December 2008 - Posts
Fresh off the trade for Jason Richardson and a victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night, the Phoenix Suns are set to face off against former coach Mike D'Antoni and the New York Knicks Monday night.
In what is becoming a war of words and/or a "he said/he said" battle, D'Antoni is quoted as saying that Steve Kerr is responsible or him leaving the Suns. Suns owner Robert Sarver on the other hand, is backing his GM and saying that PHX wanted D'Antoni to stay. Sarver is of course, doing what you would expect, but there is still doubt as to which side is telling the truth - and it is likely neither.
Regardless, all of the talk and controversy certainly makes tonight's match up in Phoenix a lot more interesting. The Suns are hoping to have Shaq back in uniform after a 2-game absence (grandma passed away). The game will be more interesting just for the fact that the Suns will have all their ducks lined up, so to speak... Shaq, Richardson, Amare and Nash (Barnes, Barbosa and Hill as well).
The Knicks have a winning record, much to the surprise of many who predicted that their new offensive schemes wouldn't work out. Their trade several weeks ago for Al Harrington is paying off so far, but he is a malcontent (over time) so it will be interesting to see just how long the Knicks can keep up their winning ways.
Game Prediction: Suns 110, Knicks 104
On Wednesday, the Phoenix Suns began purging their lineup of malcontent players who weren't buying into head coach Terry Porter's new system, as well as GM Steve Kerr's vision of where this team is going.
The Suns traded D'Antoni mainstays Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a 2nd round pick in 2010. In addition, newly acquired guard Sean Singletary was also shipped in the trade. He was, of course, acquired in the offseason from the Houston Rockets.
Raja had been vocal throughout the season about his unhappiness in the new system and his lack of shots. He had good reason to if you ask him... D'Antoni and Steve Nash helped convert Bell from a defensive-minded guard, into a 3-pt shooting, swaggerin', "I deserve more money" shooting guard type of a guy. Bell started to think he was the shit, getting his scoring numbers up, landing commercials and endorsements (albeit locally), and generally being regarded as one of the Suns toughest players. While Bell will certainly be missed, especially by a stunned Nash. His lack of effort & results to start the season, however, are ultimately what led to his departure.
Boris Diaw on the other hand, had been playing "ok" basketball, but certainly nothing to write home about. He was here one night and off in space the next 2-3 games - nothing consistent unfortunately. Now theat the trade is completed, we hear that Diaw was "not having fun" anymore - like he did under D'Antoni. While Diaw appeared to have a solid NBA game while Amare Stoudemire was out w/ a knee injury a couple years ago, he just didn't seem to have his full arsenal when Amare returned. Coming off the bench and with the occasional start this year, you would think he might have the opportunities he needed to succeed, but apparently this was not where he wanted to be.
In Jason Richardson (J-Rich), the Suns get a bigger, stronger and more athletic shooting guard to compliment Nash, Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal. Richardson can create his own shot, hit the 3-pointer and will no doubt become a fan favorite quickly w/ his amazing leaping & dunking abilities. While his defense may not be up to par w/ Raja (a couple years ago), he can hold his own and should help the team in a big way.
I forget where Jared Dudley played college ball, but he's a solid bench guy that will come in and utilize his minutes playing defense, rebounding and fouling the other team. I wouldn't expect a lot of minutes from him or points, but he can give Amare and/or Shaq a breather when necessary.
The biggest issue w/ the trade I see is team chemistry. Nash and Bell were good buddies going back to Dallas, so it will be interesting to see how the Suns' 2-time MVP reacts to the new situation. He certainly struggled against the Lakers last night, but everyone's allowed a few bad games. The shot attempts situation will be the most interesting and likely lead to the most angst between players - if there will be any. Amare wants the ball, Shaq wants the ball and J-Rich is going to want the ball as well - there just are not that many shots to go around to please each player... at least on a nightly basis.
Overall rating of the trade B - B+ at this point. Let's see how the team jells & go from there.
In the fine words of Will Farrell, the Suns can say "we're going streaking!" and get away with it... and this time, it's not a 4-game losing streak.
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns trounced the Milwaukee Bucks in PHX for their 2nd win in a row and 21st in a row against the Bucks in AZ. The 21st in a row vs. the Bucks ties the current active streak in the NBA for domination over an opponent (tied w/ the Spurs no less).
Shaq was ultra-dominant in the paint against the (soft) Bucks and the entire starting squad seemed to jell pretty well in the victory, while the Bucks continue to struggle. Porter kept Nash's minutes down and the rest of the team performed when it needed to, including a blazing 74 point first half. The game appeared much like the D'Antoni era, but perhaps the Suns played a bit better defense - although I wouldn't call allowing 115 points good defense. Needless to say, the Suns get the win and head to Laker-land tonight for a match-up w/ the Lakers at the Staples Center. Shaq will not participate due to a death in the family (grandma), so Diaw and Lopez will need to step up vs. Bynum and Gasol.
The Phoenix Suns entered rare territory Thursday night after their loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, no records were set and there weren't any wild fights to talk about, but PHX did suffer their 4th straight loss - something they haven't done in over 2 yrs, dating back to November of 2006.
The Suns' troubles have been blamed on numerous events and even on some of the players - mostly forward Amare Stoudemire. Local radio hosts and other sports personalities are calling for the Suns to trade Amare now, while his value is still high. They feel that he is not going to get any better and that his trade value will decrease as the season goes on. Stoudemire has already made public comments regarding his (un)happiness here in Phoenix and that he's not sure where he'll end up after next season when his contract expires.
To all the people that are dogging on Amare for a few bad games... Look back just a few weeks ago when he racked up nearly 50 pts and dominated in a Suns victory. Were you saying the same thing on that night as you are now? No, you were saying that Amare had arrived and that he was showing just how dominant he could be. So lets all get off the ratings bandwagon here and quit bad mouthing the local team. The Suns, after losing to the Mavs, are still 11-8 on the season and doing well considering all of the events to-date, including:
- Steve Nash injury and flu.
- Shaquille O'Neal being held out of the 2nd of back-to-back games.
- Leandro Barbosa missing training camp and then a couple games after his mother passed away.
- Matt Barnes suspension for elbowing Rafer Alston.
- New head coach in Terry Porter.
- New half-court focused offense.
Face it guys... this team is facing some adversity and they're struggling. No doubt about it - when they don't have all the players on the court, they aren't the same team. Hell, they aren't even the same team on the nights Shaq sits out. But they are still scoring at a rapid pace. Everyone who said they would struggle w/ the half-court offense and wouldn't be able to "entertain" us as much were wrong... this team can still score.
The Suns faced a similar team on Thursday in the Dallas Mavericks - a team that also made a big trade in the middle of the season last year and has a new head coach. Their record is only 10-8 after their victory over the Suns and they have a good roster over there too. You don't hear anyone suggesting Dirk Nowitzki get traded because the team isn't winning. He doesn't play defense, rebound and sulks often... sounds kinda like Amare doesn't it.
Overall, I would just call on all Suns fans (& analysts) to support the team and wish them the best of luck this season. Don't be bashing them after a few bad games... the season is 82 games long and we're only 1/4 of the way in so far. There is plenty of time for the team to show that they are a legitimate contender for the NBA Championship THIS YEAR.