Channing Frye was a young player on a young team before, first in New York and then in Portland.

"I think the average age of our team is 23," Frye said on a recent podcast with Kris Habbas, of this year's Suns. "I've been on a young team before. The best thing for a young team is a stable line. Not emotionally too high, not emotionally too low."

Frye would know. He's seen both the good and the bad of being on a young team.

The Big, Rotten Apple

In New York, Frye was part of the hellish whirlwind called the Isaiah Thomas tenure. In Frye's rookie season, 2005-06, which turned out to be his best until joining the Suns years later, the Knicks went 23-59 under Larry Brown. That Knicks team was gawdawful, a mishmash that spiraled out of control. Sounds like the Suns of 2012-13 right?

That team's veteran leaders were Stephon Marbury (28), Steve Francis (28) and Jalen Rose (33). Marbury and Francis spent a lot of time on the floor together that season, with shooters Rose and Jamal Crawford joining them on the wing.

Channing's second year was no more fun, and hardly better. The Knicks went 33-49 (a ten game improvement) with Thomas at the controls to coach his own team. Marbury, Francis and Crawford were back, along with Eddy Curry and former Sun Quentin Richardson. The best part of the season was the bench, headlined by David Lee, Nate Robinson, Renaldo Balkman, and Frye.


Frye was traded that summer when Portland swapped Steve Francis' contract for Zach Randolph's. Portland's sun began to shine that day, while New York's got even murkier.

In Portland, Channing had a new lease on life with a truly young team.

"Back in Portland," Frye said. "We had Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. We were really young, and I asked the fans to support us while we're young and bring their kids because we were going to be together for a while. It's good to have that support through our progress as we get better throughout the year."

Frye loved Portland and still keeps a home their today, despite only playing two seasons where he barely started any games.

Only five active players from that 2007-08 Blazers playing rotation had more than three years' experience in the NBA, and only two of those (Joel Przybilla, Raef Lafrentz) had more than four. Buoyed by young players Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster, the Trailblazers fought to 41-41 finish, finishing just short of the playoffs. And that was with rookie #1 overall pick Greg Oden recovering from a knee injury. The future was bright in Portland.

As a backup center, Channing Frye produced 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game. The next season, Portland got a LOT better, finishing 54-28 even without the services of Greg Oden. Frye's role diminished after he was moved to backup PF behind Aldridge.

The Desert Calm

This Suns team doesn't offer the high end prospects that Blazers team promised. Young Brandon Roy ain't walking through that door. Neither is LaMarcus Aldridge. Or even the dream of a healthy Greg Oden.

But at least these Suns aren't like the 2012-13 version any more, or the 2005-06 Knicks he first experienced. The Suns aren't trying to straddle the fence between youth and experience. Too many veterans get frustrated when they can't win games at a regular clip. They get angry, quiet and closed off.

On the other hand, a young team can keep up the hope of the future without living too much in the past.

These Suns are a year or two behind the Portland squad, before Channing's time with them. This Suns team is just now trying to draft the next stars, and in the meantime is trying to keep fans interested. Last year, with too many veterans, was a total flop.

What can Channing bring to this team that Jared Dudley and Luis Scola could not?

"What I can bring to the table is I've been in every situation," Frye told Kris Habbas for Bright Side. "I've started, I've won, I've lost, I haven't started, I haven't played, had DNPs. I've been in every position you can imagine on a team. For me, just to be able to talk to guys on the side, I'm not gonna be the hoo-rah guy, that's just not me, I can't do that every night. I'm more quiet, let me talk to you on the plane ride back."

Frye plans to be more like Steve Nash and Grant Hill, his mentors once he came to the valley and discovered his three-point shooting stroke that saved his career.

"The thing that those two did the best by far was not to overtalk," Frye said of their leadership style. "Grant was always the first one in there. If Grant was in there, I should be in there. If Steve's shooting, then I should be shooting."

Last year, Dudley, Scola and even Gortat tried the "not overtalking" part because they aren't rowdy guys either. They tried to practice hard, play hard and give a good example. For whatever reason, that didn't work.

No limits

"I don't know how coach Hornacek wants to play," Frye said. "The biggest thing we can do is not [worry about] wins and losses, it's progress. Are we progressively getting better? Are we making the same mistakes that we made in the first game that we made in the thirtieth game?"

That was a lament all last season. Players and coaches openly lamented that they were making the same mistakes in February that they made on day one of training camp. There was no progress. When Alvin Gentry was fired, the main requirement of new coach Lindsey Hunter was to "show progress". Hunter failed to get the team to show any progress, and he was canned too.

Now Jeff Hornacek has to show progress, yet his rotation is younger this season and less educated about what it takes to close out and win basketball games.

As far as Frye is concerned, that's no excuse.

"I know [Marcin] Gortat, Goran [Dragic], Markieff [Morris], Marcus [Morris], P.J. [Tucker], Shannon Brown," he said of the veterans. "I know those guys personally. I know that they want to win and that they hate losing. We're going to hold the younger guys accountable."

