"Here we are and we are not out of it no matter what.
We have got to thrive on it and enjoy it and see what we can do here."
- Steve Nash
I have saved the "must-win" drama until now. But tonight, the Suns must win against the Portland Trailblazers. Period. Because this may be as easy an opponent as the Suns will encounter for the duration of the season.
Aaaaand, the Nuggets must beat the Rockets. O.K., maybe not must, but it would certainly help, and the Suns could claim the 8th seed -- for a moment at least -- and we will rejoice and sing and dance!
So, about the depleted Blazers, here are some facts:
Our buddies over at the Bedge have a prediction for us (thank you, Dave):
The Suns are deep, they're motivated, they're skilled, and they're home. This has all the signs of an absolute massacre. I'm struggling to find any way the Blazers can find an advantage here. Even if they score big with guards those same guards will let the Suns have the points right back. Offensive rebounding could be a point of attack I suppose. Hit a billion threes? I don't know.
There has been no word on Steve Nash's hip situation, although the quotes seem to be alluding to the fact that he is probable at the moment. Stay tuned for more on that.
As for the rest of the Suns, hopefully Grant Hill is feeling better with some rest, and we must expect the remainder of the squad to be angry, hungry, with their eyes focused on what is directly in front of them-the current foe, PTL. If the Suns go out and play their game, they should be fine. Like Elvis said, "Take Care of Business." Let Denver and Houston do their thing, and if the NBA gods want it to happen, the Suns will benefit from the outcome of that match-up.
Elvis' plane, The "Lisa Marie":
[Note by Wil Cantrell, 04/16/12 12:59 PM MST ]
Paul Coro reports Nash to play tonight, Hill will NOT.
Sunday was a good day for the Phoenix Suns. They returned home after playing seven of their last eight games on the road in the span of just 12 days. That included three back-to-backs, just three days off, and six games against playoff teams.
The 5-3 record given those circumstances is impressive and while the the Suns didn't finish the stretch in the money, they certainly didn't hurt their chances either. I'm not sure you could have realistically asked for more.
As for the rest of the West, the Rockets and Nuggets began a back-to-back, home and home series in Denver with a win for George Karl's boys. That dropped the Rockets to just one full game ahead of Phoenix. If Denver can win on Monday on the road and the Suns can beat the depleted Trail Blazers (they better), the eighth seed will belong to the Suns with just a week of games left.
Looking in the rear view mirror, the Utah Jazz are beat up in their back court and have lost their last two games and face the Mavericks on Monday. The Mavericks, by the way, aren't totally secure in the 6th seed either.
Full standings after the jump.
Rockets Vs. Nuggets recap: Nuggets blow out Rockets; on to the rematch - Denver Stiffs
After pretty much lethargically going through the motions in the first half (trailing 49-43) the Nuggets turned on the afterburners in the third quarter ... outscoring the Rockets 37 -19. That's right, the Nuggets dominated a team coming out of the locker room! Hard to believe isn't it?
Mavericks fall to Lakers in OT, 112-108 - Mavs Moneyball
no amount of pondering can erase the fact that Dirk Nowitzki had a piss poor first half and the Lakers were on the receiving end of some pretty meh referee calls. Oh, and the Lakers outscored Dallas in the paint 50-32. SO there's also that. I'm done complaining.
Monday's Key Games:
Much has been made about Steve Nash's interview in which he said he would not come back to the Suns unless there was improvement. What isn't usually included when that statement is thrown around is that Nash said he fully expects the Suns' front office to do just that.
Wil already took a look at which free agents already on the roster the Suns should bring back. Now let us examine who is on the market that could be an upgrade for the Suns.Many on this blog feel like the Suns could really use an upgrade on the wing, so first up is the guards and wings.
Here's a link to a chart of who that will be available this summer, arranged according to WP48.
Right at the top, trailing only dunk contest champion extraordinaire Jeremy Evans, is our own Steve Nash. Is it really any wonder why we want to re-sign him?
