The chants of Free Chilly erupted among the masses midway through the Phoenix Sunsseason. The Suns' Greek import had the game that all of us love to see: hustle, slashing and finishing, making the smart pass, making the heads up steal, albeit not quite the wing shooter the Suns had grown to foster in the Steve Nash system.
Once recovered from his fractured finger, Childress found himself out of a Suns rotation looking for identity and stability. This reporter had no access to Suns practices, so as we implored Alvin Gentry to give Chilly a chance, something else was taking place. And perhaps it was adjusting to the NBA speed and the Suns style. Who knows, but watching Chill get his beak wet as a Sun would have been much more interesting than watching Vince Carter fade into oblivion or Mickael Pietrus chuck up brick after brick and T after T.
So Gentry had his reasons, and perhaps that is just fine. Chill appears to be a Sun, at least for awhile with roughly 4 years left and $29 million on his deal. Based on that contract, the Suns may be stuck with Chill and his 54 game body of work in Phoenix: 5 ppg, 2.9 rpg. But are we alright with that?
Yes it is impossible to look at Josh Childress' 10-'11 numbers and conclude the Suns should keep him or conversely try to dump him in a packaged deal with Lopez (example). The Suns would be selling low, and someone would have to be willing to eat a contract that at this point is kind of crappy.
Said a seemingly smart national media type:
Childress' first year back in the NBA was underwhelming at best. He was in and out of the Suns' rotation all year, and failed to justify the price tag the Suns paid to bring him back from the Greek League.
Alright, we get it. He didn't earn his money last season. But how much blame can we put on Childress? The NBA is a far cry from playing in high school sized Greek gyms. At the outset of the season we asked him about the change:
"There's definitely a difference. How quickly I'll adjust to it is based on me, but there's definitely a difference in the style of play and talent level and the athletic ability and speed of the game, these things I'll have to adapt to quickly...I think individual accolades are great but if your team isn't winning...You have to try the perfect balance in that, I'm just trying to improve..."
And Childress did not get the chance to adjust. How can we judge him on 54 games of mostly garbage time? How about a few rare highlights of what could be:
Josh Childress Catches the T-Wolves Sleeping (via NBA)
LOOK! J-Chill's even trying to help the children with an educational video:
I know, a smidge weak. But you want Chill playing on your team. He's a smart player, he crashes boards, he slashes to the rim, finishing, dishing. Chill can D it up too. He finds the passing lanes, he keeps his head on a swivel, his wingspan is freaky.
You give Childress a chance this off season-provided there is one. While he's not an answer for a starting two, or a back up 2 for that matter (he can't shoot-get it shooting guard?), Chill has earned the right to compete for the backup 3. He's smarter than Pietrus, and even on crutches has better game than HAK. Every team needs themselves a Childress, and provided the Suns can shore up the 4 and 2, Chill fits in nicely amid Frye, Dudz, (ah hell insert the rest of the bench unit).