Well, folks, it looks like a done deal. Welcome the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat, along with Vince "My Knee Hurts" Carter. So long, Jason Richardson -- you've been fantastic. Hedo, we hardly got to know you and don't fully blame you for not fitting on this team.
Earl Clark will hopefully get to try and do something in Orlando (doubt it) and there's nothing bad at all to say about Mickael Pietrus except he plays the same position as Vince Carter, Josh Childress, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. So you know ... still have five guys for two positions. Problem deferred.
My personal reaction is not positive. My first concern is what this means for Steve Nash, you can read more about that here:
Essentially, the Suns are sacrificing this season to get Marcin Gortat and perhaps one more year of Mickael Pietrus along with a Orlando's first round pick which will be in the mid-to-late 20's.
How's that sit with you, Suns fans?
Financially, this deal is about a wash.
The Suns are taking back about $60.1m in total contracts and giving up about $54.1 but with the $3m cash and last 1st round pick that makes it even. Here's the details:
Gortat: $6.3m this year with increases up to $7.7m in 2013/14 with that final year being a play option. Total guaranteed including final year is $28.1m
Pietrus: $5.3m this year with player option for same next season. Total guaranteed is $10.6m
Carter: $17.5m this year with next year at $18.3m but only $4m of that is guaranteed so total obligation is $21.5m
JRich: $14.4m this year
Hedo: $10.2m this year with increases up to $12m in 2013/14 but only $6m of that final year is guaranteed so total obligation is $39m.
Clark: $1.8m this year
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/18/10 1:35 PM MST ]
This is the third major in-season trade the Suns have made in the past four years. Let's review:
January 08: Shaq for Marion and Banks. As expected that proved to be a disaster as the Suns didn't get out of the first round that year and didn't make the playoffs the next. Shaq never made sense for the Suns but they were enthralled with his legend and the idea of having a dominant big so they made the deal in the middle of the season instead of playing out the Amare/Nash/Marion/Hill string and then dealing Shawn.
December 08: Bell and Diaw for Dudley and JRich. This deal turned out for the best but was a panic move at the time to try and fix what turned out to be a coaching problem (Terry Porter). The Suns still didn't make the playoffs this season but of course they also lost Amare for the end part of the season.
December 10: We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out. It could be a good long term deal with the addition of Gortat being the key but I don't think it was worth sacrificing this season and risk the chemistry issues that come with Vince Carter.
This team wasn't playing well but mostly didn't have a healthy Robin Lopez and had one of the harder schedules in the league. Being around .500 headed into January still left plenty of time for a strong finish. If it didn't work that was on the players. Now Nash has a perfectly legit reason to blame the front office and has to try and learn how to play with yet another ball-dominant scorer who's not exactly known as a "team" guy.
The addition of Gortat makes the Suns better defensively and a better rebounding team. No question. But does sacrificing the rest of this season and Nash's "spirit" make it worth it? They could have played out this year and gone after the pieces they needed up front this summer (or whenever the NBA starts playing again).
UPDATE: League sources say a third team is involved, with the Suns possibly contributing Hedo Turkoglu to the equation. The Magic, trying to make a bold move to close the gap with Boston and Miami, would wind up with Arenas and Turkoglu, who would return to the team he led to the NBA Finals before a frustrating year in Toronto. Magic center Marcin Gortat is "100 percent involved," though it's unclear whether the Magic would be sending out Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, or both.
From Evan Dunlap at Orlando Pinstripes Reporting On Alex Kennedy's Story (Hoopsworld):
Kennedy says Orlando has engaged teams including the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers to make a second deal, perhaps involving the aforementioned package of Carter and Gortat. Among the players discussed is Phoenix forward Hedo Turkoglu, who spent five seasons with Orlando, only to sign with the Toronto Raptors in the 2009 free-agency period. "Lon Babby, the president of basketball operations in Phoenix, allegedly didn't make the trip to Dallas recently so that he could continue working the phones," according to Kennedy.
Turkoglu's stock has fallen inside the Suns organization with questions arising about his fit on the team. He wasn't able to adapt to playing the power forward position which took him out of the starting lineup and between Steve Nash's propensity to dominate the ball and Turkoglu's free-lancing plays with the second unit, he's not been able to find a role. There is also a perception that he doesn't play with enough consistent passion or energy although at times he's been very impressive on the defensive end but mostly only late in games.
