The Phoenix Suns went from the Western Conference Finals to under .500 in a year. A lot of their regression has been pretty well covered - they essentially switched Amar'e Stoudemire and Jason Richardson for Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat and this old, fat slow guy who kind of resembled Tracy McGrady's cousin. It's not hard to see why they got worse. Let's take a look at their payroll going forward:
Steve Nash: 11.7 million
Childress: 6 million
Gortat: 6.8 million
Mickael Pietrus: 5.3 million (player option)
Channing Frye: 5.6 million
Warrick: 4.3 million
Jared Dudley: 4.2 million
Aaron Brooks: 2.9 million
Robin Lopez: 2.8 million
Gani Lawal: 788,000
Garret Siler: 788,000
$48.39 million = about 9 million in cap space.
Vince Carter 17.3 million
Grant Hill: 3.3 million
Some other bums: 500,000
1). It's time
Trade Steve Nash. He's 37 years old and a future Hall of Famer. It's time to trade him.
I'm not just saying this because I like Nash and I want a better future for him, although that's part of it. I'm saying it because they just don't have the leeway to build another team around him. I've heard Nash in some interviews, saying "I don't want to be traded. I want to stay right here...look at us two years ago after we missed the playoffs. We came right back the next year and went to the Western Conference finals". And I believe that. They were totally out of the playoffs, but then they got Jason Richardson, made a couple more moves and pushed the Lakers to a tough (but never really in doubt, in my opinion) 6 games last season. However, at this point, I just don't see that type of move there for them and more importantly, it's not like they are building around Nash-Hill-Stoudemire. They are building around Nash-Dudley-Gortat. And maybe even more importantly, there is going to be a lockout this season, which may spell the end of Grant Hill's star-crossed NBA career and add another year onto Steve Nash's body. It's time to trade him.
In a perfect world, they would trade him for a couple of draft picks, a decent point guard prospect and a big man. Dallas (Beaubois, Jason Terry and Mahinmi?), New York (Toney Douglas, Landry Fields and Chauncey?), Orlando (Jameer, Brandon Bass?) Portland (Nic Batum, Oden?) and the Clippers (Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe?) might all be potential destinations.
2). I'd kindly ask Alvin Gentry to ask his players to start playing defense
With Nash and his defensive shortcomings gone, I would kindly ask coach Alvin Gentry to try and get his guys to play defense. And by "kindly ask" I mean "do it or be fired".
Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Pietrus and Gortat (all rotation players) can all be good defensive players - they just play in a system that doesn't demand that from them. I think the switch could be thrown easily.
3). Resign Vince Carter at all costs
Obviously not. Don't be stupid. Just seeing if you're paying attention.
4) With the number 14 pick, draft for talent, not need
Because the Suns have every need imaginable. They are somewhat set at the center position with the rotation of Gortat, Sideshow Lopez, Warrick and Channing Frye, but they lack a true power forward, shooting guard, and if they trade Nash, a point.
5). Brace your fans for a rebuilding process
Obviously owner Robert Sarver isn't big on spending money. In the last several years he's given away Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and Nate Robinson's rights for cash or future draft picks. He didn't spend money when the team was winning 60 games a season, so I don't think it's fair to expect him to spend the money now. The Suns need to be straight up with their fans and brace them for the future to come. Phoenix is a great town to play in with a rich tradition - they're small market in many ways, but have a consistent, winning franchise. With pieces like Gortat, Dudley and whatever they could get for Nash, I can see them making the playoffs again in a couple years.