Previous week’s games
03/04/2011 SUNS 102, Bucks 88
03/06/2011 Thunder 122, SUNS 118
03/08/2011 SUNS 113, Rockets 110
03/10/2010 Nuggets 116, SUNS 97
Upcoming week’s games
03/13/2011 SUNS vs Magic, 12:30 p.m., ABC
03/14/2011 SUNS @ Rockets, 5:30 p.m., My45
03/16/2011 SUNS @ Hornets, 5 p.m., My45
A week ago, I wrote about the importance of Channing Frye to the offense the Phoenix Suns run. I talked about how the hate he receives is unjust and how his contract is turning out to be a bargain as he continues to improve.
Frye continued to prove my point with good showings last Friday in Milwaukee and Sunday in Oklahoma, where he pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds. Unfortunately, Frye didn’t get to finish the game in Oklahoma.
In arguably the worst officiated game of the season (factually the worse when looking at free throw disparity), Frye was injured on a play where he was hit across the arm by the Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. The obvious contact wasn’t enough to draw a foul, but it was enough to dislocate the shoulder of the sharpshooting big man. This injury puts the Suns in a tough spot.
Currently, the Suns are playing their best basketball of the season. They’re in the midst of a tough fight for a playoff spot in the über-tight Western Conference, and Frye has been a huge part of that. His injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Suns
will once again have to adjust on the fly as Channing sits on the sideline to heal up.
Frye is expected to miss two to three weeks, which will put him out of about 10 games or so. Then, who knows how long it’ll be before he’s actually back in the flow of things once he gets back. Luckily for the Suns, they have a few options that could potentially fill the void left by Frye.
Hakim Warrick and Mickeal Pietrus are likely going to see the biggest increase in minutes, with Josh Childress getting some spot minutes as a result of the injury. All three can be assets on the floor when at the top of their game.
Warrick wasted no time taking advantage of the increased role. In his second start of the season, Warrick went off on the Houston Rockets with a career-high 32 points and pulled down eight boards. Hak certainly can’t spread the floor like Frye can, but his outside jumper has started to become more consistent and he can free up the floor for other guys by running the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash.
Warrick doesn’t rebound as well as Frye, but when aggressive he can be decent. Since just before the All-Star break, Hakim seemed to pick up his intensity level, and it has really begun to show.
Pietrus lacks Frye’s size, but in the system Coach Gentry and the Suns run, he can certainly fill in at power forward from time to time. On the offensive end he can provide much of what Frye does, but also has a little more ability and putting the ball down and driving to the basket. On the flip side, Pietrus won’t provide much as far as interior defense, but he is one of the team’s better perimeter defenders.
Childress is the wild card. While I don’t expect him to see a whole lot of minutes, if any, at the four spot, he could see some on the wing positions if either Grant Hill or Pietrus is asked to slide over at any point. I hope to see this happen. Childress is able to do a lot of the little things that can get overlooked and he has an ability to get the basket. He also gives the team another solid perimeter defender. If nothing else, I’d like to see Childress can a few more regular-season minutes, because you never know when a guy with his skill set could come in handy in the postseason.
All in all, the Suns should be able to withstand Frye’s injury, despite how well he had been playing. Warrick and Pietrus have both been playing at extremely high levels lately, along with the rest of the team, and I see no reason for that to change. If the guys keep it up, there’s no reason to think the Suns won’t sneak into the playoffs. Frye will return just in time to erase some of his demons from postseasons past.
Previous week’s games
12/10/2010 Trail Blazers 101, SUNS 94
12/15/2010 SUNS 128, Timberwolves 122
Upcoming week’s games
12/17/2010 SUNS @ Mavericks, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
12/19/2010 SUNS @ Thunder, 5 p.m., My45
12/20/2010 SUNS @ Spurs, 6:30 p.m., My45
12/23/2010 SUNS vs Heat, 8:30 p.m., TNT
Twenty-four games into this current NBA season and the Phoenix Suns have certainly been up and down. They currently stand in the 8th spot in the Western Conference with a record of 12-12 and are kicking off a tough three-game road trip tonight in Dallas against the streaking Mavericks.
