Suns bench will rock it again

Suns bench will rock it again

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We are only 3 weeks away from training camp, marking the official kick-off of the 2010-2011 campaign.

The Phoenix Suns will have a lot of new faces, including 3 of the projected 10 rotation players.

I'm proud to say that, in terms of threads, BSotS has been incredibly active this summer. Of course, overactivity can lead to nervousness and, sometimes, outright insanity. The more we talk about the Phoenix Suns, the more extreme some of our opinions have gotten.

The question is: are wild opinions just a product of the need to argue? Or does it reveal truer feelings, those that only come out when pressed?

Let's talk about some of them.

Expectations of Goran Dragic's development

Let's all take a deep breath for a minute.

Goran Dragic is 12 months removed from being ridiculed as the worst backup PG in the NBA. The Suns, and Steve Kerr in particular as the face of the front office, were the butt of recurring jokes for spending millions to get this guy into the NBA.

Just last year, in a preview of the coming season, ESPN's John Hollinger had this to say about Goran:

Remind me again why they jumped through so many hoops to get this guy? Dragic was tragic as a rookie, shooting 39.3 percent from the field and leaving serious questions as to whether he'll ever be a competent pro point guard. 

So why don't we give Goran a break for not yet becoming an all-star caliber consistent leader, and just appreciate when, in the span of 12 months, he goes from afterthought on his national team to their best player? 

As far as his expectations on the Suns this year, let's just let him be a sparkplug and not expect nightly dominance. He will already get a lot of media attention this season, after his 23-point fourth quarter against San Antonio.

So why compound it on BSotS? He's 24 years old. He's just coming into his own. Let's watch it, and stop expecting greatest on a nightly basis. 

 

Hedo is NOT the Suns' saviour, or lynchpin for a championship, and the Suns don't expect him to be

There's been a tremendous amount of talk about whether Hedo Turkoglu will help the Suns or hurt them. What has surprised me is the level of expectation on this guy - both in good and bad ways.

I watched him closely during last week's games (Slovenia, for one) and his last 2 games - against Serbia and USA. Suspiciously missing in the most recent games was his playmaking. He simply tried to score or weakly passed it off. His shooting was much better overall, as the tourney progressed.

His 18th-ranked team went 8-1 and got the silver medal, and he was credited with giving them their swagger. But he also disappeared for stretches of both the last 2 games, often standing in the corner away from the play until his number was called.

Hedo is NOT our saviour. But neither is he a downfall.

Turkoglu does not need to reprise his 2007-2009 numbers on the Orlando Magic to be a valuable member of the Suns team.

He simply has to show up with a good attitude and play to his strengths - secondary playmaker, streaky shooter and occassional hero.

Sound familiar? That's exactly how you would describe the guy he was traded for: Leandro Barbosa. Except that Turkoglu is 7 inches taller, which makes him more of a mismatch for the opponent.

Turkoglu was never Amare's replacement. He is Leandro Barbosa's replacement. Let's just allow Turkoglu a little breathing room to succeed, and be happy when he does.

And if he falls on his face, it's perfectly okay to reduce his role to Barbosa levels (15 minutes per game). The Suns have 9 other guys who can play more minutes in his stead. Ten million dollars getting 15-20 minutes is not significantly different than 7 million dollars getting 15 minutes.

Don't worry about Turkoglu.

 

54% of you would leave Gani Lawal unprotected over Channing Frye

Really? Are you people serious?

I hope, for your sakes, that you 54% have never, ever criticized the Suns for selling draft picks for nothing.

And that none of you 54% will ever question the wisdom of keeping/signing middling veterans over developing youth, and when the Suns lose some veterans to age, injury or free agency, you'll just shrug and say "oh well".

Giving 21-yr old PF prospect Gani Lawal away in hypothetical expansion draft is the same as selling a draft pick. You get nothing for it.

This is not to say that Lawal will be a star. No one knows if Lawal will be a star, but why not find out before handing him over to keep a middling veteran? What if someone gets hurt this year, and Lawal produces Taj Gibson type numbers in the interim?

And finally, if this article was posted a year ago, and Goran Dragic was listed instead of Gibson, I'd bet that the same 54% would have voted Goran off the island. Think about it.

(this argument is notwithstanding the strategy involved in an expansion draft, that the best method to keep everyone together on the Suns is to protect the cheap youth and offer the expensive oldies that an expansion team wouldn't want in a million years).

 

Expectations of the Suns should be tempered

Stop worrying about everyone else, folks. Who cares that the national media thinks the Suns will miss the playoffs. Who cares that the Knicks blog thinks they have a better shot at the playoffs than the Suns (it is, after all - gasp - a Knicks blog).

Remember this fanpost of a few weeks ago, reminding us of the tepid 2009-2010 season predictions?

This year's prediction are no different. So what.

All it means is that we get to enjoy every win again, just like last year. I'd much rather be a fan of an overachieving team than an underachieving one. I had more fun following the Suns last year and 2004-2006 than I did in 2006-2008.'

Bring on the haters and the chicken littles!

 

Finally: good luck in Golden State, Lou! Sorry you couldn't hook up with a winner...


Turkey might have “12 Giant Men,” but in the FIBA World Championship gold medal game they were no match for the one and only Kevin Durant. Durant was unstoppable, torching Turkey for 28...

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What if the NBA were expanding again? Which Phoenix Suns rotation player would you leave unprotected, if forced to pick someone?

Akis Yerocostas of www.sactownroyalty.com wants to find out.

