Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSA PHOENIX — No matter how far the Phoenix Suns fall down the Western Conference ladder, interim coach Lindsey Hunter doesn’t want to panic. He took an easy day on...

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The Phoenix Suns (23-47) have been teetering with franchise history all season, but records that a team never wants to break like the least amount of points in a game, and most losses in a season. They are safe in terms of the worst mark ever (16-66), but if they drop the game tonight to the Brooklyn Nets (40-29) they will match the seventh worst mark in franchise history.

For the Nets, they are in a position that they would have never thought imaginable three months ago with an opportunity to win the Pacific Division.

Each team is playing for something different, but something that is equally important to each.

As the Nets climb the standings the Suns are descending the same standings into the high end of the lottery. They are two different teams with different trajectories, which does not bode very well for the fate of the Suns. What interim head coach Lindsey Hunter is looking for is effort and energy from his players, something a few of them are learning the hard way.

(Recent) History Lesson

Lost 99-79

The Suns were able to keep pace with the Nets in the first half last time out, in Brooklyn, and they were even up seven at the half. A barrage of two's in the paint and free-throws brought the Nets back and then allowed them to put the game away as a lid was firmly placed on the basket for the Suns offense in the second half.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

Suns: 106.3 PPG (4 wins)

Netss: 103.3 PPG (2 wins)

The Nets have won the last two games (104.5-to-91) taking control of this series, but over the past 10 years the Suns have dictated the pace and were the victors in this cross-country series. Before the last meeting the Suns had scored 100+ points in nine consecutive games with the exclamation point being a 161 point effort in double-overtime in 2006.

Head-to-Head (career)

Joe Johnson vs. Suns: 17.5 PPG 5.1 RPG 4.4 APG 1.05 SPG 37.7 FG% (17 games)

Luis Scola vs. Nets: 15.3 PPG 7.2 RPG 2.5 APG 0.5 BPG 56.3 FG% (10 games)

In his career against the Suns Johnson shoots his second lowest percentage overall, but still puts up his normal stat-line. He gets after his old team when they square off. Scola does not do anything special against the Nets traditionally, in fact he shoots it low for his standards against the other New York team and will be an important factor tonight.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Deron Williams

SG - Wesley Johnson v. Joe Johnson

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Gerald Wallace

PF - Markieff Morris v. Reggie Evans

C - Luis Scola v. Brook Lopez

Potential Suns Inactives: Marcin Gortat (Foot), Jared Dudley (Flu), and Jermaine O'Neal (Strained Left Calf)

Potential Nets Inactives: N/A

Key Match-Up

Markieff Morris vs. Reggie Evans

Over the past few months all Hunter and the Suns have been mentioning and talking about is energy and effort. That is something an individual can control without the help of a coach or his teammates. Some players are giving it and others are not. In this case Evans is pure energy and if Morris does not show up with energy then a role player like Evans could go off and beat the Suns himself, with energy.

Interesting Stat: 0-9

The Suns are 0-9 on Sunday, but score the third most points on this day of rest.

Meaningless Stat: Sweet Sixteen

During their days in college Shannon Brown, Marcus Morris, Kendall Marshall, Dudley, Markieff, and Johnson have all played in the Sweet 16. As the NCAA Tournament currently sits, Johnson (Syracuse), Brown (Michigan State), Marcus and Markieff (Kansas), Marshall (North Carolina), and Diante Garrett (Iowa State) all have something to cheer for still.

(Update: Sorry Diante)

There is that.

PHOENIX — Recently, the Phoenix Suns have turned in drastically different ball games against very different teams. Just last week they’ve blown out the Los Angeles Lakers at home, then...

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If I simply post a poll asking for knee-jerk reactions to this idea of the Phoenix Suns signing Andrew Bynum this summer, I am pretty sure the results will be the same as if I spent six hours researching and writing an impassioned article about it.

So I'm going to split the difference.

The sitch

Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after being traded to Philadelphia last offseason in the Dwight Howard trade. He has not played a single game all year while recovering from knee issues, and just last week had season-ending surgery to clean up both knees.

The statistical history

Andrew Bynum is a huge man. Clean 7'0", 285 pounds and arms so long they might just touch his kneecaps without bending at the waist. He is a major presence defensively and on the glass, and his ability to catch-and-flush on offense without dropping the ball below his head is quite remarkable.

The stats don't tell the whole story on Bynum. He is a major force, a top-3 NBA player at his position and a likely All-Star in any season he's healthy.


The injuries

Only once has Andrew Bynum made it through an entire NBA season without missing a game due to injury, and that was six years ago.

Last year was his second-most healthy season, playing 60 of 66 games and making the All-Star team in the West.

The big injury is this year, and it's made Philly a little frustrated.

The cost

Here is the problem. While every NBA team would love to offer Bynum a make-good contract that doesn't guarantee much money, the trick will be to outbid the next-closest team in a league full of owners that want to outbid each other.