As of December 15, players that were signed during the offseason are now eligible to be traded. The February trade deadline will get here quicker than people think. It’s soon going to be time for the Suns to decide if they’re happy with what they have this year and move forward as is or try and make a move. This is where things get tricky.
Right now, it’s pretty hard to gauge what the Suns have and what they need. Yes, we know more size, better rebounding and better defense would definitely be ideal. With that said, we are just now seeing our first glimpse of how good this current squad can be with a healthy Robin Lopez in the middle.
The results from Wednesday’s game against Minnesota are encouraging. Lopez had 12 points and eight rebounds in just more than 20 minutes. His defense looked pretty solid, and his sized made it much easier for guys like Channing Frye to grab more boards than normal. So much easier, in fact, that the Suns actually out-rebounded the Timberwolves, who are tops in the league in rebounding.
Even if Lopez does continue to improve or even exceed expectations for this season, an extra big body would still be a very nice addition. So, if Lance Blanks and Lon Babby decide making a move is in the best interest of the team, the next step would be to figure out what type of move to make.
Many are already saying it’s time to blow things up, trade Steve Nash and start all over from square one. I’m not one of these people. It’s far too early for a bold move of that nature. In fact, I don’t expect that moment to come at all this season.
The bigger question for me is how soon should the Suns make a move. Do they try and make a small trade now by packaging Earl Clark and possibly a draft pick or someone like Josh Childress for a player of Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson’s caliber (I’m not saying the Suns could get Thompson because I’m unsure that the Kings would move him to a division foe) or do they hold off until February to see if something better becomes available?
In February, teams become a little more willing to pull the trigger. Especially teams that think they’re just one veteran away from making a run. Maybe this February some team out there will get desperate and feel like Hedo Turkoglu is that veteran. At this point, it’s still too early to tell.
Odds are the Suns will make a move at some point this season, however, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll be a huge trade, since there really isn’t anyone out there that will want Hedo. Jason Richardson could possibly net some talent, but currently he’s too valuable to the team. My hope is Blanks and Babby are able to work some magic and make a small move that has a huge impact.
Previous week’s games
10/26/10 Blazers 106, SUNS 92
10/28/101 SUNS 110, Jazz 94
Upcoming week’s games
10/29/10 SUNS vs Lakers (home opener!), 7:30 p.m., ESPN
11/03/10 SUNS vs Spurs, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
With just two games in the books for the 2010-11 season, the Phoenix Suns are sitting at 1-1. Not too bad for a team that most thought would start 0-3 with the first two games coming in two of the tougher places to play in the NBA.
In both Tuesday’s loss to Portland and Thursday’s win at Utah, the Suns showed positive signs. Hakim Warrick has looked good in both games, especially against Utah, when he had a filthy dunk and was immediately a trending topic on Twitter. Steve Nash and Jason Richardson have been fantastic, and the Suns’ shooting hasn’t been a problem like it was in the preseason.
There were also quite a few negatives, mostly coming in Tuesday’s loss to Portland. Phoenix was crushed on the boards and turned the ball over way too much. Both those things improved drastically on Thursday and should hopefully continue to get better.
But enough about the games we’ve already played. As much as I’d love to go on about what we’ve already seen, there’s a bigger, much more daunting task at hand: tonight’s game against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. That’s right, the Suns’ home opener comes on the second night of a back-to-back against the Lakers.
The consensus seems to be that the Lakers will smash the Suns tonight, being that the Suns are playing the second night of a back-to-back with travel, whereas the Lakers have been resting in Phoenix. Factor that in with the Lakers’ size (although starting center Andrew Bynum is still recovering from off-season surgery) and a Suns team trying to gel and get their chemistry, and the consensus may have an argument.
With that being said though, I’m going to have to disagree. Tonight’s game is going to be a close one. The Suns are going to come out fired up. Regardless if it’s a back-to-back or not won’t matter. This is the Phoenix home opener, so the excitement is going to be through the roof, especially for the new guys. Warrick, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu will all be playing their first real games in front of the Phoenix fans, and you can bet they’re going to want to impress. And they will.
