NBA Free Agency 2012: Predicting Landing Spots for Phoenix Suns Free Agents

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIMay 25, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Predicting Landing Spots for Phoenix Suns Free Agents

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    As we edge closer to the NBA Finals, teams that have been ousted from the playoffs or missed the postseason altogether, like the Phoenix Suns, need to address the future of the franchise in the offseason.

    The Suns have a fair amount of players with expiring contracts this offseason, so what uniform will those players end up wearing when next season rolls around?

    Some may return to the Valley of the Sun for another season in purple and orange, but others may take their talents elsewhere, maybe even to South Beach.

    Here are predicted landing spots for every Phoenix Suns free agent.

Michael Redd, SG

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    Michael Redd, the Suns 32-year-old former all-star, has expressed an interest in returning to the Suns (see video). For the first time in years, Redd was able to stay healthy—credit the Suns training staff.

    Redd had some bright moments for the Suns a season ago, scoring 20 or more points on three separate occasions.

    With that said, Redd is not the same player he was in Milwaukee where he once scored 57 points in one game (including a mind-boggling 42 points in the second-half alone).

    Nevertheless, Redd brings veteran leadership and professionalism to the locker room. The Suns will probably want to get younger at some point, but they still have to fill out their roster for next season.

    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

    Other possible locations: Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs

Ronnie Price, PG

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    Ronnie Price’s landing spot is perhaps the most difficult to predict moving forward.

    If you remember back to before the start of the season, Price wouldn’t have even had a spot on the team had Zabian Dowdell not been released due to an unfortunate knee injury. Dowdell had some bright moments for the Suns a season before and was quickly becoming a fan favorite.

    Despite Price being a late addition to the roster due to Dowdell’s release, he beat out Sebastian Telfair for the backup point guard role at the start of the season. He eventually lost playing time when Telfair overtook the backup point guard role in the second half of the season.

    Would Price have even played in the NBA last season were it not for Dowdell’s knee trouble? That’s difficult to project. You have to believe he’d find a job elsewhere after a spot opened up, but we’ll never know.

    The Suns do have questions at point guard next season as the only player under contract at the position is Sebastian Telfair. However, I think the Suns would sooner bring in another free agent point guard (like Steve Nash or maybe bringing back Goran Dragic) to replace Price.

    Predicting where an NBA bench warmer will end up after the offseason is just about impossible, but Price expressed a strong desire to remain with the Utah Jazz before moving on to a job with Phoenix.

    Predicted landing spot: Utah Jazz

    Other possible locations: Phoenix Suns, NBA D-League, Europe

Robin Lopez, C

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    Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said, “It’s quite likely if not certain” that Phoenix will match any offer extended to Suns’ backup center Robin Lopez.

    Babby could simply be trying to frighten away other would-be suitors around the NBA, but I still expect a team desperate for size to offer Lopez a contract regardless.

    If I was part of Suns management, I’d be warning Babby to stay away from Lopez who had arguably his worst year statistically last season (shooting 46.1 percent from the field), but alas, I’m not in their circles.

    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

    Other possible locations: Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers

Shannon Brown, SG

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    Shannon Brown had an up-and-down year with the Suns to say the least.

    Many expected Brown to run with the opportunity of not being overshadowed by Kobe Bryant and have a breakout year, which didn’t happen.

    Despite averaging nearly three more shot attempts per game in Phoenix this past season than he did with the Los Angeles Lakers a season before, Brown’s 11 points per game was just a small improvement from the 8.7 per game he notched in Los Angeles.

    He had flashes of being a solid option for the Suns a season ago, but he also showed lapses as well. Brown had nearly as many turnovers (64) as he had assists (69).

    Despite a lackluster year in which Brown failed to meet admittedly lofty expectations, he has expressed interest in returning to Phoenix.

    Whether or not that coincides with the Suns’ apparent philosophy to avoid major spending this offseason remains to be seen.

    It’s not far-fetched to think that another team in need of a shooting guard would offer Brown a hefty contract to take over a starting role.

    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

    Other possible locations: Boston Celtics (to replace Ray Allen), Memphis Grizzlies (to replace O.J. Mayo), Dallas Mavericks (to replace possible Jason Terry departure)

Aaron Brooks, PG

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    Whether or not the Suns choose to retain Aaron Brooks is one of the toughest decisions facing the franchise.

    His return depends on a lot of factors, but it all comes down to if Suns management wants him or not. At one point they wanted Brooks badly enough to give up Goran Dragic and a first-round pick for him, so I certainly won’t rule out a return.

    If the Suns don’t reach a deal with Brooks, he’ll become a restricted free agent in July, meaning that the Suns can still match any offer extended to the guard.

    He had an impressive year in China last season, averaging more than 20 points per game leading his team to the finals. In the finals however, Brooks’ squad fell four games to one as he was outplayed by Stephon Marbury (another former Sun).

    It would be salt in the wounds if Brooks didn’t return considering how much the Suns gave up to add him, but it is not as if he's the missing piece on a championship team at this point. There’s always the possibility that the Suns could retain him as trade bait.

    Predicted landing spot: Los Angeles Lakers (I think it’s a good fit for both sides after Ramon Sessions disappointed in the playoffs)

    Other possible locations: Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks

Grant Hill, SF

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    Grant Hill has said that he intends to continue his playing career again next season even though he’ll be 40 years old. Despite his advanced age, Hill has continued to log efficient minutes and has proven to be a lock-down defender on opposing stars. His defensive prowess on Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul helped lead the Suns to a 3-1 series record against the Clips last season.

    According to Suns beat writer Paul Coro via Twitter, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said that Hill returning had more to do with whether he decides to play again after the knee injury, instead of a lack of interest by the organization.

    Hill has had his basketball career rejuvenated with the Suns under head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson. It’s hard to imagine Hill making the jump to another NBA team if he’s comfortable in Phoenix, but if he wants a championship, he’d be wise to look elsewhere.

    Predicted landing spot: Phoenix Suns

    Other possible locations: Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks (both teams, Lakers and Knicks, have shown interest in the past)

Steve Nash, PG

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    While the chatter surrounding Steve Nash’s free agency has been one of the most compelling topics of this summer’s NBA offseason, Nash has remained quiet about his intentions.

    What we know for sure is that Nash has expressed an interest in playing for the Miami Heat. He won’t return to Phoenix if there is not a significant improvement to the current roster and the Suns have reportedly already offered Nash a two-year $20 million deal.

    The Suns have the advantage in terms of the amount of money they can spend on Nash this summer, but if winning is Nash’s major motivating factor, that probably will not matter. If he intends to chase a championship for the foreseeable future, he’ll likely take a pay cut to do so.

    It’s anyone’s guess as to where Nash will end up. In an ideal scenario, the Suns would add enough talent around Nash to be championship contenders and convince him to stay. However, this offseason sports a very weak free-agent class and short of signing some pipe dream scenario of Eric Gordon, Kevin Garnett and Nic Batum, I don’t see the Suns having much of a chance.

    Predicted landing spot: Miami Heat

    Other possible locations: Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks