A forward looking look-back on how we got here [if only…]
One year ago today, as we looked into the crystal ball to prognosticate on the future of the Suns franchise, we didn’t like what we saw. The Suns looked to be a team in defeat, with an aged core, youth devoid of talent and athleticism, a group of middling players with bad contracts, and coming off a bad season. It seemed there was no hope in sight.
But with a flurry of activity, some bold moves and a little bit of creativity, the Suns managed to pull off one of the greatest turnarounds in history.
As we reflect on this amazing turnaround from your Phoenix Suns, we look back at all that has led us to the 2012-13 season and the hope of an NBA Championship!December 2, 2011:
In an unexpected move, Suns owner Robert Sarver inexplicably sells the franchise to a group of local investors named HubertDavisfor3 [HD3]. Sarver cited the move was prompted by his disgust for the recently agreed to CBA, and felt now was the time to get a maximum return from a sale “…considering how the small market owners like ourselves will no longer be able to rape fans wallets AND pretend to compete with super teams with deeper pockets and no regard to making profits.” Sarver continued to say, “I will continue to be a die-hard Suns fan and will be there waving my foam finger until I die.” Suns fans began plotting his death that very day!
In a statement made to the press, HD3 stated, “I want to thank Mr. Sarver for all that he has done with this franchise and I promise to spend every waking moment from this point forward to try and undue it!”
December 3, 2011:
Suns announce banning foam fingers.
They also announce the resignation of President of Basketball Operations, Lon Babby, and General Manager, Lance Blanks. In a statement, HD3 thanked Babby and Blanks for their incredible creativity and immense resolve in “managing to make Mr. Sarver’s basketball decisions look good in comparison.”
In an unprecedented swath of honesty, HD3 continued to say, “we were going to fire them, but we would have had to pay the remainder of their contracts. We preferred to force their resignations by threatening to sue them for damages resulting from their hiring. I thought we had a pretty substantial case and I suppose they did too, as they immediately resigned.”
December 4, 2011:
Suns immediately announce the re-hiring of Steve Kerr as General Manager. “While some fans believed Kerr to be the architect behind the destruction of the core of their team, it was known behind the scenes that the men pulling the strings were Sarver and Mike D’Antoni.” Stated HD3. “Kerr knows the game, is a keen judge of talent [except when it comes to twins] and really wanted to stay if not for the former ownership.”
“I have decided to return to the Suns in particular, because I am getting sick of Marv Albert and my family doesn’t really want me around as much. The other reason is that I can actually do my job now, without having a foam finger shoved up my [deleted expletive]!”
December 9, 2011:
Suns sign Grant Hill to a 2 year $10M deal. Hill, who had many suitors looking to sign him for one season, decided to stay with the Suns, and the franchise finally paid him for the value he brings as a solid starter and only defender on the team. “Grant is obviously an incredible value at that amount or even a little more, considering we were paying guys more than that to sit on the bench, or worse, go into the game and not even attempt to play defense and turn it over at a high rate.”
Suns also waived G/F Vince Carter. A flurry of teams then began their bid to overpay a guy that will probably mail it in [or “air” mail it in].
Suns then announced they would not seek to use their amnesty waiver that season. In a statement made to his wife, Josh Childress stated, “those sons of b1tch3s, I was really hoping on collecting two paychecks without ever having to sweat!” In response, Mrs. Childress retorted, “Josh, I thought you went to Stanford. Didn’t they teach you how to read? If you look at the amnesty provision, it clearly states that you go through a waiver process where a team can claim you and they pay a portion of your salary, while the Suns pay the rest. They don’t double pay you!” To which Childress said, “B1tch, nobody in their right mind is going to bid on me off the waiver when they can wait and sign me afterward. Then I get double checks. Bam! Take that community college groupie ho!” [BTW, that was a joke, I have no evidence to how Josh talks to his wife, or even if he is married – calm down!]
Mickael Pietrus tweets “I am picking up my option!!!!” The entire universe states “No Sh1t Sherlock!”
