The 2012 NBA Draft is over, and after all the surprises, all the craziness, all the Kendall Marshall we can take, the Suns are gearing up for Free Agency and the fans are getting excited to see how the roster will shake out.
The Suns took PG Kendall Marshall at 13 overall on Thursday night and then never made a move to gain another pick or player during the draft, disappointing us fans immensely. So, the natural question on our mind is; what in the world are the Suns going to do?
It would appear to be that the Suns are planning on letting Nash go with the drafting of Marshall, which means we will have some serious "walking around money" to be spending this offseason. Below is a list of players at each position of which I believe the Suns could realistically target (I am not saying they are all good ideas, I just see the Suns top brass making decisions like this).
Goran Dragic UFA Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin RFA New York Knicks
Steve Nash UFA Phoenix Suns
Ronnie Price UFA Phoenix Suns
Nate Robinson UFA Golden State Warriors
Louis Williams UFA Philadelphia 76ers
The Suns need depth at PG this season, whether that means getting Nash to stay to help groom Marshall or letting him walk away and signing a PG to play alongside Marshall. With each passing day it seems more and more apparent that Nash is probably going to head off to "greener pastures" in either a Championship caliber team or to play his final season in his home country of Canada. Knowing that, the Suns need to target a PG to pair up and share time with Kendall Marshall. Relatively cheap options include; Felton and Hinrich, while more expensive options are in Brooks, Dragic, Lin, Robinson, and Williams. I don't think getting Lin is worth the price we are going to have to give the Knicks and Williams is still technically part of the Sixers as long as they don't terminate his contract. That leaves our effective options as Brooks, Dragic, Felton, Hinrich, Price (resign), and Robinson.
Brooks played all last season in China because he skipped out on the NBA when the lookout was still in effect. However, before that he was part of the Suns after a deal in which Dragic was traded to the Rockets, Brooks can be a very capable option to back up whoever is playing PG while still providing spark at the SG positon when needed. Dragic has the potential to be a starter and has already had a run with the Suns (in which he had a terrific playoff performance), which means he probably won't fit in with our roster now that we have Marshall. Felton and Hinrich are almost the same thing; borderline starters that would be better used as back-up PGs to alleviate pressure off of the young PGs. Price was terrible last season for the Suns, the only reason he could be resigned is if every other target goes a different way. Finally we have Robinson, he offers something different from Marshall; scoring and athleticism. Will Robinson perform though is the real question and will he have enough money for a back-up PG of that caliber?
Player(s) to Sign: Aaron Brooks, Raymond Felton, or Kirk Hinrich
Shannon Brown UFA Phoenix Suns
Gerald Green UFA Brooklyn Nets
Dahntay Jones UFA Indianapolis Pacers
Michael Redd UFA Phoenix Suns
J.R. Smith UFA New York Knicks
Sam Young UFA Philadelphia 76ers
Jared Dudley proved to be a capable player this past season but trusting him to continue to play at that level for the next few seasons is a little ridiculous. Shannon Brown played well down the stretch but again, trusting him to play that well is ridiculous considering who is available at the SG position this offseason. Cheaper options consist of; Green, Redd, and Sam Young, the more expensive players are; Gordon, Jones, Mayo, Smith, and Nick Young. Jones should take his player option with the Pacers this season considering how well they played this last season which means he probably won't be on this target list for long.
The Suns need a scorer big time, and without a big time scorer available for any other position the Suns need to pounce on one for the SG spot. Gordon and Mayo are both RFA's but the Suns may need to put in a big offer one if Nash leaves because of all the money they will gain from his departure. Of the two the first option should be of Gordon because he attacks the basket and is considered more athletic and better on the defensive end, however Mayo isn't a terrible consolation prize. Green is athletic but is more of a backup than a full time starter, the same can be said of Sam Young except he is more of a defensive force then a scorer but that could be a good value coming off the bench. The last two, Smith and Nick Young, play similar styles and have big egos but if the Suns can't get Gordon or Mayo they could provide interesting options for Phoenix while still providing youth.
Player(s) to Sign: Eric Gordon/O.J. Mayo and Sam Young
Grant Hill UFA Phoenix Suns
Damion James UFA Brooklyn Nets
Gerald Wallace UFA Brooklyn Nets
The SF position players available for the Suns this year is very thin, even when it includes Grant Hill there are only four potential players. Cheap options come in the form of Gee, Hill, and James while Wallace may be the only expensive option. All of these players are pretty much all in the running for a spot in Phoenix considering how thin the Suns are SF and the fact that the SF market isn't all that large for this season.
Gee is another RFA but he comes much cheaper than Gordon or Mayo will and there is a very good chance that Cleveland will let him walk. He isn't a long term answer but he is a good fit temporarily. Hill is a fan favorite here in Phoenix, if the Suns Front Office doesn't at least try to retain his services at a cheap fare, the fans could really snap and start screaming mutiny after the past few seasons of terrible front office moves. James is intriguing because he will come very cheap, is an UFA at just 22 years of age, and has a lot of room to grow. Wallace would be a great signing if the Suns get him cheap and are still able to pick up Gordon or Mayo, a lineup like Marshall, Gordon, Wallace, Hill/Morris, and Gortat could really cut down on the rebuilding process.
Player(s) to Sign: Grant Hill or Alonzo Gee/Gerald Wallace
Spencer Hawes UFA Philadelphia 76ers
Kris Humphries UFA Brooklyn Nets
Ersan Ilyasova UFA Milwaukee Bucks
Robin Lopez RFA Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a solid big man in Gortat and an interesting prospect in Markieff Morris, however their depth is suspect. There really aren't too many cheap options for the Suns, only Mahinmi and Tolliver are cheap except for Lopez who was tendered a qualifying offer by the Suns. Hawes and Ilysova are good options for depth and to help as starters at the PF position but they won't come all that cheap. Humphries is just on the list because I think any team interested in him will be reciprocated because he wants out of the Nets.
Mahinmi and Tolliver are the best options for depth, solid defense and rebounding while still coming at a very cheap price. Also, unless Lopez gets an offer from a team that results in the Suns getting compensation by draft picks (unlikely) the Suns should retain Lopez's services.
Player(s) to Sign: Ian Mahinmi and Anthony Tolliver
Starting Rotation: Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Gerald Wallace, Eric Gordon, Kendall Marshall
6th Man: Jared Dudley
Role Players: Aaron Brooks, Sam Young, Alonzo Gee, Channing Frye, Ian Mahinmi, Robin Lopez
Reserve Players: Josh Childress, Michael Redd, Hakim Warrick
This lineup comes at the price of both Steve Nash and Grant Hill, two aging players with fairly large contracts that eat up playing time for developing players. The lineup above would be more of a committee team in which minutes would be distributed evenly outside of players Gordon and Gortat (and Marshall on occasion). Players like Young, Mahinmi, and Lopez could provide defense off the bench while Dudley, Brooks, Gee, and Frye could provide the offense. Having Redd and Warrick to be used as reserves also gives the Suns some perceived depth for injury or any time they need turn around their fortunes.
Will this lineup make the Suns a contender? No, not at all. Will they be able to make a run at the playoffs? Possibly. Does it cut down on rebuilding time? As long as they play their cards right it could very well do so.