It's an overused cliche, but this season really can't end soon enough for the Phoenix Suns.
They were finally mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in Wednesday's loss at Dallas for the fifth consecutive season but the off-court drama rages on. This time it was Gerald Green's agent Kevin Bradbury of BDA Sports that stepped into the shooting gallery and took aim in an interview with The Sporting News, responding to a rather benign criticism of Green by Suns coach Jeff Hornacek.
FIrst, Hornacek's quote that spurred retaliation:
"(Green) never really seemed to get it going and then it comes to the point where, if you’re not scoring and if your defense isn’t picking up, it’s hard to stay in the game. The next guy is going, ‘I needed help here and the guy wasn’t here.’ We’re trying to develop something for the future, not just being out here for everybody to play in the game. We want to get to a top-notch winning level and you’ve got to do it on both sides."
Fair enough, and also quite obvious. Green's defense has always been problematic and when a player of his style becomes mired in a prolonged shooting slump, what you have left is frankly a rather bad basketball player. Anybody who watched Green since January can attest that he was doing very little on the floor to help the team.
Nonetheless, Bradbury used Hornacek's remark as an opening to point the finger elsewhere. Here are a few choice nuggets:
I don't see the benefit for the coach to go about things this way.
The numbers show pretty clearly that Gerald is not the terrible defensive player he is being made out to be
He brings it on the defensive end, consistent with what the team brings as a unit. But when you hear the coach saying he is so bad that he can’t be on the floor? That’s nonsense.
I have no idea what numbers Bradbury is referring to, but I would put them immediately into heavy question. Never has the "eye test" argument been more appropriate. Even if Bradbury might be able to dig up some advanced metric that paints Gerald Green as even an average defender, coaches and even casual observers have seen the contrary throughout his entire career.
What really raised eyebrows was Bradbury's comments about the trade deadline:
There were multiple teams that wanted him and were attempting to structure a deal if that was the direction in which we all wanted to go. Teams were willing to give up assets in significant offers. The Suns did not want to trade him.
At this point you should probably reach for the obligatory grain of salt. Green has suffered a disastrous drop in production during the second half of a contract season. It's anyone's guess how much free agency money he had earned himself by January and then lost by April.
Bradbury's assertion that he was a sought-after commodity at the trade deadline could be nothing more than a last-ditch effort to boost his client's value before the summer arrives.
But if his comments are accurate, this is quite a bizarre revelation. Green already had one foot securely in the doghouse by the All-Star break. His minutes had dwindled and he received the first of many DNP-CD's on January 30. His role only continued to diminish after the Deadline Doomsday, so it makes little sense that the Suns would refuse any and all trade offers that might have existed.
It's also natural to wonder why a team would give up anything of value for 30 games of Gerald Green. It might just be that the "assets" alluded to were in reality long-term contracts that other GM's were trying to unload for Green's expiring deal. The worst they can do is say no, right?
Bradbury has a fundamental bias towards his client's interests and is looking at a significantly lower payday than he was four months ago, so like everyone else around the organization these days, he's probably quite bitter. It's never good practice for an agent to air dirty laundry and bash a team in the media (you know, since the teams are the ones that pay the players). Still, the number of public complaints registered against the current Suns regime has become alarming. Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Archie Goodwin and Green have all grumbled about their roles on the team, to varying degrees. Channing Frye even piped up from all the hell over in Florida.
It's impossible not to wonder about the communication skills of the Suns' front office and coaching staff at this point. They apparently have become quite proficient at rubbing people the wrong way since last summer.