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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LIFE AFTER STEVE NASH

Shortly after losing to the Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference Finals, the Suns watched Amar'e Stoudemire take off for New York.  The writing began to appear on the wall that Phoenix wouldn't being going too far with an aging star point guard and a team full of role players.  Phoenix, though, refused to trade Nash and Nash, in turn, refused to ask to be traded.  The team missed the playoffs in consecutive years while hovering around .500 and entered this off season with Nash becoming an unrestricted free agent and nothing to show for his time in the desert.

On draft night, the Suns selected UNC point guard Kendall Marshall with their first round pick and it was became obvious that Nash's replacement had arrived.  Rumors began to fly about Toronto, New York & Dallas attempting to woo him before the Lakers swooped in to steal him away.  The Suns received a pretty nice haul for a guy who could have walked away for nothing.  The picked up 2 first round picks & two second round picks for helping out their arch rival.  Shortly thereafter, the Suns brought back Goran Dragic from Houston on a 4 year, 34 million dollar deal.  They signed Eric Gordon to a max deal offer sheet while Gordon spent 3 days doing all but begging the Hornets not to match.  Of course, they did but it was obvious that Phoenix was moving full steam ahead from the Steve Nash era.

Phoenix would then withdraw their qualifying offer to Aaron Brooks, who spent last season in China with Guangdong Southern, allowing him to move to Sacramento.  They took advantage of Houston's Dwight Howard pursuit by snagging Luis Scola off of amnesty waivers from the Rockets at a more than reasonable 13 million over 3 years.  They followed up by using their amnesty provision to dispatch the overpaid and under performing Josh Childress.  They also allowed Grant Hill & Ronnie Price to walk to the Clippers and Blazers, respectively.

Now the Suns began to turn from a team that looked to be headed for complete rebuild mode to a team that was beginning to quickly put the pieces back together.  They didn't stop there.  They signed Michael Beasley to a 3 year, 18 million dollar deal, re-upped Shannon Brown at 2 years, 7 million and then made one of my favorite moves of the year signing small forward P.J. Tucker to a 2 year deal.  Tucker was second round pick of the Raptors in 2006 but played just 17 games (83 minutes of action) during his rookie year.  He left in 2007 and led Hapoel Holon to the Loto League title while garnering MVP honors.  In 2008, he moved to Ukraine where he led the league in scoring with BC Donetsk. After that he bounced around between Bnei Hasharon (Israel), Aris (Greece) & Montegranaro (Italy) before finally settling in with Brose Baskets (Germany) last year.  He averaged 16.2 points & 7.1 rebounds while leading his team to the German BBL title.  Tucker has experience in many of the top leagues and competitions around the world and will end up being a real steal for the Suns.

Even though they missed out on Gordon, Phoenix managed to turn Nash, Childress, Hill & Price into Dragic, Scola, Beasley, Tucker, 2 first round picks & 2 second round picks.  So much for rebuilding.  I'm not saying that Phoenix are instant contenders or even a lock for a playoff spot in the West but if you look at their roster a month ago compared to today I think you'd have to be just a little impressed.  Adding to all this is the rumor reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  He claims that the Suns are working on a 3 team trade that would net them Wes Johnson and a first round pick from Minnesota while giving up Robin Lopez & Hakim Warrick to New Orleans.  Assuming that this goes down and that pick is due by 2015, Phoenix would have 6 first round picks & 5 second round picks to play with over the next 3 years.

I understand the other side of the debate as well.  The picks from the Lakers will be at the end of the first round, Scola's production has dropped off, Beasley's a head case, Johnson's a bust and Tucker, wait who's P.J. Tucker?  I get all that.  Of course there is a ton of what ifs with this group of players.  Nobody's guaranteeing a thing.  I'm merely saying that Phoenix will still have a lot of assets moving forward while being competitive next year and without detriment to their future plans.  Not a bad way to move on in life after Steve Nash.

Below are the Suns roster and future picks assuming the reported Woj trade goes through.


  • Michael Beasley (23) - F
  • Shannon Brown (26) - SG
  • Goran Dragic (26) - PG
  • Jared Dudley (27) - G/F
  • Channing Frye (29) - F/C
  • Marcin Gortat (28) - C
  • Wesley Johnson (24) - SF
  • Kendall Marshall (20) - PG
  • Markieff Morris (22) - PF
  • Luis Scola (32) - PF
  • Sebastian Telfair (27) - PG
  • P.J. Tucker (27) - SF

  • 2013 1st rd pick from Lakers (lesser of LAL/MIA/CLE picks)
  • 2013 2nd rd pick from Lakers
  • 2014 2nd rd pick from Lakers
  • 2015 1st rd pick from Lakers
  • Future 1st rd pick from T'Wolves (could potentially be Memphis' 2013 lottery protected pick)
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