A few of the brain trust at BSOTS (insert wisecrack here) convened this morning for a chat about some of the pressing questions facing the Suns as training camps open in less than a week. Esteemed contributors 7footer, PHXgp, keiththejourno and Wil Cantrell fielded questions I posed via a global Google chat from the UK, Louisiana, California and Arizona. This internet thing is pretty cool. I played the Wink Martindale role, or maybe Alex Trebek. But please, no Regis Philbin comparisons.
We hope you'll find this entertaining and informative. I learned that Keith really, really likes Lou Amundson. And, he apparently hangs out with the Queen all the time (he might have been embellishing on that part).
Without further ado, I give you Roundtable Part II after the jump.East Bay Ray: What have you missed the most during the five month lockout? What are you most looking forward to with it ending?
PHXgp: I missed simply watching the Suns play. Watching Steve Nash youtube videos just doesn't get the job done anymore.
Wil: Watching Steve Nash play. Simple as that. This team isn't that good, but a healthy Nash makes watching mediocrity worthwhile.
PHXgp: And, with the season back on, it's going to be nice to actually have something to talk about.
7footer: What I've missed the most during the lockout was hearing news about the Suns and the NBA in general...Everything was at a standstill without any news about future plans or how rookies looked in training camp. What I'm most looking forward to now is the free-agent-pallooza that's coming on Dec. 9th that will reveal a little more about the direction of the Suns and if we plan on trying to compete or are starting our rebuilding process.
keiththejourno: I missed the routine of getting 3 hours sleep a night while I watched the Suns play and speaking to the family at BSoTS, going into work tired and explaining why I looked terrible and doing it with a smile.
PHXgp: 7footer, I like that. This is going to be the most unique free agency period ever, and will be really interesting to watch.
keiththejourno: It's a relatively talentless FA period though.
7footer: Definitely...with everything so condensed you know that teams will be looking to act quickly...It should get really interesting.
keiththejourno: Nene? Chandler? Hasheem Thabeet? Not the cream of the crop really is it.
Wil: I'll also add that I like this team. I don't like the results they put up, but the personalities are very likeable (Assuming VC is gone forever). I enjoy watching Gortat and Dudz, Hill, Frye. They are good guys and I enjoy watching them play well.
PHXgp: Some major overspending is about to happen. You guys think we'll see some Rashard Lewis-esque contracts doled out?
7footer: Well...not really the FA's as much as the potential trades and so forth...
East Bay Ray: What Suns player do you think will surprise us this season?
PHXgp: I'd love to say Lopez. I'd love to. But can I? No, I cannot.
keiththejourno: Other than Nash who surprises us every season, I see Josh doing it. Towards the end of last year he got more run - maybe because Gentry knew the season was over - and he impressed me. He's got a different skillset to anyone else on our team and despite what Simmons says, I think he can be worth his contract.
PHXgp: I agree. I think J-Chill has the most potential to improve this season. It wouldn't entirely surprise me but I can see him as the biggest improvement overall.
7footer: I'm really hoping that Robin will surprise us...If he is truly feeling healthy and back to his normal self I will be willing to give him a mulligan for last season and support him once more if he shows that he can be the 2009-10 version of himself. I also think J-Chill might finally get a chance to show his worth now that he's had a year to adjust back to playing at this level again, and with a healthy shooting hand of course.
PHXgp: Would you guys say that with Robin, the "surprise" would be mostly with a mental improvement, rather than a skillset one?
keiththejourno: I think mentally Lopez needs to grow up. Simple as that. Sure, we can pass it off as 'passion' but he needs to be more mature.
Wil: I want to see Lopez bounce back so he can be a good trade chip, but I don't have much faith in him anymore. And as much as I'd like to see Chill do well, I just don't think he'll be better than average.
7footer: I think it will be a little of both...I do believe he was limited physically because of the back injury, and that likely crushed his confidence as well. He may actually benefit a great deal from the lockout after having time to rest and heal and re-discover his game.
7footer: Keith - Yes I think Robin's immaturity played a part in his collapse as well...He didn't seem mentally tough or committed last season at all.
keiththejourno: I agree with Wil, if Lopez improves he could be a valuable trade chip especially with big men at a premium right now. He could rival Hasheem Thabeet in terms of talent.
Wil: I'd say Dudley and Gortat could be put in situations where they can help the team. Dudley's career curve is that of consistent improvement year to year, going back to college. And he's evidently been working hard this off season. Gortat has potential and motivation to improve.
