It is with sadness that I must impart this news on the Suns world.

The Phoenix Suns today announced that forward Channing Frye will be sidelined indefinitely for medical reasons. Frye has developed a dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart. The condition was discovered during a screening echocardiogram conducted as part of a routine preseason physical by Suns team cardiologist Dr. Tim Byrne.

Frye will be followed closely by his team of medical specialists. He will not participate in basketball activities and will be re-evaluated in December.

"Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our players," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "Channing and his family have the full support of our organization. His health is our primary concern and we are committed to helping him in any way he needs."

UPDATE, per Coro: Suns forward Channing Frye told azcentral sports that he will miss the 2012-13 season because of medical concerns.

"The good news is it is a virus so it does have a good chance of going away," Frye said. "My heart can be normal again."

Frye will not participate in any basketball activities and his progress will be re-evaluated in December. He said he would rest for six months, confining his activities to golf and yoga.

I was wondering what was up when Channing tweeted a cryptic message the other day. I guessed he'd had a setback on his shoulder recovery, but unfortunately for all us it's not that simple.

Chuck Hayes had a heart abnormality last year (to which the Kings responded with voiding his free agent contract because the contract was on the condition of passing a physical). Within weeks, he was cleared again to play and signed a new contract. It's quite possible that Frye will follow that same road. I myself was diagnosed with an abnormality last year. I did stress tests and came out with flying colors. But for a few days there, I was nervous. The Kings were nervous enough to void Hayes' contract.

The scary part is that an enlarged heart could be fatal. The Hawks' Jason Collier died in 2005 from what was called a "sudden rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged heart."

You are in our thoughts and prayers, Channing. You may be a lot of peoples' punching bag, but you're OUR punching bag. We know what it's like to play without you, Channing, to the tune of missed playoffs the last two years after you went down injured.

Get healthy and come back, Frye guy!

The Phoenix Suns announced Frye's enlarged heart on September 20, 2012, discovered during a routine preseason physical by the Suns team cardiologist. Frye was immediately told to stop any form of exercise that would raise his heart rate, and that he would be evaluated again in December but that his season was over.

"Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our players," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. "Channing and his family have the full support of our organization. His health is our primary concern and we are committed to helping him in any way he needs."

"The good news is it is a virus so it does have a good chance of going away," Frye said in a Coro article on "My heart can be normal again."

Frye will not participate in any basketball activities and his progress will be re-evaluated in December. He said he would rest for six months, confining his activities to golf and yoga.

Jim covered the press conference in which the Suns discussed Frye's condition and his prognosis for recovery.

"There is a lot of pressure in this job and in this business," Lon Babby said at the time. "There is no pressure in these circumstances."

"Any time an athlete hears something about your heart," Frye said about being cautious. "Like I said yesterday, it's not a knee, it's not a shoulder, you know, it's not your foot. It's not something that they can say well, this is gonna get better if you do A, B, C and D. This is something that's internal and we just have to wait and see."

Enlarged heart

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, primarily affecting your heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle). The left ventricle becomes enlarged (dilated) and can't pump blood to your body with as much force as a healthy heart can.

Dilated cardiomyopathy doesn't necessarily cause symptoms, but for some people the disease is life-threatening. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a common cause of heart failure, the inability of the heart to supply the body's tissue and organs with enough blood. Dilated cardiomyopathy may also cause irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), blood clots or sudden death.

The waiting game

Frye hung around the locker room and video room all season, even helping on Suns pregame and postgame shows on occasion.

In February, when the Suns visited Portland for a road game, Jason Quick of the Oregonian caught up with Channing and wrote that he wasn't ready to give up on basketball.

Five days ago, during a checkup, doctors felt the need to prescribe beta blockers to help restrict his heart rate. Frye is careful not to call it a setback, but the development weighs on him. He is a strict believer in practicing naturopathic treatment, and the directive for traditional medicine ends the chance of him beating this obstacle on his terms.

The medicine makes him drowsy or, as he puts it, acts like a "veil" draped over his head. Perhaps it's why he reacted so strongly Sunday while watching the All-Star Game on television. The usual motivation that came with watching the most excellent of his peers was replaced this year by a decided feeling of sadness. He could not hit the court and hone his craft. He could not hit the gym and improve his body. He still wants to play. And when he does play, it will be with new perspective.

"What I've learned is that you forget that it's not only a blessing to play this game, but it's an opportunity," Frye said. "I am not afraid of retiring, but am I ready? Hell no."

Channing participated in a Bright Side podcast this spring, where he talked about the tough circumstances of Alvin Gentry leaving and the Suns' struggles.

Two months ago, Paul Coro wrote that Frye had seen the best cardiologists and was awaiting final results.

