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What's Next: Summer Time Coverage

To quote the great Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff...

Summer, summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind.

Of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be a little bit out of control, it's cool to dance but what about the groove that soothes that moves romance.

Give me a soft subtle mix and if it ain't broke don't try and fix it...

If it ain't broke don't try and fix it...

That's the motto for this summertime. The Suns did well and can get better just by showing up in October with the exact same team and continuing the progress made on the defensive end starting in late January, combined with the continued development of the young'uns.

But life in the NBA doesn't work that way (unless you are the LA Lakers and can afford a $91m salary and just pay everyone enough to stay -- yes, I am still bitter).

By my count, the Suns have FIVE major off-season issues to address. Six, if you count re-signing Steve Kerr, which I don't, since letting him go would be a moron-move if I ever saw one. Seven, if you count Grant Hill, but he's already said he is picking up his option and coming back (unless someone offers him a max contract).

1. Amare

Amare is the straw that stirs the drink. He's the first domino and the last samurai. He's Will Smith to the Suns DJ Jazzy Jeff. I am not going to repeat the obvious, but so Amare goes, so goes the rest of the Suns off-season plans.

If he stays, great. If he opts out (he will) and gets a max offer from somewhere else (he likely will) and the Suns don't match (will they?) then it comes down to trying to swing the best possible sign-and-trade, which we detailed way back in March.

As for Dirk -- that's all a pipe dream right now. Good for summertime chatter, but I don't see it happening. Everything else aside, do you really think Mark Cuban would hesitate at over-paying Dirk to keep him from reuniting with Nash in Phoenix? Not only would Cuban give Dirk a 6-year deal (he gave Marion 5 and Kidd 3), but he would buy him the country of Lichtenstein and hire David Hasselhoff to be Dirk's personal masseur if that's what it took.

That said, IF Dirk were to end up here as an Amare replacement -- that wouldn't suck. I doubt that team has enough inside scoring to win a ring, but it would be a fun ride.

2. Leandro Barbosa

Leandro is owed $7.1m next year and has a player option for $7.6m in 2011/12. There was a time when Leandro was averaging 27 to 30 minutes per game and putting up an efficient 15 to 18 points a game. Since getting healthy, we've seen that LB still has all those same explosive scoring skills, but on this Suns team he's an unnecessary luxury.

With Jason Richardson in front of him and the much more versatile (and less expensive) Goran Dragic behind him, there's just no reason for the Suns to keep LB on the roster. It's not like the Suns are the LA Lakers who can afford to pay a guy a big salary to be third in the depth chart (yes, I am still bitter).

I might be reading too much into it, but I really do think that LB's departure through the back hall on Sunday was a sign. Instead of facing questions about his future and perhaps having to lie obfuscate about what he was told or suspects, he left without saying goodbye.

LB's future with the Suns is the only item on this list that's not Amare dependent. Whether Amare stays or goes probably won't effect LB's future with the team, although it could impact what the Suns try and get back for him.

As free agency plays out, there will be many teams left with a lot of cap space who missed out on the big names. It would be very easy for one of them to acquire Leandro and for the Suns to try and get into the 1st round of the draft, find some depth at the PG or PF position or simply find a way to gain flexibility with a trade exception or future draft pick.

3. Channing Frye

Channing has made it very clear that he intends to opt out and sees this contract as his best/only chance to get a bigger/longer team deal. He's 27 and coming off the best year of his career and he's clearly worth more on the NBA market than the $2.1m player option he holds for next season.

To get a great sense of Frye's relative comparisons, check out this excellent piece by Raptors HQ looking at Frye vs Bargnani, who will make $50m over the next 5 years.

Frye absolutely wants to come back to the Suns, but he does expect to receive a fair offer. I have no clue what that is because I haven't given it much thought yet.

4. Louis Amundson

Lou is another guy who played himself into a bigger contract and by NBA standards it's not hard to disagree, given his $855k which is paltry compared to the $5m Reggie Evans will make next season.

Lou also wants to come back, but with Earl Clark waiting in the wings, and the Suns not being able to spend like the Lakers (still bitter), then he will mostly likely be gone, which is a shame, but not the end of the world.

5. Draft

The Suns currently only hold the 46th and 60th picks in the draft. But when you consider that several teams who already have a lot of young players are holding multiple first round picks (Grizzlies, Nets, Thunder, Timberwolves) then you have to think that there are options for moving up.

Leandro to Minnesota for their 16th pick? Why not. Which team says no first to that?

So while the draft right now doesn't look as interesting for the Suns as the last two years of late lottery picks, don't be surprised if that changes. Especially if Amare is gone.


Our Plans

We don't have any kind of schedule but you can count on the following:

  • More recap on the Suns season and maybe even more break-down of the Lakers series if my stomach can handle it
  • LOTS AND LOTS of free agency discussion
  • Draft prep (I am way behind on this)
  • Summer League coverage from Vegas because what Earl Clark does in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas
  • A little international hoops coverage to keep an eye on Goran
  • Mix in some World Cup b/c I know many of you are big fans of that - as am I
  • Phoenix Mercury coverage which will mostly be on Swish Appeal, but I might drop some here as well
  • My vacation in early August
  • A lot of down time in August/September when there's really not much going
  • Leading into training camp and pre-season in late September and October
  • Oh, and lots of babes chilling by the pool, too (in my case, those babes being my three year old daughter)

and remember

if it ain't broke, don't fix it

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