PHOENIX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns talks with Steve Nash #12 Vince Carter #25 Goran Dragic #2 and Channing Frye #8 during the NBA game against the New York Knicks at US Airways Center on January 7 2011 in Phoenix Arizona.  The Knicks defeated the Suns 121-96. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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PHOENIX - JANUARY 07: Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns talks with Steve Nash #12 Vince Carter #25 Goran Dragic #2 and Channing Frye #8 during the NBA game against the New York Knicks at US Airways Center on January 7 2011 in Phoenix Arizona. The Knicks defeated the Suns 121-96. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The Suns have cancelled their schedule practice today, taking the day off after a horrible, nightmarish showing AT HOME against their former/future selves.

I expect Steve Nash will spend some time playing with his kids, Grant Hill will spend time with Tamia and fam (for a while, but then will likely head to the arena for a workout because he always does), and everyone else will either hang out in their hotel rooms or houses... all trying to forget what happened but figure out a solution at the same time.

Gentry, for his part, will likely spend the entire time with his coaching staff trying to figure out what the hell will work.

Let's do that too.

Before you scroll down to the comments section, please do me a HUGE favor:

For the purposes of this post, please do me a favor. Assume the trade deadline has already passed, and THIS is the team that's stuck together for another 49 games. Don't suggest trades. Don't talk about next summer or the draft. Take the day off from wishing the team was comprised of something else.

Talk about what can WORK for this team, this season. Hunker down, don't look around the league. Just look at this current team as if you're Gentry. What should he do, right now with what he has?

Hit the jump for my take (or not, your call), and then add yours.

Alvin Gentry is in a big pickle. What to do with this roster of overly-similar yet mismatched parts?

(again, the roster is the roster. For this post, it's not changing)

 

Two Guaranteed Starters

Gentry has used 11 different starting lineups. The only constants, so far, have been Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Should that change? Assuming the roster stays the same, then no.

There's 2 starters down, 3 to go.

 

Shooting Guard

Let's take the next easiest one: Shooting guard.

Your choices are an 8-time All-Star who is in steep decline and doesn't know the scheme at all vs. a bunch of career reserves (Pietrus, Dudley, Childress, Dragic) who for sure will be good one game, bad the next.

None of the options look great, but you can't really justify any decision besides Carter. With him, you'll get consistency. Sure it's maddening sometimes (a lot of the time), but at least it's consistent. Gentry knows he's gonna get 13-20 points every game on somewhat predictable shooting (45%). Defense is optional, but at least Gentry knows this too.

Dudley, Pietrus and Childress are all very similar, yet different at the same time. Understandably, Gentry can't figure out who to play consistent minutes since he can only really play 2 of these guys a game. They are, talent-wise, interchangeable. He tried to vote Childress off the island because he needs the other two's scoring, yet the other two can't hit the broad side of the barn often enough to justify that benching.

 

Center

Now on to the next easiest, simply because there are candidates: Center

Gortat provides a modicum of defense, seemingly consistent effort, and the chance at rebounding. Yet, since he's stepped into the lineup the Suns have been out-rebounded immensely despite his own okay totals. Not sure what to make of that, but I don't think it's all Gortat's fault.

Robin Lopez provides the most potential and defense but can't rebound well, and he's playing worse than Jarron Collins right now. If you start him and give him 25 consistent minutes, he MIGHT re-blossom or he might contribute to a continued team meltdown.

Channing Frye is... well... missing. How can Gentry get his Channing back? Who knows, and this is extremely frustrating if I'm the coach. Frye was a great last year and somewhat consistent till the playoffs, yet all season he's been unpredictable. That's killer to a coach.

If I'm Gentry, I go with Gortat as the starter and Lopez as the backup. Simply because they are quality players who can't play any other position.

But I'm giving each of them a minimum of 15-20 minutes a night. They need consistency and predictability, no matter who the opponent is.

 

Power Forward

Finally, we have to play someone at the Power Forward position.

There's Hakim Warrick, who at least has played that position his entire career even though he basically sucks at it except for the occassional dunk. But at least he seems to understand the concept of rolling to the basket and floating to an open area for a Nash dump-off. On defense...well, there is no defense here.

After that, we're down to giving these minutes to a talented player who plays another position. Channing Frye has to get 20-25 here, doesn't he? Even though he's missing a lot of shots, you've got to play him.

If you're not sold on Warrick deserving more minutes than the loser of the Childress/Dudley/Pietrus fight for the 2/3 minutes, then you're down to a runoff for the final PF minutes.

That's why Gentry tried to go with Hill here. He figured (as he previously had done with Hedo) that a veteran could handle it, could make it work based on sheer effort.

But Grant Hill is not a PF. Neither is Childress, Dudley or Pietrus.

Still, Gentry has no choice. He has to mix and match till he finds gold.

 

So if you're Gentry and you're stuck with this current roster, what would do you? Can you see why there's been 11 different starting lineups? I sure can.

Gimme your options, and WHY.

 

One last time: 

For this one post, please stick to the topic and just discuss the current team from the eyes of the coach. Pretend you have to coach THIS team for 49 more games.


PHOENIX — Amare Stoudemire’s return to Phoenix Friday night was like seeing your still beloved ex-girlfriend bring her new boyfriend into your home for dinner while you are still single and...