Warrick is who I’m really excited to see tonight, and you should be as well (did I mention his nasty dunk in Utah?). Coming off the Utah game and all the Twitter love he received, you know he’s going to be amped. Coach Alvin Gentry will surely try and get him more time with Nash, considering how well he’s working in the pick-and-roll.
We need more than the players to step up tonight, however. I’m looking at you, Planet Orange. We need you. We need you loud. We need you on your feet. We need you to be ORNG. Most importantly, we need you to hush all those rude (and I call them rude based on lots and lots of experience), annoying, Lakers fans. Just drown them out. We can do it! There will be more of us than there will be of them. We need to be up and screaming at the top of our lungs the entire time.
I’m counting on you all. I’ll get us started: Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA!
After the Suns/Lakers game tonight, be sure the swing by the Verve Energy Lounge at US Airways Center for a free concert presented by Budweiser. National recording artist Kelley James will perform. The concert is free to all who have a game ticket.
Meet Jared Dudley
This Saturday, October 30, you’ll have a chance to meet Suns forward Jared Dudley, along with The Gorilla and the APS Solar Squad. Dudley will be at MidFirst Bank in Glendale signing autographs from 1 to 2 p.m.
6508 W. Bell Rd.
Glendale, AZ 85308
It seems like just yesterday we were watching as our beloved Suns battled the hated
LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals for an NBA Finals berth. A lot has changed since that time. Amar’e Stoudemire, Lou Amundson and Leandro Barbosa are in different uniforms. Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick are new in town, and the Suns Spot is back to give you insight and thoughts on yet another exciting season of Phoenix Suns basketball.
This past Tuesday I was able to catch my first glimpse of the new-look Suns as they faced the Utah Jazz in their preseason home opener and fourth preseason game overall. The Suns lost 105-100 in what ended up being quite a good game, especially for the preseason. Despite the loss, I saw a lot of positives that make me very excited for this year’s campaign.
The starters looked solid. Offensively, they moved the ball well. Robin Lopez showed the ability to run the pick-n-roll with Steve Nash and do it effectively. Jason Richardson was aggressive, but not too aggressive. J-Rich looks like he knows he needs to be the leading scorer for the team this year. Grant Hill was Grant Hill and Nash was Nash. Unfortunately, we were only able to see about nine minutes of Hedo, as he sat out most of the game with a back bruise, but he didn’t look bad in what I saw.
On the defensive side and on the glass the guys showed a lot of energy. Lopez had at least one block he was credited with and changed a few other shots. He did pick up a few fouls, but they were questionable. On one possession Turkoglu was draped over Utah’s Paul Millsap and forced him into a tough shot. Millsap hit the shot, but the defensive effort was impressive nonetheless.
One plus to Hedo being limited was seeing Warrick play with the starters. He looked good and at one point received a nice lob pass from Nash that he turned into a reverse dunk. Warrick in the starting lineup is something I think could actually benefit the Suns. He would give Nash another option in the pick-n-roll and it would allow Hedo to run the offense for the second unit. I’m curious to see if this thought ever crosses coach Alvin Gentry’s mind when he’s tinkering with the rotations.
Speaking of the second unit, they were very strong. A lineup of Warrick, Childress, Channing Frye, Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley went on a huge run in the fourth quarter to get the Suns back in the game and give them a brief lead. Second-year forward Earl Clark was part of the run as well, as he replaced Warrick about halfway through and looked good, especially on defense, where he picked up four blocks.
The defense of the Suns bench showed why it will be a strong point for the team this year. They were very active and played with a lot of hustle. They applied near full-court pressure and fought for every rebound. Childress was most impressive fighting for boards. Dragic, after struggling and looking somewhat out of control in the first half, ran the offense to near perfection in the second. Dudley is looking leaner and much better at creating his shot, which could come in handy with him expecting to see a lot of time at the two spot this year. Frye looked much improved on the defensive side of the ball, but struggled to knock down shots. This is no worry, though, as this was just Frye’s second preseason game after missing the first two for the birth of his son (congrats, Channing!).
All in all, the Suns look to be gelling well and will without a doubt be ready once the regular season kicks off in about a week-and-a-half.