Whether the kids listen this time or not, that's the key between a "successful" losing season and a "winning" losing season. That's the difference between a place everyone wants to leave and a place everyone wants to go.

The Suns tried the former, unwittingly, last season. Maybe this year can be the latter.

"We can change all that," Frye said in a fit of optimism that stretches as far as the veteran forward's eyes can see.

"If we continue to grow, I see guys in there working hard, I don't want to put limits on us."

Dionte Christmas is the newest Phoenix Sun after the Suns announced the signing today. The Suns got an extended look at the talented scorer this year at the Las Vegas Summer League and he apparently impressed Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek enough to earn him a contract.

McDonough sung the Temple product's praises in the press release announcing the signing:

"We’re excited to add Dionte to our roster," said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. "He was a key contributor for our Las Vegas Summer League team and his scoring ability, leadership and toughness will help us this season."

Here are his numbers and my analysis of his performance in Vegas:

10.1 46.3 32.1 75.0 2.7 2.0 1.0 20.9 +3

Dionte Christmas is a Summer League vet who just finished up his fourth appearance in Las Vegas/Orlando. He's been right on the cusp of making it in the NBA the last couple years since going undrafted after a standout career at Temple. He's a versatile offensive player who knows how to get buckets, and he showed that with the Suns this year averaging double-figures. He played both on and off the ball, getting to the basket, knocking down perimeter shots and even making some nice passes from time to time.

However, Christmas also showed the flaws in his game that have kept him off the NBA court. Spotty shot-selection, defensive lapses and average athleticism were all evident in his performance.

However, Christmas cannot relax just yet. He is now the 17th player under contract for the Suns and faces an uphill roster to stick around for the season. Most teams offer unguaranteed contracts to players like Christmas in order to have plenty of bodies for training camp and the preseason. However, Christmas' contract is partially guaranteed which means he could very well make this roster.

Christmas is pretty familiar with being in this position as he has been signed by teams multiple times but was cut each time before he had a chance to play in a game. Most recently, he was one of the Boston Celtics' final cuts before the season started a year ago.

Christmas does bring shooting and a knack for scoring, two things this Suns roster is a bit short on.

Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin, Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Gerald Green all have guaranteed contracts in the backcourt. Christmas will compete for a spot with Malcolm Lee and Ish Smith.

This could also mean the Suns are looking to unload some of their players (perhaps Kendall Marshall?) before the season starts. If that's the case, then Christmas' case for making the regular season roster becomes a bit stronger.

So is Christmas' singing just to bring another body in for camp? Or could it be foreshadowing of further moves soon to come? We'll have to wait and see.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

The Phoenix Suns added to a bloated backcourt on Friday by agreeing to a contract with guard Dionte Christmas. Paul Coro reports that Christmas will have a small guaranteed portion on the first year...

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Goran and Zoran another brother tandem?

The Phoenix Suns sure do like the idea of brother tandems. Across multiple front offices, the Phoenix Suns franchise seems to gravitate toward having one or both of a brother tandem on the team.

GM Jerry Colangelo

  • Tom and Dick van Arsdale
  • Wesley Person (brother Chuck Person)

GM Steve Kerr

GM Lance Blanks

GM Ryan McDonough

With Zoran Dragic playing so well for Slovenia and an unrestricted free agent in the NBA (undrafted, signed with Houston last year but didn't make team), is it possible that the Suns would sign Zoran to a non-guaranteed training camp deal?

In Slovenia's first win of the second round yesterday, over Italy, Zoran had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while brother Goran had 22 points and 6 assists. That pair won the game, just as they had helped Slovenia advance from the first round.

GM Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek spent the past week watching/scouting players in Eurobasket 2013. The move would be a feel-good move to get Goran in the right frame of mind during a sure-to-be losing season. But the competition for minutes will be stiff, and Zoran simply isn't as talented as Archie Goodwin, Shannon Brown, Marcus Morris or P.J. Tucker, let alone Eric Bledsoe.

Goran to the rescue

The Phoenix Suns won't be a great shooting team in 2013-14 - which might make life difficult on the court. But coach Jeff Hornacek, who wants the team to exceed 103 points per game this season, sees a potential solution right here on the roster.

"Goran is a good shooter when he primarily thinks about scoring," Hornacek said to Slovenian media. "He is slightly worse in situations when he first looks for an assist and then suddenly the space frees up for him to shoot.

"I'll try to instill him a mentality of a shooter, one who is more aggressive searching space to score. In NBA the situation will be slightly different than here, that's why we'll need him to shoot more."

Hornacek was an undersized two-guard who grew from a second-round pick into an All-Star in the NBA as a combo guard who could get you 20 points and 5 assists a game through intelligent play and a remastered shooting stroke. It's apparent he sees a lot of similarities in Dragic to himself and former running-mate Kevin Johnson.

