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Suns 2009-2010: Who Has the Shortest Leash?

Steve Kerr behind the microphone, preparing for his return to TNT.
Steve Kerr behind the microphone, preparing for his return to TNT.

I think most of us here at Bright Side of the Sun agree that this upcoming season could go one of two ways:

1. As Good as to be Expected: Fairly entertaining: 2nd place Pacific, perhaps a 4-8 playoff seed.

Or, we could be in for:

2. The Epic Fail: a disaster complete with injuries and ineffective play contributing to a second straight year missing the playoffs and a thorough house cleaning in order. I would submit that even if we make the playoffs there is probably a thorough housecleaning ahead of us. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I believe the Suns intended to blow up the squad this off season, most notably as evidenced by the draft night deal with the Warriors that evidently was never really serious (yeah, right). But after the dramatic did not occur, the Suns, hamstrung by payroll and other constraints extended Nash, dumped Shaquille O'Neal, signed Grant Hill, then Channing Frye, thereby cementing a fairly meh off-season.

We face the 2009-10 season on a precarious precipice. The core players are old or recovering from injuries, we do not necessarily trust or like ownership and management. Our coach seems like a decent fit, but he is not a proven winner, and as of now, the team has no first round draft pick in 2010. I submit that if the team is tanking by the All-Star break, we could see major changes. So, I want to know who we all think has the shortest leash this season; or, who will not finish the season as a Sun?

Below is a profile of the possibilities along with some fairly obvious reasons why each will not remain a Sun:

Steve Kerr-I wonder sometimes if Steve is still here only because he was a Wildcat, like Sarver. He had no GM experience and he lucked into a few championships as a complimentary bench player. Does that make a GM? He may be a smart guy, but when do the mulligans end? Personally I think he could be one bad move away from returning to his TNT and Yahoo gigs.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • Kurt Thomas and draft picks for, um well, pretty much nothing
  • Marion and Co. for Shaq
  • Hiring Terry Porter
  • "Letting or Encouraging" D'Antoni to leave
  • Drafting Lopez
  • Drafting Dragic
  • Dealing Rudy Fernandez to Portland for cash

Jason Richardson-Everyone's favorite player to get rid of. J-Rich has immense talent and ability, he just hasn't shown it consistently in a Suns uniform. His effort and dedication have been questioned continuously by most Suns fans. It would seem to me that the league knows him well as a player and a person which would no doubt adversely affect his trade value.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • A big contract/not a great trade market for this guy (this could actually keep him a Sun)
  • Not a complete player on both sides of the ball
  • DUI's and other off-the-court tomfoolery
  • Hasn't played to potential consistently

Alvin Gentry-He's generally a nice guy which makes him both a player and fan favorite. No one really liked Terry Porter, the players complained and the fans never really got to know much about the guy. Bottom line, the team didn't perform. Generally, that is enough for a coach to lose his job. Gentry on the other hand was at the right place at the right time. He has plenty of experience to lead a veteran team like the Suns to a winning season, however the jury is out as to whether he can consistently win. Like many other questions with this franchise, it is unknown whether he is the right fit for the future.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • 195-239 career coaching record (.449)
  • Only two full coaching seasons (Clippers-5th and 6th in Pacific)
  • Only one playoff appearance (lost in first round with Detroit, 1999)
  • A very good Western Conference (both coaches and players) to compete with

Amare Stoudemire-The trade Stoudemire scenarios have been murdered this offseasons. Let's just say if he's healthy and dominant and the team is floundering, he could be the first to go based on his contractual status. There are many reasons to keep him and many reasons to trade him.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • Contractual status
  • History of injuries
  • Defense?
  • Ego (a lot of talk, too many nicknames and tweets)

Steve Nash-Nash signed an extension this Summer and said all the right things. Still, if the team struggles it's not so crazy to think Nash could be traded to a contender in one of those "classy" moves by a franchise.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • Age/Injury risk
  • Defensive liability
  • Could help a contender in the stretch

Grant Hill-Hill is in a similar situation as Nash. He's aging, or just straight up old, but he can still be productive (and tradeable) if healthy.

Evidence that the leash is short:

  • Age/Injury risk
  • Could help a contender in the stretch

The Rest-Lopez, Tucker, Barbosa, Amundson, Dudley, Dragic:

  • Barbosa-I don't think Barbosa is most effective as a starter in this league (sorry all, crucify me if you will), but as a 6th man, he's capable of quick offense and shifting the momentum of a game.
  • Lopez- is big, active, and aggressive, two attributes that will give you a prolonged tryout in the NBA, even if you aren't very effective.
  • Clark- is the future and most likely wouldn't be traded unless some incredible offer is made for him.
  • Frye-just signed, and has too many ties to Arizona. I don't see him going anywhere as long as Kerr is around.
  • Tucker-hasn't been healthy enough to establish much trade value. But he is young and athletic. He could be a throw-in as part of a larger deal
  • Dudley-young enough with intriguing potential and good disposition. I don't see him going anywhere.
  • Amundson-not many reasons to dislike pony boy. He's a great role player, but there are probably many of them rolling around the D-League. He's an addition to complete a larger deal.
  • Dragic-sigh. If he's healthy and shows signs he is turning the corner this year, he could be valuable to the Suns. I don't see Kerr trading him if he shows any sign that he is the Nash apparant. If not, let's hope he enjoys the weather in Slovenia, because that's where he'll be if he doesn't pull it together.
  • Griffin-could be worth some practice balls or maybe a massage table.

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