Phoenix Suns' Free Agent Wish List Is Short: Shooting Guard

When it comes to free agents, you sign people to plug holes in your roster (or, nominally spend money you didn't otherwise spend on your superstar). This season, barring any parenthetical reasoning, there is only one massive, gaping hole in the Suns lineup: Shooting guard.

Names floating around the national media water cooler, aka twitter, related to the Suns are:

  • Jamal Crawford (average-sized, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Marcus Thornton (short, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Nick Young (tall, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
  • Anthony Parker (average-sized, can shoot a spot-up shot and play defense, but old)
  • Von Wafer (average-sized, can shoot the rock, but doesn't do anything else)
Thornton and Young are restricted free agents, while Crawford, Parker and Wafer can sign with anyone. All but Wafer would be a certain starter on a team lacking a starting-caliber shooting guard.

The problem here is money. The Suns cannot offer more than $5 million in the first year to any free agent. With that as the starting point, you can cross off Crawford and Young. They will either get more from a "room" team, or take the same money from a contender. The Kings have to spend a boatload just to spend the league minimum on salaries, so any offer to Thornton will be matched.

That leaves us, according the twitter-cooler, with Anthony Parker and Von Wafer.

Anthony Parker, 36 years old now, has spent the last few years in Cleveland after playing (and dominating) overseas for several years when he didn't get a fair shake in the NBA out of college.

ESPN Insider (Hollinger) has this say about Parker...

...Parker also has no jets left and can't get anywhere near the basket on his own steam. He made 22 shots at the rim in 2,091 minutes and had one of the lowest free-throw rates at his position. The one thing he can still do, much better than people realize, is handle the ball and pass. Parker had the best assist ratio of any shooting guard and was second in pure point rating.

His strength is his defense. Parker is strong and competes and was the only Cav who could be trusted to guard good wing scorers last season. He has trouble against quickness, but post-up guards in particular have a rough time working against him.

Overall, he's barely hanging on offensively, and at 36 needs to be in a role where he can just catch-and-shoot or move the ball to the next guy. But his defense makes him an enticing short-term pick-up for a contender.

Contenders, including Boston, or at least exciting-sounding middling teams, including the New York Knicks, are interested in Parker for the same reasons the Suns are interested. He will likely be good with a one-year deal at somewhere barely north of the veteran minimum.

However, the Suns need someone who can create and make their own shot, and Parker is NOT that guy. He is more of a Raja Bell type of player. In fact, he IS Raja Bell without a clothesline maneuver on his resume. His career scoring average is 9 ppg.

Von Wafer wasn't even in an NBA rotation last season. Oh wait, nevermind, he was with Boston. He played in 58 games for about 9 minutes a game. He has never been on the same team for more than 1 year. In fact, he's been in the league for 7 seasons and played for exactly 6 teams. In fact, he was completely out of the league in 09-10, immediately following his best NBA season at 19 minutes and 9 points per game. No one wanted him. Not a ringing endorsement.

This is why I think the Suns are in more interested in the trade front this season and 2012 free agency.

Don't be too bummed when you don't hear the Suns mentioned in any hot FA rumors. They have no money for the big guys.

Other notes:

Per Paul Coro, the Suns open the season on December 26 hosting the New Orleans Hornets. Who knows who will be wearing the Hornets colors on that day. They have 5 guys under contract, and any and all may be moved in a Chris Paul trade by Christmas.

While the Suns may not see Chris Paul on December 26, they also won't see a lot of East all-stars either, thanks to the shortened schedule and the Suns' fall from elite:

The NBA lockout is ending, but Phoenix still is getting locked out from seeing those Eastern Conference stars. With schedules sliced from 82 to 66 games, six East teams will not visit Phoenix this season. The six (Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Boston, New York and Indiana) were 2011 playoff teams that account for every East All-Star starter and 10 of the 12 East All-Stars.

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