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It may not have been a banner year overall for the Phoenix Mercury (7-27) last season, but they were able to give opportunities to other, young, talented players that were able to shine. That is exactly what Krystal Thomas did.

In 29 total games Thomas dominated the glass grabbing 233 total boards (8.0 per game) good for tops on the team. That total was good for ninth best in the WNBA, on a per game she was sixth overall, and fourth in offensive rebounds per game. When Thomas was brought in she was in competition with Avery Warley as the teams dirty worker, but Thomas proved to be one of the best rebounders in the league individually.

Those rebounding performances were just what the team needed to see to make it official in re-signing Thomas going forward. Terms were not disclosed per team policy.

Additionally the Mercury signed sharp shooting big Lynetta Kizer.

The two give the Mercury two centers of different skills providing depth and youth to the position. This creates a unique situation for the team as they are positioned No. 1 Overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, that is headlined by two stellar bigs.

How does this effect the teams draft strategy?

Notes

***The Mercury currently have eight players under contract: Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree, Samantha Prahalis, Charde Houston, Alexis Hornbuckle, Krystal Thomas, and Lynetta Kizer.

***The WNBA Draft will take place April, 15th on ESPN at () p.m. EST.

***A WNBA roster is allocated 11 total spots unless they are grated injury waivers, which the Mercury took advantage of last season.

***After the WNBA Draft and the Mercury will have eight roster spots locked up freeing just two spots for the likes of DeWanna Bonner, Nakia Sanford, Dymond Simon, and other draft picks.

***Spoke to a high ranking source with the team, no chance the team let's Bonner leave, she is a restricted free-agent.

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As a competitive athlete it had to be borderline impossible for Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor to watch their team, the Phoenix Mercury, secure the worst season in franchise history.

They have now had over half a year to let that soak in. This is a team of championship pedigree and unlimited talent, but die to injuries the team will now welcome the No. 1 Overall Pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft as well as the DeWanna Bonner, the leagues newest star.

For ticket information for waht may be a historic season, go here

Below is the official 2013 Phoenix Mercury schedule:

DATE OPPONENT LOCAL TIME NAT TV
May Opponent Local Time Nat TV
Mon 27 vs Chicago 2:00pm ESPN2
June Opponent Time Nat TV
Sun 02 @ Seattle 6:00pm
Thu 06 @ Minnesota 5:00pm
Sat 08 @ Indiana 12:30pm ABC
Fri 14 vs Los Angeles 7:00pm
Sun 16 @ Tulsa 1:30pm
Wed 19 vs Minnesota 7:00pm
Fri 21 vs Washington 7:00pm
Tue 25 @ San Antonio 5:00pm ESPN2
Thu 27 @ Washington 4:00pm
Sat 29 @ Connecticut 4:00pm
July Opponent Time Nat TV
Tue 02 vs New York 7:00pm
Sun 07 @ Minnesota 4:00pm
Wed 10 vs San Antonio 12:30pm
Sun 14 vs Los Angeles 3:00pm
Thu 18 @ Los Angeles 7:00pm ESPN2
Sun 21 vs Minnesota 3:00pm
Wed 24 @ Minnesota 10:00am
August Opponent Time Nat TV
Thu 01 @ Seattle 7:00pm
Sat 03 vs Atlanta 7:00pm
Tue 06 vs Seattle 7:00pm ESPN2
Fri 09 vs Tulsa 7:00pm
Sun 11 vs Tulsa 3:00pm
Wed 14 vs Indiana 7:00pm
Sat 17 @ San Antonio 5:00pm
Tue 20 @ Tulsa 5:00pm
Fri 23 vs Seattle 7:00pm
Sat 31 vs Connecticut 7:00pm
September Opponent Time Nat TV
Fri 06 vs San Antonio 7:00pm
Sun 08 @ Atlanta 12:00pm
Tue 10 @ New York 4:00pm
Wed 11 @ Chicago 5:00pm ESPN2
Fri 13 vs San Antonio 7:00pm
Sun 15 @ Los Angeles 2:00pm
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The Phoenix Suns record leaves them susceptible to round the clock trade rumor coverage. That is what happens when you are 17-34 on the season with a few assets that could help a contender with an inverse record. This is uncharted water for the Suns as a team and uncharted water for Interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter.

Then again, everything at this point is uncharted water for Hunter.

What did they do?

Despite the performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder the other night and the fact that they are playing them tonight, the team did not askew their agenda for the frequent opponent.