Some of the more prominent names on the list include: Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Gerald Wallace (Player's Option), Nicolas Batum (Restricted), Goran Dragic, Jeremy Lin (R), Andre Miller, O.J. Mayo (R), Deron Williams (P), Grant Hill, D.J. Augustin, Chauncey Billups, Raymond Felton, Eric Gordon (R) and Michael Beasley (R).
Many of these big names are point guards, and we can probably cross most of them off the list if we retain the services of Steve Nash. Deron Williams probably isn't a realistic target for the Suns with Nash on the roster. We can probably cross off some of the other old guys that still have something left in the tank like Kidd, Miller and Billups.
Phoenix could be in the market for a back-up if the front office doesn't have confidence in Sebastian Telfair or if they are looking to add a possible successor to sit behind and learn from Nash for a couple years.
Jeremy Lin is an option, although the New York Knicks as well as a few other teams are sure to offer him a contract to be their starter. The same can be said of Goran Dragic, unfortunately.
With Kemba Walker in Charlotte, D.J. Augustin could be an option. Raymond Felton is having a miserable season an might be an option as well. Or perhaps the Suns could just match whatever offer Aaron Brooks receives.
Ray Allen may be getting up there in age, but he's still producing. If Boston decides to start over around Rondo and lets the old guys loose, Allen would be a great addition to our group of old guys in great shape.
Gerald Wallace has a player's option, but he could decline to turn it down if he feels he can make more long term money with a new contract now. If he does hit the market, the Suns could look to add him on the wing. However, he'll be 30 years old when the 2012-13 season kicks off and if he opts out it will be for more than on or two year contract. He also isn't a typical Suns wing as his game somewhat resembles that of Josh Childress, and we've all seen how much trouble Alvin Gentry has had finding a spot in the rotation for Childress.
Nicolas Batum would be a great addition, but he is restricted and Portland is unlikely to let him go. Eric Gordon might also be difficult to pry loose from New Orleans' clutches, but he would offer a sizable upgrade at shooting guard.
O.J. Mayo is another name that is thrown around this blog whenever free agency is discussed, and he is certainly one of the better options in terms of potential. He is restricted, but he hasn't been a great fit for Memphis and they may be willing to let him go.
Nobody here would be surprised to see Grant Hill back in Phoenix. Considering the way he's been defending over the last two years, I cannot see how that would be a bad move.
There are many fans of Michael Beasley on this blog, but I am not one of them. He can't even start ahead of Wes Johnson or Martell Webster, an those two make up the most incompetent wing duo in the entire league. Beasley is just not a good team player.
There are plenty of scoring guards in this year's free agent class capable of playing both spots in the backcourt.
Another option available to the Suns would be to go after one of these combo-guards. Any one of these players would theoretically be capable of both backing up Nash at the one and playing alongside him at the two.
West, Green and Foye represent decent NBA players but may not be enough of an upgrade to consider signing.
The names Terry and Bayless leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth, and I'm sure most of you feel the same way.
George Hill might be the best option here, but Indiana traded their 2011 15th overall pick for him so they may not be willing to part ways with him just yet. He could be gettable, but I'm not sure how much it would cost.
So that leaves Crawford and the two Williamses. All three are similar players and could be a good fit coming off the bench at both guard spots. However, Lou WIlliams, who is probably the best of the three at this point, is having a good year for Philadelphia, and they ay not be willing to part ways with him. Crawford and Mo Williams should both be available should the Suns decide to go after them.
Most Suns fans are thinking big and expecting a huge FA addition. But there is going to be plenty of competition (see this Canis Hoopus link for a breakdown of the teams with cap space), and we aren't going to be able to sign every big name out there. If the Suns brass do not re-sign Grant Hill, Michael Redd and/or Shannon Brown, they may be looking for a quality rotation player on the wing. All of these guys have their faults, but some of them could provide decent production on a good contract.
There you go Suns fans. Those are your free agent options in the backcourt. Who would you like to see the Suns sign?