2 MEMPHIS 7:00
Sat. 4 MILWAUKEE 7:00
Tue. 7 at Chicago 6:00
Wed. 8 at Minnesota 6:00
Fri. 10 at Memphis 6:00
Sat. 11 at Detroit 5:30
Mon. 13 at New York 5:30
Wed. 15 L.A. LAKERS 7:00
Fri. 17 DALLAS 7:00
Sun. 19 DENVER 6:00
Wed. 22 INDIANA 7:00
Fri. 24 WASHINGTON 7:00
Sun. 26 at Cleveland 4:00
Mon. 27 at Philadelphia 5:00
Wed. 29 at Milwaukee 6:00
Thu. 30 at Indiana 5:00
Sat. 1 CHARLOTTE 7:00
Tue. 4 CHICAGO 7:00
Wed. 5 at Houston 6:00
Sat. 8 GOLDEN STATE 7:00
Tue. 11 MIAMI 7:00
14-16 NBA All-Star Weekend New Orleans, LA
Tue. 18 at Denver 7:00
Wed. 19 BOSTON 7:00
Fri. 21 SAN ANTONIO 7:00
Sun. 23 HOUSTON 6:00
Tue. 25 MINNESOTA 7:00
Wed. 26 at Utah 7:00
Fri. 28 NEW ORLEANS 8:30 ESPN
Sun. 2 ATLANTA 6:00
Tue. 4 L.A. CLIPPERS 7:00
Thu. 6 OKLAHOMA CITY 7:00
Sun. 9 at Golden State 6:00 NBATV
Mon. 10 at L.A. Clippers 7:30 NBATV
Wed. 12 CLEVELAND 7:00
Fri. 14 at Boston 4:30
Sun. 16 at Toronto 10:00 a.m.
Mon. 17 at Brooklyn 4:30
Wed. 19 ORLANDO 7:00
Fri. 21 DETROIT 7:00
Sun. 23 at Minnesota 12:30
Mon. 24 at Atlanta 4:30
Wed. 26 at Washington 4:00
Fri. 28 NEW YORK 7:00
Sun. 30 at L.A. Lakers 6:30
Wed. 2 L.A. CLIPPERS 7:00
Fri. 4 at Portland 7:00
Sun. 6 OKLAHOMA CITY 6:00
Wed. 9 at New Orleans 5:00
Fri. 11 at San Antonio 5:30
Sat. 12 at Dallas 5:30
Mon. 14 MEMPHIS 7:00
Wed. 16 at Sacramento 7:30
*All times are PDT and PM, unless otherwise noted.
*Home games are in ALL CAPS.
*Games in Bold are ones I deemed "important," for some reason or another.
Perhaps the most important
game event for Suns fans this season will be the 2014 NBA Draft. Next year's draft will be held on Thursday, June 26, 2014. There are exactly 324 days between now and then, not that anyone's counting or anything...
Back in the spring of 2008 there was a lot of banter and talk from inside the NBA and in the NBA community that a versatile forward from Kansas State could be the No. 1 Overall pick in the NBA Draft. Not since Carmelo Anthony has there been a more versatile, talented, and intriguing forward that has come into the NBA than Michael Beasley.
Beasley had (has) all the talent in the world to be an elite scorer with his size, handle, and shooting ability. There are very few basketball players that are Beasley's peers with that skill-set.
The problem has always been and seemingly will always be Beasley's
penitence penchant for self destructive behavior. That is his fourth skill, another that very few of his peers have.
Since entering the NBA in 2008 Beasley has had seven run-ins with the law for a combination of drugs, weapons, speeding, and sexual assault. Because of that he has played for three teams in five years. That behavior started before Beasley had even played a game in the NBA, setting the tone for his career as a whole.
More trouble for Suns' Michael Beasley. Scottsdale PD arrested him this morning for marijuana possession. pic.twitter.com/htnB3JhCYz— Lauren Peikoff (@laurenpeikoff) August 6, 2013
The pattern seems to be simple; two strikes and the team forces Beasley is out. The Miami Heat did not wait for a third strike and the Minnesota Timberwolves opted to not bring back in Beasley for the potential of a third strike.
