Gortat can do so much for the Suns. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

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Gortat can do so much for the Suns. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

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What do Marcin Gortat and "the next Phoenix Suns superstar" have in common?

No, I'm not saying that Gortat will be a superstar. If the Suns are lucky, he will become a quality C who will get you 14, 10 and 2 in 30-35 minutes for the next 4 years. That's not superstar level. However, that IS a quality player in a Conference weak on centers. 

Last summer, Robert Sarver said the Suns' best chance to get their next superstar would be via trade. He said he was interested in acquiring movable assets and a lot of depth so that the Suns could pounce when that player became available. I called it our "Gasol" moment.

Of course, every team in the league has dreams of a Gasol-type trade. But how many of those teams can offer a young. starting-quality C as part of the package in return, without losing all of their size in the process?

 

Note the timing of the trade (December 18) in relation to the NBA trading deadline (Feb 24). None of the players acquired from Orlando can be packaged with any other Suns players for 2 months, but that does give the Suns plenty of time to repackage those players before the deadline. Don't expect this roster to be the same on February 25 as it is today.

Despite a better-balanced roster, the Suns are still short at the power forward (PF) position and "superstar" position if they want to make a long playoff run.

The biggest indication of Lon Babby and Lance Blanks' leanings from the weekend deal is this: they arguably upped the talent level on the roster while avoiding bad contracts. Carter is like an expiring deal (only 4 million guaranteed next season) and Pietrus' relatively cheap deal only lasts another year (player option).

The only long-term contract is Marcin Gortat's - exactly the one you WANT on a long-term deal. He is under contract at the mid-level price for 3 more seasons beyond this one - a great value for a skilled, young 7-foot Center. Now the Suns have insurance in case Lopez' injury bug returns.

The Suns center position is now more interesting than ever. They boast two players who are young, talented, starter-quality and relatively cheap.

Robin Lopez is a 22-year old shot-blocking 7-footer with defensive potential and a surprising offensive touch - around the rim and on set shots and free throws, despite oven-mitt hands that make rebounding an adventure. The Suns have his exclusive (cheap) rights for 2 more seasons beyond this one - not needing to make an extension decision until after the new CBA is in place.

Gortat is a 26-year old 6'11"-er who blocks shots, rebounds (offensive and defensive), plays quality defense and can finish at the rim. We will find out a lot more when we see him play for the Suns, but Dudley has already stated he thinks Gortat is perfect for this system.

How do a pair of quality, young centers and the trade deadline relate to each other?

I'll tell you.

If the Suns want a high-quality, young, proven Power Forward on a good contract in trade, you'd better expect the trade partner will demand one of these two in return. Lopez is injury-prone, but is cheap and has proven himself as a starter on a playoff-caliber team. Gortat is not proven yet, but he has been great in spot duty for Dwight Howard and his skillset has had NBA GMs drooling for years now.

Believe me, folks. This is a good thing. Quality young Cs are not easy to come by, yet the Suns now have 2 of them.

Sarver's claim that the next Suns' superstar is most likely to be acquired via trade might just turn out to be true. The Suns finally have the key, expendable assets to make that happen. 2 young cheap centers, 2 first-round draft picks in 2011, a huge expiring contract (Carter) and a host of quality NBA players on manageable contracts

Still not sure "who" that next star player is yet, but at least the Suns will be ready when that guy pops loose.


Who needs Jason Richardson or Vince Carter when you have Grant Hill. The NBA’s third-oldest player made Phoenix Suns fans forget about the 19.3 points per game they’ll be missing with...

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Phoenix Suns' Josh Childress, right, goes up for a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nick Collison during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

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7 days ago: Phoenix Suns' Josh Childress, right, goes up for a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nick Collison during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

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If tonight was any indication of the Phoenix Suns mindset after the deal with Orlando, perhaps we can all put our white flags away.

Grant Hill went for 30 and 11 while Robin Lopez hit for 19 on 9 of 10 shooting, leading the Suns to an improbable victory in Oklahoma City over the Thunder 113-110.

In the first half the Suns looked sharp moving the ball while shooting 55% and extending their lead to 11 points. The Thunder shot 1-11 from beyond the arc, and 27%. But in the second half the Thunder went on a 12-3 run with Russell Westbrook scoring 9 of his squad's 40 3rd quarter points, alleviating the Suns lead.

In the 4th, Grant Hill scored 10 and Josh Childress locked down Kevin Durant (as much as anyone can) and the Suns battled amid an awakened Thunder squad. A solid Suns defense created 6 Thunder turnovers, Josh Childress had a huge steal of Durant, and the Suns survived a last second half court Jeff Green miss that hit the front of the iron.

Props:

  • Nash 20 and 10: Stevie looked energized and comfortable working with his teammates. Perhaps Nash is rising to the occasion as leader of this team to set an example while the trade cloud hovers over the Suns' heads.
  • Goran Dragic: 11 points 5 assists while playing solid D in 32 minutes of action. Methinks he'll see plenty of time next to Nash fir the rest of the season, the Suns may be better with both play makers on the floor
  • Josh Childress: 10 points 5 rebounds, 3 steals. We love Chill's game. After missing 2 straight Josh plays like he hasn't missed any time. Let's hope he gets regular rotation minutes.
  • The Suns  out rebounded the Thunder 37-32

Master of the Obvious Thought and Analysis:

The Suns had every reason to lose this game. But they nutted up and didn't back down from the Thunder. Grant Hill is simply amazing. He said he was pissed about his performance in the Dallas game so he went off. From inside and outide.

Robin Lopez looks very good. Of course he wasn't battling a top tier center tonight, but he's active, aggressive and seemingly injury free. He worked well with Nash tonight on the two man game and only missed one shot. 

The Thunder shot 16 more free throws than the Suns. Some of the calls by the oficials were atrocious, and Kevin Durant was the beneficiary of many of the calls. Still the Suns didn't piss and moan about it, they played hard and loose, like they had nothing to lose. If one thing remained from last year's team, it's heart. There are nights our boys don't look in it, but they are few. Tonight is why you love your Suns, why your tears are purple, and why you put up with front office shenanigans. The Suns usually bring in guys that want to play, that don't need effort coached into them. And perhaps Nash is a huge part of the Suns attitude. You aren't going to quit when Steve Nash runs your squad.

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Phoenix Suns players and the principals of their blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic have been actively commenting on the deal on Twitter. These tweets go to show what Jason Richardson meant to...

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The era of Vince will begin Monday. For better or worse (AP Photo/Steve Dykes, File)

Steve Dykes - AP

The era of Vince will begin Monday. For better or worse (AP Photo/Steve Dykes, File)

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This game will most likely be uninteresting. The Suns will not get thei Orlando booty on Monday most likely. Thus, the Suns will be short handed against a tough OKC team. Jared Dudley will be starting at the 2 in place of Jrich or Vince Carter, depending on your point of view.

It will be interesting to see what the Suns show in the way of effort tonight. It appears Nash will be playing and Gani Lawal is active. I would expect to see Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick playing extended minutes, which could be fun to watch. Seeing Earl Barron though doesn't sounds fun to watch, and we'll probably have to endure watching him.

Nevertheles, I never count the Suns out, and it's possible to win this game. Not very, but with Nash playing there's always a chance, right?


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