Past week’s games
1/02/10 Grizzlies 128, SUNS 103
1/05/10 SUNS 113, Kings 109
1/06/10 SUNS 118, Rockets 110
Upcoming week’s games
1/08/10 SUNS vs Heat, 7 p.m., My45
1/11/10 SUNS vs Bucks, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
1/13/10 SUNS @ Pacers, 5 p.m., My45
With the NBA trade deadline just around the corner, Suns Spot has decided to take a look at what moves, if any, the Phoenix Suns should make.
We know where the Suns struggle: on the defensive end, especially against bigger teams, and on the glass. As far as strengths go, Phoenix has an abundance of scoring — the best in the league — and great chemistry. Now in the perfect world, or NBA 2K10, we’d just ship out one of the extra scorers we have for a big that can defend and rebound with the best of them. Unfortunately, this world is neither perfect nor played on Xbox 360, so teams are shopping talented big bodies at a great price.
So, what to do? The Suns have three players that you’ll probably hear come up this trade season: Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson and Amar’e Stoudemire. One has value, one has a big contract Phoenix wouldn’t mind shedding and one has an uncertain future.
First, we’ll start with the value in Barbosa. All teams need scoring off the bench, and LB is one of the best. He’s a great outside shooter that can get into the paint at will. Now think about the fact that he’s a great bargain for what he does, especially when you consider the guys that make more than him and do less, and there are plenty of teams out there that would love to have the Blur leading their second unit. Plus, with the improvement of Goran Dragic, Barbosa’s minutes and production are down, so he could be expendable.
Since LB’s return from injury, the Suns have gone 5-2, and although they blew “gimme” games against the Warriors and Grizzlies, 5-2 is still much better than they had been playing while LB was out. Not to mention, the guy never complains, is said to be a great teammate and wants to be here. For me, that’s more than enough reasons to hold onto LB.
Then there’s Richardson. He’s not as desirable as Barbosa because of his fat contract, but he is more than serviceable as a starting 2 in the association. He’s a great scorer, above-average rebounding guard and when he wants to, can be a fairly decent defensive player. In an uptempo offense, much like the one the Suns run, Richardson is a great addition.
Trading Richardson would require us to take on a bad contract of someone who will more than likely be far less talented than him. Plus, when Richardson is clicking, the Suns are completely different beast on offense, so I think it’s best to keep him.
Lastly, there’s Stoudemire, and the whole “will he or won’t he opt out of his current contract this summer” scenario. Even after STAT makes that decision, he has to decide whether or not he wants to be here and how much he plans to make. We know he’s one of the most explosive offensive players in the league, but his defense and rebounding continue to be suspect, although he has shown some improvement in the rebounding department over the last month or so. He’s shown he can bounce back from major injuries better than anyone else in the league, so health shouldn’t be a concern. You can bet Amar’e’s name will come up often in trade rumors.
Despite the fact that Stoudemire can opt out after this year and the Suns could lose him for nothing, trading him would be a huge mistake. You don’t trade a guy with this much talent, just out of fear for losing him in the summer. He’s just too good. You offer him a contract extension and keep him here for the long haul. Amar’e’s maturity level has taken great strides this year and he deserves to be rewarded. To top it all off, I honestly believe Stoudemire wants to be here and would settle for less than max salary. Owner Robert Sarver and GM Steve Kerr just need to make it happen.
Bottom line, if I’m calling the shots, Phoenix stays pat. While there are areas of weakness the Suns can improve on, the risk is too high. When chemistry plays such a high role in a team’s success, you just don’t mess with that.