Baron Davis is released by Cleveland through Amnesty and Suns successfully bid on his services for a one year deal at $5M. While not affecting their cap space, Cleveland will pay Davis the remainder of his previous contract. HD3 stated “Baron has incredible value as a guard that can create for himself and others, and finally allow Nash time to rest at points in the game. We see him playing alongside Nash and filling our need for scoring at the 2. This helps us immediately, preserves cap room for 2012 and will certainly result in quite a few hilarious Youtube videos from him and Nash.”
December 10, 2011:
Suns announce a major trade that shocks the basketball world. In an example of either a completely insane owner [like Gilbert Arenas], or a mad genius, Suns trade Hakeem Warrick, Josh Childress and Aaron Brooks for Gilbert Arenas and his monstrous contract, and Orlando’s 2012 1st round draft pick.
What was interesting in the deal was Brooks, as he had signed in China and had no out-clause. The Suns were able to give him his qualifying offer and managed to get Brooks to agree to sign the deal in order to be included in the trade [Brooks was willing as he would get paid even for not showing up].
In a separate deal, but really as part of this deal, the suns traded Amare Stoudamire’s trade exception to Orlando for Brandon Bass, allowing the Suns to acquire Bass and his $4m deal.
Orlando saw this as a great opportunity to unload Arenas and his $62M owed him without using their amnesty waiver on him. The Magic instead used their amnesty on Hidayet Turkoglu, wiping out the 22.8M owed to him over his final two seasons, clearing an enormous amount of cap space in order to entice free agents to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando. For Orlando, because the deal immediately sliced just over $20M off Orlando’s cap numbers, helping them go from luxury tax payer to $4M under the cap, and saving them about $2 million after combining all the components of the deal, even after paying Turkoglu, the Magic found it was worth taking on a few lower level bad contracts and parting with Bass and their first round pick.
Immediately after the trade was approved by the league, the Suns announced that they would use the amnesty provision on Gilbert Arenas. Essentially, ownership decided that the only way out of the mess Sarver put them in was to buy their way out. “Basically, we looked to find a way to acquire a highly paid player from a team that was so desperate to move, they would take back multiple contracts and give us something of value in return. Orlando was a perfect match, as they had multiple high salary players, were into the luxury tax, needed to clear space for keeping Howard and were desperate. We end up paying $67M to unload our garbage and found two assets in the bottom of the dumpster in Bass and their pick.”
December 12, 2010
In an effort to shore up their roster and add another quality scoring guard for the short term, the Suns bid on amnestied player Michael Redd for a 2 year $8M deal [last year is a team option]. Redd had been a casualty of the Amnesty provision as he had struggled with injuries for some time and had a hefty contracting weighing on the Bucks.
With the Suns storied training staff, as well as a longer layoff due to the lockout, Redd saw an opportunity to get healthy and go to a team that needed his shooting touch. On an essentially one year deal, the Suns jumped at the opportunity, “While it is true Michael struggled a bit and may not have the explosiveness at his prime, he can still stroke it and is a veteran with a ton of experience. With baron on board, we do not need Redd to score 25 a game, because we feel that the combination of Redd, Nash and Davis gives us a lot of flexibility in our lineup and Redd’s ability to spread the floor will cause problems for defenses,” stated HD3.
March 1, 2012 [2 days prior to trade deadline]:
After a long season to this point, and several Twitter classics by Kevin Love such as “Their offer won’t ever qualify!” and “if I have to stay here one more minute, I will kill Ricky Rubio!”, Minnesota had no choice but to try and move Love prior to the end of the season. Prior to the trade deadline, the Suns sent Marcin Gortat to Minnesota for Kevin Love [unsigned] and Minnesota’s 2013 1st round pick [unprotected]. At the time, Love was to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and trading Gortat, who had solidified himself as one of the better starting big man that season, for what might be a few month rental seemed a huge risk by Suns ownership. “We believe that once Kevin gets here and walks outside and sees hot women who are not bundled up in 15 layers of clothes, he will want to stay here and re-sign with us” said HD3.
March 2, 2012:
Kevin Love got off the plane, it was 72 degrees outside. Five hours later, Love agreed to a contract with the Suns [5 year $101M, starting at $17.4M].
