The journeyman has returned. What will the Phoenix Suns get from 6'2" 190 pound guard Ronnie Price?
Now, it's been asked, "How does one evaluate a third team point guard who earned the minimum salary, scored the second fewest points on the team and was the team's worst player by a boatload of other measures?" Our own Ray Hrovat asked that very question following the 2011-2012 campaign.
Not interested in reading a full review on a backup point guard from three years ago? His conclusion:
If we do take those other factors into consideration, as well as his positive locker room presence, Price earned a C. For an end of the bench player who rarely played, he contributed in whatever way he could, and there was no downside to having him around. Put another way, he scored more than Josh Childress this season, at about 1/6 of the cost!
So if compiling that evaluation three years ago was difficult, this one should be next to impossible. Price has spent time with three teams across parts of three seasons since his last stint in Phoenix. The 43 games he played in with the Lakers last season was the most action he's seen since the 59 games he played with Utah during the 2010-2011 season. Also this happened:
BUT WE DIDN'T BRING HIM IN TO DUNK. Ok, maybe he should hit the wide open ones. So what are we getting with Ronnie Price?
Are we getting Sebastian Telfair?
These two played behind Steve Nash during the 2011-2012 season, each logging just under 15 minutes per game. Price was firmly entrenched in a third string role for the season, though Telfair was never particularly impressive outside of the month of April. The two have taken considerably different paths since that season.
Telfair has played in 75 NBA games since 2012. During that time he also made stops in China, first with Tianjin Ronggang in 2013, and with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers last season. Telfair's most recent NBA action came with the Oklahoma City Thunder during in 2014. The 29 year old averaged 8 points in 20 minutes and shot 43% from the field with the Thunder.
Are we getting Ish Smith?
And wouldn't you love that? In 70 games off the bench in 2013-2014, Smith saw the court for about 14 minutes a game, and had the best shooting season of his career (42%). Smith split last season with Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, respectively, and logged significant minutes with the Sixers. Smith played 25 games with Philly, starting 14, averaging a career high 12 points and 6 assists per game. Smith's performance prompted Nerlens Noel to describe the guard as "the first true point guard I've ever really played with."
We're getting Ronnie Price
Price won't put up the recent numbers of Smith, Telfair, or even duplicate his performance of season ago, if for no other reason than he won't be given the chance. Smith played for a bad team, as Price did last season, and had the opportunity to put up impressive statistics in games of little consequence. Your best bet is that you're getting the same player the Suns once had, just four years older. And that's fine.
The Suns, perhaps more than any other team in the league, are desperately hurting for veteran leadership and good locker room guys, particularly after the circus of an offseason they've had. Price is the definition of a good locker room guy from a media, team, and players aspect. On the court, Price is being brought in for mop up duty. It's fine if points and assists are low as long as turnovers and felonies are too. Ronnie Price should be just fine at meeting those standards.
Need more info on Ronnie Price? I'm sure you do. Check out this film study: