There is a level of natural chemistry and camaraderie that you simply do not mess with...
When all the smoke and dust settled the Phoenix Suns opted to make the move to retain chemistry, flexibility, and the current roster that is responsible for the most surprising story in the NBA this season. In the end the Suns (32-21) did not have to make a move even though they had some cards in their hands.
The Emeka Okafor Card was a solid one to have, but in the end if there wasn't a great move to make did the team lose anything by not playing that card?
Obviously the answer is no all the while talking heads and radio hosts will have to fill time slots or airwaves with trade banter about the team that did not make a move with one if the better "assets" this season. They will question the team and float out their arm-chair GM theories that are golden and would have made the team an instant title contender, because of course they will. Why not? That is their job. Objectivity does not waste any precious moments in the world of sports.
Nearly every year the San Antonio Spurs and other wise contenders look around, ponder options, and maybe tweak things every so slightly. We saw that this year with the Nando De Colo trade that brought them back Austin Daye.
Those teams don't fret with the idea of the "big move" that steals the headlines. Rarely do those headlines pave the streets of a Championship Parade.
Over the off-season the Suns did their subtle tweaking by adding Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, Ish Smith, and drafting Archie Goodwin. They made their splash landing Eric Bledsoe for a veteran role player and a pick. Like a thief in the night Ryan McDonough moved experience for youth and draft picks while forming one of the ten best teams in the NBA 53 games through this season. He was questioned then and proved to be ahead of us all. Again, he will be questioned, but this time for the lack of a move when he had more in his arsenal to work with this time.
This is not a video game.
NBA General Managers do not trade two 76 ratings for an 82, then trade the 82 with a pick for a 90, and then become a virtual contender off the couch.
What McDonough did was brave and in all likelihood the correct course. He sat down in the make believe fire the media created when he easily could have stood up. As a first year General Manager one of the hardest things to do is not make every move that presents itself as a potential season changing play. Look through history, even just recent history, first year or inexperienced General Managers like to swing big and often come up with nothing but air.
Sitting back with the sixth best team in the toughest conference in the NBA right now was the right decision. Especially with Eric Bledsoe potentially around the corner from a return to action.
The Thunder, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Suns, and Mavericks did nothing while the Spurs, Rockets, and Warriors made very subtle adjustments to their rotation. Who were the most active? The Bucks, 76ers, Kings, Bobcats, and Nets... There is a theme there.
Time will tell if the Suns made the right decision on sitting down and doing nothing, but I am trusting the guy that turned a 25 win roster into a playoff contender in less than a calendar year.
Reports and rumors are out there saying the Detroit Pistons are willing to trade Josh Smith. Would he be a good fit for the Phoenix Suns?
There's just a few hours left in the 2014 NBA trade deadline and you better believe smarter people than you and I are sitting in an office on Jefferson Ave. thinking long and hard about stuff like this. But hey, we don't get paid to make decisions. We just have fun thinking about them before they happen and opining on them after.
First, the report from Detroit:
Honestly, I can see Josh Smith having value to several NBA teams as a power forward who isn't asked to bear much of the scoring load (Charlotte, Houston, Cleveland, etc.), but at this point the best path forward for the Detroit Pistons is anything that gets them a do-over of its disastrous decision to sign Smith to play small forward alongside young bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Smith was just signed to a $54m, four-year contract by Joe Dumars this summer. He obviously isn't a good fit with their other bigs and is miscast as a full time small forward. Who knew!?!
The Suns clearly have the assets to make a run at him and I won't get into the salary cap stuff, but let's just assume it's doable. I'm confident it is and don't feel like playing Trade Machine Wizard. That's not the point here.
The question is about fit.
Josh Smith is both a flawed and incredibly skilled basketball player. As power forward in Atlanta he played at a fringe all-star level. He's super athletic. Plays great defense. Passes the ball and can run and finish.
He gets into trouble when he has to space the floor and when he takes bad mid and long range shots.
But I have to tell you, the idea of Josh playing the four with the Suns Slash Brothers backcourt is intriguing to me. He's still only 28-years-old and would cost $13m/yr for three more seasons. If Smith, Bledsoe and Dragic are your core and you have the role players and picks the Suns have...well, like I said I'm intrigued.
Imagine Frye, Smith, Tucker, Dragic and Bledsoe on the floor. FAST. DEFENSE. SPACING. PASSING. TOUGH. It doesn't work quite as well with Plumlee due to the spacing issues but both Miles and Len have potential to at least stretch to 15 feet and you can play Smith at the three against guys like Durant and LeBron with Frye on the floor for spacing. There's a lot of options here and a much better fit than in Detroit.
Obviously, from the Suns side you don't want to give up too much and honestly, I'd rather have Thad Young in that role if possible.