He's lain out some rules (after the jump), that basically allow us to protect 8 guys on the current roster who are under contract for AT LEAST two more seasons, including those on rookie contracts.

Click the jump for the rules, and a breakdown of the Suns' current roster before you vote...

When you vote, leave a comment as to why (money, strategy, etc)

Da Rules, from Akis:

Just for fun, I've wanted to do an article for my blog on what a prospective NBA Expansion team would look like if one were to come into the league next year.  This is purely hypothetical, and I realize that if the NBA were to add an expansion team, it likely would not be for a while (especially with a possible lockout coming next year), but I still think it could be a fun exercise.

I'm contacting each of you to act as the heads of the team you blog about, and to select the players that you would protect on your team.  Here are the rules:
  1. I must select 14 players from teams, who are either under contract or restricted free agents at the end of the 2010-11 season
  2. I can't select more than one player from any team.
  3. I can only select players that are unprotected by your team.
  4. Each team can only protect up to a maximum of 8 players on its roster who are either under contract or are restricted free agents at the end of the 2010-11 season.
  5. Each team will designate which of its players are unprotected and thus eligible for selection.
  6. Each team must have at least one player eligible for me to select, even if the team doesn't have 8 players under contract/RFA at the end of the 2010-11 season.
  7. Any player I select that is under contract at the end of the 2010-11 season will be placed on the imaginary expansion team.
  8. Any Restricted Free Agent I select will automatically become an Unrestricted Free Agent, but I now have their bird rights
  9. Unrestricted free agents (that's contracts who expire at the end of 2010-11 without being rookie scale) are not eligible to be protected or selected by me.
So, let's narrow this down...


Current Suns who are excluded from this exercise, because they are unrestricted after 2010-2011:

That leaves 11 players, from which we can protect only 8.

PG Steve Nash (2 yrs, 22 mil remaining)
PG Goran Dragic (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)

SG/SF Josh Childress (5 yrs, 33 mil remaining)
SG Matt Janning (2 yr, 1.2 mil remaining, all non-guaranteed)

SF Jared Dudley (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)
SF/PF Earl Clark  (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)
SF/PF Hedo Turkoglu (4 yrs, 44 mill remaining, 4th yr 1/2 guaranteed)

PF Hakim Warrick (4 yrs, 18 mil remaining, 4th yr non-guaranteed)
PF Gani Lawal (2 yrs, 1.2 mil remaining, 2nd yr non-guaranteed)

C Channing Frye (5 yrs, 30 mil remaining)
C Robin Lopez (RFA, would become a UFA in this case)

Frankly, we're faced with some obvious choices to protect. A smart organization does not let go of key young pieces on manageable contracts. They also don't make their star available.

Off the table:
Nash, Dragic and Lopez

That leaves 5 spots remaining for protection.

But who else would you protect? Who would hate to lose, more than anything? Do you keep youth over veterans? Or veterans over youth?

Or, do you throw your long-term contracts out there so the expansion team doesn't bite on anyone?

Now it's your turn to vote.

If you're curious about my own thinking, keep reading...

I won't take the easy way out and give away a guy we acquired this summer (Warrick, Turkoglu or Childress). It's just too easy to give away someone who hasn't yet had a chance to steal our hearts.

So 3 more players are protected, giving me 6 protected players overall (with Nash, Dragic and Lopez):
Turkoglu
Childress
Warrick

Now I can only protect TWO more of the following players.
Janning
Dudley
Clark
Lawal
Frye

Janning and Clark are obvious candidates to leave unprotected.

But among Dudley, Lawal and Frye, who would I leave unprotected for an expansion draft?

If I leave Dudley unprotected, I'm giving away our youngest proven swingman. Richardson and Hill may just be gone next summer. At that point, we'd have a swingman rotation of Childress, Duds and Turkoglu, assuming a PF is acquired some time in the next year. Why give away a reasonable contract with a great attitude and ability to change games just on hustle?

If I leave Lawal unprotected, I'm giving away a potential future starter at PF. Lawal might turn into a great steal, but how high can his ceiling be? If he was THAT talented, someone before pick #46 would have taken him right?

If I leave Frye unprotected, I'm further disrupting the current team and giving away a guy who really set the league on fire last year and just might get even better over time. Yet, his contract is pretty big for a backup C and there is a possibility that he might regress if he doesn't expand his game.

In the end, I'm picking.....

Frye, to be left unprotected.

Why? Because his contract is big and long enough (6+ mil a year soon), old enough (27 already) and his repertoire is one-dimensional enough that I don't think he would be drafted by an expansion team. They would rather take high-ceiling kids than older big-contract folks, I would think.

Now make your call... 
Poll
If an expansion draft occurred tomorrow, and you HAD to leave one of the following unprotected, who would it be? Leave a comment explaining WHY, too. (I'm not giving you Turkoglu, Warrick or Childress - those are too easy...)
6%
Steve Nash
51 votes
0%
Goran Dragic
6 votes
10%
Jared Dudley
91 votes
28%
Channing Frye
238 votes
52%
Gani Lawal
432 votes
1%
Robin Lopez
12 votes

830 votes | Poll has closed


When I asked Hedo Turkoglu about the FIBA World Championship back at his introductory press conference in late July, a big smile came over his face as he welled up with pride over being the captain...

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It almost seemed like destiny, undefeated Turkey meeting up with undefeated Team USA for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. But it took every one of the 40 minutes in Turkey’s thrilling 83-82...

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