Now that the Phoenix Suns have been officially eliminated from playoff contention it is time to start working on next season.
The Suns will not be a major player in free agency because they won’t have the cap space available. Even after buying out Vince Carter for $4 million the Suns are expected to be at around $50 million in payroll for next season, assuming they re-sign Grant Hill.
Somehow some way, the Suns will need to add two major pieces in order to get back into the playoffs next season. So here we take a look at the five pressing issues the Phoenix Suns have this off-season:
1) Move Steve Nash or keep him?
Nash will be entering the final year of his contract and the Suns have never had any intention of trading him nor has Nash ever gone to the organization and asked to be traded. Nash is the face of the franchise and still one of the premier point guards in the league, even at 37-years-old.
The Suns have an obligation to the fans to put a good product on the court and keeping Nash means the Suns will at least be competitive.
Teams called on Nash at the trade deadline this year but no names were ever discussed because the Suns basically said that they were going for the playoffs and needed Nash to get there. This off-season may be different.
The Suns owe it to themselves to explore trade options if presented and at least listen to what value Nash has. If someone offers a high draft pick and a young player with talent for Nash, then maybe it’s time to pull the trigger.
If Nash does ask to go to a contender for the final year or two of his career, Phoenix will explore trades. If no quality trade presents itself, Nash stays in Phoenix.
2) Replacing Amare Stoudemire.
By bringing in a bunch of wing players, the Suns failed to do that this year. The priority this off-season must be to get a power forward who can demand a double team, rebound the basketball and take the pressure off of Nash with the screen and rolls.
One name to keep in mind early is Morehead State power forward Kenneth Faried, the top rebounder in NCAA modern history. Faried could and should be a Suns draft target.
3) Get a quality two-guard.
The Suns need someone who can score the basketball. They missed Jason Richardson’s scoring ability after the Orlando trade, simply because Vince Carter was such a big disappointment.
A scoring two will not come easy though. The Suns may have to take a flier on a player, which is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.
Michael Redd, who’s coming off a six-year, $91 million contract, might be worth a look.
He’s had major surgery on his left knee twice and has only played in 57 games the last three years, but he will be looking for an opportunity to play. The Suns have a great medical staff and if you can get him cheap, it might be worth rolling the dice. He is only 31-years-old, after all.
4) Find a taker for Robin Lopez.
Clearly Lopez needs a change of scenery after his miserable year. The assumption is that someone will trade for him because of his size and because he is only 23-years-old.
He never responded after the Suns traded for Marcin Gortat and instead of fighting for his playing time, he seemed content to toil as the backup and play sparingly.
The lack of desire to compete means he must go.
5) Make decisions on Grant Hill and Aaron Brooks.
The Suns want Hill back and if he wants to play another year here in Phoenix, they will make that happen.
Brooks is a different story.
The Suns traded a first-round pick and Goran Dragic for him and he’s going to be a restricted free agent this summer. Houston jettisoned him out of town because he wanted Mike Conley-type money, which was $40 million for five years.
It’s highly unlikely any team will touch that number, but what is his value? Is it worth it to attempt signing him for, say, $5 million a year as insurance for Nash? Do they let him walk? Or try a sign-and-trade?
Brooks has played OK in Phoenix: good at times, bad at others. Phoenix knows he is not worth a long-term contract so if another team offers him a decent deal, he is gone.