Someone will likely offer Bynum a max guaranteed contract, which would start at $16.4 million and could be as long as 4 years with 4.5% raises.

The only team that could offer the 5th year is Philadelphia, but I am skeptical that they would offer a full-guaranteed contract for five seasons to Bynum. With the new CBA, that's less than Amare got three years ago.

But let's speculate for a bit here. Bynum will likely be un-insurable for his knee issues, same as Amare was. Let's guess that no team will offer the max.

Here's what a team CAN do to lower it's guarantees:

  • Offer some of the $16 million a year as "un-likely" incentives. "Unlikely" incentives (a) do not count against the cap and (b) only get paid if the player reaches that goal. This gets tricky. "Likely" is anything the player has done recently. "Unlikely" is something he has not done recently. Unlikely bonuses can only be 15% of the player's salary in any one year.
  • Make year 4 a team option (each contract can only have 1 option year on a vet contract). This would make the commitment shorter if the team were ready to cut ties after three seasons.

Here's what a team CANNOT do to lower it's guarantees:

  • the team cannot make year 1 or 2 a team option; the option can only be the last year of the contract.
  • the team cannot offer a big bonus over and above the max salary in any one season
  • the team cannot offer a mutual option (both have right to terminate)
  • the team cannot have more than one option year

In the end, all it takes is one max, guaranteed offer to trump all these shenanigans.

Should the Suns outbid their brethren to get their All-Star caliber player? Should the Suns be the team that offers the fully-guaranteed contract?

Would you give Andrew Bynum a 4-year max contract to be the Suns next All-Star?

  394 votes | Results

1. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 13 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals in 35 minutes of play

At times, it appears Dragic is the only player that's still really trying to win games. There are other players who give a consistent effort, but none like Goran who still seems mentally and emotionally invested in this team and this season.

2. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assist in 27 minutes of play

Has someone told Luis yet that this team isn't making the playoffs? While the majority of the team is already mentally in off-season mode, Luis is playing some of his best basketball of the year. Scola put on a show against Dwight Howard in the 4th quarter holding him to zero points while scoring all 14 of his points and carrying the Suns to a huge win. I gave Dragic a small edge for his overall play this week, but Luis was right there with him.

3. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist in 26 minutes of play

Tucker has not only continued to play hard and give his all on defense, he also found a way to contribute offensively this week and really stepped up his rebounding as well. Tucker is another player who continues to give his all regardless of the standings or score of the game.

4. Wesley Johnson

Weekly Average: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in 32 minutes of play

Wes played fairly well this week overall, but had a horrible game against the T-Wolves shooting just 2/12 and registering just 7 points in 22 minutes of play. However, it wasn't like he didn't try...He had a lot of good shots and even nice drives to the basket that just rimmed out...It was just one of those games. All in all, Wes had an ok week, but compared to the rest of the team, he was pretty good.

5. Jermaine O'Neal:

Weekly Average: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist in 22.5 minutes of play

Jermaine O'Neal only played two games this week after injuring his calf against the Wizards, but he has been one of the few bright spots of this team when he's been on the court.

6. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal in 20 minutes of play

Dudley had a good game against the Lakers before developing flu-like symptoms that rendered him ineffective against the Wizards and kept him out of the T-Wolves game altogether. Dudley is another one of the players on this roster still trying to compete, and when he's not playing there is a noticeable difference in the quality of play.

7. Hamed Haddadi

Weekly Average: 4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block in 13 minutes of play

Haddadi is what he is, a very big body in the post who can give you quality backup minutes with a few points and rebounds. There's nothing flashy about Hamed, but he's been a welcome addition to the team and is helping out when given the opportunity.

8. Kendall Marshall

Weekly Average: 5 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds in 16 minutes of play

Marshall had his best game of the season when the Suns needed it most going 4/6 from the field and scoring 11 points vs. the Lakers, while managing to dish 5 assists and grab 5 rebounds as well. However, he was a non-factor against the Wizards and not great against the T-wolves, but I'm more inclined to chalk up his ups and downs to being a rookie rather than a lack of effort.

9. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal in 18 minutes of play

Markieff had a bad week. On one hand, his 9 points and 8 rebounds against the Lakers was a solid contribution that helped the Suns pull of the win, but his zero effort against the Wizards earned him a calling-out by head coach Lindsey Hunter on the post game press conference...not a good sign. Keef responded with an ok showing against the T-Wolves going 3/6 from the field for 7 points while grabbing 4 rebounds in 20 minutes, but it's not a good omen when the head coach is openly criticizing our second-year player for his effort and heart.

10. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 8 points, 4 rebounds in 16 minutes of play

Beasley was flat out awful over the first two games of the week, going 6/18 from the field and playing with no intensity whatsoever on defense. After Hunter benched him for the second half against the Wizards, Beasley responded with at least a decent offensive showing against Minnesota, scoring 11 points on 5/9 shooting. But still, his defense remained poor and it seems like he is just going through the motions out there like more than half of the other players.

So there you have it. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!

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