“While Gortat was having an excellent season, averaging 18 points and 10 boards a game, all-star type numbers, and was a pretty good value for his contract, we saw an opportunity to get a guy that plays at a little higher skill level and is four years younger. While Love’s defense may not be his strength, certainly he is the best rebounder in the league, has incredible feel for the game, can shoot out to the 3, and is a very good passer. His combination of toughness, skill and youth works very well with our core and we see him as a cornerstone to our franchise going forward,” HD3 said in a statement.
In another move prior to the deadline, the Suns traded Robin Lopez and the expiring contract of Mickael Pietrus to Los Angeles for Steve Blake and the Lakers 2013 1st round draft pick [Top 25 protected – or 2014 1st round Top 15 protected]. “We were in need of additional help in our guard rotation and thought Blake is a quality backup at the right price. We gave up virtually nothing for him except a guy that has emotional problems and was going to be a RFA at the end of this season,” said HD3. For LA, it unloaded a bit of salary for cap purposes and was worth what the Lakers considered basically a high second round pick, as they believed they would be in championship contention and their pick will be late in the first round.
June 30, 2012:
After a tumultuous offseason and numerous changes during the season, the Suns managed to finish the lockout shortened season with an impressive record of 38-28 and made it to the playoffs, where they were defeated in the second round by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
From signings and trades, the Suns re-signed Hill, added Davis, Redd and Blake to the backcourt, Love and Bass to the frontcourt, added three first round picks, unloaded Warrick, Childress, Lopez, and Brook and really only lost Gortat.
With all of that, it was evident to Steve Nash that things were looking good for the next two years to make a run at a championship, so he decided to re-sign with the Suns for an additional three years for $24M, a reduced amount from his previous contract, but enough to make him happy with staying and retiring here in Phoenix.
July 10, 2012:
The Suns 2012 draft was a busy time, with the Suns holding their own pick in the 2012 draft [19th], along with Orlando’s 1st round pick [13th] and The Laker’s 1st round pick [26th]. During the draft, the Suns decided to try and move up a bit by packaging the 13th and 19th pick to Boston for the 9th pick [Clippers pick], ultimately selecting John Henson out of North Carolina. “Boston felt they could get more value out of two players because of the depth in the draft. At the same time, we have enough cap room to sign two picks, but would find it difficult to take on three. HD3 claimed, “Additionally, we felt moving up allowed us to nab a guy that has great defensive promise to help shore up our frontline and plug in someone athletic, long and smart who can help Kevin on that end of the floor. “ While Henson is in need to add strength and is not known for his offensive prowess, he clearly has the athleticism, length and timing to be an elite defender in a few years. “And while his offense is not touted, he clearly showed during his three years at UNC that he improved every year, adding turn-arounds, face ups and other moves on that end. We see him as a future Marcus Camby type, or even a little bit of Larry Nance.” described HD3.
With their 26th pick, the Suns felt they got the steal of the draft, and possibly their point guard of the future in Scott Machado out of Iona. At 6-1, 190, Machado led the Gaels in both scoring and assists, in fact, leading the Nation in that category. Machado showed incredible court awareness and a knack for getting teammates involved, all while leading his team in scoring. “Scott is a consummate point guard in the mold of Chris Paul and Steve Nash. We certainly see him eventually becoming our starter and think he has an opportunity to become an all-star at some point in his career.”
Going into the 2012-13 season, the Suns roster has been rejuvenated with talented youth, a mix of savvy veterans, and promising rookies, as well as an additional draft pick after the season. While they still have to decide whether to re-sign baron Davis, they still have a lot of options and some cap room to play with. Their roster and cap situation beginning the 2012-13 season looks like this:
Love - $17.4
Bass - $4.0
Hill - $5.0
Nash - $8.0
Frye - $6.0
Dudley – $4.25
Blake - $4.0
Redd - $4.0
Henson - $2.03
Morris - $1.77
Machado - $0.93
Salary totals without cap hold [Davis]: $57.38M
OK, while all of this seems far-fetched, and we can all pick apart who they might sign, the idea of whether any of those teams would do those deals, or even if those are the right guys to go after, it was still a fun exercise. Additionally, I like the thought of trading for a guy to use for the amnesty. Not sure if anyone has thought of that. Anyway, pick away!