Teams take chances on Beasley for the talent, but with Phoenix being the third destination with no change in the results it could be his last as they just experienced a third strike.
Here are the details from the most recent arrest that could be a major one for Beasley according to Arizona Central.com:
Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley was arrested in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning and could be facing charges for drug possession, according to Scottsdale police.
Police stopped Beasley in Scottsdale at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday for a traffic violation in the area near Scottsdale and McCormick roads, according to the Scottsdale Police Department.
According to police, officers searched his vehicle after smelling marijuana coming from the car and confiscated narcotics located in the driver area.
Beasley was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession and released from custody. He could be facing charges for drug possession.
Over the years has Beasley's talent outweighed the negative off-the-court attention he seems to magnetize to? In five seasons he has averaged 14.1 points per game on teams that have won a combined 144 games (lost 210) in games he has played in. His total win shares for his career collectively is 8.7 in 354 games played. Ironically his offensive win shares are -0.2 for his career.
Going forward is Beasley worth the money, trouble, and to be frank, embarrassment that comes with these types of arrests for a franchise?
That is a decision the Suns brain-trust of Robert Sarver, Lon Babby, and Ryan McDonough have to consider. The team is on the hook for $9 million in guaranteed money for Beasley over the next two seasons regardless of their final call. He counts against the cap for $6 million this year and only $3 million guaranteed in 2014-2015. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement the team can also utilize the "Stretch Provision" as well.
With that they can effectively cut Beasley and pay out his $9 million over five seasons ($1.8 million per year) to remove him from the roster and spread out the financial burden. It also spreads out the cap hit over those five years as well alleviating the financial affect.
The team could cut him, stretch him, or keep him in-house, but the results are still the same financially. When the team signed Beasley they talked about a relationship deeper than basketball and mentoring the "young man." Does that still hold up today?
In an interview I conducted with Babby on December 7, 2012 this was his summation on Michael Beasley:
He is a great player and people will review it, second guess it, and analyze it, and if our experiment or efforts with Michael don't pay off then the criticism should come my way. You make decisions and you live with the decisions, most of the time we make good decisions, but we won't get them all right. I am not prepared to say we haven't gotten that one right yet. It is 20 games into a three year project and we knew it was going to be a project.
Babby continued to speak about Beasley and the project that they knew he would be, and that then general manager Lance Blanks and head coach Alvin Gentry were prepared for that challenge:
He wants to win, he wants to succeed, and he is feeling tremendous pressure to do all of those things and it is not always perceptible. I try to explain to him the way people see you is not always the way your acting, but it is not attitudinal on his part and that is the most important thing for me. I have felt that from the day I met him that this is a guy that is desperate to be successful and if we can help him become successful then it will be as gratifying as anything I have ever done in my career, or Lance has done in his career, and Alvin has done in his career and that is the goal. Obviously we haven't been able to find the solution in the first two months, but we never expected that we could."
Two-thirds of that equation are no longer in the fold here and now the team is 82 games into a 246 game commitment. More important they are three off court issues into this "experiment" as they phrased it that might be a stop-loss at this point.
No matter the decision the Suns are finding out the hard way what a Michael Beasley Third Strike looks like.
The off-season is borderline complete and angst that is August is upon basketball fans to where jersey unvailings and schedule releases are MAJOR NEWS. So instead falling in line with that we are looking at a topic that is relevant to a young team -- Breakout Star.
Who will break out? Who will won't? Pins. Needles. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN???
Eleventh Topic: Five Yearbook Category Awards!!!
Breaking the Ice: Who is your candidate for Breakout Player of the Year for the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns? Explain.
Jim Coughenour: Marcus Morris. I don't think many people expect much from him, but I expect him to separate himself from his brother this season. I think he can successfully play the role of a stretch four/wing depending on matchups. A role that Markieff seems to be smitten with, but has shown me no reason to believe he will ever be successful at. The difference? I think Marcus can be a 35%+ volume three point shooter.
