A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

NBA Franchise Power Rankings: #29 – Phoenix Suns

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Steve Nash dribbling the ball

Image via Wikipedia

Previous rankings:

#30 – Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)

#29 – Phoenix Suns

Total Trade Value Ranking – #28 (Feb. 2011 ranking: #29)

Best assets: PG Steve Nash (Old superstar), C Marcin Gortat (legitimate starter), 2012 1st, 2013 1st, PF Markieff Morris (rookie, projects as borderline starter), C Robin Lopez (borderline starter), rights to RFA PG Aaron Brooks (borderline starter), SF Jared Dudley (borderline starter)

Bad contracts: SF Josh Childress (3 years, 20.9 million), PF Channing Frye (3 years, 19.2 million)

Other chips: SG Mikael Pietrus (expiring)

Financial trade: C-

Managerial grade: D

Estimated record next year: Bottom 14

Overall assessment: The Suns are in a transition mode between the Steve Nash era and whatever comes next, except they appear to want to have their cake and eat it too, by rebuilding for the future while keeping Nash to compete and sell tickets. The longer they wait to move on from Nash, the bigger hole they leave for themselves to climb out of it. Nash is both 37 and an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he is not traded this year, Phoenix will get nothing for him. Furthermore, trading him early helps by putting them in prime position to get a top 5 draft pick in a highly regarded 2012 draft, rather than winning enough to get a #13 type pick like they did this draft, but likely not making the playoffs.

From an asset perspective, Marcin Gortat may be as valuable as Nash because of his age and the high value of centers who can anchor a defense, rebound and be usable on pick and rolls offensively. Plus he’s relatively young and on a great contact. Having their starting center of the future already gives the Suns a solid rebuilding start.

The Suns then have a handful of solid assets in Robin Lopez, Markieff Morris, the rights to Aaron Brooks (he will likely be resigned as a RFA) and Jared Dudley. None of these players can be classified as legitimate starters. Thus Gortat stands alone as a true valuable asset going forward for the Suns.

Management/Finances: I worry about the Suns management and finances both because of two terrible contracts signed last summer Josh Childress and Channing Frye, but also because Robert Sarver has a history of penny pinching. I give them a bad management grade because since in the last year and a half they’ve made bizarre decisions like the Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa trade, overpaying Josh Childress and Channing Frye, and making Markieff Morris the first Morris twin taken. The management and finances grade puts them at #29 instead of #28, despite higher total trade value than the #28 team’s.

The Trading Block: Steve Nash is the most obvious player on the block. Other than Frye and Childress the rest of the Suns seem like they’ll stay through next season.

Next season: I expect the Suns to trade Nash, my question is whether it’ll be before the season or at the trade deadline. If before the season, they could win as little as 15 or 20 wins. If at the deadline, perhaps to pick up the season tickets Nash sells, they will likely sputter to a 30-35 win season. I’m expecting the latter because of Sarver. Projected ORTG: 13th, Projected DRTG: 19th, Projected Record: 35-47

Projection: Flat with a possibility to fall to #30 if they keep Nash for half a season. With Nash traded, they stand a solid chance at getting out of the bottom 3. Like the Bobcats, assessing the Suns rise will likely put on hold until we see their 2012 rookie in action, assuming they don’t draft a can’t miss prospect.

Written by jr.

July 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm

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