"We're both trying to be safe," Frye said from his Portland, Ore., home. "I've seen the best and it's up to us to decide the best for my future. I'm extremely hopeful and optimistic that everything gets worked out and I get to play next year for the Suns."

Last month, the Suns were optimistic of his return this coming season, but no word since then while they awaited more medical results.

"We're optimistic that he'll be with us and playing," [Suns GM Ryan McDonough] said of Frye in July. "Channing wants to play and the results he has gotten have been good. Obviously, we just want a consensus."

It's time...soon

Apparently, those final results are soon to be shared with Channing and the Suns.

Here is Frye at about 7:30pm on Thursday, August 22.


And here is Frye at about 6:30pm on Friday, August 23.


Life > basketball

Makes sense that the Suns and Frye will be cautious here. Channing doesn't need the money - he will still make the full $34 million from his current contract that goes through 2015. If Frye can't start the season, that doesn't mean his career is permanently done. He could still try to come back in the future. Or, he could retire and start coaching. The point is that Frye doesn't need to force the issue.

The Suns certainly want one of their best players back, but not at the risk of heart problems while playing. The Suns dodged a bullet last season by finding the enlarged heart during a preseason checkup. If the condition had not been found, Frye could have had a devastating reaction right in the middle of a game. The impact of such a situation on Fry'e family, Suns fans and the franchise as a whole would be long-lasting.

So they wait for 100% clearance on the medical side. But time is running out on prep for the full 2013-14 season.

Logic says that if Frye is going to play this season, he would have had to start upping his training regimen already. He has not done any cardiovascular training in almost a year, and the NBA is the toughest league to play after taking time off. Though there was that Michael Jordan guy who took a year and a half off to play baseball.

Still, it would have been ideal for Channing to be exercising for months now. That they are still waiting for final results  says that nothing has been conclusive yet.

I need to make something clear.

First and foremost, I want Channing to be healthy enough to live a full and happy life with his family and friends. I want him to be healthy enough to exercise any way he wants to exercise. I want him to be able to make his own decisions, not one thrust upon him.

Second, and a distant second at that, I want him to play basketball in the NBA next season. I want to know for his sake that he is fully recovered. But only if he is fully recovered. I can't stand the possibility of Frye being a ticking time bomb if the medicals are inconclusive.

The Suns are politely declining comment at this time while they await the results along with Channing.


Frye's hopefully-not-parting-words in Coro's June column:

"It's been a trying time but I have that much more appreciation for the city of Phoenix. The fans have been so supportive. It just makes me want to come back and play in the city that much more and make us a winning franchise again."

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**Perfunctory Disclaimer - No advanced statistic is absolute.  They may, however, be used as guidelines in part of a more comprehensive overall analysis.  Many other tools and techniques should be considered and utilized when determining the value and performance of players.  If you believe that win shares fall somewhere between necromancy and heresy then this may not be your article.**

I like to pillory the Suns at every available opportunity (mostly because I'm a jerk and a bad fan), but barring catching lightning in a bottle the Suns are going to take their share of savage beatings in the upcoming season.  It's inexorable in the mold of death and taxes.  Speaking of death and taxes I sure am glad last season is over...

Just because they're going to be among the dregs of the league doesn't mean it won't be a much more exciting, entertaining brand of basketball, though.  Who favors watching things they care about grow and flourish as opposed to wither and die (Jim raises hand)? But amidst the hullabaloo, how many games can our crappy team win?

Win Shares

There are some fairly byzantine rules involved in calculating win shares, which can be viewed here on, but the gist of it is fairly simple.  The goal is to gauge an individual's contribution to his team's wins. This is done by determining offensive and defensive win shares and adding them together.  WS/48 is adjusted to compare player performance over a fixed period of time.

Offensive Win Shares

The system calculates points produced and offensive possessions for a player.  This uses two formulas - 1. a player is assigned a number of offensive points (marginal offense) which can be divided by 2. the team's points per win (marginal points per win) to produce offensive win shares.  Voila!

Defensive Win Shares

These are much the same as offensive win shares, but utilize defensive rating as opposed to points produced in the calculations.  There are other differences in the formulas used.

Phoenix Suns WS/48 for 2012-13 Season


What can we glean from this chart?

1. Dragic and Dudley led the team in WS/48, but Dragic was only 98th in the league in this metric.  That means if all the talent was distributed around the league equally every team would have at least three players before a Sun from last year made a squad.

2. The combined win shares of the players on a team should approximate the team's win total, but aren't expected to perfectly match the total.  In this instance the Suns won 25 games and received 24.6 win shares.  Overachievers.

3. The mean WS/48 is .060.  The players above that mark were Dragic, Dudley, Scola, Gortat, Tucker and O'Neal. Those were the less atrocious better players on the team last season so that registers.

