That Great Warrior Sun Tzu Returns To His Former Battlefield, Welcome Back Amare Stoudemire

Raise your hand if you guessed the Phoenix Suns would be the ones five games under .500 and it would be the New York Knicks with the 20-14 record when you looked at the calendar before the season started and circled this January 7 game.

But there you have it, Amare Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni have their team playing very good basketball while in the desert, a combination of excess rosterbation and failure to communicate (on defense) has left the Suns by the wayside like an unwanted kitten dumped in a field full of snakes.

Do you think Nash is bitter about it? Maybe.

"Obviously, last year was a phenomenal year. I thought tied 2-2 that we could win a championship. Like genuinely believed it that we could and would win it. So it's tough to be in this position six months later but I'm still committed to it. I love the guys, I think we've got potential. I just think we've had so much change and haven't been able to put it together. If we want to point fingers we have to point some at ourselves."

And that was the tame part. How about this doozy of a quote:

Amare Stoudemire's Return To Phoenix As A Knick Opens All Kinds Of Scars - SB Nation Arizona

"We lost an All-Star power forward and we didn't replace him. We have no real kind of power forward," Nash said about life without Amare.

But this is Nash we are talking about. Not some whiny-ass punk who's going to just blame everyone else and make excuses for playing bad. At least he's not going to do that since the 2008-09 season once Terry Porter departed the scene.

"Yeah. I signed up for this. I'm committed to trying to build a team here," Nash said.

Other Practice Notes

  • Gani Lawal was seen being helped off the practice court by Aaron Nelson. He reportedly sprained a knee and will have an MRI. No word yet on how the Suns will adjust their rotations to accommodate his absence.
  • Steve Nash, it was reported, signed a new shoe deal with a Chinese company. He was wearing Nike today and said the deal only applied in China and he would continue to wear the swoosh here.

Other Quotes From The Cutting Room Floor

Nash

  • Always been a pick and roll team, especially late in games. Weren't a team that went isolation. 
  • "Right now, we've had so much change, so much turnover, that we haven't been as efficient as we were normally."
  • "It's frustrating to lose but I'm not necessarily going to be frustrated over things I can't control. I think that will waste a lot of energy. It's frustrating to lose, for sure."
  • Not surprised by success in New York but surprised how fast they've figured it out.
  • "They put together a team that works and Mike (D'Antoni) has to take a lot of that credit as well. That's not easy to do, to put it all together so quickly...I would have thought it would have taken four or five or six months and it's taken them a month and a half including training camp it seems like, so that's pretty impressive."
  • "We knew what we were losing. We knew the circumstances. It's not easy to replace him. But we're still a bit of an imbalanced roster and it makes it even more of a hole to climb out of. That's where we are. We added a big. We added some pieces but we're still obviously trying to get to a place where we have more balance."
  • "I can't be critical of that. That's not my money. Obviously, I wanted Amare to stay and I think I maybe foolishly thought we would somehow. I thought we'd get to an agreement but I can't comment on that."
  • Felton has been terrific. Coaches done a great job making him comfortable.
  • "I think I'm at the stage of my career where I'm not going home worrying about trades. I really, genuinely, don't think about it when I leave here. And to be honest, I'm the last to know. I'm not following everything so I usually find out from you guys. I get a little sense of something going on."
  • "(Babby) told me a month ago when it first sprung up that he had no plans to move me."

Gentry

  • "He's a great player, guys, I don't think anyone ever questioned that. He was great player here for the seven years that he was here."
  • "He done tor that team what he did for us. He's opened up three-point shooting, when not he's rolled to the basket. He's finishing. But you're talking to the wrong guy. It's no surprise to anyone here that had any association with him." 
  • They are playing great basketball and obviously, Amare is the focal point but Raymond Felton is playing great point guard. You would have to consider him very highly for making the All-Star team.
  • "I'm happy for him. I hope they win every game except the two that we play them."
  • "He's the same player that he was here."
  • Gentry doesn't see any advantage in knowing him well when it comes to devising a defensive game plan.
  • "To think you are going to shut him down, is not going to happen."
  • "I think he's embraced the role that he has there. I think that it's his team and that's something that he really wanted. He's shown the leadership and ability to carry a team and put them in a position where they're going to be a playoff team."
  • "I'll just tell you he was offered a max contract, I can tell you that. Other than that, talk to Robert (Sarver)."
  • He choose to go to New York. "So far it's working out great for him."
  • Part of his motivation to prove that he can be the main guy on a team?
  • "I think that was very much a part of it. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't see anything negative in that. He just felt like being here it was going to be Steve's team, a lot, and I think he felt like he would like to have a team that was his, that he was the focal point, that it would basically be his team. I think going to New York, he saw an opportunity for that to be the case."

As an added bonus -- because we're not depressed enough -- watch this great break down comparison between JRich and Vince Carter running the same play. Here's a hint:

 

NBA Playbook – A Look At The Playcalling In The NBA Through Videos, Pictures, & Words » Suns’ Jason Richardson Set Doesn’t Work For Vince Carter

Watch how slow Vince Carter goes off the initial backscreen. Ron Artest, isn’t even worried about the lob as he trails Carter around the screen. After coming off the screen slow, Carter doesn’t even put his foot in the ground, but takes a few steps to turn around, effectively killing any chance he had at a jumper by using that change of direction. To make matters worse, he absolutely whiffs on the backscreen for Channing Frye.

And don't miss this week's edition of....

Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer, Week 10: What An Eyesore -  SB Nation Arizona
Welcome to the Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer for Week 10. Man, it's getting awfully tough to find good things to say about the majority of this roster. Steve Nash and the Suns are in major turmoil. They're 14-19, five games under .500 for the first time this season and struggling to find anything positive to latch onto in terms of progress.

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