Once again, the national media is not in love with the Phoenix Suns' summer moves.
Here's something to remember about summer moves, though: the teams who have the "best" summer fit into 2 categories: (a) they had the longest way to go, or (b) they were already good, and somehow added even more big "names" to their rotation.
So does a great summer portend a great NBA season? Hardly.
Let's go to the tape.
First, let's recall last offseason.
Do you remember who got the highest marks last offseason, according to the mother ship (who did not widely differ from any other prognosticators)?
- San Antonio Spurs - for adding McDyess, Jefferson and Blair to an already loaded team
- Orlando Magic - for adding Vince Carter, Matt Barnes and several other role players to an already loaded team
- LA Clippers - for replacing Zach Randolph with Blake Griffin and Rasual Butler
- Detroit Pistons - for adding Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, the summer's second and third best free agents (behind Hedo Turkoglu)
- Washington Wizards - for adding Mike Miller and Randy Foye (and predicting a healthy synergistic comeback from Gilbert Arenas)
- Boston Celtics - for adding Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels to an already loaded team
- Dallas Mavericks - for adding Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas to an already loaded team
- Toronto Raptors - for adding Hedo Turkoglu amongst a 90% roster turnover in an effort to appease Chris Bosh
22. Phoenix Suns
In limbo: Stromile Swift (U)
Phoenix GM Steve Kerr broke up one of the most enjoyable teams in NBA history to get O'Neal in 2008. But within about a year, the Suns went from title contender to lottery team. Last month, the Suns gave Shaq away for cap relief.
It appeared the team was beginning to embark on a major rebuilding project. However, there have been more recent signs that the Suns are still trying to compete. Talks of an Amare Stoudemire trade have cooled considerably; they signed Grant Hill and Frye; and they agreed to a contract extension with Steve Nash.
Still, do the Suns have enough to make a serious run in the West? With the Lakers still looking dominant, the Nuggets still a threat, and the Spurs and Mavs vastly improved, it's going to be harder than ever.
14. Phoenix Suns
After one last run in the playoffs for the always fun Suns, the sun began to set on Phoenix this summer. Steve Nash, the heart and soul of the Suns, is still plugging away at age 36. But the rest of his teammates have, one by one, left the team. Of the original run-and-gun Suns, he's the only remaining member.
The biggest defection of the summer came when Stoudemire bolted the team for the Knicks. If you've followed the Suns at all the past couple of years, you saw this coming, but when it finally went down, it still stung a little.
GM Steve Kerr also left the team, leading to an awkward situation where owner Robert Sarver used an NBA agent, Lon Babby, to help him navigate the summer free-agent waters without a GM. In the process, one of Babby's clients, Turkoglu, and one of his former clients, JChildress, landed in Phoenix and Barbosa was shipped off to Toronto. When the summer was over, Sarver hired Babby as the team's new president.
Babby is a respected agent and has been a voice of reason over the years, but his first moves this summer didn't wow anyone. Turkoglu is a good fit in the Suns' system but he's grossly overpaid with four years, $40 million left on his contract. Childress is super versatile, but was he worth a six-year, $33.5 million contract? And did I mention that he and Turkoglu both play the same position as another Babby client -- Grant Hill?
Meanwhile the Suns are very thin up front. Frye turned one good season shooting the ball off the bench into a starting gig and $30 million. The team also paid Hakim Warrick $12.75 million over three years to help back him up. Third-year big man Robin Lopez is the team's only true physical presence in the middle.
Gentry and Nash will still figure out how to get the most out of this squad and maybe even sneak the team into the playoffs -- but the direction the Suns are heading is clear and it won't be long until darkness covers the land of the sun.