Anthony Parker is the most likely SG linked to the Suns so far. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

When it comes to free agents, you sign people to plug holes in your roster (or, nominally spend money you didn't otherwise spend on your superstar). This season, barring any parenthetical reasoning, there is only one massive, gaping hole in the Suns lineup: Shooting guard.

Names floating around the national media water cooler, aka twitter, related to the Suns are:

  • Jamal Crawford (average-sized, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Marcus Thornton (short, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Nick Young (tall, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Anthony Parker (average-sized, can shoot a spot-up shot and play defense, but old)
  • Von Wafer (average-sized, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
Thornton and Young are restricted free agents, while Crawford, Parker and Wafer can sign with anyone. All but Wafer would be a certain starter on a team lacking a starting-caliber shooting guard.

The problem here is money. The Suns cannot offer more than $5 million in the first year to any free agent. With that as the starting point, you can cross off Crawford and Young. They will either get more from a "room" team, or take the same money from a contender. The Kings have to spend a boatload just to spend the league minimum on salaries, so any offer to Thornton will be matched.

That leaves us, according the twitter-cooler, with Anthony Parker and Von Wafer.

Anthony Parker, 36 years old now, has spent the last few years in Cleveland after playing (and dominating) overseas for several years when he didn't get a fair shake in the NBA out of college.

ESPN Insider (Hollinger) has this say about Parker...

...Parker also has no jets left and can't get anywhere near the basket on his own steam. He made 22 shots at the rim in 2,091 minutes and had one of the lowest free-throw rates at his position. The one thing he can still do, much better than people realize, is handle the ball and pass. Parker had the best assist ratio of any shooting guard and was second in pure point rating.

His strength is his defense. Parker is strong and competes and was the only Cav who could be trusted to guard good wing scorers last season. He has trouble against quickness, but post-up guards in particular have a rough time working against him.

Overall, he's barely hanging on offensively, and at 36 needs to be in a role where he can just catch-and-shoot or move the ball to the next guy. But his defense makes him an enticing short-term pick-up for a contender.

Contenders, including Boston, or at least exciting-sounding middling teams, including the New York Knicks, are interested in Parker for the same reasons the Suns are interested. He will likely be good with a one-year deal at somewhere barely north of the veteran minimum.

However, the Suns need someone who can create and make their own shot, and Parker is NOT that guy. He is more of a Raja Bell type of player. In fact, he IS Raja Bell without a clothesline maneuver on his resume. His career scoring average is 9 ppg.

Von Wafer wasn't even in an NBA rotation last season. Oh wait, nevermind, he was with Boston. He played in 58 games for about 9 minutes a game. He has never been on the same team for more than 1 year. In fact, he's been in the league for 7 seasons and played for exactly 6 teams. In fact, he was completely out of the league in 09-10, immediately following his best NBA season at 19 minutes and 9 points per game. No one wanted him. Not a ringing endorsement.

This is why I think the Suns are in more interested in the trade front this season and 2012 free agency.

Don't be too bummed when you don't hear the Suns mentioned in any hot FA rumors. They have no money for the big guys.

Other notes:

Per Paul Coro, the Suns open the season on December 26 hosting the New Orleans Hornets. Who knows who will be wearing the Hornets colors on that day. They have 5 guys under contract, and any and all may be moved in a Chris Paul trade by Christmas.

While the Suns may not see Chris Paul on December 26, they also won't see a lot of East all-stars either, thanks to the shortened schedule and the Suns' fall from elite:

The NBA lockout is ending, but Phoenix still is getting locked out from seeing those Eastern Conference stars. With schedules sliced from 82 to 66 games, six East teams will not visit Phoenix this season. The six (Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Boston, New York and Indiana) were 2011 playoff teams that account for every East All-Star starter and 10 of the 12 East All-Stars.

The theme of Phoenix Suns free agency this offseason will likely be a refrain Chicago Cubs fans are most familiar with: “Wait ’til next year.” Much has been made about the...

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So I was looking at the Phoenix Suns depth chart...

PG Steve Nash, Zabian Dowdell

SG Jared Dudley, Mickael Pietrus

SF Grant Hill, Josh Childress

PF M.Morris, Hakim Warrick

C Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Robin Lopez, Garrett Siler

...and feeling a little sick.

My next instinct was to try to fix it, because something is obviously broken. =-/

I mean, the dropoff in PG play when Steve leaves the game is to be expected, but did we really want to go straight from legend-of-all-time to D-league-callup? And I'm a Dowdell fanboy!