On the season the Suns are 0-3 against the Thunder who are on their well on their way to another trip deep into the Playoffs, but they have done what all good teams should do against bad teams; take them out with authority. In the three games this season the Thunder have beaten the Suns by a margin of 20.3 points per game.

"We are still learning a lot," Hunter on getting the team where he wants them. "We are still teaching and trying to sure up our defense and build on the system that we have in place. That takes a lot, as simple as it is, it takes a lot."

That system so far has been up-and-down to start, but a 4-6 mark is a lot more that what most were predicting for Hunter coming into his first job on any level as a head coach. Part of getting his team to play the brand of basketball that he feels will win games is getting the coaching staff on board. They are already helping him along the way, but they are slowly adapting to his style.

"I think they are getting to know me and the things that I like," said Hunter about the staff. "We all have to be in it for this."

For this game in particular, do not expect many changes.

"We coach through the games, said Hunter. "I don't worry about solidifying what we do, because no matter who we play we are going to do what we do. When we get it and understand it then it won't matter the scheme or the play the opponent is running because we are going to guard it the same way. There may be some tactical things we are going to change, but our foundation will never change."

Tactical changes are needed, but that may be more due to roster composition and overall talent level rather than Hunter's ability to coach and teach.

For what it is worth Hunter is doing a serviceable job so far, but the job that needs to be done is in the front office where the trade winds are blowing and it appears, at least on the surface, that some moves are to be had.

Injury Updates?

None to speak of, looks like the team is as healthy as they have been all season with Jermaine O'Neal back and everyone off of the mend heading into All-Star Weekend.

Interim Coach Lindsey Hunter on Trade Rumors:

I haven't even heard any trade rumors. I have been in here trying to get better. My job is to coach and get guys better and get our team better, that is what I will do. I don't get involved in any of the other things unless they ask me. We all realize this is a business, I was a player once and I was traded a couple of times, it is nothing personal. It is just business and I think guys understand that now.

More Coach Hunter on responding to a loss like the last one:

I hope they didn't handle it like I did, but it is a part of basketball. That is a part of learning how to play at that level because when you are facing a team that is as good as they are, they were in the Finals last year, so it is not by mistake that they are that good. They are a great team and I love challenges like that and I love playing against teams like that because it shows you where you have to go. It shows you what it takes to get there. Hopefully it was an eye-opening experience for our guys to see how hard and how much work it takes to get there. If we are serious about getting there then we will go about our business to get there.

Jared Dudley on Trade Rumors:

100% Compliment. I never take it as a negative, because at one point and time Phoenix couldn't have paid me and look at that. A couple of years ago I got my contract and I was happy with that. You get that to have security so that if you ever get traded you are fine. For me it is always a compliment where my name comes up, before I was a throw-in. I think I have worked on my game now to where I can be a good piece or asset for the Suns or any team.

JD elaborated on where he gets his information on trades about himself,

I don't really talk to my agent about that, but anytime he ever calls me I know it is serious, but he hasn't called me. Anytime you get to HoopsHype, and I don't really read stuff like that, but most of my stuff is on Twitter. I have already had half of New York hit me up, but you never know.

The 2013 NBA Draft Update

As of today the team is slotted in the 5th spot and the 13th spot in the draft if it were to happen today. The 13th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft:

Prospects to consider: Otto Porter, Michael Carter-Williams, and Marcus Smart

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The closer you get to the NBA trade deadline, the harder it is for NBA front offices, agents, players and "people close to the situation" to keep their mouths shut while teams do real negotiating.

At this time of year, nearly every player under contract and every future draft pick is brought up in trade discussions whether it be as a centerpiece, sweetener or salary filler in a potential deal. Occasionally, some names are leaked out to the most in-the-know media types like Adrian Wojnarowski, Ken Berger and Marc Stein.

Just which names are leaked is fascinating.

Agents want their player's name leaked to drum up interest from other teams, either in trade season or upcoming free agency. "If [team] wants him, he must be worth acquiring!"

Friends and family of players want a name linked to a particular team to drum up too. "See how valuable [player] is?" or "[Big market team] really wants [player] because they were linked in the past and now [team] needs a guy like [player] or their season is lost!"

Front offices want trade parameters leaked in order to get better offers from other teams for their player. "[team] will give me this. Who can top it?"

Media guys leak names, sometimes weakly verified or only tangentally linked, because there's a attractive name or team in the rumor which would drum up readership. Anything with Knicks, Celtics, Lakers and Nets gets a ton of hits to the site.

