Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) pulls a rebound down during the first quarter in a preseason NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Amid all the doom and gloom, we got a game today. After losing in the final seconds to New Orleans in the season opener, the Suns try to turn the tables in the Big Easy tonight.

I get that the Suns are a middling-to-bad team. I get that Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the team leaders, are struggling big-time to get their old bodies to move at NBA speed. But the panic around these here parts the last couple of days has been quite crazy. Oh, I'm not questioning the conclusion that the Suns are a bad team. I'm just a little surprised at... the surprise, from so many, that the Suns are showing it on the court. The Modern Nashian Age is effectively over. All we have left is the limp to the finish line.

And the limp continues in New Orleans tonight, against a team not afraid to slow it down and win ugly. Their coach - Monty Williams - doesn't care how the team looks, as long as they win at least as many games as they are supposed to win. The Hornets look so beatable every time they play the Suns, yet somehow have won 4 of 5 over the Suns since the beginning of last season.

Here's what I'm going to be watching tonight: Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris. Neither is a future all-star, nor will either player see the floor for more than 30 minutes. But both players are key to the Suns' future.

Update: No final word yet, but Eric Gordon - he of the game-winning shot on Monday - may not play Friday night due to a knee bruise. But don't let that raise your hopes. Without Gordon (and with Jack), the Hornets beat the Celtics by 19 on Wednesday night.

Robin Lopez, the 23-year old veteran, is a rare commodity - 7'2", active and talented. Sure, he's injury-prone and not a great rebounder. But if he keeps playing at this level, he will get DeAndre Jordan money next summer - $8-10 million a year - either from the Suns or from another team. He's not the shot-blocker or dunker that Jordan is, but he's got a better offensive game to make up for it. How the Suns capitalize on this suddenly-healthy asset is KEY to the next 12 months. Do they keep Lopez, and trade Gortat? Or vice-versa? Or keep both, thinking you can't ever have too many bigs?

Markieff Morris is the 21-year old more-talented-than-we-thought rookie who just may be starting-quality caliber on a playoff team. He rebounds, hustles and shoots with range. His pedigree includes strong post defense. Are we looking at the next Rasheed Wallace, the kind of guy who can help win a lot of games? Or is he "merely" a 15-year rotational big man that everyone wants on their roster. Either way, the Suns hit it big with the 14th pick.

Everyone else on the roster? Either disappointing, declining, "known quantities" or some combination of all three. The Suns must decide who stays long-term and who goes for younger assets with more risk yet higher ceiling.

I digress. Back to tonight's game.

We know who the Hornets are. They play slow, they play ugly, they barely know each other. Their best players are pretty good - Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry, Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon. Plus, Jarrett Jack is back at PG. He is not a great PG, but he's better than Vasquez, who led the team to a win on Monday night. Jack had 21, 9 and 4 in the Hornets' second game upon his return from a one-game suspension.

But the Suns CAN beat this team. If Nash, Hill and Channing Frye play to their past levels, the Suns can beat the Hornets.

And if the Suns win this game, BSotS Nation will calm down a bit. But it won't change their future. The 2011-2012 season is self-contained in Suns history. The team will not resemble the talent of the past, and they will not represent the talent of the future. This is a bridge season.