But guys with Smith's talent don't fall off trees and certainly not at the price the Pistons would likely be asking.
What do you think?
The Phoenix Suns have just a few hours left to solidify their rotation for a playoff run, unless they already believe that rotation is good to go right now.
The Phoenix Suns are 32-21, sitting in 6th place in the West and showing no signs of folding up the tent.
"These guys believe they can win every game," coach Jeff Hornacek said before last night's win over Boston. "Even when they are down, they never give up."
Hornacek has been saying those words since the Summer Suns went 7-1. He kept saying it when the national pundits predicted a last-place finish but the Suns went 5-2 in preseason. He continued the mantra when the Suns started the season 5-2. He said it again when they went 10-3 in December after a lull in late November.
He continues to say it while the Suns have gone 13-10 since losing their second-best player Eric Bledsoe as the team's young players alternate between lackadaisical periods as a result of playing more minutes than at any time in their career. Only Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker have refused to get tired. Everyone else has either struggled through a mental wall or physical one, the latest victim being Miles Plumlee.
But still they win, thanks to devising a scheme to show off the team's strengths.
"You can’t make errors against them," Boston coach Brad Stevens said after the loss to the Suns. "Because they are coming and they are coming fast and hard. For all of us from the Northeast that travel down here, we can all agree that [Phoenix] pushes it harder or as hard as any team we’ve seen all year. Even more so then it looked on film."
Earlier in the evening, Stevens pointed out the Suns formula: "They play nine guys, sometimes Len. Out of those nine, seven shoot it great and the other two are dynamite to the rim. The two that I'm talking about are Plumlee and Ish Smith. The rest of them are very capable of going for big nights behind the arc."
He expounded on Goran Dragic as well: "If there was one guy that should have been an All-Star that wasn't, it's [Goran Dragic]. He clearly deserved to be honored for his play. You talk about GUYS, is there a guy on the team you're playing against - he's a GUY. He's playing like a guy does and that's powerful in this league."
So why mess with a good thing?
Eric Bledsoe is getting closer and closer to a return. Coach Hornacek said earlier this week that Bledsoe is ramping up his workouts on a daily basis, and that once he's medically cleared he'd only be 3-4 days from playing.
There is no reason to think that the Suns can't play at their 10-3 level in December once Bledsoe is back to form. That's adding a near All-Star right there, without making any moves.
Yet, there are opportunities to improve.
For one thing, the production from these young guys is a bit inconsistent. While it's fun to say that anyone can go off on any given night, you can bet the coaching staff would prefer night-to-night consistency. Not necessarily in the form of shot-making, but at least in the form of effort and focus.
"You can't take plays off," Hornacek said before the game. He was referring to the Suns allowing easy baskets to Boston after taking 8-point or 10-point leads to allow Boston life. "You get a 10-point lead, you should want to push it to 13 or 14."
You get the feeling that Hornacek would love a team full of P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Goran Dragic type players - not the highest skill set but huge, consistent motors.
“Shhh… We don’t want anyone to go after him when he’s a free agent," Hornacek said after the Boston game when asked how much he likes Tucker. "No, PJ is a workhorse – he plays hard, he brings the intensity all the time. He’s got a knack for the ball and when he’s determined to get it he goes and gets it. He’s made some big plays for us last night and then again tonight. We love what he brings to us in terms of leadership, energy, toughness, he’s been invaluable.”
He has said highly positive things about Gerald Green's effort as well as Goran Dragic's all season as well. That's why Green gets 42 minutes despite going 2-16 from the floor (Knicks loss) - he's always giving every ounce he has.
Just like adding Leandro Barbosa in January to provide consistency from that ninth position - at the expense of 19 year old Archie Goodwin - the Suns might add a veteran small forward or power forward today who can come off the bench and provide consistent effort game to game, play to play.
There is also the possibility of a home run today - someone like Kevin Love, or even a lesser talent like Luol Deng. The Suns would love to improve the talent level at the power forward position and both players would do that, but in different ways.
While Deng would provide defense, hustle and moxie that effort-loving coach Thom Thibodeau adored, Love would provide that future All-Star the Suns still lack.
This type of trade at the deadline is much less likely, though it's been done as recently as Deron Williams going to the Nets out of the blue once he made it clear he wanted to leave. No one knew Williams was available, but suddenly he was traded.
A curveball could be Rajon Rondo. Suns GM Ryan McDonough clearly loves him and might want Rondo's production over Eric Bledsoe's promise. Rondo is another who plays great defense and consistent hustle and he's one of the league's best passers, but he's not a great shooter or finisher at the rim - two staples in the Suns' offense.
While you might see the Suns make a low-level trade to acquire someone for the bench rotation to take minutes from one of the Morrii, the likelihood of a home run is minimal.
Still, we can dream.