An Intriguing Brew In Phoenix

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Phoenix Suns we’ve come to know over the past few years will be somewhat unrecognizable to the group Alvin Gentry puts on the floor this season.

Sure, Steve Nash will still be at the controls. And Grant Hill and Jason Richardson will be there.

But Amar’e Stoudemire is gone, as is the dynamic 1-2 offensive punch he and Nash provided the last six seasons.

Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick will join a deep and talented Suns crew, including a monster bench mob, that is long on ability but short on chemistry, since so few of them have played together heading into training camp.

Still, there has to be plenty of excitement in Phoenix about a team with so many interchangeable parts — especially when Nash is running the show and Gentry’s bench-friendly approach to the game.

The Suns had the best bench in basketball last season and probably will have it again this season, though it remains unclear how all of this will work — once the Suns complete all of their business.

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic provides more details and analysis:

Can last season’s hailed Suns chemistry survive losing three rotation players and others getting fewer minutes because of more overlap on the wings? Can a poor rebounding team get by with Turkoglu as the starting power forward? Will the Suns’ go-to play of Steve Nash running the pick-and-roll be anywhere close to as effective with Robin Lopez and Warrick as his top pick-and-roll partners? Can Earl Clark get that promised rotation time if there are six people ahead of him who can play one or both of his forward spots?

Turkoglu was struggling and unhappy in Toronto, but he is two years removed from arguably playing like an All-Star. Even at 6 feet 10, Turkoglu at power forward harkens back to when the Suns reached the conference finals four years ago with [Boris] Diaw as a makeshift center and Shawn Marion as an undersized power forward. Turkoglu’s ability to guard power forwards is questionable, but the 31-year-old’s ability to stay in front of wings could be a concern, too. Defense and rebounding from the Suns power-forward spot already was questionable when Stoudemire was there.

Turkoglu has a court savvy that helps him at both ends. However, Turkoglu often ran the Orlando offense in his best years, but the Suns have Nash to dominate the ball.

Turkoglu was disgruntled in Toronto but wants to be here, especially if his agent, Lon Babby, aided it and is set to head the Suns’ basketball operations. Turkoglu will yield about $5 million of his trade kicker and make his $12 million salary for 2013-14, when he is 35, only half-guaranteed.

The Suns will pay Childress an average of $6.6 million over the next five years to back up Jason Richardson and Grant Hill on the wings, where Phoenix also has Jared Dudley and potentially Turkoglu, Clark or Goran Dragic at times. Dudley is up for a contract extension by October, but how does Childress’ contract affect that?

Phoenix was set up for salary-cap space next summer before the moves but still is not a luxury-tax team and does not have a regrettable contract.

The Suns are in a much better position than we imagined they would be without Stoudemire, who was far more important to that team than many give him credit for being.

The Suns have an intriguing brew working with their roster now. It should make for a very interesting training camp in Phoenix.

It always helps to start with Nash, though.

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22 Comments

  1. JD says:

    Fans complain that Turk doesn’t play defense. However, Orlando made it to the Finals with Turk playing a pivotal role. Fans complain the Suns don’t play defense. However, the Suns came within 2 games of making the Finals when “experts” said they would be a lottery team. The key is the Suns play as a team, perhaps more than any other team in the NBA. They will need to address their defensive and rebounding weaknesses by playing within their system and executing their game plans. If they do so successfully, then they will be hard to beat.

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  3. Realativity says:

    The Suns were successful for so many reasons not spoken about. For one, they play very unselfish (learned from Nash), two Gentry actually plays his bench. I mean how else can a rookie develop if coach (D’Antoni) doesn’t play them, and lastly they actually caught on to the concept of defense (although they still needs some work). In my opinion there will never be another Nash, but Dragic WILL be better than Nash because he is picking up a bit of Nash, but he is fundamental and aggressive. Amare is who he is because of the TEAM and Nash’s ability to get people involved. Without the proper spread on the floor from great shooters, the defense clogs the lane which puts Amare shooting jumpshots (which we saw in most of ht e Lakers series last year. Suns will be fine as long as Gentry stops pulling out the hot hand during the many Suns bench runs. I felt that most of the 2nd half of last season the bench far outplayed the starting 5.

  4. FM says:

    we are all right, its all about nash… and company…. i personally believe amare got his game because of the great pg he has… still he will be great in new york… but suns will not fall as long as the suns are playing the way nash like…..

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  6. jeff smith says:

    How can you possibly put Utah in the mix and not Phoenix? Someone has simply got a complex about the style Phoenix plays. The truth is Sloans’ style is about as unappealing and (no title) unproductive as any. Since your typical predictions were rubbish last year, you should reconsider your list and your absolute biasis.

    • Jeremy says:

      I agree, without Boozer Utah won’t make it to the playoffs. It will take them a year or two to figure everything out and get back there. And as far as the Suns, everyone picked them to finish 14th last season and look where they landed. I’m really not too concerned with what anyone says about them. If they show the heart that they showed last year they will not only make the playoffs, but will be successful once again.

