The Phoenix Suns have had an extremely active off-season, signing free-agents Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic to contracts, claiming Luis Scola off amnesty waivers, using the amnesty clause on Josh Childress and signing restricted free agent Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet that was ultimately matched by New Orleans. Oh, and there was that little trade they made with their bitter rival from Los Angeles, sending two-time MVP and fan favorite Steve Nash to the Lakers for what likely amounts to a handful of low value picks and a trade exception. They certainly have made some moves, but were they the right moves?
Suns draft PG Kendall Marshall with the 13th overall pick.
He’s not fast, he’s not athletic, he can’t shoot and he’s not a very good defender but boy can he pass. While most ‘experts’ agree that the Suns reached for Marshall, the Suns front office seem to think they got their man. If Marshall can develop a jumpshot to go with his natural ability to run an offense then this could become a very good pick. If not, then just add his name to the list of disappointing 1st round picks in recent years that included Robin Lopez, Earl Clark and Alando tucker.
Suns sign Michael Beasley to a 3 year, 18 million dollar deal.
The Suns reportedly made Signing Beasley their top priority this off-season. Yes, really. Beasley averaged a career high 19.2 ppg in 2010-2011 but struggled in last years lockout-shortened season dropping to a career low 11.5 ppg. He has shown himself capable of putting up solid numbers in the league but has largely been viewed as a disappointment considering his draft status. His maturity and character have been questioned, especially in Miami, but he clearly has talent and youth on his side. He is exactly the type of player who should excel in Phoenix’s system, but that was when they had Steve Nash running the show. Which leads me to…
Suns sign & trade PG Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers for 2 first and second-round picks.
Steve Nash donning the purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers seemed inconceivable to Suns fans and even to Nash himself. Throw in the fact that the only way the Lakers could afford him would involve the Suns trading him to their hated rival for little in return and it bordered on impossible. But owner Robert Sarver went against his better judgement and granted Nash’s request. Conceding that the Suns owed it to Nash to allow him to play wherever he desires and that the Suns do not expect to challenge the Lakers in the next few seasons as they rebuild. The most surprising thing about Nash’s departure is that the Suns made him no contract offer in attempt to have him retire as a Sun.
Suns sign PG Goran Dragic to a Four Year, 34 million dollar deal.
Goran Dragic was not the first Suns ‘Point Guard of the Future’ to be sent packing to Texas, where he flourished in a starting role. The other of course was Steve Nash, and like Nash, Dragic returns to Phoenix ready to lead the team he once observed from the sideline. The major difference is that Dragic is still young and largely unproven, but if the flashes of brilliance he showed in Houston (and in the 2010 playoffs) can be reasonably maintained over the course of 82 games this could be a great move. Unfortunately for Dragic, he has some large shoes to fill and will be compared to Nash every step of the way. If Dragic doesn’t perform, many Suns fans will be questioning why the front office didn’t use the money spent on him to try to resign Steve Nash and watch him ride into the beautiful Arizona sunset in purple and orange. Many are wondering this already.
Suns claim PF Luis Scola off amnesty waivers for three year, 13.5 million dollar deal.
While the Houston Rockets were busy clearing space for a perhaps ill-advised shot at landing Dwight Howard, the Suns were all to happy to claim their solid starting Power Forward off amnesty waivers. The Suns got Scola at a bargain and he should help solidify the Phoenix front court while Markieff Morris continues to develop, adding rebounding, tough defense, decent scoring and a relentless hustle that will hopefully rub off on some of the youngsters. Scola has averaged 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over the last three seasons and his previous experience playing beside Goran Dragic should allow for an easy transition to Phoenix.
Suns re-sign SG Shannon Brown to a two year, 7 million dollar deal.
After swinging and missing on Eric Gordon and O.J Mayo the suns settled for retaining Shannon Brown who is coming off a career best 11 ppg in 2011-2012. The move is likely a stop-gap solution while the Suns try to reel in a big free name agent SG in the next couple off seasons. Speculation has the Suns going after bearded OKC 6th man (and former Arizona State Sun Devil) James Harden if the Thunder are unable to sign him to an extension. In the mean time, Brown still has some upside and a whole lot of athleticism.
Suns trade C Robin Lopez & PF Hakim Warrick to the Hornets in three team deal for SG/SF Wesley Johnson and a conditional first round pick from Minnesota and the contract of retiring C Brad Miller from New Orleans.
Restricted Free Agent Robin Lopez was not coming back to Phoenix so the Suns did the next best thing and packaged him in a surprisingly brilliant front office maneuver. The deal allowed Phoenix to rid themselves of Hakim Warrick’s contract and pick up a first rounder in the process. They take a flyer on Wesley Johnson, who has been a disappointment since being drafted 4th overall in the 2010 draft. The Suns are hoping a new environment and the Suns uptempo offense can salvage Johnson into a rotation player, if nothing else the acquisition allows fans to re-use their #2 Joe Johnson jerseys for one more season.
Suns use Amnesty clause to waive SG Josh Childress
Turkoglu gone, Warrick gone and Childress gone. The Suns have finally managed to distance themselves from the disaster that was the 2010 offseason with only Channing Frye’s exorbitant deal remaining on the books. Childress never fit in the Suns scheme and this parting was inevitable.
Suns sign PF/C Jermaine O’neal to a one-year, 1.35 million dollar deal.
On July 30th, Suns SG Jared Dudley tweeted “This man looking 5 yrs younger!!! Wow!!!”, after watching Jermaine O’neal work out. Ten days later he was a Sun. O’Neal was once a perennial All-Star but injuries and father time have diminished his once impressive game to the extent where he missed more games last season than the entire Phoenix Suns team. The Suns now legendary training staff has helped revitalize the careers of Michael Redd, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal while helping Steve Nash stay on the floor despite his bad back, but are they up for this challenge? If healthy, Jermaine should add front court depth behind Marcin Gortat while Channing Frye recovers from shoulder surgery.
Overall, the Suns have recovered nicely while moving on from the Nash-led Suns and they have managed to keep cap flexibility for the foreseeable future. While the team will undoubtedly have their struggles as they rebuild, they look to be rebuilding in the right direction, like it or not.