Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NBA ... A PLAN FOR THE SETTING SUNS?

The Suns orbit around their 2-time MVP Point Guard, Steve Nash, and, make no mistake; the reigning M-Veep' is aging rapidly. Certainly, the presence of Amare' Stoudemire during the playoffs would have made a difference, possibly even taking Phoenix to the Finals.
However, the run n' gun Sun O' proved to be exhausting, most of all... to the Sun players themselves. By the time the Mavs came to town, Nash was clearly winded, Tim Thomas (whose 3-point shooting was gorgeous or ghastly depending upon the game) was jogging up-court, Boris Diaw seemed a step or 2 slower, and Raja Bell quite understandably, wasn't the same player after suffering the calf injury.

But, if you really wanna' get down to brass tacks, the absence of a legit' big-man on the Sun roster proved to be the ultimate difference. Prior to facing Nowitzki, Diop and Dampier, the Suns were able to get by with Marion, Diaw and Thomas... but not against Dallas. Unlike the Clippers, Dallas was able to run step for step with Phoenix. And, when they needed to, Dallas was also able to slow the tempo of the game by getting the ball to Dirk in the paint. With no one capable of bodying up or boxing-out the Giant German, Phoenix was unable to hold a lead because they were consistently out-rebounded... out-rebounded by a 2 to 1 margin. While the Clippers were also able to control the glass, they didn't shoot the ball nearly as well as Dallas did.

So, what's my point? Well, while the chatter has been about trade, whether Phoenix moves either of the Thomas boys next season is irrelevant. Amare' will be back, with luck, at 100%...though that remains a question mark, Raja Bell will be healthy, Shawn "Matrix" Marion will continue his all-out assault on the Sun record books, Leandro Barbosa (who could also be trade-bait, though he's less likely to go) will almost certainly see an appreciable increase in minutes as coach Mike D'Antoni can no longer afford to work Nash to the bone and have him operating on 1/4 tank come the "2nd season," and Boris Diaw will be recognized as the elite player he is.
Tim Thomas' strong post-season play was a surprising twist, but he's been a journeyman and there's a reason for that. Kurt Thomas also can be a force, but he's as erratic as a rabbit on Ecstasy. Assuming the team stands pat and essentially does nothing but tweak the roster, indeed they will return to the Post-C' Promised Land... only to be be exiled once again.

One bold move would be to inquire as to whether or not the 76'ers would be willing to part with Samuel Dalembert. A rebounding machine, Sammy-D may not score much be he's a shot blocker D-friggin'-luxe and can clean the Glass like Windex. Another master-stroke would be to see if the Raptors would be willing to part with Chris Bosh. It'd take a generous package, but Bosh, who's "thisclose" to stardom, is only inked through the end of the '07 season. He might wish to bid farewell to Canada and could force Toronto to move him... Bosh would look awfully good in a Sun-suit!

The Suns are one of the Association's very best teams... but also one of the most flawed. Backed by an aggressive owner and coached by a true pro, Phoenix will either rise from the ashes of this season... or flame-out and be one of the era's most dramatic disappointments.

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