4. Michael Beasley sucks.

Returning Players WS/48 from 2012-13 Season


We can see here that the remaining players from last season's tire fire failed to meet even the underwhelming production of the departed.  Adjusted to a full season's worth of minutes that combined WS/48 would be good for about 20.4 wins. Expand Beasley's role and that could easily dip into the high teens.  Top three pick here we come.

Departed Players WS/48 from 2012-13 Season


As aformentioned, the exodus of talent from the roster this summer was staggering.  Or not.  But they were better than the players still stuck here who remained.  It actually looks like we could field some very competitive scrimmages between these squads, but "Team Jared" would probably prevail due to "Team Goran's" repugnant bench.

New Additions WS/48 from 2012-13 Season


Here's where things get interesting... as if you weren't already captivated.  Obviously Bledsoe was the key (non-draft) acquisition of the summer, and according to this he will instantly be the best player on the team, but even throwing in the other spare parts these guys rate out favorably compared to last season's Suns.  I guess the Suns were so bad that a person could throw darts around the league and accidentally field a better squad?

If we look below this I have constructed a very sketchy method of predicting approximate WS/48 for the Suns' new additions.  For Len I took the average of picks 1-10 from the 2012 draft.  For Goodwin I took the average of picks 26-35. See, I told you I was going to manipulate data to serve my nefarious needs.  Stay tuned for more trickeration.

WS/48 for the 2013-14 Season Based on Last Season


Plop the new guys in with standing guard and we see that nothing much changes.  The players coming in had a slightly higher WS/48 number, but the players leaving played more minutes.  When we adjust this to approximate a season win total the number of win shares is 24.9.  25 wins.  Right back where we started.


The Balloon Effect

Who doesn't love balloons?  Anyone that doesn't is probably Scott Howard a cruel self-loathing bastard who's lost the will to live.  All balloons are great.  Water balloons? Check.  Balloon animals? Check.  However, with these we must never forget to decapitate their makeuped manipulators.  Remember kids... clowns are evil, but knives are sharp.

And... hot air balloons.  Tell me you don't crane your neck anytime you see these launching or landing.  That's what I thought.  A passenger added onto a balloon will go in the direction of the balloon.  If it's ascending, he's ascending. If it's descending, he's descending.  You know what else helps a balloon rise, though?  Getting rid of dead weight (see Beasley, Michael).

Playing with better players makes players better.  Guys playing with a dynamic player should get better open looks. Great point guard - easy buckets.  Rim protector - play tenacious D and gamble on steals.  The game just comes easier when one is encapsulated by other talented players.  Enter vice versa.

Two of the new Suns played for a very good Clippers team that made them an afterthought.  More teams were game planning for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin than Bledsoe and Butler.  Shocking.  Enter a much weaker team as a more instrumental piece and hit the first domino.

Hot air balloons can also not ascend beyond the earth's atmosphere, so draw your parallel with the Suns there...

Analogy complete.

Other Considerations

1. Michael Beasley will be waived/stretched.  Moment of silence.

2. Channing Frye may or may not play.  I've heard the saying, "No news is good news." bandied about... but in this case I don't get that impression.  We all want Channing to rejoin the team, but with each passing day I become less confident that will be the case. Hopefully I'm wrong, but the Suns will be back at USAC working out pretty quick.

3. Diante Garrett and/or Malcolm Lee will most likely excluded from the regular season roster.  Hard to see Garrett getting a lot of minutes as a fifth point guard.

4. The rooks will get some burn.  How much and whether my completely arbitrary brilliant idea for plugging in a WS number will be remotely close will remain to be seen.

5. Chaos will ensue.  Injuries, trades, blatant tanking and the like will scatter this analysis (and I use that term loosely) into the wind like the multicolored leaves of fall soon to be blanketing the desert landscape.

Predicted WS/48 and Wins for 2013-14 Season


More trickeration.  Now I am the manipulator... minus the makeup.  Please don't kill me.

I've spread around the minutes a little.  Sprinkle here, dash there.  Both of the rookies are playing more than Marshall last year. They better. Trade filler guys... not too many. Projected starters - 25 to 30 minutes per game.  Adjustments in WS numbers?  More projections are actually up than down.

I've got them at 27 wins.  That seems optimistic to me.  If you gave me an over/under of 27 I'm taking the under.  Might be a chance for some of you to bet me before the beginning of the season.  I have no qualms with gambling.  I consider myself a maverick. The good kind.  Not the Dirk Nowitzki oh my god I can't believe you're bitching again kind.

