Discounting his solid performance against the Lakers [in a loss I might add], Robin Lopez has been non-existent this young season. A lot was expected of him based on his solid improvement last year. This was a that looked like he was destined to play with Taylor Griffin in Venezuela, but turned himself into  someone that actually has a chance at being a starting center in this league. 

While I am not lost on the fact that we are only seven games into the season, I am still concerned with his lack of play. Sure, he could use his back as an excuse. Or he could claim that he isn't in great shape right now. However, I don't believe that those are acceptable responses to his pitiful play. He has had plenty of time to recover from his injuries and get back into shape.

I am sure I will hear how back injuries are difficult [one ended my career BTW, so I am very familiar]. Yet I am more concerned that if his injuries are plaguing him, the Suns have a real problem on their hands. Like it or not, the Suns need Lopez to produce more than they need anyone else. He NEEDS to rebound and defend the post. He needs to be able to pick and roll without turning it over. He needs to be effective. But he is not.

For now, it is my opinion that he needs to be on the bench as a message to him. I am fairly certain that he is the type of player that a good benching will ignite a fire within his belly. For now, Frye or Warrick needs to start and Lopez should have to earn his way back. 

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Is it reasonable for NBA observers to ponder what the Phoenix Suns might or might not do with Steve Nash before the trade deadline? Of course. That's normal. It happens all the time with folk throwing "stuff" against the wall. It's a fun pastime in NBA writing and pundit circles and certainly something we've been known to partake in here, as well.

And yet, doesn't it just chap your hide (hey, East Coast fellers, that's how we talk 'round yonder here parts) when you read stuff like this:

Dealing Nash unthinkable? Suns shouldn't close any doors | NBA.com
For a franchise that doesn't seem willing (or able?) to spend money on big-ticket free agents, the only way to rebuild is through the Draft or with promising young players. The only way to do that is to trade an asset. Do the Suns keep Nash around for sentimental reasons and to win 45-50 games (which takes them out of the Draft lottery) and play a round or two in the playoffs? Or do they trade him and get something in return before it's too late?

It does me. Consider my hide thoroughly chapped.

And yes, I am open to hearing from loyal readers interested in coming over to rub cream on my chapped hide.

The problem here isn't the general idea that the Suns might be interested in trading Nash. Again, that's just normal speculation and we'll be hearing plenty of it between now and the NBA Trade Deadline (February 24, 3 p.m. EST).

The problem here is twofold.

First, the source. I know that the NBA has subcontracted with Turner Sports to run all their digital media properties, but a post like this on NBA.com that speculates and tosses around random ideas (and, in the process, insults the team and its fans) has a lot more weight to it than if it were on some blog.

Is this the kind of writing the league's official website is going to now get into simply because it attracts more eyeballs and generates more money? I hope not.

Second -- and this one is just a general response to all trade rumors -- can't we wait just a few more than seven games into the season before declaring which teams are dead? Do we really know for sure that the Lakers aren't going to suffer any key injuries? Is everyone absolutely certain that the Mavericks and Blazers and Spurs are going to be so much better than last season when they were all bounced from the playoffs?

So far, no one has published anything close to an actual trade rumor involving the Suns or Nash. No one claims to have heard about specific discussions. No one has cited sources. This is all just people talking about what they think the Suns should do based on seven games. 

ESPN hyped up Ric Bucher's podcast chat in which he basically said the Suns suck so he thinks they should trade Nash. Totally his right to say that, but to hype it as a "Trade Rumor"? That's just nonsense.

But that's the media world we live in, where independent-minded blogs have become the voice of sanity and reason while the the "big media" and the league itself is left to gin up random ideas because talking about the game itself isn't enough.

And by the way, Mr. Powell, if Nash going to a contending team is justification for the Suns trading him, why on Earth would you list the Knicks? Do you really think New York has enough assets to both trade for Nash and Melo?

Of course, Dragic is playing his ass off right now which may or may not impact Nash trade rumors chatter (see what I did there with the speculation?)

 

Video: Phoenix Suns Goran Dragic Spins His Way To NBA Play Of The Day - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
Goran had yesterday's NBA Play of the Day against the Grizzlies, and oh what a play it was.


The Phoenix Suns were in a familiar spot, albeit a bit later in the game, trailing by 18 points a minute into the fourth quarter Monday night in Memphis. Just as they did during Friday’s epic...

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Hold onto that ball, Stevie! (AP Photo/Mark Weber)

More photos » Mark Weber - AP

Hold onto that ball, Stevie! (AP Photo/Mark Weber)

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Guess what?

The Memphis Grizzlies are a talented group of guys. Of course, so is every NBA team.

And guess what else? The Grizzlies are a real bad matchup for the Suns. With two high-rate rebounders on the front line, the Grizz never fielded a lineup without one or the other (and for most of the game, both together). That's a bad deal for the Suns.

Sure the Suns only lost the rebound battle by 4, and they pulled down what I expected (41 total). But 13 of those were offensive rebounds on their own misses. On Grizzlies misses, the Suns only grabbed 28 of a possible 44 (63.6%). Randolph and Gasol, in particular, punished the Suns shortness over and over. Randolph had 23 points and 20 rebounds (8 offensive). Gasol had 10 and 8 (4 offensive).

Suns-box-grizz-1108_medium

Grizz_box-suns-1108_medium

(courtesy of espn game page)

 

Robin Lopez, the Suns' only real 7-foot C, was once again a net negative (2 pts, 2 rebs, 2 blocks, -15 +/- overall). He muffed several offensive opportunities and never was able to fight his way onto the court. Lopez has played more than 20 minutes in a game only twice this season in 8 tries. He just doesn't seem to know what he's doing any more. Too much pressure? Who knows.

So while Lopez has not earned more minutes, his draft-mate Goran Dragic HAS (7 pts, 4 assists). How does Dragic not exceed 18 minutes again?

Well, I'll give you the answer. it's really the rotation. With Josh Childress, Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley all bigger and playing well in their own right, there's just no shooting guard time to be had. So the only minutes available are at PG. And there's no way you bench the two-time MVP, especially when he's back to his usual shot-making, assist-maven status (Nash was +1 for the game, while Dragic was -11). 

Frankly, given the circumstances, the Suns were fortunate to be in this game at all. Memphis was home for the first time in a week. They were stinging from a crazy loss to the Suns (Mayo said to Tom Leander on Suns Postgame that most of the team lost sleep after the Friday loss). They are younger. They have a bad matchup combo for the Suns' frontcourt.

And they have quick hands happy to take advantage of Phoenix's probably-tired ballhandlers (12 steals, 22 total turnovers forced, 31 points scored off those TOs). Suns played their 3rd game in 4 nights, the previous 2 being nailbiters that took everything the Suns had in will power just to eek them out.

Don't hang your heads, Suns fans.

This Suns team is exactly what we thought they were: scrappy, shooting scorers trying to make up for lack of height with active perimeter defense. This team will never stop fighting, and will win a lot of games they are not supposed to win. Sometimes the formula works, sometimes it doesn't.

Next up, the only "bad" team on the schedule in the first month: Sacramento Kings. Better than last year, but not as good as the Grizzlies (who are the worst team the Suns have faced this season).

Suns vs Grizzlies coverage

Suns vs Grizzlies boxscore

Straight Outta Vancouver


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