July 2005 - Posts
Paul Caro, from the Arizona Republic, is reporting that Suns center Jake Voskuhl has been traded to the Charlotte Bobcats for a conditional second-round pick.
Phoenix is apparently trying to clear more cap space to sign guard Joe Johnson to a new deal, estimated at 5 years & $70 million. The Atlanta Hawks are the only other serious competitors for Johnson's services and made the initial $70 million offer.
This is a pretty bad move for the Suns, considering they're also likely to lose Steven Hunter to free agency next week. That would really only leave them with Raja Bell, Jim Jackson and Leandro Barbosa on their bench. Last time I checked, a starting 5 squad can't win a championship by themselves... somewhere down the line, due to fatigue or injury, Phoenix is going to need a decent bench. This move leaves them pretty empty in that department, especially on the front-line.
I've watched Jake Voskuhl many times personally and I think his energy and rebounding are partially responsible for quite a few Phoenix Suns wins the past few years. They let Bo Outlaw go a year ago too and 2004 was a banner year, but without a backup center for Kurt Thomas / Amare Stoudemire, the Suns will not make it very far in the playoffs.
This trade saves Phoenix approximately $2 million per year, which may be enough to get Joe signed to a long-term contract. He's definitely worth a lot of money, but w/ Nash, Marion & Stoudemire already maxed out, the Suns are in a difficult spot right now.
Once the free agent signing period begins on July 22nd, the Phoenix Suns are expected to sign free agent Raja Bell (formerly w/ the Utah Jazz) to a 5-year contract. Bell can probably get away with playing 3 positions and he plays solid defense, something the Suns lacked in the playoffs this year.
The Suns are showing serious signs of improvement, only 3-4 weeks removed from their loss to San Antonio in the NBA playoffs. They've already traded away a liability in Quentin Richardson to acquire Kurt Thomas, another hard-nosed rebounder & defender.
Both Raja Bell and Kurt Thomas can score, make no doubt about it, so they should fit in nicely w/ the run & gun Suns in 2005-2006. Thomas led Division I NCAA in scoring w/ TCU in 1995, so he has offensive skills.
The Suns still have a few holes to fill on their bench, but it's looking like a great offseason. Rumors are abound that the Suns may try to sign Michael Finley if the Dallas Mavericks drop him.
One day after getting Ray Allen to agree to a new 5 year contract, the Seattle Supersonics lose Nate McMillan as their coach (see story). McMillan chose to sign with the Portland Trailblazers for 5 years, at an estimated $6 million per year. Sonics president Wally Walker commented that they offered McMillan enough to where he'd be one of the Top 5 highest paid coaches in the NBA, but I guess that wasn't enough.
It's really odd that after 17 years and a great 2004-2005 season by anyone's standards, McMillan would want to leave the Sonics organization. It makes you wonder if there's more to him leaving than just the money...