Jacob Padilla: This roster is full of players the Suns would certainly like to see break out. Kendall Marshall, the Morri and even Michael Beasley could all bounce back from terrible season and become valuable rotation players moving forward. Perhaps Goran Dragic could even break out and take a step forward. But the most likely candidate is of course new Sun Eric Bledsoe. He's stepping out from Chris Paul's shadow and is ready to prove he's more than just a good back-up.
Dave King: The easy answer is Eric Bledsoe. Simply by getting the most minutes per game from an under-25 player since 2007 (anything over 24 minutes would do it), the Suns will finally be playing an on-the-rise star while they are still on-the-rise. Bledsoe has the talent to make him a Phoenix Sun in the world's minds, rather than Chris Paul's backup. His best future position might be microwave-off-the-bench, but in Phoenix with this team he'll be Mr. Everything.
Kris Habbas: Like all accolades and awards this is about opportunity. Which Suns player will get the opportunity to be a breakout player? I expect to see Marcus Morris take over the role Michael Beasley was supposed to have here as the tweener scorer off the bench. He is confident and willing to go get his anytime, which on a good team is not a positive skill, but here that is just a need with Beasley and Markieff being so passive...
Richard Parker: I have to go with the easy answer here: Eric Bledsoe. He'll finally be getting starting minutes, and on a team that wants to run, no less. I expect him to be a dynamic, yet erratic player for the team. If he doesn't agree to an extension before the start of the season, I absolutely expect him to come out and try to earn as much as he can this year.
Sean Sullivan: I'm going to go with Bledsoe. He'll finally have his chance to come back out from under CP3's shadow and prove what so many have projected him to be. I think playing along side Dragic will be a blessing for him, by allowing him to focus on scoring more than running an offense.
Secondary to that, who do you feel has to breakout this year for their career, the Suns season, and the overall future of the team? Explain.
JP: Well, each of the Morris twins and Marshall have to have break-out type years if they hope to have any place on the Suns' roster moving forward. They were drafted by the previous regime and now have to impress the new coaching staff and front office if they want to stick around. As far as the Suns and the team's future, Eric Bledsoe is again the obvious answer. He was McDonough's first big acquisition, and whether the Suns extend him early or not, a successful season for him is a great sign that the team really is on the right track.
DK: If you categorize this answer in terms of "for their career", then that applies to nearly every player on the roster. Frankly, if you fail to excel on a 20-win team your career is in trouble. If you fail for two straight years in that situation, your career is over. You may dot some depth charts for a few more years, but your career is done. And if every player that failed last year ends up failing again, the Suns future is dimmer than many hope. One or two of Morris, Morris, Marshall, Beasley and Plumlee needs to step into a true NBA rotation player role.
KH: Speaking of Markieff! He was the 13th overall pick in 2012 taken ahead of Kawhi Leonard and Kenneth Faried that were viable options that year. He has to step up and prove he is more than just a guy that shoots jumpers (and only at 34.1% career) and can play inside. His development is most pivotal in my opinion.
RP: Eric Bledsoe again. The Suns are betting on a breakout season from Bledsoe and if he doesn't, the Dudley trade will have been for naught. The team needs a young player that they can hope can develop into a star and Bledsoe will need to show flashes of that this year. I'm not expecting too much from the rookies in their first years but I think Bledsoe's emergence this season will be an important factor for the Suns' future.
SS: While it would be easy to go with Marshall here, I think the real answer is Markieff. Remember, Markieff was drafted a year before Marshall, and while he has shown a little more than Kelndall thus far, I don't think he's where the team envisioned him to be after his fast start in his rookie season. This season will show whether or not the Suns can ever expect him to be more than a back up big.
JC: EB. He has the most upside of any player that's not a rookie. Risk/reward moves like this need to pay off to hasten a rebuild. Dudley wasn't a huge asset, but if Bledsoe flames out, or becomes a one year rental, it will have been a squandered resource.
