If you are looking for a team struggling even more than the Suns, then watch the New Orleans Hornets tonight. The Hornets are coming off a franchise-worst 2-16 record in January. The Suns' 6-10 January record looks positively gaudy by comparison, though they've only gone 3-9 in their past 12 games overall. These two teams have split the season series so far, both winning on the other's floor.
There are other similarities between the teams besides their bad records.
Neither team is particulary athletic. If we see two dunks in tonight's game, I will be surprised.
Both teams' front offices have a closer eye on the calendar and the upcoming NBA draft than their current rosters. Trade season is a month away (after the all-star game), and after that there's just 6 more weeks until the relief of summer break.
Both teams are disenchanted with their somewhat-talented backup centers. Chris Kaman is not playing while the Hornets openly search for a trade partner. Robin Lopez is only playing mopup minutes while the Suns stew over his attitude and lack of offensive progress.
And finally, both teams' owners tightened the purse strings before offering max guaranteed money to their most talented but too-often injured superstars (Chris Paul/Eric Gordon vs. Amare Stoudemire), further dumping them in the muck of the bottom of the Western Conference.
Game notes: Steve Nash WILL play tonight despite a sore quad, according to Paul Coro via twitter this morning. All Nash needs is 7 assists to eclipse Kevin Johnson for the all-time Suns franchise record in assists. It's really, really, really too bad he couldn't have set the record on his home floor Monday night against his "other" NBA employer and Mark Cuban in particular. But then, that's how this season has been going, isn't it? Sigh.
I have a grudging respect for John Hollinger's statistical analysis on the mothership, but very little respect for his talents playing an NBA General Manager. He's no better than us - he just has a better medium on which to post his ridiculous ideas as if there is value to them.
Nash is a free agent after the season and, as our Marc Stein noted earlier this year, his contract isn't extension-eligible. So any team trading for him would basically be taking him on as a rental. Who would do such a thing?
Well, the Blazers might. Portland has been undone by uneven backcourt play so far this year, something that obviously would change the second Nash showed up. And they have the perfect pieces to put into a deal. Raymond Felton has an expiring contract of his own that nearly matches Nash's, which means the deal basically comes down to prospects. Portland can offer two young guards -- Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams -- and possibly a future draft pick, as well.
Steve Nash to Portland is wrong on SO many levels:
1) His style demands control of the offense, while Nate McMillian likes clear playcalling from the bench
2) Portland plays defense in order to initiate offense. Nash does the opposite.
3) Hollinger suggests trading the 3 least valuable/liked players on the Blazers roster in exchange for the best player on the Suns (Nash)
4) Hollinger then speculates that "throwing in a draft pick" might close the deal. That's ridiculous. That comment implies all draft picks are the same value, so there's no need to qualify which pick in which year. Amateur trade rosterbation if I've ever seen it. The #2 pick in 2012? Sign me up! The #25 pick in 2012 or 2013? No thanks!
Why didn't Hollinger just write: "Trade one of my favorite NBA players (Steve Nash) to one of my two favorite NBA teams (Portland and Atlanta) for a player fans of my team all hate with a passion (Felton) and some ambiguous end-of-bench "youths" whose names we won't remember in 24 hours."
I've seen more realistic and less-biased trade suggestions on the BSotS fanposts!
[Update by Seth Pollack, 02/01/12 12:16 PM MST ]
The rosterbation king himself got in on the mix today as well with his own brand of b.s.:
This deal at least makes more sense for the Suns if Batum is included although I'm not sure on what planet a "wink-wink" deal about buying out Grant is even in the neighborhood of reality.
But if Portland were dumb enough to offer Felton, Batum and their 1st round pick for Nash....that's a deal you have to listen to regardless of how poorly he'd fit there. Batum will be an RFA after this season so it would be huge for the Suns to get him under their control. He's legit.
This isn't a franchise that's used to losing. The Phoenix Suns have had the unlucky fortune of being named the "Best franchise never to win a championship" in the NBA. Although the Suns have yet to reach the promised land, the Suns are still viewed as being one of the top franchises in the league. In fact, John Hollinger of ESPN ranks the Phoenix Suns as the 5th best NBA franchise overall, ahead of several teams who actually have trophies in their book case.