Obviously the Hedo experiment did not work out as planned, so Turk seems to be an obvious choice to send packing among the other players with any trade value that wouldn't cripple the team. The question now remains, who or what do the Suns get in return.
The other piece in the discussion is Jason Richardson. Rich will be a FA after the season, and judging by the numbers this season, would be commanding a pretty big contract. Vince Carter is making $17 mil and change and has a team option for next season at 18 million. I don't see much sense to trade one potential FA for another right now unless it yielded a combination of a high draft pick, Bass and Gortat. The Suns won't take on any expensive long term contracts obviously.
Assuming the Suns are involved in this deal, it would seem Bass and Gortat would be the main desirable pieces. Bass is in the second year of an 18 million dollar 4 year deal and could fill in at PF while Gortat hits the backup C role. With Frye starting at PF, Bass could come off the bench at the 4, move Warrick to the 3 and send Dudley to the 2, which is not necessarily ideal for the slow footed Dudley.
Keep close to BSOTS for updates as they are reported.
The Phoenix Suns lost the game, but the bigger story was the Phoenix Suns lost Steve Nash. With 7:28 left in the first quarter, the Nash collided with Tyson Chandler on a scramble for a loose ball and suffered a stinger in his neck, losing feeling in his arm and leg. Paul Coro reports that the Suns believe Nash will be available to play in Oklahoma City.
Once the Suns lost Nash, the game was effectively over. They hung tight for the remainder of the first quarter, taking a 25-22 lead into the 2nd stanza. After that... oof.
The Suns were aggressive early in taking the ball to the rim. That aggression paid off with frequent trips to the line, helping them survive some shaky shooting. Goran Dragic and Hakim Warrick especially went hard to the hole in their first few minutes of action.
And then, well... one of my game notes reads "Are there worse defensive rotations anywhere in the NBA than on the Suns?" While it's true the Suns "held" the Mavericks to 45.3% from the field, it was the rare Maverick that had a hand in his face while attacking the Suns basket. The Mavs' took a 12 point lead into the half and never really looked back.
The Suns had an opportunity to keep things competitive. Dirk Nowitzki went to the bench early in the 2nd quarter after picking up his 3rd foul. So instead of the Dirk Show I had predicted in the preview, the Suns got their turkey roasted by Jason Terry who drove and hit from range with equal aplomb, racking up 18 points on 8-16 shooting.
And while I truly lament the Suns' sieve-like defense, it was their inability to put the ball in the bucket that did them in. There was certainly plenty of visible effort from the Suns, especially the bigs. Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye attacked the glass to the tune of 14 rebounds apiece and the Suns as a team only lost the rebound differential by 3.
The Suns offense was in disarray. With Nash out, the Suns seemed rudderless for the final 3 quarters. Familiar ill-advised shots were in abundance, including but not limited to:
The Hedo Heave
The Robin Lopez 15-Footer (Never Forget)
The Skinny Jared Jumper
The WarMachine Almost-Jam Because He Cannot In Fact Jump Through People Or Possess an 8-Foot Vertical Leap
Oh, yes, Earl Clark got 16 "quality" minutes in the second half. And by "quality", I mean allowed to take and miss jumper after jumper after ever-loving jumper. At 3-12 from the field (including 2 shots squashed by Tyson Chandler), Clark brought a new shade of black to the phrase "offensive black hole." On defense, his play was considerably more inspiring. He spent a lot of time covering Dirk and while he didn't slow him down terribly, he stuck with him and didn't find himself embarrassed either.
The final score might say the Suns only lost by 15, but it was a pretty thorough dismantling by the Mavericks. Save for a couple of late 3s by Frye and J-Rich, the Mavs would have walked away with this game midway through the 4th. Not much new to take away from this game. The offense stalls without Nash. The defense gives the French military circa 1940 a good name. I wish I had something better to say about this team, but they did nothing to inspire confidence or hope going into a brutal 3 game stretch against OKC, San Antonio and Miami.
Here's hoping Nash recovers quickly and Alvin finds the right combination of players and minutes to keep things respectful heading into the holidays.