On the other side of that who are you not as confident in seeing a spike in performance and play? Explain.
DK: I am fairly confident that four or five of Morris, Morris, Marshall, Beasley and Plumlee will fail to establish themselves as true NBA rotation players this season. They will get minutes, but like last year it will be obvious that they are only getting those minutes because the team is so bad. Why am I confident? Because I just watched them play 90 games that way (except Plumlee, of course).
KH: Based on the roster I can see Kendall Marshall taking a dramatic shift in minutes played this game if he struggles out of the gates. If that happens then he could be looking up at Dragic, Bledsoe, Brown, and Goodwin on the depth chart.
RP: Michael Beasley (easy answer once again). Although I have hope that any of the players can do better under a new coach and a new system, I'm apprehensive about Beasley. I think he will be on a short leash this season so if he doesn't come out motivated and with great effort (starting in training camp), I don't think he'll do very well. And I'm just not sure about the prospects of Michael Beasley playing with motivation and effort.
SS: I'll say Marshall here, because I don't know if he'll really be given the chance. I still think he can grow into an effective point guard in this league, but I'm not sure it will ever be with the Suns. I don't know if he fits with the identity that this team is trying to establish, and he may even be traded before the start of the season for all we know.
JC: The team as a whole. I won't pick on the Beaz anymore, even though he sucks (see what I did there hehehe), so I'll go with Markieff. Dude played like garbage last year. If they throw him out there to start it will be like tossing a carcass in a den of lions... and a carcass could have probably duplicated his performance last season. What's funny is that his one plus level skill, rebounding, hasn't translated to the NBA. Maybe because he thinks he's a three point shooter. Which is understandable since he has no post game. He's got a lot of work to do to even establish himself as a rotation player on a decent team.
JP: RIchard and I are again on the same page on this one. Michael Beasley had the worst season of his career last year, and I doubt he's going to be that bad. However, I think he is what he is at this point of his career and while I expect better performances, I don't expect the improvement to be enough to make him a worthwhile player.
The team is clearly lacking in leadership with the young roster and Ryan McDonough mentioned P.J. Tucker, Goran Dragic, and Caron Butler as leaders. Who would you like to see as the teams vocal and on the court leaders? Explain.
KH: To be honest, no. Other than Dragic and Tucker there are not really any players that have the cache to be a leader for this team; maybe Channing Frye. Those three need to control the locker room and set the tone. Always a fan of young players taking their lumps and earning their stripes. That could happen in season with this team.
RP: I definitely want to see Dragic, Butler and Bledsoe be very vocal on the court. As the lead playmakers, Dragic and Bledsoe will need to be floor leaders during games by communicating with their teammates. I'm also counting on Butler to be a great presence in the locker room and use his experience to have a calming effect on the young players during the rough patches that the team will go through in games and throughout the season.
SS: I'd like to see more leadership from Dragic, but I don't know if he'll ever be a true leader on the court. I think Butler could step into this role, but it's anyone's guess who will actually become that guy.
JC: Ideally this would be Dragic, since he might actually have a future with the team, but passivity is ingrained in his DNA - Dragic Not Assertive. This will probably be Frye if he's healthy. If not, maybe EB.
JP: I think Dragic and Bledsoe can be fiery, lead-by-example type of players this season. We've seen evidence of this from both of them. However, I don't think either one are overtly vocal and that's not likely to change. Caron Butler and Channing Frye (assuming a return to health) will have to be the vocal guys. We've also seen that P.J. Tucker is not afraid to pull younger players aside and explain things to them when the situation calls for such action.
DK: The Suns true vocal, on-the-court leader is not on the team yet, unless you count Jeff Hornacek. Secondary to Hornacek, the best leader for this young, ragtag team is having a known system to run. When in doubt, go with what you know. Last year's biggest refrain in the locker room was that the players were always running different plays (or different variations of the play) at the same time. If the coaching staff can get everyone on the same page with a fun, easy-to-remember system that makes them look good, it will be easy to get guys into the right positions.