Which of these reasons above was the impetus to leaking the Dudley-for-Shumpert offer?

Big-name team involved? Check.

Previously linked to each other? Check Check.

Knicks trying to get more for Shumpert than the Dudley and a (likely protected) #1? Makes sense.

Suns trying to get more for Dudley and a #1 than Iman Shumpert? Makes sense too.

What this means

First, we can take away that Jared Dudley is on the trade table. He is the Suns best asset to acquire a good young player: still in his prime, paid less than his value to a team, high level of respect throughout the league, no free agency in sight.

He was linked in an offer to Memphis for Rudy Gay last month, and now has likely been offered in a package for Iman Shumpert. We don't know if he was included in an offer for James Harden last fall before Harden went to Houston, but logic says that his name probably came up. Same goes for any deal with Boston for young Avery Bradley.

The Suns want to get younger, and Jared Dudley and their #1 picks are the best assets they have.

We can also take away that Iman Shumpert is on the trade table. The Knicks know that their championship window is only open for a short time with 8 players over the age of 30 on their roster. They brought in Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Tyson Chandler and friends to win NOW, not later. Their salary cap is cooked. There's no time to develop a young player that isn't producing today.

The Knicks need another shooter on the wing, so why not leak an early offer (Jared Dudley and a #1) to the masses to see who can top it? Memphis did that last month with Rudy Gay and ended up getting what they thought was a better offer from Toronto.

The Suns love Iman Shumpert. For sure, any Suns fan knows the name Iman Shumpert. First, he was surprisingly in the mix at #13 on draft day 2011. Suns fans asked "who?" but then word leaked around the draft that many teams liked him too. Eventually, the Suns took the surer-thing in Markieff Morris who at the time looked like a certain 10-15 year player in the NBA. The Suns then (I think) hoped to acquire another #1 in the 20s to take Shumpert, but he was already gone by #17 to the Knicks. Shumpert had a great rookie year and many teams drooled over his potential.

Last summer, the Suns were trying to find a home for Steve Nash and asked for, who else, Iman Shumpert. The Knicks nearly did the deal, but ultimately balked and Nash went to LaLa land.

What's going to happen?

Who knows. With 6 first-round picks coming in the next 3 years, the Suns certainly have picks to offer in a trade for a good young player who has not yet reached his prime.

But Suns fans fretting over giving away a lottery pick can likely take a deep breath and relax. I have no inside info, but I really doubt the Suns would give away an unprotected pick AND Dudley to acquire a single asset. The Suns worked hard to get these picks and they won't throw it all away for a one player.

I do, however, think its okay to give away a lottery-protected pick with terms like Minnesota's pick to the Suns. The Suns have that very pick - Minnesota's - plus two from the Lakers plus three of their own. The Suns could offer "a first round, lottery-protected pick" that equates to any of their assets that falls below #13.

That way, the Suns get to keep all picks that land in the lottery.

What would Dave do?

I would make this trade in a heartbeat. I would offer Jared Dudley and either Minny's already-lottery-protected pick or a Lakers pick with lottery protection (not sure this can be done - to trade an asset you don't have yet with brand new protections on it - but I'm pretty sure it can) in exchange for Iman Shumpert.

To make the trade work, the Knicks would have to send back a few million in salary. The salary filler could even be Marcus Camby's or Steve Novak's long-term contract coming back. Both were signed under the new CBA, meaning the Suns could release them and spread the salary over "twice the years remaining + one" to minimize the cap hit to less than $1 million a year.

I love Jared Dudley and what he brings to a team, but the Suns need youth and high upside talent back on this team in the worst way.

Iman Shumpert brings that. He would instantly be the best young prospect on the Suns' roster. Shumpert is a playmaking combo guard who would look great next to the Suns own playmaker Goran Dragic as well as the backup Kendall Marshall. Shumpert is not a PG, but he passes well enough to help make plays. And he would make a great defensive perimeter trio with Dragic and Tucker on the wing.

Plus, Shumpert has a huge amount of swag. He is a magnetizing personality oozing with self-confidence that the Suns have been lacking since Amare left.

Do it, Suns. Sweeten the deal with a lottery-protected pick and eat a middling salary in return.

The Suns’ ugly loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday certainly gave a good enough preview for the second game in the series on Sunday in Phoenix. Lindsey Hunter’s team simply got...

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