So when a historically successful and proud team like the Phoenix Suns suddenly fails to produce wins, struggling even against many of the lesser teams in the league, the inevitable finger pointing is soon to follow.
Ask a dozen people what they think is wrong with the Suns and you are likely to get a dozen different answers...I know, I've done it. While the opinions as to what the problem is and what should be done to fix it may vary, the fact of the matter remains constant. The Suns just aren't very good right now.
A bad team means poor ticket sales and low merchandise revenue. As I write this, the Suns now rank 21st in attendance...that's down from 15th last season. Not only that, but Suns' owner Robert Sarver has already stated previously that,
As long as Steve (Nash) and Grant (Hill) are here, I feel an obligation to be as successful as possible... (and) I don't know that I can sit there for four years and watch a terrible team play. I think we have too many good players to be terrible, even if we wanted to try and be terrible.
Guess what? The Suns are well on their way to terrible...and both Steve Nash and Grant Hill remain on the roster. So what now Bob?
Well Sarver's not talking, and neither is anyone else in the Suns front office for that matter. But one thing's for sure, something is bound to happen soon to try to right the ship before US Airways Center starts looking like a ghost town.
Will the Suns make a trade soon to acquire more talent, or could head coach Alvin Gentry be the first to go?
Read on after the jump for more.
First, let's be clear, the lack of talent on this roster right now is no accident. The Suns have made a concerted effort to limit expensive free agent signings this season so they could enter into the free agency period of 2012 with plenty of cash to spend. The Suns are currently made up primarily of expiring contracts and one-year deals, with only 6 of the 13 players on the roster currently under contract for next season.
In the first 20 games of this shortened season, the Suns now stand with a record of 7-13. The Suns already have four to six (depending on how you look at it) bad losses on their books, and only two quality wins. The bad losses include defeats at the hands of the Hornets, Cavaliers, Raptors, Mavericks (Without Dirk Nowitzki), Bulls (Without Derrick Rose), and Nets (without Brook Lopez); and the only two quality wins were against the Trail Blazers and the Grizzlies...both of whom have winning records.
Because of this, many analysts and fans have begun to question whether or not the Suns' front office plan on making changes, and what their options are. While there's no doubt the Suns lack the talent they are accustomed to, there's still a sense that the Suns are under-performing even considering the players currently on their roster. Last season the Suns got off to another slow start but picked up considerably after the trade with Orlando. The changes that have been made to this team between this season and last season after we traded for Marcin Gortat have been minimal (and many would argue that our roster has actually improved), yet the team seems to be playing markedly worse.
Again, and this can't be stated enough, the front office does not want to take on more salaries and contracts that will bog them down when they try to make a play for a couple of high powered free-agents next summer. I'm guessing they want better production with the team they currently have in place...and I seriously doubt they foresaw this team being this bad.
This leads me to wonder if they will resist making any substantial trades at all, and if the head coaching position may be the first change made instead?
Paul Coro: Nash was limited to shooting & exercise at practice today. He will be a game-day decision to play Wednesday at N.O.
Craig Grialou: Suns @AlvinGentry on @SteveNash for Wednesday at N.O., "I think he'll play. He said he felt a lot better today."
Paul Coro: Gentry said Nash (thigh bruise) felt better today & that he thinks he will play Wednesday at N.O.
Nash would be a welcomed a readdition to a Suns squad that is 10-25 without Nash in his second tenure with the Suns. In 38 games against the Hornets, Nash has averaged 13 points and 9 assists. Nash has scored in double figures in 6 of the Suns last 8 games while averaging near 10 assists.
Wednesday the Suns face David Stern's 4-17 Hornets who are missing Eric Gordon and losers of 4 of their last 5. It would be nice to be able to sit Nash against the awful Hornets but Phoenix is in no position to be taking an team for granted, especially the Hornets who bested them opening night, 85-84.