Players Who Shouldn't Be in Phoenix Suns' Plans Going Forward
With just a few weeks left, the Phoenix Suns will soon end their third consecutive season as a lottery team.
While the roster does contain some promising young building blocks for the future, the Suns will have a lot of work to do over the next few seasons, acquiring talent through trades, free agency and the draft.
Some players are clearly here to stay, but on a lottery team there will always be players that are expendable. This can occur for a variety of reasons.
The Suns need youth to rebuild, and while some veterans are always appreciated to teach the younger players and keep morale high, many have reached their ceiling and could be on the trade block.
At the same time, those with large, cumbersome contracts are never much of an asset to a rebuilding team, and of course, players who have simply failed to live up to expectations can expect to be gone at the soonest opportunity.
These players do not necessarily have to go. The Suns could probably rebuild even with some of them on the roster.
However, they add little to the team and can easily be replaced with better options in the future.
It's not that they have been awful, but just that they have little to give a losing team. In any case, nobody on this list is essential to the rebuilding process in Phoenix.
Shannon Brown has fallen out of the Suns' rotation completely for the past several games, and Brown has been having a very poor season—the team re-signed him to a two-year deal in July.
Right now, Brown averages 11.0 points per game. He is shooting 42 percent from the field along with a career-low 27 percent from three-point range.
Brown was mostly productive in his first season with the Suns, but he was always known to take ill-advised shots. Brown would lose just as many games with poor shot selection as he won with clutch shooting.
Head coach Lindsey Hunter has clearly taken notice, and he hasn't been impressed with Brown's play. In fact, Brown has appeared in just one game during the past month, and in that game he was on the court for only eight minutes.
The Suns have the opportunity to release Brown after the season and use the "stretch" provision, which would allow them to pay his $1.75 million guaranteed salary over three years instead of one.
Since only half of his salary next season is guaranteed, releasing Brown and using the stretch provision could save $3 million in cap space.
Cutting Brown would not only save cap space, but it would free up some minutes in the rotation as well. Wesley Johnson has been great recently, and the Suns also have P.J Tucker, Marcus Morris, Michael Beasley and Marcus Morris receiving regular minutes at the wing positions.
Less competition just makes finding playing time for everyone a lot easier.
For a while, Shannon Brown seemed like a steal for the Suns, especially given his great hot streak at the end of last season. But now, it appears as if his time in Phoenix is coming to an end.
To be fair, Luis Scola has done nothing but have a positive impact on the Suns this season.
Scola is averaging 12.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he is also receiving much less playing time under Hunter because of a logjam at power forward—as well as the new "youth movement" philosophy.
If you compare his per 36 minute stats year by year, Scola has actually been just as productive this season as he was last year with the Houston Rockets.
Scola is making less than $5 million for each of his three seasons in Phoenix, which is a bargain for his production. We can also hope that he has taught some of the younger prospects a few lessons and has acted as a locker room mentor in his time with the team.
Even with all of those positive benefits of having Scola on the team, you can still argue that he shouldn't be kept because the veteran 32-year-old has no place on a rebuilding squad.
Scola has given Suns fans no real reason to complain this season, and there was nothing to lose by signing him. But now, it may be time to trade him once amnesty restrictions expire.
He hasn't been a liability and has even had some great performances, such as his game on Monday against the Lakers in which he scored 14 fourth quarter points.
Additionally, the Suns may look to draft a big with one of their two first-round picks this upcoming offseason, or they could pursue a free agent such as Paul Millsap or Josh Smith.
Scola has been a fine player in Phoenix but he just doesn't fit in with the team's future plan.
If he can be traded for a decent prospect or first-round draft pick, the Suns should pull the trigger.
Channing Frye has not played a single game this season due to an enlarged heart, and many fans may have forgotten about him. While Frye should be back on the court for next season, what to expect of him is completely unknown.
Frye has been on the Suns longer than any other player except Jared Dudley, and he has certainly found success here. Last season, he averaged 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in just 26.1 minutes per game, and the year before that he set career-highs in almost every statistical category.
Even so, Frye is also expendable, and for more reasons than just the recovery that could impact his performance on the court.
First of all, Frye is 29. That isn't old, but it means that he has definitely reached his ceiling.
He will never be anything more than a mediocre starter or valuable role player, and he will never be a go-to scorer for the Suns. That's alright, but the Suns already have a couple of other players like that at power forward in Marcus and Markieff Morris.
The Morris twins are both perfectly capable of replacing Frye's three-point shooting (Marcus has shot 37 percent from behind the arc for his career), and unlike Frye, the two twins are still developing.
Of course, another factor other than age that makes the Morris twins more valuable than Frye is money. The Morris twins are both still on rookie contracts. Frye will make $13.2 million over the next two seasons.
That is a lot of money to spend on a role player or even a sixth man, and it's money that could be spent on attracting free agents to Phoenix.
Just like Scola, Frye has not done anything wrong to deserve to be traded.
With his increasing age, large contract and unknown future state of health, it may be wise to at least put his name on the trade market and see if anything interesting arises.
One minute Michael Beasley appears to be getting his act together, and then the next he starts another cold streak.
The thing is, it's always impossible to tell with Beasley. He is so terribly inconsistent that one minute you're cheering over a 25-point performance and then the next game you're ripping all of your hair out just watching him play.
Beasley is averaging 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds a game this season, which are not the numbers you would expect from someone making $6 million each year. He is shooting just 40 percent from the field and is attempting way too many jump shots and three-pointers—he should be using his athleticism to get to the basket.
As a result, he has struggled to find consistent playing time.
He still plays, but not nearly as much as he was expected to when he was first signed. In fact, the only month in which Beasley played more than 21 minutes per game was November, the first month of the season.
Overall, signing Beasley still looks like a disaster.
He is an inefficient scorer, terrible defender, bad passer and there are simply no great aspects of his game to point to this season.
Hopefully he can get his act together and blossom into the star player we all know he has the potential to be, but he hasn't shown any consistency yet despite a great game every once in a while.
If this pattern continues, the Suns will probably try to get rid of him sometime before his contract is up. That is, if they can find a taker.
It's hard to describe Marcin Gortat's season as a disappointment, but Suns fans haven't been ecstatic with him either. In fact, it's starting to look like Gortat may want to bolt from Phoenix if he does gets the opportunity in free agency.
Last season, Steve Nash's passing ability almost turned Gortat into an All-Star.
This year, it has become apparent that he is far from being an All-Star caliber player, and his production has taken a huge hit.
To be fair, Gortat is not always involved in the offense enough. His usage rate went from 20.8 percent last season to 17.3 percent this year, and he is only taking 9.3 shots a game this season, down from 11.7 last year.
That isn't his fault, as it is really the fault of his coaches and teammates who haven't set him up to be a main offensive weapon.
However, Gortat has to be blamed for his own decline as well. He is averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game this season, down from 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds last season, and he just looks fed up and frustrated with the team's losing.
His production has been in rapid decline ever since he had a hot month in January, and right now it looks as if Gortat does not want to sign an extension in Phoenix.
Gortat was not traded at the deadline, and after suffering a right foot injury he may be done for the season.
That certainly diminishes his trade value even further, but it shouldn't stop Phoenix from shopping Gortat in the offseason. At 29, he has reached his ceiling, and if it becomes clear that Gortat is not content on the Suns, he should be traded for young prospects and draft picks immediately.
It's better to use Gortat for the purpose of rebuilding than to just let him leave in free agency without receiving anything in return.