Carter's Swollen Knee is Somewhat Swell for the Suns

Let’s try an exercise, shall we.  Imagine if Saturday’s trade had not been made.  Then imagine reading this article yesterday: “Suns’ Starting Shooting Guard Jason Richardson Considering Arthroscopic Knee Surgery.”  Imagine your reaction, and the tone of BSotS’s comment thread.

Were I to read that headline, I would:

1) sound a number of obscenities at an inappropriate volume
2) privately deem the Suns doomed to the lottery
3) reach for a ray of sunshine in the team’s depth at the wing position and the opportunity to give minutes to our under-utilized bench players
4) ultimately conclude that without Richardson scoring and stretching the floor, it would be impossible for the Suns to compensate for their rebounding and defensive deficiencies.

Now stop imagining and start remembering.  How did you react to “Vince Carter Knee Surgery Might Delay His Suns Debut For A Month?”  What obscenities did you utter and at what volume?  For me, it was an under-the-breath “aw shucks,” and upon reading the update reporting that the injury is relatively minor, I remained pleasantly indifferent.

I’m not a VC hater; I’m eagerly anticipating his donning of the Suns uni, and I expect him to make a contribution to a “half-amazing” Suns season.  On the other hand, I feel that him sitting out for a bit might work to the Suns’ advantage.  I’ll explain after the jump.

Carter’s injury offers two major advantages.  First, the Suns have acquired three new rotation players, while dispensing of two, or three if you consider Earl Barron as anything beyond a place holder for the center we have now acquired.  That’s three compounds to add to this chemistry experiment.  Considering that Vinsanity is the most unstable element of the recipe, isolating his addition after evaluating how Pietrus and Gortat work in the system is a less potentially hazardous procedure than throwing them all in the beaker at once.

The burden of making Pietrus and Gorat effective Suns falls more on the players themselves than on the coaching staff.  Important as they may be, Gortat and Pietrus are role players, and their significant contribution will come on the defensive end and on the boards.  Pietrus is a jump shooter, and the Suns offensive system is adept at locating perimeter shooters.  This may be an oversimplification given that he must learn to move in the offense, but Mickeal’s most challenging task on offensive may be keeping his toes behind the arch.   Gortat is charged with learning to work the pick and roll game, but even if he just plays around the rim, there will be plenty of opportunities to score without altering the flow of the offense.  Furthermore, the Suns defense is a simple organism, it is adaptable, and the addition of these two defensive players marks an immediate improvement in its ability to function.

Vince Carter’s impact, however, will be on offense- a far more complex being than is found on the other end of the floor.  Working him in will take time, trial, and error.  This is no secret.  But once Pietrus and Gortat know their roles, it will be easier to introduce Vince into the equation.  We should look forward to Carter’s debut on a defensively improved team which will rely less on his immediate adaptation to the system than it would were all the new acquisitions to be introduced at once.

The second advantage of Carter’s injury is 30 minutes a game of wing-jam relief, which comes at an opportune time.  With Jared Dudley having a big game in San Antonio, and Josh Childress showing progress over the last two, we can now put them both to the test and see if they can sustain success.  Extra minutes also allows the team to acclimate Pietrus, who will be able to showcase his value.  At this point in the season, giving our extra wings an opportunity to play is essential to developing chemistry in the second unit, and if not, for increasing their value as trade pieces.

Though it took and HGH like effort from Grant Hill, the Suns proved in OKC (and in San Antonio for one half) that they can compete without having a proven scorer at the 2 guard.  Granted that was a small sample size, but the team was still flowing on offense.  I look forward to seeing Carter’s first dunk in purple and orange, but I can wait, and so can the Suns.
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