The Suns faced a similar decision around this time last season with Amare Stoudemire. The team went 14-18 over a 32-game stretch from December to January before turning things around. Had they not started playing well in early February, it's highly likely that Stoudemire would have been traded at the deadline.
The same is probably true of Nash now.
Alvin Gentry was either unsure or being coy (or perhaps both) when he was asked today about playing a bigger lineup against the Monsters of the La-La Land when the Phoenix Suns invite the traveling circus / Phil Jackson - Kobe Bryant Show / Los Angeles Lakers into town tomorrow. Perhaps fittingly, the USAC hosted a WWE event last night so the arena is totally prepared for the Lakers song and dance on Wednesday.
"I do think there's a possibility we could go with a bigger lineup," Gentry allowed, but...there's always a but...
Asked specifically about playing Gortat and Lopez together and how they would clog things up, Gentry said there would be a lot of screeners out there.
I guess you could see those guys running a "Horns High" set with both Gortat and Lopez stationed at either side of the free throw line giving the ball handler the option of using either screen. The Suns ran that set with Amare and Robin a lot last year but of course back then if Nash used the Lopez screen and Amare's man helped off to protect the roll, Amare could float out and get an open 17 footer. Can Lopez or Gortat hit an open 17 footer? Right, I don't know either.
The point is that while Lopez and Gortat would be a nice rebounding pair (or at least the best rebounding pair the Suns can put on the court), you can only sacrifice so much offense.
"We want to get better rebounding, we want to get better defensively but the bottom line is that I've not seen a team yet win zero-zero. So you're going to have to put the ball in the basket at some stage and we need to be able to spread the floor in order to be able to do that."
Me: It's a little bit of old news, but yesterday Coach talked about the final five minutes of the Sacramento game and the defensive break downs.
Vince: Yeah, that's old news, man. Let's not talk about old news. (chuckles all around)
Me: Any thoughts, anything you take away from that, anything you'd do differently next time?
VC: First and foremost of course, you get a few rebounds, you limit them a few offensive rebounds, we hit a few shots, I think that helps. Because of the shots we missed, regardless if they hit 12 of 14, scored 12 of 14 possessions, if we're scoring as well, we still have a lead. You see what I'm saying?
It was a little bit of both. I think we lost our composure, lost our defensive edge, and they just took advantage of it. A team like that, particularly a young team, if you give them confidence and they believe, in the fourth quarter, they're like, 'hey, we're right there,' anything can happen. I think that's what happened. We were trying our best, we were still fighting but you can see it in the way they were playing in that last stretch, in particular the last two minutes. They were just scrapping, fighting for loose balls, hitting and-1 shots falling down, I mean it was all going against us after awhile.
Me: Is this a team that culturally when you sit down and watch that film, are guys getting called out by name?
VC: No. My opinion you don't accomplish anything like that. It's like, 'what we didn't do.' It's not one play or anything like that.
For myself, I kick my self, I was a step or two off of Casspi on that three. Yeah, he shot it from a couple feet behind (the line) but if I'm a little closer then maybe he doesn't shoot that shot and if he did, maybe he doesn't make it because of my hand is a little closer in his face or what not.
We had defensive break downs but all in all we still have to defend, we still have to rebound, and I think the offensive rebounds more than anything is what killed us because they were getting second opportunities if they did miss on top of us going down there and not making any shots. I think we scored two points in the last five minutes if I'm not mistaken. So there again, a 17-2 run, not that I'm a coach and know these things, but 17-2 in the last five minutes you're not going to win many games unless you're up 25, which we weren't.
That's the full discussion on that. Make you own judgment.
Vince is a confident guy. No questioning that. He's not afraid to fail as he said when asked about being a "go-to" guy in response to Gentry's comment's yesterday.
"I'm not afraid to fail. I think that's the biggest thing being in that position when a coach has the confidence in you and the team has confidence in you. You can't be afraid to fail. You can't be afraid to take the shot," Carter said.
There's a lot more talk from Vince about staying positive and the overall attitude of the Suns staying positive even after the tough loss. He kind of went on a little mini-motivator speech about the power of positivity.
Here's the full audio. It's kind of long with the motivation speech part coming in the final few minutes.
Audio: Vince Carter practice 010411