Touching back on one of my other considerations... Channing Frye.  If he is healthy it could actually provide a boost. Put it in whatever context you want, but it is possible he could be the best player on this team if he's healthy.  Let's consider inserting Frye in at his WS/48 number from 2011-12 (.106) and project that at 2500 minutes.  5.5 win shares. The players he will be taking those minutes from will contribute about one win.  One. So in a wins above replacement aspect, Channing could easily boost the team by 3-4 victories... not even considering the way he stretches the court to make things easier for his teammates.  Think hot air balloon.

31-32?  Crazy.

Comparing to New Head Coach Jeff Hornacek

Hornacek's career WS/48 was .154.  That would easily make him the best player on this team.  Easily.

By the third year of his career he was at .149.  Year four... .182.  Hornacek was older coming into the league, but the Suns would be lucky if any of their current youngsters can match his level of production.  That kind of career has already sailed on Goran.  The Suns other recent draft picks are also conspicuously absent from such a discussion. Bledsoe, Len and Goodwin are the hopes on the roster.

The Suns may very well not possess a player who will have a career as great as their coach.  Not a knock on them. Jeff was a great player and one of the best shooters in NBA history.

But... (there's always one of these with me)

Hornacek was the third option on teams that competed for, but ultimately fell short of, NBA titles.  Third.  Chambers and KJ with Phoenix.  Stockton and Malone with Utah. The Suns don't have a player that has even close to a coin flip's chance of being as good as a player who was third best on championship contending teams.

We're going to need to share some more wins.

*For those of you who got bored and skipped to the end... you missed a riveting balloon discussion.

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[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

S : Best in the game (LeBron)

A+ : Right on heels of best player (Durant)

A : Top 5 player

A- : Top players at their position/Potential All-NBA players

B+ : All-Stars

B : Good starters/fringe All-Stars

B- : Good starter

C+ : decent starter

C : fringe starter/bench player

C- : good bench player

D+ : average bench player

D : Fringe rotation player

D- : bad player

F : not NBA caliber

Factors: production+efficiency+talent (emphasis on this year but whole career taken into account)

*Note: There is no specific order within each tier

- Previous Position Breakdowns -

For the purpose of these grades/rankings, I am not looking at last season in a vacuum. I am trying to give an idea of where each of these players stands in regards to each other after last season. One poor season doesn't sink a player's stock if the rest of his career paints a different story, the exact opposite is true as well. However, I am not factoring potential into my rankings, meaning rookies are graded as NBA players and do not garner special consideration because of their youth.

I'm probably making this more complicated and subjective than it needs to be, but I suppose that only makes for more discussion. With that being said, on to the rankings.

Tier 1 (A-)

Duncan_mediumMandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

These guys are the best in the game right now. What Duncan did last year was incredible; putting up his best season in years and being named First Team All-NBA... at 37 years old. Wow.

Tier 2 (B+)

Nowitzki and Randolph are starting to slow down as they age, but they're still pretty darn good. Lee and Aldridge are very productive players in the prime of their careers. Griffin hasn't progressed as quickly as some might have expected, but he's a double-double threat every single night and one of the most exciting players in the league. Bosh has sacrificed his individual numbers to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but he's still one of the best in the game.

Tier 3 (B)

Pau_mediumMandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Wow. There are a lot of good power forwards in the NBA. STAT is difficult to place because when he's been on the court, he's still been pretty effective. He's just been hurt so much and with his history it's hard to see him bouncin back to consistent health.

Tier 4 (B-)

Anthony Davis is going to be incredible in a couple years. Millsap is a cagey vet and Ibaka has had a few years to develop, and Davis was on their level as a rookie. The only thing that held him back were injuries. Let's all hope he can get past them this coming season.

Tier 5 (C+)

Scola_mediumMandatory Credit: Christian Peterson-Getty Images

Solid, solid players that can bring plenty to a team. A lights-out shooter, a crafty post player and a few double-double guys round out the group.

Tier 6 (C)

These guys are productive players that would look really good coming off the bench but can also start and hold their own if necessary. It's a diverse group, but a pretty talented one. Again, there a re a ton of good power forwards in the league.

Tier 7 (C-)

Diaw_mediumMandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This is a mix of young players with potential, useful journeymen and veterans nearing the end but still effective. All these guys can really bring something to a team coming off the bench.

Tier 8 (D+)

These guys all have their own skills and are rotation-worthy players.

Tier 9 (D)

Atrain_mediumMandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

These guys can be rotation players in the right situation. They've proven they belong on a roster at the very least.

    Tier 10 (D-)

    Kieff's inability to be effective consistently lands him in this spot. I haven't completely given up on him, but I'm close.

    Tier 11 (F)

    Yuck yuck yuck.

    Plenty of current and former Sun on this list. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty far down the list. Here's to hoping for a giant step forward from Markieff Morris and a complete return to health for Channing Frye.

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