East Bay Ray: These CBA negotiations were likely David Stern's last major act as league commissioner before he retires and passes the reigns to deputy Adam Silver. What will Stern's legacy be?
keiththejourno: Stern's legacy will be like that of Charlie Sheen's: Solid at the start, excellent from then on, with a huge meltdown at the end which leaves everyone thinking less of him.
PHXgp: Stern's legacy, I believe, was tarnished with the fans throughout the latter part of his reign. His iron fist extends to well before the lockout this season. Regardless of whether everything he did was the "right thing" for the owners or the game in general, fans appreciate seeing NBA basketball, and seeing their favorite players play.
7footer: I think of Stern as a shrewd business man...Definitely don't think of him as a favorite of the fans and probably not the players either, but I think the owners love him...kind of like Roger Goodell in the NFL.
7footer: I don't think he's been good for the NBA overall though...he seems to cater more to the most powerful owners and teams and the smaller markets get overlooked.
PHXgp: Before the lockout happened, Stern was a great CEO of the NBA as a business. The problem is that the majority of people really don't care about the league's bottom line. That's why the job isn't an easy one.
Wil: Stern will be one of those guys who won't be liked but will be respected by high up types. Old owners and GM's here and there. Players will always dislike him, but he'll get credit for a lot of the NBA's success. And to be honest I don't care. I think he's a prick, but he has to be in his position. He could have gone about a lot of things differently, perhaps with more tact and less apparent arrogance. We all take care of our business differently. He chooses a way in which he could point to some graph and illustrate the increase in success of the NBA over many years. And he could choose to take credit for a lot of stuff. But in the end it's the players that matter. We wouldn't be talking about the NBA if we didn't like it. And it's what we see on the court that keeps us coming back for more.
7footer: Good points, Wil.
keiththejourno: Agreed PHXgp, in that his relationship was affected before the lockout thanks to his 'Stern' handling of situations - pun intended (applause and praise required). For me he has done an incredible job with the NBA and helped it grow exponentially.
keiththejourno: Just thought I'd give him some praise in case he reads BSoTS.
keiththejourno: Lou Amundson.
East Bay Ray: 66-game season will start for the Suns on December 26th or 27th, we can assume. How many games will the Suns win? Will they make the playoffs?
PHXgp: In actual answer to the question, I'd say 32-34, and no. It hurts me to say that, but I think this season hinging on a) Robin Lopez getting his act together, and b) finding a backup PG who can spell Nash with quality minutes. I don't see one of those happening.
keiththejourno: Tough question as we don't yet know the schedule or roster however, I'm going to predict that the team will start the season well thanks to the rest that Steve and Grant get, along with Fropez and his delicate back. But as the season wears on and the inevitable back-to-back-tobacks occur, the team will break down thus leaving them with a record which will look something like 37-29. Yeah, I said it. I think that happens.
7footer: Tough question Ray...I really have no earthly idea right now. All we can go on at this point are the eight players we currently have under contract plus most likely Grant. With those nine players I think we can win maybe 30-35 games or so...Not good but not bad either. What we do in free agency or with any trades will probably determine whether we get better or if we plan on rebuilding through the draft and set ourselves up for a big free agency next year.
PHXgp: I can see into the future. 32-34. mark my words, it's a lock
East Bay Ray: Feel free to use your Ouija board or Magic 8-Ball if that will help.
Maybe tarot cards.
keiththejourno: PHXgp..why would you mention the word 'lock' when we've just been forced to endure a lock-out?!
PHXgp: It's Stern in cheek.
I mean tongue in cheek.
7footer: Yeah, like PHXgp said, we really need to address the back-up PG spot...If we start the season with Dowdell behind Nash then we'll know that the Suns have no plans on competing this season.
Wil: It's too early to tell. Once I get a set roster I could make up something. I assume not much will occur on the trade or FA front. However, this very well could be Nash's last season in PHX. Maybe the suits can put together a squad that can make a little run in the West. A man can dream, no?
keiththejourno: What viable trade chips do we have?
7footer: I think it could happen, Wil...There's a part of me that thinks Babby has something in mind that we don't see coming.
keiththejourno: Legitimate question and not me just being a dick..
7footer: Sure...I think our most valuable trade pieces are going to be either a first round pick or Lopez...I don't see us trading Nash.
PHXgp: Um.....Dowdell? We don't have any "chips". Lopez in 2012.
keiththejourno: On the PG front, I can see Grant stepping in and playing some 1 if Dowdell is the back-up, giving more minutes to Chidress and Dudz at the three. Obviously though, a successful season needs more than a point guard paring with an age of 4000 if the team is to be successful and go deep in the play-offs.