Phoenix Suns search for in-arena DJ
This year, the Suns are looking to add a new element to their in-arena entertainment as they are searching for a DJ to entertain fans at US Airways Center along with arena host Ced Ceballos, The Gorilla and Suns Dancers. Candidates must be 21 years of age or older and are asked to send demo tapes and résumés to the Suns Vice President of Game Entertainment by Monday, October 18. Finalists will be chosen and asked to perform at US Airways Center. Fans will then be able to view the footage and vote online at Suns.com for the DJ they like the best. The winning DJ will perform for the first time at the home opener on October 29 against the
Los Angeles Lakers.
Candidates send demo/résumé to:
Phoenix Suns Vice President of Game Entertainment
201 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
When the 2010-2011 NBA campaign kicks off, Planet Orange will have a different look. With longtime Suns Amar’e Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa off to new destinations and fan favorite Lou Amundson all but certain to do the same, the Suns have brought in some new faces to try and fill the void.
Hakim Warrick was the first player to join Planet Orange, acquired from the Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade with the Suns using part of the trade exception received from the New York Knicks in the Stoudemire trade.
Warrick will end up being a very underrated signing in my opinion. He will come in with an unfair disadvantage since he was the power forward the Suns signed after losing Amar’e, but he’ll most likely be replacing what Lou gave the team. He can play both forward spots, can get out and run and has a pretty solid mid-range jumper. He doesn’t have the defense or rebounding of Amundson, but he’s much more polished on offense and can run the pick-and-roll. Oh, and his contract is a bargain at about $18 million over four years (especially when you consider the contracts guys like Amir Johnson and Drew Gooden received elsewhere around the league).
Robert Sarver and Alvin Gentry (and presumably Lon Babby, who is hotly rumored to be the team’s new President) went overseas for their next move, convincing Josh Childress to come back home to the States in working out their second sign-and-trade of the summer, this time with the Atlanta Hawks. Childress has played in Greece the past two seasons, but the Hawks still retained his NBA rights.
Thanks to Atlanta stupidly overpaying to keep former Sun Joe Johnson, the Suns were able to use another portion of the Stoudemire exception to nab Childress and his ‘fro for a future second-round draft pick. I threw a fit a few summers ago when the Suns didn’t demand J-Chill in the Johnson trade, so I’m beyond excited to have Childress joining the Purple Gang. He’ll fit in perfectly. He can get up and down the court, play both at the two and three and has excellent perimeter defense. In addition to his on-court talents, Childress is a quality character guy that is sure to help with the Suns’ already stellar chemistry.
Finally, Phoenix was able to ship LB for Hedo Turkoglu. Initially, this was a move I was on the fence about, but it’s grown on me. Moving the Blur was clearly best for both the organization and Barbosa, but bringing in Turk’s contract could be troublesome. However, that all changed when Hedo was willing to give up about $5 million of his trade kicker and only guarantee half of his final contract year. By doing this, Turkoglu showed he wants to be here and he’ll work hard. If the Suns get the Turkoglu from Orlando and not the one from Toronto, this will be a great fit. Hedo will give the Suns the clutch shooter they’ve been lacking, someone unafraid to take shots with the game on the line. To top it off, he has great play-making ability, which will take some pressure off Steve Nash. Can you imagine Hedo and Frye and/or Lopez running the pick-and-roll together? It’s a legitimate possibility for the upcoming season.
Hedo could have an impact off the court as well. Knowing how passionate European sports fans are and how they always show up to support their fellow countrymen, US Airways Center is bound to get a fairly large number of Turkish fans (with Turkish flags). Al-Hana and Baiz Market could both see a jump in clientele as a result. Heck, I’m sure Hedo will swing by there himself. Or, maybe Turk will just purchase a spot Downtown and open his own European club. We all know how much he loves to party.
Overall, I think these moves make the Suns better in the immediate future. Phoenix will be weaker up front and may take a step back in the rebounding department, but the perimeter defense will be much better and the offense may be the greatest in the Nash era. Plus, the Suns still have some of the trade exception remaining, so more moves could be on the way.