  7. Dayne#3 says:

    Amare was overrated anyhow, He’s see when he has to play in NYC with NO legit pick and roll PG. i think the Suns will be fine. As long as Nash is health, Dragic seems to be a solid back up to give him some minutes n nights off. May miss the playoffs but they will be in the hunt. they lucked out last season with Trailblazer, rockets injuries and OKC will be better this year. The Clippers/Memphis are a wild cards.. BUT:

    1.Lakers, then everyone else. The playoff teams will be. not in this order, but:

    Lakers, Mavs, Utah, Trailblazers, OKC, Nuggets, Houston (IF YAO is healthy) Spurs/Suns

    • Relevancy says:

      I can easily imagine Amar’e being a disaster in New York…He’ll just be standing out on the court waiting for Nash to throw him a pass which is never coming…and I can imagine warrick averaging 17-18 points a game and rebounding too on phoenix with nash.

  8. Moxe says:

    I don’t think it’s a good move to bring a person who struggles to play defense to a team that struggles to play defense.

  9. Carl says:

    @randy

    I think you’re wrong, cause as soon as Steve Nash hada chance he took it and he was still a good player with the Mavs before he was traded… And when he got to Pheonix he took over right aweay and won 2 consecutive League MVP awards, In my opinion Steve Nash might be remembered as one of the greatest PG’s in NBA history.

  10. neelabh says:

    Dragic doesnt have the patience which Nash has with the ball in hand and thus can never be as good as Nash in improving numbers for others. Thus having mere role players will have an affect after Nash leaves. But with Nash gone, the experience of Hedo and an improved Goran leaves Suns free of ball handling woes. Thus we need not worry of what will happen when Nash leaves. Whats important now is that we have to now get Amar’e’s 25 points combined from Hedo and the other PFs with the same number of shots. If Alvin Gentry can manage this, then we can very well look forward to meeting Lakers in the Western Conferense Finals, ( and if I may be a little too optimistic –the trio in Finals :P )

  11. Stevan Nashty says:

    Ummm??? Steve didnt have a mentor???? Last time I check KJ was off the charts when Steve was there…And one year they had KJ,Sam Cassel and Jason Kidd….and Steve Nash…as the rookie…

  12. randy says:

    Steve Nash is the man but lets not forget how long it took him to get there. Goran has shown greatness alot faster than Steve and steve didn’t have a mentor to teach him like Goran. I believe Goran will be Great!

  13. Dongz23 says:

    Lopez health will determine the luck of the suns. He needs to double his production prior to last season because right now, he’ll be playing with a non rebounding power forward. . He could also be the center of the pick and roll play with the departure of amare. . Pick and roll could still be as powerful as with amare since Lopez has done that during the playoffs,when amare have his off night performance. .

    • Jerome Lopez says:

      Agree. Lopez needs to play big since he is the only true big man in the lineup. I think Suns should trade Richardson for another decent big man and Suns will have a very formidable 10-men rotation (frye should be a PF, not a center). The Suns should have traded Amare for David Lee before, instead of just getting draft picks. But if they get another big man for Richardson, just imagine their lineup:

      Starter : Lopez, Warrick, Hill, Turkoglu, Nash
      Reserve: New Center, Frye, Childress, Dudley, Dragic.

      They basically have two teams in there than can basically match up with any other team’s starter on their good nights. They can run run and run and not worry about getting tired knowing that they have a good full second team ready to take over.

  14. JKey says:

    @ Chris Ross

    Don’t forget Dragic who has shown he has potential to take the helm after Nash is gone. Sure he is no Steve Nash, but he has great attacking energy and could be very useful for driving the team. However, I think this upcoming season will be a bit of a test for them. They need to get the positions and the rotations right to keep everyone happy, as well as be a winning team.

  15. DBD30 says:

    Chris is fully right.
    I can only wish Turkoglu good luck doing his share on defense, rebounding the ball, and getting the handling time that he wants.

  16. Larry Harris says:

    Someone in Phoenix better reserve a spot for Scottie Reynolds!

    • Nahum Tesfaye says:

      Yeah they should
      He can be on of our back up point guard for steve nash
      as a matter of fact we should play him nd put him in if nash is gone
      hes a very good player

  17. Chris Ross says:

    There is no way that this can work in Phoenix with Turkoglu. He wanted the ball in Toronto and didn’t get it as much as he wanted so he decided to play even lazier than he already was if that’s even possible. How the heck is he going to get the ball when Steve Nash is handling it all the time? On the other hand I can see Josh Childress working well with Steve Nash, but just about anyone works well with Steve Nash. I don’t think that channing frye and hakim warrick should have gotten those big contracts either because what will happen once Steve Nash is gone. It is really going to hurt their performances including childress.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/end-of-an-era/