At least there's only 4 months and 64 games left.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Jarrett Jack 1 38.0 8.0 17.0 47.1 0.0 2.0 0.0 5.0 5.0 100.0 0.0 4.0 4.0 9.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 21.0
Eric Gordon 1 39.0 9.0 18.0 50.0 0.0 6.0 0.0 2.0 3.0 66.7 0.0 4.0 4.0 3.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 4.0 20.0
Carl Landry 2 31.0 6.0 12.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.0 6.5 76.9 4.0 5.0 9.0 0.5 1.0 1.0 0.5 4.5 17.0
Marco Belinelli 2 32.5 4.0 8.5 47.1 1.5 4.5 33.3 2.0 2.5 80.0 1.5 4.0 5.5 0.5 1.5 0.5 0.0 2.5 11.5
Chris Kaman 2 23.5 5.5 11.5 47.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0 4.0 7.0 0.5 2.0 1.0 1.5 3.5 11.0
Trevor Ariza 2 37.0 4.0 9.5 42.1 1.0 3.0 33.3 1.5 3.0 50.0 1.0 5.5 6.5 2.5 0.5 1.0 1.0 2.0 10.5
Emeka Okafor 2 26.5 3.5 7.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 3.0 50.0 1.0 6.5 7.5 0.0 2.0 0.0 3.5 2.0 8.5
Greivis Vasquez 2 20.5 3.0 7.5 40.0 0.5 2.5 20.0 1.5 1.5 100.0 0.0 3.0 3.0 2.0 2.5 2.0 0.0 0.0 8.0
Jason Smith 2 12.5 1.0 4.0 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 100.0 1.0 0.5 1.5 0.5 0.0 1.0 0.5 2.5 3.0
Lance Thomas 1 2.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0
Cardell Johnson 2 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 100.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5
Trey Johnson 1 2.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Al-Farouq Aminu 2 10.5 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 2.5 3.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.0 1.0 0.0

Check out the Hornets' blog: At The Hive

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The Phoenix Suns’ 2009-10 bench morphed into an elite unit for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the fact that everybody knew their roles and the core of players that made up the...

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As Zimmerman wrote earlier today, the Phoenix Suns could potentially catch lightning in a bottle with Michael Redd. Despite two major knee surgeries, the 32-year-old comes to Phoenix with virtually...

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PHOENIX — Following two disastrous knee injuries, it feels like Michael Redd hasn’t made a blip on the national radar since being a key contributor on the 2008 Redeem Team. The former...

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Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Redd reacts... (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

There are several reports out there (starting with the pride of Apollo High School, Paul Coro) that the Phoenix Suns will sign former Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Michael Redd. Redd is coming off two ACL surgeries on the same knee in 2009 and 2010 and has played a total of 61 NBA games in the last three years.

Last season, Redd was still drawing a huge paycheck from the Bucks and made a brief 10-game comeback at the end of the season. He averaged 4.4 points and 13.4 minutes in that stretch and perhaps most troubling, shot just .235 from three.

Redd, in his prime, was known as one of the best shooters in the game but never shot over 40% from three after his brief stretch from 2001 to 2003, and for his career is a 44.9% shooter from the field. His defense in the best of times was iffy and now he's 32 and years removed from a full season of NBA play.

Maybe with all this extra time to work on his game, the high-character Redd can come in and give the Suns the offensive punch they so desperately need.

Or maybe he's so far removed from playing in the NBA that he'll be a low-cost PR stunt to give the impression the team is trying to do something.

It's a low risk move for the Suns (assuming they sign him to a one-year minimum deal) with the potential for high return should Redd be able to recapture his prior scoring magic. In other words, why not give Redd a chance?

The only downside here is taking potential minutes away from other guys like Josh Childress or Shannon Brown. The upside is adding a former one-time All-Star (2004) and member of the 2008 US Olympic "Redeem Team" who holds the record for the most threes made in a quarter (8, 2002 vs Houston). The press release practically writes itself.

Update: It's official with a press release proclaiming: 11-year NBA veteran is a former All-Star, gold medal winner

"Michael Redd has a proven pedigree as a first-rate NBA scorer," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "He will work with our renowned training staff to get into basketball shape. When he is ready to play, Michael will be a welcome addition to our team."

Here's what Bucks blog Brew Hoop had to say about a possible Redd return in February 2011:

Michael Redd ready to return--but don't hold your breath - Brew Hoop
Where you stand on Redd has a lot to do with how optimistic you are about his rehabilitation. If the 2011 Redd was something like the Redd we saw from 2002-2008, then a return to Milwaukee could make a lot of sense for both sides.

It's painfully obvious the Bucks need a shot in the arm--especially on the offensive end--so it's easy to like the idea of Redd parachuting in to save the day. But let's be clear: Redd flat-out stunk on both ends the last time he tried to come back from a major knee injury, mixing in a few good games with far too many anonymous, bricklaying efforts.

And if Redd isn't going to be a useful scorer, then I'm not sure I see a compelling reason to give him important minutes down the stretch, especially if he's unlikely to return next season. Besides, we all remember his defense before he destroyed his knee, right?

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