Bucking Mines

Timely as ever, I'd like to weigh in on the Steve Nash contract extension, which is now centuries old news in internet time...

There are many theories on what exactly "ruined" the Suns that have so defined this millenium of pro basketball. I choose to blame D'Antoni's (fixable) failure to get tough on the team's rebounding woes, bad luck with the timing of Amare's injuries, the firing of D'Antoni, the replacement of D'Antoni with Terry Porter, the ill-timed acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, and in general, Steve Kerr. I don't really buy into theories about Sarver's cheapness, trading all those draft picks, or not holding on to Joe Johnson/Q-Rich/Marcus Banks...etc.

The Suns were always a team poised to win RIGHT NOW. There was no use for building toward the future with late first round picks. They never had a distinctly "old" team until the Hill/Nash/Shaq triumverate, and with Nash and Amare alone, they ALWAYS have a fighting chance.

And now they still do.

Despite Kerr's idiocy, Amare and Nash (miraculously) are still there. Nash might be on steroids for all I know (BLOGGER ALERT), but he isn't going to be demonstrably worse this year. And Amare might be better (?). May I present to you the possibility that this Nash extension gives the Suns one last glimmer of hope?

--Nash signing an extension says one of two things: (1) I believe I can win a championship with this franchise, or (2) This franchise gave me a new life and two MVP trophies. I owe it to them to re-sign, and PS, I'm satisfied. Either way, a happy Nash is good for at least 15 and 8.

--A summer and a half worth of ridiculous trade rumors may in fact inspire Amare Stoudemire to play tougher than he already does? I don't know. This might be a reach.

--A strong supporting cast of IF guys. IF J-Rich can knock down the open jumpers, IF Robin Lopez proves to be a serviceable back-up, IF Leandro Barbosa can regain form....the Suns have depth

--A host of players that can potentially solve the rebounding quandary (again, IF Robin Lopez is worth a damn...)

--Teams will no longer GET UP to play them. The Suns no longer boast that fear-inducing NBA championship squad on paper that causes TNT/ESPN/ABC to over-book them and teams to treat matches with them like Gladitorial arena battles. The Suns, for the first time in the Nash era, may actually be able to sneak up on teams...

Am I blindly grasping to hold on to an era that no longer exists? Potentially. But I am soberly not ready to admit that the Suns are over, merely because of what the Shaq trade appeared to signal (rebuilding). Nash's re-signing initially gave me feelings of emptiness, the thoughts of him and Amare roaming around in blank space, carrying the guilt of two 19th century Russian lit protagonist partners in crime. But then I reoriented: It signaled a last gasp of hope.

I am curious to see what the Suns do with desperation, which could be the last motivational tool they have.


The original version of this post (embarrassingly) included references to both Matt Barnes (the news of whose signing I totally missed) and Ben Wallace (inexcusable for falling off my radar). All I can say is that my NBA game has not been air tight this summer, and I'm getting back on track.

Also, I suppose I *should* reference the only things the Suns have actively done this season besides signing Nash: Grant Hill, Channing Frye, and Earl Clark. Truth is, these guys don't add much, except for providing even more of a blank canvas for Nash and Amare to operate on. Grant Hill keeps shit stable in the locker room. Channing Frye's young-journeyman tag should provide him with some inspiration to get back to rookie year form and to improve on his rebounding, and Earl Clark does absolutely nothing for me (I actually think getting a PG who could spell Nash (Jrue, Ty Lawson) would have been a better pick here).

The important thing is that, for the first time in a while, Phoenix is keeping shit simple. Contrast this with 2009 playoff alums Dallas, Utah, or even, say, Portland, who at this point have generated too high of expectations and are spinning squads of 'too many people who need to be kept happy.' Steve and the Suns made a mutual gesture of good faith, and this bump of positivity coupled with a sense of "nothing to lose" gives them some optimism for 09-10.

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At 7/22/2009 3:45 PM, Blogger lesterfreamon said...