Should the team delegate leaders, roles, and more for the team or should that come organically? Explain.
RP: To a certain extent, some delegation is necessary. Both of the captains from last year's team, Dudley and O'Neal, are no longer here. Therefore, the staff needs to appoint a captain that the entire team can respect. However, the actual leaders and on-court generals should be decided organically. Players will recognize and respect leadership when they see it being displayed, not when they're told to follow a team-appointed leader.
SS: No need to force things with a rebuilding team struggling to find their identity. Let it happen naturally and see who rises to the top as the next Nash, Hill, or Dudley.
JC: Roles need to be assigned, but contrived leadership rarely succeeds. Players will vote on team captains. Players who are venerable will be venerated. I think the team will still be rudderless this year, especially at the beginning, but maybe people will mature and step up as the season progresses. Or the fog of apathy could settle in again once the savage beatings ensue.
JP: I don't think delegation is the right word. It's more recognition of who those guys are on this roster. You can't make a player a leader just by telling him to be one. It's up to Jeff Hornacek to get a good enough feel for his roster and to identify who those guys are that he is going to be able to rely upon as the leaders of his team.
DK: Definitely, every player needs to know his role. Each person may have multiple roles depending on the lineup, but those roles must be clearly defined for each lineup variation. Last year, players did not know their roles and that led to discomfort and quick finger pointing once the going got tough. Leaders, on the other hand, can be developed organically.
KH: I am a fan of that happening organically despite last season the team taking 82 games to find one and to this day they are still looking. Goran Dragic the engine, but may not be comfortable as a leader and Eric Bledsoe is a ball of energy, but is he a leader? No Jared Dudley and the veterans are not going to be a part of the future... In this situation the team might benefit from developing select leaders unless one jumps out at/before Training Camp.
BONUS: Jim stated at the beginning of the season if you told him the season numbers on Michael Beasley and Markieff Morris that he could predict the wins for 2012-2013... Who are the Suns barometers this season?
SS: Dragic and Bledsoe. I think those are our best players at the moment so I think the Suns will go as they go. Plus, the rest of the roster is so unpredictable at the moment that it's anyone's guess who the other top players on the court will be for the Suns this season, or who else will even be on the roster for that matter.
JC: That turned out to be prophetic, because those two sucked out loud and so did the team. I will deviate slightly here since this team will be lucky to win 30 games. My harbingers of future success will be the health of Alex Len and the EB dynamic. Those will be the two players I will focus on this season.
JP: This is a tough one because I still have no idea what the depth chart will look like. We can't really count on the rookies. I don't even know which of of Beasley, Brown, Green and Mook will be in the rotation. If Frye is healthy, that lessens Keef's importance. I suppose Eric Bledsoe is the safest answer for this as well. If Bledsoe can be the guy we're hoping he is, not only does that give the Suns good production from the shooting guard/back-up point guard spot, but it should also only help take some pressure off Dragic and allow him to play even better. Marcin Gortat in a contract year could also be that guy for the Suns.
DK: Interesting question. Since the "goal" of many Suns fans is to finish the season with a very exciting and promising 25-57 record, then the true barometers of the Suns record will be Caron Butler and Marcin Gortat. If those guys are putting up 30 and 20 together in December, the Suns will likely be winning more games than they "should" and Hornacek will start playing to win rather than develop kids.
KH: I am going to go with how many games Marcin Gortat plays in a Suns uniform and the minutes per game for Archie Goodwin. If Gortat plays limited games (injury or trade) then the Suns are devoid or even inept in the paint. Then with Goodwin, if he is closer to 20-25 minutes per game that means the team if developing the younger players and trending towards being a bottom five team in the league.
RP: Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris. I've already talked about why the emergence of the former is important to this team's future, but the latter also needs to have the best season of his career this year in order to assert himself as part of the team's future. I'm not sure if he can or will, but Markieff will have the opportunity to play a big role and definitely needs to show some serious improvement on the court this year, especially with Luis Scola gone.