- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
Where Do the Suns Go from Here?
Posted By Eric Pincus On May 16, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
The Phoenix Suns had a busy summer in 2012, bringing in Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Kendall Marshall and Jermaine O’Neal.
Midseason the team acquired Marcus Morris and Hamed Haddadi. Coach Alvin Gentry was fired – Lindsey Hunter given the job.
The end result wasn’t pretty. Phoenix ended in last place in the Western Conference with a 25-57 record.
General Manager Lance Blanks was let go despite a year remaining on his contract. Former Boston Celtics executive Ryan McDonough was recently hired in his place.
The Suns need a full-scale rebuild along with a new head coach. Hunter is still in consideration but the field of possible choices may need some time as other organizations decide the fates of their respective coaches (Vinny Del Negro, Larry Drew, Lionel Hollins, etc.).
Phoenix may also look to a high-level assistant looking to make the move to head coach, like Brian Shaw, Mike Malone or Mike Budenholzer.
The organization needs to give whoever gets the job some time on the job to develop what is a very questionable roster. The Suns are not looking at a one or even two-year turnaround.
The draft will be held on June 27 but the Suns have their eyes first on May 21 when the league holds the annual draft lottery.
While the Suns were last in the West, they were better than three teams in the Eastern Conference (Cleveland, Charlotte and Orlando). With that, the Suns have just an 11.9 percent chance of landing the number one pick.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ late run to finish seventh (45-37) in the West resulted in Phoenix getting the 30th pick from the Miami HEAT instead of what might have been a low-lottery pick.
Some of the top prospects in the upcoming draft include center Nerlens Noel, guards Trey Burke, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, and forwards Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter.
At this early stage, it’s unclear which players in the draft will quickly emerge as franchise players.
Players under Contract
Considering the Suns need to “start over,” they have quite a few players under contract for next season (12).
Goran Dragic is a solid point guard at $7.5 million. Marcin Gortat would be happy with a trade, going into his final year at $7.7 million. Luis Scola will make $4.5 million with two years left on his contract.
Channing Frye missed the entire year with an enlarged heart but is under contract for $6.4 million.
Michael Beasley, who had an inconsistent season, is locked in at $6 million. Jared Dudley took a step back as role players tend to do on terrible teams. He’ll make $4.25 million next season.
The Suns will probably look to develop their young players under contract (Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Kendall Marshall). P.J. Tucker is a bargain at a non-guaranteed $884k. Along with Dragic, they may represent the team’s lone priorities next season.
Shannon Brown is due $3.5 million but only half is guaranteed. If he’s not traded, he could be cut outright. Brown made it clear before the end of the season that he does not want to return.
Hamed Haddadi only has $200k of his $1.4 million salary guaranteed for next year. If the Suns look to max out their cap room, Haddadi may lose his spot (otherwise he’s a relatively inexpensive option at backup center).
If the Suns want to make Diante Garrett a restricted free agent, they’ll need to give him a qualifying offer in July for just under $1 million.
Jermaine O’Neal and Wesley Johnson are the only two true free agents, at least until some of the non-guarantees are decided.
O’Neal had a strong year but may look first to play for a contender before considering a return to Phoenix.
Johnson still has to prove he has a consistent NBA game.
If the cap climbs to $60 million and the Suns cut loose both Brown and Haddadi (but keep Tucker), they project to have about $10.6 million in cap space.
A number of contending teams might have interest in players like Gortat, Scola and Dudley. Michael Beasley may be a harder sell given his inconsistent level of play.
If the Suns can trim enough salary via trade, they may be able to open enough cap space to be a bigger player in free agency.
The draft should fill a starting position for the Suns, dictating other needs. A veteran like Josh Smith may not make much sense to a rebuilding team.
Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo might be an option to fill the hole at two-guard. Gerald Henderson of the Charlotte Bobcats could be a target but he’ll be a restricted free agent. J.J. Redick is also unrestricted.
Would Tyreke Evans (restricted) be any bit of a better fit in Phoenix than he’s been in Sacramento?
The list of free agents is long but the Suns may be better served to add via trade via veterans like Gortat, Scola, etc.
Phoenix is unlikely to be a playoff team next year. The Suns need talent across the board but naturally they need a head coach with a concrete philosophy moving forward.
The draft lottery will have a say in the Suns’ future. Phoenix needs to actively explore trades and free agency as they look to establish the crucial building blocks for the future.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/where-do-the-suns-go-from-here-2
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.