"IF...Matt Barnes can knock down the open jumpers"

...it will benefit the Orlando Magic, as that's who Barnes plays for.

At 7/22/2009 3:55 PM, Blogger dizzle said...

Look at the three buttons on Kerry's cuffs. What an elitist.

At 7/22/2009 3:55 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

haha, fuck. i'm leaving this up. no shame...i've been off the internet and out of the loop for the past 48 hours.

At 7/22/2009 3:59 PM, Blogger lesterfreamon said...

Cool. I've been on the internet for the past 48 hours, so ain't shit getting past me.

At 7/22/2009 4:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

can you imagine what would happen if an american politician admitted to liking sushi.

At 7/22/2009 4:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Or they think selling Nash out would cost them more than 22 million and a better draft pick in eroded ticket sales, jersey sales, endorsements, and most importantly fan support.

The Suns now have three starting caliber players (Nash, Amare, JRich) a sixth man (Barbosa), and maybe three serviceable contributors.

Even if they make the playoffs this team, and the dream, is dead; its just still bloated and floating face up in the river.

Also dizzle your powers of observation are first rate, I laughed pretty good on that one.

At 7/22/2009 7:34 PM, Blogger JTExperience said...

The Suns ALMOST made the playoffs without Amare the last half of the year. Now they dumped their Shaqbatross, returned to running, and will hopefully have an angry/contract-year Amare back.

They'll be fun to watch...until Kerr trades Amare for Zach Randolph and Mike Conley (We'll have a 20-10 guy and a backup PG!)

At 7/22/2009 7:44 PM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

Will someone trot out the full list of guys they sold/gave up on. Joe Johnson, Rudy Fernandez, Nate Robinson, etc... It's really fuckin' bad, and contributed AT LEAST to their being thin roster-wise.

At 7/22/2009 7:54 PM, Blogger db said...

Seems appropriate that this "state of the Suns" post doesn't contain the words "defense" or "defend".

At 7/22/2009 8:16 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I don't tweet, as it would be redundant to the way I post, but there's Andre Miller vs. Arizona: 18 points, 13 assists, 14 rebounds, two steals, one block.

At 7/22/2009 8:28 PM, Blogger Trey said...

If you're hoping that Robin Lopez might be a serviceable back-up then you aren't a championship contender. Sarver's cheapness left not only the roster thin, but they also had no tiny contracts that they could package for a missing piece when getting one would have still mattered. The Suns died the night Boris Diaw threw a pass to the corner, only no one was there.

At 7/22/2009 11:28 PM, Blogger Tom Deal said...

just saw lebron get "dunked on" at fanhouse. i must say, referring to a discussion had various sites this year, that in the world of dunks, this was a pussy ass dunk on lebron. kid took it up with power, but lebron was a step behind the whole way and wasn't even really in front of any part of the dunk. anyway. lame. so much hype... no delivering on it. as much as i think lebron james is the shit, this seems like his S.O.P.

wv coashm: israeli slang for coach that cassipi will use.

At 7/22/2009 11:39 PM, Blogger Tom Deal said...

also, one player has never positively altered my view so much of a team as marquis the reptile daniels and the celtics. if doc underplays him, he will pay.

At 7/23/2009 1:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Aren't the Suns what they always were? Aren't they awe-inspiring but lacking the satisfying results, like a prude hot girl, or a DaVinci flying machine?

At 7/23/2009 2:56 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

If you're going to start a list of the players that the Suns gave up in their quest to stay under the cap, don't forget Rondo.

And since Dunkgate has now been mentioned, I feel compelled to point out somewhere on these here intarwebs that evidence that LBJ is responsible for the confiscation of that tape is extremely thin. As in, it appears to boil down to the dude who filmed the dunk saying that he believed that that was why some Nike flack asked for the tape. Why, that's not self-serving at all! Way to get your name on the webs, previously unknown mini-cam dude!

NB: The foregoing is not a defense of LBJ, if he even needs one. I'm just annoyed at however many days of rank speculation it's now been that have been built entirely on an absence of evidence.

