NBA Free Agents 2012: Phoenix Suns Free-Agent Odds, Stay or Go?
In Phoenix this offseason, all of the attention is on two-time MVP Steve Nash becoming a free agent.
Although Nash deserves the bulk of the attention, considering he’s the engine that makes the Suns run at a high level, the Suns still need to address a lot of other players with expiring contracts this year.
Because of those expiring contracts, the Suns will have approximately $23 million in cap space this offseason. The real question, however, is how they choose to spend that cash.
Do they splurge on marquee free agents in an attempt to keep Nash in a Suns uniform, or do they sit on the money and start the rebuilding phase?
Here are the odds of return for every Suns player facing an expiring contract.
Michael Redd, SG
Last Season's Stats: 8.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game.
It would have been easy to guess that Michael Redd would be rejuvenated under Suns’ head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson and company after multiple knee injuries during his career.
Although it took Redd a while to get going, he did have some bright moments in a Suns uniform. He scored 20 or more points three times over the course of the season, but he was mostly relegated to being a bench warmer.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who once scored 57 points in a game for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although he did have a nice resurgence in Phoenix, the Suns need to get younger moving forward. Redd can probably springboard his efforts this season to a job with a contender next year.
Odds of return: 10 percent.
Ronnie Price, PG
Last Season's Stats: 3.6 points, 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game.
It's hard to believe that Ronnie Price held the backup point guard role early last season for the Suns considering how well Sebastian Telfair played for Phoenix down the stretch.
Price had a few moments for the Suns and even recorded an 18-point, eight-assist effort in a loss to the New Jersey Nets.
Whether or not Price returns depends on a few factors:
1. If Nash decides to leave, the Suns will need a second point guard on the roster.
2. If Nash leaves and the Suns sign or draft a point guard, Price will likely be gone.
3. What's the Aaron Brooks situation?
4. If Nash stays, Telfair will undoubtedly be the backup again after a solid campaign.
Odds of return: 10 percent.
Robin Lopez, C
Last Season's Stats: 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game.
Despite having a contractual option to stay with the Suns next season, Lopez and his agent decided to test the free-agent waters.
Ultimately, this could end up hurting the Suns financially because Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby has said that the team will match any offer extended to Lopez.
As president of basketball operations, that’s a statement you have to stand behind. If not, you lose the fan base’s confidence in your ability to put together a good team.
I personally don’t understand the appeal behind a seven-footer who shoots 46.1 percent from the floor, has never notched more than 4.8 rebounds per game in his career and has recurring back problems, but I’m also not the guy making decisions.
Odds of return: 95 percent.
Shannon Brown, SG
Last Season's Stats: 11 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
Shannon Brown has been a bit of an enigma since coming to Phoenix. Many expected him to have a breakout year considering he wasn’t playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant in L.A. with the Lakers anymore.
Well, the story didn’t exactly unfold that way.
Brown got more minutes per game than he did in L.A. (although admittedly not by much), but he went from averaging 8.7 points per game with the Lakers to 11 per game with the Suns. That’s not exactly a huge leap in production.
In addition, his shooting percentage (42 percent) was down from both his seasons with the Lakers (42.7 and 42.5 percent).
Oddly, his 91.1 percent from the free-throw line in L.A. a season before dipped to just 80.8 percent with the Suns.
Brown didn’t have the breakout season that many were expecting from him, but he was also trapped behind Jared Dudley and Grant Hill on the depth chart for the majority of the season.
Of all the Suns’ free agents not named Steve Nash, Brown probably has the highest chance of getting a big contract elsewhere.
Odds of return: 35 percent.
Aaron Brooks, PG
Last Season's Stats: 22.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game (Note: Played last season in China, 41 games).
In one of the worst trades in Phoenix Suns history two seasons ago, the Suns traded their up-and-coming, fan-favorite point guard Goran Dragic, as well as a first-round pick, to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Aaron Brooks.
In the year he was traded, Brooks’ production slumped in Phoenix while he played fewer minutes. Although Brooks averaged 11.6 points per game with the Rockets before the trade, his scoring output dipped to 9.6 points per game with the Suns.
Amazingly, his free throw percentage after the trade dropped nearly 14 points (from 94 percent with the Rockets to just 80.7 percent with the Suns).
Brooks had a rough transition to Phoenix in his first season and seemed like he wasn’t aware of his role on the team.
During the NBA lockout, Brooks signed a contract to play overseas in China and didn’t play a single minute for the Suns last season. That’s a pretty fantastic yield in exchange for a blossoming star in Dragic as well as a first-rounder, if I do say so myself.
So that poses the question: Do the Suns bring back Brooks after his leap to China last season?
This is one of the toughest decisions the Suns organization will have to make.
If they bring Brooks back, it will likely be to take over the starting point guard role left by Nash’s possible departure. If they don’t bring him back, they’ll basically have given the Rockets Dragic and a first-round pick for nothing in return.
What a mess.
Odds of return: 50 percent.
Grant Hill, SF
Last Season's Stats: 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
With Grant Hill, the stats don’t tell the entire story.
Hill was a masterful defender for the Suns last season, taking on the most difficult defensive assignments all year long (Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, etc.).
However, Hill missed 17 games either in order to rest or because of injury during the year. Whether or not Hill plays basketball next season is entirely up to him.
After injuries nearly threatened to end Hill’s career, he was rejuvenated in Phoenix with the Suns’ training staff and has shown amazing durability for his age.
It’s hard to picture Hill coming back to the NBA if it isn’t in a Suns uniform. I don’t believe he wants to put the added stress of having to move to a new city and a new team if he doesn’t have to do so.
With that said, he won't want to return to the Suns if they aren't a championship-caliber team.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Steve Nash make himself a package deal with Hill for whatever contender tries to woo him.
As of now, it’s a 50-50 coin flip regarding Hill’s return.
Odds of return: 50 percent.
Steve Nash, PG
Last Season's Stats: 12.5 points, 10.7 assists and three rebounds per game.
Here's the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
Steve Nash did not slow down nearly at all last season for the Suns. Despite being 38 years old, Nash led a bad Suns team to a 33-33 record. Amazingly, that was just a couple of games within a playoff berth.
With that said, Nash won’t return to the Suns if there is not a significant improvement to the roster. Nash has even said as much himself.
He wants to compete for a championship, and the years he has at his disposal to do so are running out.
The Suns have reportedly already offered Nash a two-year $20 million deal to remain with the team, but at this stage, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s just shrugging it off.
Right now, the Suns roster includes Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, Sebastian Telfair, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress. Can that team compete for a championship? Not a chance. That team without Nash wouldn’t win 30 games.
I think the Suns should have waited to improve their roster before they made an attempt at re-signing the face of the franchise.
The only current factor that would keep Nash in town is the money, and honestly, I believe Nash is willing to turn down some extra dough for a shot at a championship ring.
Only time will tell, but in the end it’s Nash’s decision, and only he knows what he plans to do.
Odds of return: 40 percent.