Wil: I think anyone is a viable trade chip. Now return is a different story. I think Dudz always has value, a healthy Lopez, Gortat are probably guys that could yield the best return
7footer: I forgot about Dudley...Yes, he could be used to get a deal done...I don't think we would part with Gortat either.
East Bay Ray: Will Steve Nash finish the season as a member of the Suns?
7footer: Yes...and he'll sign another two year extension as well.
PHXgp: If he finishes the season, then yes
PHXgp: Steve was the first in the team's practice facility, and he'lll be the last out
keiththejourno: My heart says Steve sees out this season and his career in a Suns uni. My head says..well, my head says that I believe Steve values loyalty and friendship over a championship opportunity and so he won't go anywhere but maybe Dallas.
keiththejourno: And if he did, I wouldn't begrudge him one bit.
PHXgp: Goran Dragic.
Am i doing this right?
keiththejourno: No, the game is called Lou Amundson. All you have to do is say Lou Amundson.
Wil: I do think Nash ends the season as a Sun, unless things go real sideways between him and the FO. Sarver's rep is in the toilet, and no one wants Nash to go. So, I think he sticks around until a point where Sarver can say, "I tried, but Steve needed to move on," perhaps after his contract expires.
PHXgp: Where can you guys see Nash other than PHX?
PHXgp: Dallas isn't a huge stretch but anywhere else? I don't think so.
keiththejourno: Dallas. Dirk, a former team and a last possible chance at a ring would see him going there.Friendship, loyalty and winning...possibly in that order.
PHXgp: There's already an aging HOF at PG
7footer: The only other place I could see Nash is in NY...I don't even think he would want to go to Toronto at this point.
PHXgp: Yeah, NY is interesting. Back to 06-07
keiththejourno: NY as a stopgap until they kidnap CP3?
7footer: Dallas would be possible but i think they're happy with Kidd and I think he'll continue to play another couple of years as well.
Wil: I agree about Toronto. I think Nash likes Canada, but I don't think he has some huge bond with it where he'd be going home or something. He is close with the coach though, so perhaps.
PHXgp: But Toronto? I'm sure he'd also like to have a chance at a ring.
7footer: I think Nash is better off here in Phoenix and if we can find another inside guy to replace some of what we lost with Amare (besides Gortat) as well as another back-up PG who can play some minutes, I think Nash would be happy to stay.
7footer: Final thought...Only two weeks until the first Suns preseason game!
keiththejourno: Final thought - Lou Amundson.
Wil: Remind us not to invite Keify to the next one of these. Aloha.
PHXgp: Final thought: I want to be proven wrong about my mediocre season projection. And I can't wait to watch some Suns basketball!
What say you, Suns fans? How would you answer these questions?
Yesterday, Steve Nash, Robin Lopez, and Zabian Dowdell were the first players to show up for workouts at the Phoenix Suns facility after the after the NBA lockout was lifted. Today, Grant Hill, Josh Childress, and Channing Frye joined the party along with the other three to get in some practice and use the training facilities as well.
It was expected that players would begin trickling back into the facility as they began arriving back in town, but seeing unrestricted free agent Grant Hill already back in the building, and decked out in Suns' practice gear, certainly seems like a good sign that he will once again don the purple and orange for at least another season.
When interviewed by the media at US Airways Center today, Grant Hill said there was a "Good Chance" that he'll be back with the Suns this year. He also talked about receiving interest from other teams and how it "feels good" to be wanted.
Since contract negotiations are just getting started after teams were first allowed to contact player reps this past Wednesday, Hill was understandably careful not to go into any more detail. He stated that he wanted to "respect the process", which is politician speak for say as little as possible to the media...which is expected while his agent is communicating with teams.
However, with Lon Babby's comments about Hill being the "top priority", Nash's endorsement, and Hill's own expressed desire to stay in Phoenix, one has to believe that all intentions are for Hill to stay put.
Hill's family is also now rooted in Phoenix, and it certainly seems that he is content to eventually ride off into the sunset while staying put in the valley. Not to mention, with less time to visit with other teams and a shortened training camp in order to prepare for a condensed season ahead, it would seem that time is also on The Suns' side to retain Hill; and they could possibly already have a deal in place that's ready to sign on Dec. 9th when free agency officially begins.
[ Update - 12/05/11, 11:18 AM MST ]
According to a new article by David Aldridge on nba.com, Grant Hill has reportedly narrowed down his choices to four teams; the Suns, Clippers, Knicks, and Bulls. Speculation is that Phoenix remains the frontrunner due mostly to Hill's admission that there is a "good chance" that he will re-sign with the Suns, but these other teams are reportedly still being considered. Stay tuned...