At 7/23/2009 9:54 AM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Don't forget Joe Johnson getting injured as a reason the Suns didn't win a championship. They were totally the best team in the league that year. Yeah, depth is important, but the injury happened against the Spurs, so it was probably a dirty play.

I don't know how letting Johnson go can be seen as an acceptable move, especially since it was to keep Barbosa, who has turned out poorly. JJ possibly wanted his own team regardless, but the Suns should have tried harder to keep him.

At 7/23/2009 10:15 AM, Blogger Russ the Bus said...

deadspin put it best saying that bron really didnt get owns so much as he was just playing lazy d. and noting that the TMZ logo on the bottom adds a certain extra comical aspect that makes him look worse, even if the action in the video isnt that bad.

she'd be the secretary of state.

At 7/23/2009 12:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

whoa, i'm probably late to this, but the cop who acted stupidly in arresting Gates also performed CPR on Reggie Lewis before he was pronounced dead: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/07/23/officer_at_eye_of_storm_says_he_wont_apologize/?page=1

also, lol @ Spanish Bombs "Don't forget Joe Johnson getting injured as a reason the Suns didn't win a championship. They were totally the best team in the league that year. Yeah, depth is important, but the injury happened against the Spurs, so it was probably a dirty play."

That's either sarcasm or you didn't watch/don't remember those playoffs very well. Johnson was hurt by Stackhouse in the series against the Mavs. He was back for Game 3 against the Spurs in a mask, but his presence didn't change anything as San Antonio won 2 of the 3 games he played in and handled the Suns the same way they did the other 3 times they faced Amare in the playoffs.


At 7/23/2009 3:33 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

haha, don't remember, hate spurs.

At 7/23/2009 3:59 PM, Blogger DocZeus said...

The problem with Steve Kerr's tenure is that he tried to turn a team that refuses to play defense into a team that does. You can't force a team thats lazy and doesn't want to do what it takes to win a championship into one. It's that friggin' simple.

If you are looking for somebody to blame for the Suns failures. Look no further than Mike D'Antoni inability in turning somebody as physically gifted as Amare Stoudemire into even a remotely serviceable defender as the cause of that teams perpetual fails.

There is a reason that Gregg Popovitch has 4 titles and D'Antoni is currently coaching an atrocious Knicks team.

At 7/23/2009 5:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Letting Barnes go was foolish. Sure, it might open up more consistent minutes for Grant Hill and get Earl Clark (who I really like and think will eventually be a better version of Marvin Williams)a chance to see the floor, but Barnes was literally the only perimeter defender the Suns had who was worth a damn and a competant passer, ballhandler and passer. A swiss army knife of a player.
I'm fairly surprised by the assesment of the Suns' chances, they'll be lucky to make a 6th or 7th seed out West. I definitely do not see them getting out of the first round.

At 7/23/2009 6:00 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

If I'm not mistaken, the Suns now have the bad Lopez brother and the bad Griffin brother. If they could bring in Harvey Grant to mentor them...

At 7/23/2009 6:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm actually disappointed that the suns let ben wallace go. I work on the theory that to make a system geared towards either an offensive or defensive intensity as dramatic as 7 seconds or less, you actually should populate your team with players whose skill sets lend themselves to the opposite style of play. Ben, if he still had a good year left in him, can't shoot from anywhere, but will still find himself scoring in a system where you have no other choice but to smash points up onto the scoreboard. And he'll always rebound and defend, even when he's contractually bound not to. Other than Ben Wallace, the piston team that won the championship was staffed by some good offensive players.

At 7/23/2009 6:49 PM, Blogger ethan said...

I'm no Spurs fan but I did want to mention that Joe Johnson was injured against the Mavs in the second round, not against the Spurs in the WCF.

At 7/23/2009 6:50 PM, Blogger ethan said...