Then there's center, where we have 3 guys who should be in a rotation (a little crowded), and PF, where we have 0 rotation players at this point. Yes, Channing will slide over and play that position, but that only works on certain nights again certain teams. Some PF's end up torching him, and he's in foul trouble fast and often trying to stay in front of them.

Then theres SG, where we have 2 guys who are rotation players, but neither of them is starter-quality.

And I sort of put the needs in that order:

1) Backup PG

2) Real PF

3) Starting caliber SG

Of course, that could only bring me to Tom Ziller's excellent article on available free agents. Assuming that all the Tier1 guys are out of our price range, and that anyone we got would be someone worth cutting into our free agent monies next offseason, I thought the following people would be worth pursuing:

Rodney Stuckey & Aaron Afflalo: We probably can't get either of these guys, but they're both certainly worth offering the midlevel to.

TJ Ford: Veteran backup PG - check. He would be better than Dowdell, and we could probably actually have him, unlike the two above. He may be better than brooks as well.

Andrei Kirilenko: I know what your'e thinking - he isn't a real PF! On the other hand, all his best years of production were playing the 4, and if ever a player needed a fresh start, this is the one. Insert obligatory comparison to Shawn Marion here.

Chuck Hayes: Some guys just win no matter where they go, to the contrary of common sense. Chuck Hayes is one of those guys. He won't be particularly expensive, he'll play tenacious defense, rebound the hell out of the ball, and is generally an

Josh McRoberts: If Morris pans out as an NBA player, I envision him playing a lot like McBob does now. So why not skip the development stage and just go straight to it? He rebounds and stretches the floor, and he's more mobile than Channing at the 4 spot. Would he be better if he wasn't playing for the Pacers?

Nick Young: Offer will probably be matched by Washington, sure. But that will help us next year. And if not, we would finally have a player on our team who wants to shoot. (Pop quiz: can you name a player on our current roster who is shoot-first?)

Leon Powe: 2 things happen every time Leon Powe plays. First, he puts up great scoring and rebounding numbers in limited minutes. Second, his knee explodes. Come to Phoenix, Leon. This is the premier destination for guys-who's-knees-explode.

Who do you think would be a good fit here?

SB*Nation has announced that the new NBA schedule will be released tomorrow night on NBA-TV:

The schedule will be released at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night in a special being aired on NBA TV, according to the station's schedule. It will be discussed on the program NBA GameTime.

However, we have received an exclusive sneak peek here at BrightSideoftheSun!

Because of the urgency of time constraints, league officials seem to have turned the creation of the new schedule over to the accounting firm of Bigg, Ash, and Mann. While the entire new schedule has not been released, we are able to see the timing of certain games, thanks to this sneak peek leak by one of the schedule's new creators:

All eyes will be on the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat, as they are showcased in three games around the world on consecutive nights. They first meet in London on Jan 10th, then Mexico City on the 11th, followed by a game in an exciting new venue, in Afghanistan on the 12th. The Lakers will then immediately play against the Suns in Phoenix on the 13th. Miami will come to Phoenix on the 17th, after playing at Orlando, Dallas, and Chicago on the three previous nights.

Because of a quirk in the schedule, Phoenix' only road games will be in Toronto, once each month, but those games will each count as 6 games in the standings, because the Suns are only ever scheduled to play three times a week. Their home games appear to be mostly against Minnesota and Cleveland, though they do face Dallas after it has completed an 8 game in 7 night west coast swing. Portland comes to the Valley after consecutive outdoor games in Juneau, Siberia, and Antarctica, all against the Spurs, who then arrive in Phoenix after playing in Boston the night before.

We would like to thank one of the new schedule's co-creators, a Dr. Steven Ash, for allowing us this sneak peek at the new schedule. Dr. Ash explained that some of the quirks in the schedule are there to smooth out the Stern Smugness and Snottiness of previous antiSun biased schedules. He and his team from the Bigg, Ash, and Mann Firm, or BAMF, for short, have broken in to the schedule creation business just recently. We can be assured of the validity of this new schedule, having been informed that the league's computers are completely unhackable to anyone short of a quantum physicist.

We sought confirmation of this release from league officials, but Garret Siler was sitting at the entrance, completely blocking the door; however, we did see Grant Hill with a rope go out the window, so maybe he was going to assist the commissioner and his staff.

Vince Carter was never going to play this season for the Phoenix Suns at an $18.3 cap number, the only question was whether the Suns would find a suitable trade partner before waiving his largely...

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