Sorry again for the continuing lack of activity. It has been a harrowing couple of days. Shortly after my last post, I was abducted by aliens from the Planet Orange. After tense negotiations and several failed escape attempts, the aliens have finally agreed to release me, provided I never divulge what I saw there. Since I'm in no hurry to repeat this experience, I will just offer a few thoughts from Earth on the latest Suns-related news and rumors:
- I'm guessing by now, most everyone has already seen the ESPN article (and others) about Andrei Kirilenko's blog entry expressing a desire to be traded. The most interesting note from the article is that AK-47 claims he "told [Jazz VP of basketball operations Kevin] O'Connor of his request a few weeks ago". Hmmm... Let me guess: That would be somewhere around the time the Suns and Jazz were supposedly "in discussion" to trade Shawn Marion for AK, right? Sounds like srp called it pretty well.
- Speaking of AK-47, the latest from ESPN says AK wants out of Utah so badly that he's ready to forfeit the rest of his contract so he can play for Russia or some other European team. Wow. At least we know he's not just about the money.
- In other news rumors, the Boston Globe's blog is reporting that the Suns are one of four teams who have made contract offers to Esteban Batista (registration required). The FIBA Americas Uruguay star/former seldom-used Atlanta Hawks benchwarmer is something of an enigma. Thus far, he hasn't made much of an impact at the NBA level but (a) he has only played for Atlanta, (b) he just turned 24, and (c) even with extremely limited playing time, he seems to rebound at a greater frequency than Bruce Bowen gets away with shady defensive tactics (OK, maybe not THAT frequently, but it's close). His 2.5 rebounds in just 8.2 minutes per game over his NBA "career" translate to about 10.7 rebounds per 35 minutes--not too far off from the 12.4 he averaged per game in a similar number of minutes at the FIBA's tournament. If he could produce even 80% of that against NBA competition in something more than garbage time, it might go a long way toward making up for Marion's board work should the Suns finally do the unthinkable and trade him. Take all of this with a heavily-iodized grain of salt, though. Just because Batista played well at the FIBA tournament doesn't necessarily mean he's a Boris Diaw of 2005-06-type just waiting for the right opportunity to finally break out. (Surely, there must be some reason the Hawks didn't play him, right? Oh wait, they're the Hawks...never mind). But even if Batista miraculously happened to be just the exact big man the Suns need to get over the hump, I haven't seen anything specifically stating that the Suns offered him a contract anywhere other than the above "out-of-state" article, although it's not always easy getting news from the confines of an alien spacecraft, so I may have just missed it. However, even if it's true, the guess here is that Batista will try to parlay his FIBA Americas performance into a lot more money than the Suns will offer, but stranger things have happened.
- Speaking of the ongoing search for a big man, the Suns worked out Brian Skinner today. The article on AZCentral is kind of vague on how he looked, but at least it sounds like he wants the job, which is a pleasant change from the whole P.J. Brown saga. Skinner is quoted as saying the Suns are at the "top" of his list, and that he's ready and willing to guard the bigger guys. He's certainly saying all the right things if nothing else. The article also mentions Batista, and does imply that maybe the Suns did indeed offer him a contract, although it doesn't explicitly say that or give any details. However, there is a quote from Batista's agent saying he "should have a decision today" (I double-checked several news sites before posting this, and as of this writing, didn't find any announcements). Take it for what it's worth.
- Suns trainer Aaron Nelson hasn't blogged a lot lately at Suns.com, but his latest is certainly a good one. He traveled to Beijing last week for the Steve Nash/Yao Ming charity game with Nash, Leandro Barbosa, and the rookies. He has been posting a three-part detailed account of the experience over the past few days. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is here. I haven't had a chance to read through them all yet, but from what I can tell, it looks like he really gave us a nice insider's view of the event. There is also a photo gallery. Some of the more interesting pictures are near the end, where it looks like the players (and Nelson) took turns posing with Jackie Chan.
PS. No alien abduction actually occurred but saying that seemed like a lot more fun than trying to think up new and creative ways to whine about having too much work to do. Then again, maybe the aliens just gave me that as a cover story? [Twilight Zone music playing in the background...]