Slovenia upsets Italy

Bright Side contributor Pece gave us some great insight on flight of the Dragic, both Goran and Zoran, as they fought to best a talented Italian team that had gone 5-0 in Round 1.

Everyone is healthy

The Suns top three centers - starter Marcin Gortat, Alex Len and Channing Frye - have been rehabbing all summer.

Gortat was cleared to resume play a couple of months ago, and just capped off an otherwise unimpressive Eurobasket 2013 with a solid game: 19 points, 12 rebounds. He is healthy and will get three more weeks of rest before the 6-month grind begins.

Rookie center Alex Len had a pair of ankle surgeries to repair stress fractures, but he was cleared just this week to resume all activities.


Of course, this is just via text/twitter and we don't know who gave him the go-ahead for sure (and I doubt the official go-ahead is given via text anyway), but this fits the timeline that McDonough gave last month. And, the tweet was RTd by the Suns player development coach, Irving Roland. Len has been jogging for weeks now, but it appears he's cleared for full basketball activities now. Let's hope he stays healthy.

Channing Frye told Bright Side FIRST that he was cleared by doctors to resume all basketball activities. Now, he just waits for the Suns to concur. Ryan McDonough was in Slovenia all last week, so maybe that announcement will be coming in the next few days.

Media Day: Monday, September 30

With any luck, I will get my first "hard" media credential to Suns games for the 2013-14 season in the coming days, replete with lamination, a head shot and everything. When it comes to guaranteed seats on "press row", space is limited. Team employees (like @Espo and @TheMattPetersen), radio (like @Craig620), TV and traveling scouts get first dibs. Local-based national media and beat writers (like @PaulCoro) get in too. After that, it's a dance to fit in all the websites/bloggers who want to cover games.

Last year, my first year replacing overlord Seth who moved to the big D.C., I went through a probationary period with temporary single-game passes based on seating availability. I ended up making something like 40 of the 44 home games, including preseason. The media relations group just sent out a call to arms for 2013-14 credential requests the other day. Cross your fingers that I don't have to do the "dance" all season again.

The Suns have been excellent to bloggers in recent seasons. I must give a huge shout-out to D.C. Headley, Julie Fie (@suns_jfie), Vince Kozar (@sunsstats), Lon Babby and all the game-ops guys for treating us with such respect. Gone are the days of team coverage only from national media and local beat writers. Unpaid, part-time but somehow overworked and dedicated bloggers are now part of the media fabric. Last year, I counted at least six bloggers (sometimes more) on a game-to-game basis with media credentials. Some with season-long credentials (like Kris Habbas for SB Nation NBA, and Kevin Zimmerman for Valley of the Suns), some with game-to-game passes like me. I hope I'm in the former group this season.

Even though this isn't my real job, it would be a great honor to take that next step in my hobby-job. I work quite hard at my real job (you know, the paying one) but I just love covering the Suns and being able to do it in person over this past year has been a dream come true. I look forward to a long hobby-job down at US Airways Center as the Suns rise back to the top of the heap, this time with me in tow.

Training Camp: Flagstaff, September 30 - October 5

The Suns board buses and head to Flagstaff as soon as the mandatory session with media ends at about noon or 1 on Monday, September 30. They will check in to their dorm rooms and likely have a team dinner to get to know each other.

As always, the NBA "training camp" is really just a get-together for teammates to meet and greet with each other while the coaching staff installs the basics of any new system. Five days is five days, meaning not a lot. The meat of installing any game plan and deciding on rotations is done in preseason games.

The training camp culminates with a public scrimmage (Noon) at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff on the NAU campus, the first time since 2004 that the Suns have played basketball in that dome.

With Goran Dragic, Slava Kravtsov and Marcin Gortat over in Europe, and Alex Len recovering from ankle surgeries, the Suns have not had a full compliment of players for voluntary pickup games at any one time.

There have been no leaks of who actually HAS been involved in pickup games over the past few weeks, if any, but the guys who have been in town are the same ones who were here all summer: Markieff and Marcus Morris (who recently spent time in Philly after losing a grandmother), Archie Goodwin, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker. Miles Plumlee moved to town late last month.

None of the rest have made it known they are in town yet. Without an in-town leader who rallies the troops, there really is no reason to cut the summer vacation short before the grind of a long season starts.

Media Day might just be the first time many of these guys even meet.

Preseason: October 7 - 23 (7 games)

Where we will find out about this team is during the preseason games that take place in October. Will they find a way to be high-scoring, or will they just be high-shooting instead?

None of the preseason games are on local TV, but I will be there (hopefully) for the three home games to give you insights into how they are playing.

Opening Night: October 30 - Hosting Portland

The Suns finally start the long-awaited 2013-14 season on the night before Halloween, October 30, at US Airways Center. Despite being a season predicted with a bunch of losses, the Suns will hopefully be entertaining in defeat on most, if not all, nights.

Goran Dragic and the Slovenians aren’t messing around. And with a win against previously undefeated Italy on Thursday to open second-round action at EuroBasket 2013, they proved they’re...

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