Last year about this time, we started hearing more and more about two prospects in relation to the Suns that hadn't previously been linked to the Suns at all (Markieff Morris and Iman Shumpert). We were all "Who?" But in retrospect, the Suns had fallen in love with both players and both turned out to be solid values at #13 despite little buzz around them.
This year, the loved ones appear to be PG Kendall Marshall and PF/C Arnette Moultrie. Both are talented enough to be picked at #13, but neither has been linked to the Suns until recently. Marshall has a pass-first game and mentality similar to the Suns' incumbent PG while being compared to Andre Miller and Jose Calderon, while Moultrie's game has been compared to Kris Humphries and Jason Thompson. (Interesting that 3 of those 4 are free agents this summer.)
Will the Suns eschew their shot-creating shooting guard need in favor of a new PG or PF/C? What if Jeremy Lamb is still on the board, or Terrence Ross? If Marshall is drafted, is that a goodbye signal from Nash? If Moultrie is drafted, is that a goodbye signal to Channing Frye or Robin Lopez?
I sure hope Paul Coro of azcentral.com doesn't hate me for using his tweets for story ideas so often, but Paul is the only guy reporting new information about the Suns these days and I just don't have the connections like he does. We love you, Paul! And I will ALWAYS give you full credit for breaking news.
Since we'd previously reported that Marshall had posted a local channel's pic of Phoenix weather on Wednesday night, can we guess that Marshall was in Phoenix for at least two more days this week? Sounds like a budding love affair to me.
And who's this Arnette Moultrie character? BSotS hasn't even done a prospect preview on him, which probably guarantees he will be the ultimate pick. I'd better get working on that sucker. Draftexpress.com compares Moultrie favorably to Kris Humphries and Jason Thompson, meaning he's got length and rebounding ability and little in the way of offensive skills.
However, Moultrie has shown some shooting ability and fancies himself a PF rather than a C. In fact, he is so sure he's a PF that he declined to work out at the Chicago pre-draft combine when he learned he was slotted with the centers. Impetulant? Maybe.
So, with Moultrie and Marshall coming back in for their second visits in a week, what does that say about the shooting guards that have been linked to the Suns since the end of the season? Not one of the top 5 SGs (Beal, Waiters, Rivers, Lamb, Ross) have even stepped off a plane into the 100+ degree heat yet and it's only 5 days till the draft!
In fact, Waiters is now firmly ensconced in the top 11, being linked to every team from 6-11. Rivers also believes he's top 10 material, refusing to work out with any team who's top pick is outside #10.
Hmph. BSotS certainly spent a lot of writer's cramping on SGs prospects the last few weeks. And for nothing?
Well, at least Lamb is coming to Phoenix for a visit. He rolled his ankle a week ago and hasn't worked out for anyone since. According to our beloved Suns reporter, he's here today.
Lamb can play some solid defense (what the Suns want, bigtime) but has no leadership qualities of his own, and rarely creates his own offense from scratch (kinda like the rest of the Suns already on the roster).
The same can be said of Terrence Ross, who is clearly projected to be picked at or below the Suns #13, yet has not even touched down in Phoenix yet. Either the Suns have no interest in Ross, or they were waiting for pair him with Lamb. Is Ross here with Lamb today? Will he come to town in the next 3-4 days? Who knows.
What we do know is this: the Suns are considering a PG and a PF/C if they don't like what they see from Lamb and Ross in the next few days.
With regard to the question "How Can The Suns Get This Glory?" -- meaning an NBA Championship -- well ... there's no easy road to get there. The Bulls, HEAT, Celtics, Lakers, Spurs all did it with multiple Hall of Famers either in their primes or with one foot on the precipice of their storied careers. Since the turn of the century, the only exceptions to the multiple-HOFer rule were the 2004 Pistons and the 2011 Mavericks (though the Mavs did have Dirk and Kidd). Those teams did it with an unexpected confluence of inspiration they each wish they could have bottled up to sip again in future years.
So how do the Suns get there? Sigh. I don't see how. None of those teams could see how either, until the opportunities presented themselves and they were ready to pounce. They were all aggressive in their acquisitions. The most recent incarnations (HEAT, Celtics, Lakers) all started with one HOFer and acquired the other(s) like magic. The Suns are starting with Steve Nash, their resident, HOFer.
Is there any way they could acquire one or two more potential HOFers this offseason? Sure. Is it likely? Not with this front office.
Now I'm not a Suns front office basher. But there's no denying that this group is conservative to say the least.
When you look at the records of Babby and Blanks, you don't see a lot of creativity. While the Gortat trade was good from a long-term perspective, Babby had the inside track on that one all the way. He'd represented Hedo for years, and knew how to work over the now-deposed Otis Smith of the Magic. Boom, done.
Since then? Nada.
To be fair, part of that was by design. The Suns wanted maximum cap room to have the option to start over if they wanted to. They wanted as much flexibility as possible. And they got it.
At the same time, they wanted to provide Nash some of the continuity he craves (remember all the complaints of turnover before?) and put a competitive team on the court. Telfair, Brown, Redd all outplayed their contracts. Kudos. Good job.
But where's the creativity? Where's the aggressiveness?
The Suns could have made moves with the back end of the roster to set themselves up for this summer in terms of an extra draft pick or two. Even second rounders are valuable. Babby talks youth and the draft, yet so far the Suns have only 1 pick this year.
And that one pick is #13. With rumors swirling that other teams are willing to move around in the draft via trades, it seems a wonderful opportunity to at least discuss moving up (by including an asset like Gortat) or moving down to turn one pick into 2. But then in Blanks' first postseason press conference, what does he say? (paraphrased:) "We're not moving our pick. We like #13." Four weeks before the draft! Now that's commitment. And we're questioning whether the Suns made a draft promise or two, because it was so early in the process? Ha.
Even in the last draft, I recall Blanks gushing over the Morris pick during the draft, and even mentioning "we might not be done yet," only to find out that they had eyes for one guy only (Shumpert) and once he was off the table not one other prospect was worth their effort to acquire? The Suns could have used another project, even if he didn't play much. Need scoring from the 2-guard spot? Here's MarShon Brooks. Need a rebounder? Here's Kenneth Faried. Or a scrappy small forward? Introducing Chandler Parsons. Or a scoring PG? Hello Isaiah Thomas.
Alternately, if they really wanted to make the playoffs this past season, why not work harder to sign guys or acquire guys on the last year of their contract this past spring to help the push? I can see why Diaw chose the Spurs, but to not even make a whole-hearted effort to get him in Phoenix? Come on.
The Suns have a ton of cap room, for sure. And they have a solid core of role players who can help a team win a lot of games.
They have options. Re-sign Nash, spend money for a better player or two around him, and fight for a second-round appearance in the playoffs with the hope of drinking some of that inspiration the Mavericks used to win a year ago.
Or, they could scrap that and start over. Acquire draft picks for solid role players, and get as young as possible.
Which will the Suns choose? Who knows.
But I worry the Suns will actually end up doing a logical, defensible LEAST creative, easiest option. Hopefully, luck falls in their laps. Even more hopefully, they are just playing possum until the draft and free agency start.