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PHOENIX – Between the 40 media members at the morning shootaround and the massive hype surrounding Amare Stoudemire’s homecoming, the Phoenix Suns’ Friday night, ESPN matchup with the New York...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
PHOENIX — In this video blog, the ValleyoftheSuns tag team of Michael Schwartz and Mike Schmitz discuss the Suns’ embarrassing loss to the Knicks, the return of Amare Stoudemire and why...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Not one Suns player off their feet. All five just watching the ball. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Not one Suns player off their feet. All five just watching the ball. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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No words to describe what has happened to the spirit of this team.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/07/11 11:57 PM MST ]

"We will have to line it up, we'll have to get out and we'll have to try to do a hell of a lot better than we did tonight. That's the bottom line. As I said, I've got to do a better job, the players have to do a better job, we all have to do a better job."

Pretty hard to disagree with Gentry right there. Here's the full audio so you can appreciate his tone and hear the answer about the lineups (hint: don't expect much of an answer).

Audio: Gentry post game 010710

Audio: Nash postgame 010711

Audio: Frye postgame 010711

As for Amare...

"I had on objective and that was to dominate from the start. That was my main goal was to dominate from the get go. I got it going early then in the second half they went to a zone and my teammates got it going."

Suns Embarrassed By Knicks In Amare Stoudemire's Return To Phoenix, 121-96 - SB Nation Arizona
The Phoenix Suns are an incredibly bad basketball team right now. To make matters worse, they started the game with the 11th different lineup this season. The unit that started looked like they'd never played together, which is understandable since they hadn't.

 

Steve Nash Fears 'Dark Hole' For Suns While Marcin Gortat Apologizes To Fans -SB Nation Arizona

"We're on that slippery slope where we can get in a dark hole if we don't really hold our ground and fight and be passionate about overcoming it," Steve Nash said after the game.

The Suns cancelled practice for the players tomorrow. The coaches will come in for meetings.

 

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Holy shit, is this the 6-10 and under league?
  • Amare hitting jump shots...we know what that means
  • 8-2, Knicks
  • Not sure if this is an NBA game or a pickup game at the Y w/ really good players
  • Amare drives left on Hill, draws help and still finishes. He's soooo good. On other end Vince Carter tries to post up and misses. He's sooooo not Amare
  • Frye in now for Childress. He's a giant out there
  • Nash and Frye double Amare, Nash draws charge
  • I am not even sure Gentry wants to win this game as much as give his old pals a W
  • Vince with a beautiful spin move in the lane...and a missed layup
  • Remember when we used to say that if Amare's jump shot is working he's impossible to guard? Yup...
  • Guessing Robin will get the DNP-CD tonight
  • 30-22...what a joke

2nd Qtr

  • Knicks 5-10 from three, Suns 1-6
  • Gortat picks up two quick offensive fouls trying to set screens
  • Tons of cheap whistles...guess that helps the Suns b/c they are deeper
  • Knicks can't score...Amare coming back in. Still 30-24, NYK
  • Hill back in for Gortat to guard Amare
  • Dragic going hard at the rim and picking up fouls. That's 2 on Amare
  • GORAN..steal and layup. But Amare hushes the crowd w/ put dunk
  • Goran surveys the court, sees Vince open, takes/makes the three
  • 3rd foul on Ronny T thanks to Goran's drive
  • Grant's in a real shooting slump right now
  • Oregon Ducks cheerleaders on the floor...how do I put this...hmm...moooo
  • Oh, and Suns getting their asses kicked. 43-31, 5:23. 31 points
  • Warrick and Nash in
  • Hey, Vince did something good!!!
  • Knicks switched so Nash swings to Vince he had the clear entry pass to Warrick w/ Felton on his back so Vince skip passes across the court to Dudley. UGGHHH!!!!!
  • 18 for Amare so far btw
  • Warrick with a couple buckets. He's always torched Amare
  • Nash was in position to take a charge on Felton but backed up...sign of the times
  • Vince with the and-1 which gives him two FTAs as a Sun. Actually he took a tech foul FT so that's 3
  • 55-45, Knicks. 29-16 Knicks rebounding

3rd Qtr

  • Amare 19/6. Felton 14/6
  • Warrick starts the 2nd half...should have started the 1st half too
  • Suns baiting Knicks into up-tempo game...they are falling for it!!!
  • Except they are better at it and go up 69-54
  • Heather Cox wears VERY high heals
  • Pietrus takes a loooong time to get his three point shot off
  • Well, good news is the Cavs are coming to town on Sunday and they know what it's like to lose a good player
  • Yup...that bad. 75-54
  • Vince Carter with a couple of threes. He always comes through in the clutch
  • Grant is pissed, he's just going to hit people. If you can't beat ‘em, beat ‘em
  • Gortat getting boo'd..just missed his 2nd open layup. Not his fault really. I mean missing the layups is his fault but the boos are out of general frustration
  • 84-62, Knicks
  • They changed a Vince three to a two. I could make a snide remark, but why bother?
  • Suns getting some buckets but can't get stops. Shocking, I know

4th Qtr

  • 93-71, Knicks
  • Game recap written. Knicks hitting a three every time I looked up
  • Amare coming back in with the Knicks up 106-77 with 7:30. Why?
  • Robin in, Amare out. Mike knows how crazy Lopez is
  • Mozgov got ejected for an elbow. I didn't see it but I like the way Pietrus went after him about it
  • Saw the replay, he hit Robin after a little tussle. Not a big deal


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