And also, I evidently can't read all the comments. Sorry bout that.

p.s. DLIC forgot option 3) that Nash was afraid that in this uncertain economy Phoenix's offer was his last best chance to get paid.

At 7/23/2009 9:40 PM, Blogger Mark said...

you guys seem to think amare is a lot better than he is. while he can score, it must be noted that he is one of the worst defenders in the history of the game. And he appears to be none too bright, and averse to what might be considered hard work. I think this is likely to be the year that amare turns into a serviceable pro with glaring deficiencies.
Also does anyone else think that Nash's extension is a pr charade so that for whatever reason he can be dealt after a half year or so and both he and the club appear to have done the right thing?

At 7/24/2009 2:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

@spanish bombs
Johnson left the Suns in the summer of 2005 because he was tired of being the fourth wheel behind Nash, Marion & Stoudamire. The Suns were ready to match Atlanta's offer, but Johnson told them publicly not to (BTW, who the hell spurns a team that just got to the WCF for Atlanta?). They were pretty adamant about keeping him but Johnson's ego was too much to handle.

I think that dismissing Sarver's unwillingness to pay the luxury tax is a major oversight. In the 2004-2005 season, the Suns' starting five were all in the top 60 for MPG. D'Antoni unwillingness to use his bench more often hurt them come playoff time because they were simply exhausted (I don't blame him either- his sixth man was a 34-year-old Jim Jackson). If they were able to keep their draft pick that year, the could of had either Josh Smith or Andre Igoudala coming off their bench (either one would be electric in an D'Antoni offense) and play multiple positions. Even if Johnson was healthy for the WCF, I honestly don't think the Suns could have beaten such a formidable opponent without some semblance of depth.

At 7/24/2009 9:52 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Johnson's not the only one who had trouble in that locker room. Remember the context in which Marion left; he was basically exiled. Now, we don't know how much is rumor and how much is truth, but the Suns always had deficiencies, one being chemistry. Could it be that Joe Johnson left for a better work environment, not just because of his ego?

At 7/24/2009 3:46 PM, Blogger quetzpalin said...

Wow. Alright.

It happens to the best of us. Right now, you are holding on to the past like a modernist French recluse. No shame. But no connection to the outside world, either.

>>with Nash and Amare alone, they ALWAYS have a fighting chance.

>>And now they still do

That's the same line everyone used to use on the '06 Lakers, but that team needed 81 from Kobe to beat a 27 win Raptors team. That kind of thing just ain't happening from Nash or Amare.

They are a stretch to make the playoffs, and if they do, they have absolutely no chance of winning. The list of just Western Conference teams they have no chance of beating in a 7 game series is ridiculously long, with LA, Denver, SA, Portland, and NO at least.

It's time to move on...

At 7/24/2009 3:51 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

For the record, yours truly was for Nash and Amare reuniting with D'Antoni. It wouldn't win rings, but it would've been fun, and novel, and brought basketball back to the Garden, as opposed to this shell of what was.

And I don't know why I brought the 2005-06 Suns, since Amare NOT being around is arguably what made that team possible.

At 7/24/2009 4:51 PM, Blogger quetzpalin said...

We now have to accept that we are living in a post-GS/PHO basketball world. That particular brand of excitement was decimated in a blizzard of ill-conceived trades and free agent moves.

There is no use any longer looking for some heir to that 'tradition', even amongst the wreckage in Oakland and Phoenix.

The interesting question now is where the fun, the novel will come from this upcoming season. The sexy pick is, of course, OKC, but the Clippers look oddly compelling on paper, and the Rubio/Jennings/Flynn/Jrue/Lawson circus may very well end up being just as entertaining on the court as it has been off it.

And this should be the year that Portland, Atlanta and Chicago unleash their athleticism to actual effect.

My sleeper, though, would be a Bozzer-less Jazz, built to no other purpose but to run and gun. Not that Sloan would ever allow it, but couldn't we somehow petition Stern to hand over that roster to D'Antoni or Nelly in the interest of all that is right with Basketball?


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