Suns’ 13th man

The preseason rumors are starting to heat up for the Phoenix Suns as to whom the 13th man should be – whether it’s someone like 2nd round pick Taylor Griffin who would come cheap or a veteran who might be waived before the season starts.

My idea is actually both of those – sign Taylor Griffin for the minimum and he can be inactive for as much or as little as necessary, and then trade Alando Tucker for a veteran rebounder. Tucker has done absolutely nada during his tenure with the Suns – he’s a tweener and has demonstrated that he’s only good in the NBDL. His jump shot and driving focus deserts him when he’s on the big stage against better players. We saw a lot of him during blowouts near the end of last season, and he would routinely go 1-14, 2-10, 1-11, etc. Not only can he not finish, he can’t even seem to pass – he’s a black hole when you pass him the ball. Nope, better to trade him for a veteran banger who’ll average 4 points and 8 boards a game and play good defense.

Steve Kerr, I hope you’re reading!

A Haberdashery of Notes

Yes, I know what a haberdashery is. I just wanted an excuse for a new usage of it.

The Phoenix Coyotes are staying put – at least for the upcoming 2009-10 season. After that, however, who knows. The biggest rumor circulating is that potential purchaser Jerry Reisendorf would buy the NHL franchise and then apply to move it to Las Vegas for the 2011-12 season. Sigh – again, the Coyotes’ PR department has stated the team has lost money every year since moving to the Valley in 1996. You know what? Put a winning team on the ice and you’ll get fans in droves. And if you wouldn’t isolate the team in BFW Glendale, you would’ve had more fans to begin with.

The Suns are exploring options for trading Shaquille O’Neal to Cleveland for basically nobody (really, Rasheed Wallace’s contract, which would be bought out, and Sasha Pavlovic’s contract, which would also be bought out). Here’s my concern – the Suns in the three games under Alvin Gentry with Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and O’Neal managed to completely blow out opponents, scoring close to 140 ppg. Everyone knew that the Suns were an injury away from playoff contention, and O’Neal would have been unstoppable in the playoffs against the Lakers. Why would the Suns trade O’Neal at this point when they would have a full season under Gentry, who has shown he is able to combine not only the historic run-n-gun that Nash and Stoudemire prefer, but also the slow-em-down, post-up that O’Neal prefers. If purely from a financial standpoint, I think an O’Neal trade is prudent.

For the UA Wildcats, there are still reports out there that Lamont “Momo” Jones is still considering Arizona after being released from his LOI at USC. Other reports also have Florida and Memphis in the mix for Jones’ services. While Jones is a gifted athlete, I question why his presence is necessary on the Wildcats’ squad, now that Nic Wise has confirmed his return for his senior season and the fact that there are possibly three 4-star quality PG’s available in the class of 2010 (Naadir Tharpe, Ray McCallum, and Gary Franklin), making Jones quite expendable. Jones’ best bet, ironically, would be to suit up for Josh Pastner at Memphis, where he would get some immediate playing time, if that’s what he’s after – but if he’s really after competition and wants to learn under Wise and Miller, then Arizona is the place to be.

Also, the University of Maryland announced that they are no longer pursuing Lance Stephenson for their men’s basketball team. Some pundits believe (including yours truly) that this is because Greivis Vazquez pulled out of the NBA Draft to return to Maryland. Thus, Stephenson’s choices have been narrowed now to Arizona, Memphis and Florida. However, until the court case surrounding Stephenson is resolved at the end of June, Arizona will not be officially or directly recruiting him. (And if it turns out Stephenson plea bargins a guilty response or if he’s found guilty, Arizona will be making an official “he’s no longer being pursued” announcement almost immediately afterward – I would expect that the Media Relations department at the UA already has this announcement written…)

Finally, and unfortunately, the proposed Pac-10 schedule change (8 conference games instead of 9) failed so, the Pac-10 will be tightening their collective belts and hoping that a fifth BCS bowl game (not counting the National Championship) is in the future after this next four-year TV block. I have to say that the ADs who voted against this proposal got it completely wrong. Of course, the ones that voted against it were the ones that had no hope for BCS games to begin with (Washington State, Oregon State, etc), being more concerned with getting guaranteed crowds at their games due to Pac-10 play. Maybe if these teams would schedule teams that are “close” to their locations, they wouldn’t have these issues (read: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, San Jose State, etc) because those teams would surely draw fans with them. Or in the case of certain “nationally recognized teams”, they would have fans already there (read: BYU).

Suns need a 13th player

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) requires each team to carry 13 players on its roster. The Suns currently are at 12, and they must sign a 13th player sometime soon. The question is, who? Lots of people are clamoring for Drew Gooden, who was just waived by Sacramento, but Gooden has played in only one game since Jan. 19, and has been slowed by a groin injury for the past six weeks – and people want him to play significant minutes as a bench player on the run-n-gun Suns? I really question this line of thinking.

At this point in the season, the best thing for the Suns to do is to grab a PF player who is in better shape than Gooden (read: fresh legs), that way if the need arises for 4-5 minutes in a game, that player can come in and eat some minutes. The Suns don’t need another scorer – they’ve got plenty of that – but a PF who averages 6-8 points and 4-5 boards and doesn’t mind cleaning up messes will fit perfectly in the Suns style.

Also, can the Suns finally jettison Alando Tucker, please? He can light up the D-League, but when it comes to the big time, he can be the worst player on the floor at any given moment. He takes ill-advised shots, he’s a black hole when he gets the ball, and he always looks like he’s trying to prove he belongs. He’s also undersized for his position (6-6 PF?). He was a failed experiment of D’Antoni’s (and where have we heard THAT phrase before – *cough, cough* Marcus Banks, DJ Strawberry) and the Suns would do better off without him.

Raptors swap Marion, O’Neal with Heat

Does anyone see the multiple ironies here? Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks (who will forever be linked together since they have now been traded together TWICE) are traded to the Toronto Raptors for Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon.

1) The Raptors are headed by Bryan Colangelo, who was the guy pulling the strings in Phoenix during the 7 Seconds or Less era.
2) The Raptors have Jake Voskuhl still, who is a former Sun, also during Colangelo’s reign here in Phoenix.
3) The Raptors are considering a trade with the Suns where Amare Stoudemire goes to Toronto in exchange for Chris Bosh.
4) The Heat, who traded AWAY an O’Neal (Shaquille) last season for Marion, have just traded FOR another O’Neal (Jermaine) this season.

Is Bryan trying to “get the band back together” in Toronto? Rumor also has it he could try to woo Canadian Steve Nash to Toronto for what would be Nash’s final contract after the 2010 season.

Really, for the Suns, they just need to make the trade of Stoudemire to the Nets, since that would net (no pun intended) them two or three expiring contracts, a first round pick (either the Nets’ 2009 or Dallas’ 2010), and a young talent in Yi Jianlian.

And now that the Heat have traded Marion, it looks like the Suns’ best bet for getting anything in a trade close to Stoudemire’s worth is with the Nets.