Another year in the playoffs, another year sent home early by the San Antonio Spurs.
One thing that does not change is the Suns lack of cap space, they do have what will be the #15 pick this year from Atlanta but from there what do the Suns plan on doing with their current players on the roster?
Here is a look at what I think will take place, player by player.
Leandro Barbosa, 3yrs $19.8 million left on contract:
Another quality regular season ended in a playoffs where he once again dissappeared. Barbosa is one of the top sixth man in the NBA but the Suns would like to see him improve his defense a bit for next season and they would like if Barbosa didn't do his signature dissappearing act in the playoffs minus a game where he scores 20 points in a blow out game.
Raja Bell, 2yrs $10.3 million left on contract:
Arguably the Suns 2nd best player during their series vs. the Spurs he is also their best defender on the team and quite possibly the only player who actually plays defense. His season started slow but he picked it up after the all star break for the Suns. He will make $5 million in the 08-09 season but for a starter who plays as many minutes and who plays as hard as Raja does that is definitely a steal.
Boris Diaw, 4yrs $36 million remaining on contract, 4th yr is player option:
Boris Diaw who many would say was the Suns best player for them during the playoffs had a pretty rough season which saw him play non inspired basketball. That is until he was given the chance to start for an injured Grant Hill which saw Diaw become inspired again. Diaw plays better when he starts, as he showed a couple of seasons ago when Amare was out with his knee injury. Diaw looks to be huge in the Phoenix Suns plans for seasons to come, especially if he plays inspired basketball and can play defense like he did against Tony Parker. He is their most versatile player on the roster.
Gordan Giricek, Free Agent:
Picked up right after the trade for Shaq, Giricek came into the Suns and became a solid outside shooter for them. He also played good defense on Ginobli during the playoffs when he was assigned to guard him. Giricek might be interested in returning to the Suns because he boasted about loving the city and the team but he will only come back if the Suns can get him for cheap.
Grant Hill, $2 million player option for 08-09 season:
Grant Hill for what the Suns paid to acquire him was a huge asset to the team this season. Although injuries came back to haunt him late in the season and most notable during the playoffs the Suns definitely got value out of him. Hill averaged 13 ppg and 5rpg. Hill has stated he most likely will pick up his player option for next year as he plans on retiring as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Linton Johnson, Free Agent:
Johnson got a couple of chances to play a bit during his first two 10 day contracts he signed with the Suns before returning to the Suns on the postseason roster. Johnson if re-signed could be a solid defensive option coming deep off the bench. More importantly he could be an option in case the Suns endure injuries next season.
Sean Marks, Free Agent:
Originally signed as a player who would challenge for a spot in the rotation ended in Marks being the 11th man off the bench this season. Marks was also signed back to help in planning a scheme in defeating the Spurs, that obviously didn't work. The Suns like him a lot though for what he brings in the locker room and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Suns re-signed him for a 3rd consecutive season.
Steve Nash, $12.3 million next season with a $13.1 million team option for 09/10:
Steve Nash, the two time NBA MVP definitely looked like a player who is on the decline, especially in the playoffs. While his numbers were very similar to his numbers as an MVP during the season he wasn't the same player during the playoffs. The Suns are hoping that Nash will get a lot of rest this off season and come back healthy and not fatigued at all. As the Suns go, Nash goes. He will be turning 35 next season but the Suns still believe he can continue to put up the same numbers he has been putting up since going back to the valley of the sun.
Shaquille O'neal, 2yrs $40 million left on contract:
The man brought in to bring the Suns an NBA Title did not produce as promised. Shaq looked like a man who simply forgot how to be dominant like he once was. His legs have seemed to have left him and his finishing around the basket isn't the same either. One thing stays the same, and that is his free throw shooting. There seemed to be hope that his shooting was improving but that was put to rest in game 5 where he went 9/20 from the free throw line. Love it or hate it Suns fans, Shaq is going to stay with the Suns it seems until his contract runs out. This off season and training camp will be huge to see if the Suns can finally become fully acclimated with Shaq in the lineup for an entire 82 game season.
Eric Piatkowski, Free Agent:
Piatkowski who was seemingly the Suns 12th man this season is not expected to come back. He is contemplating retirement and is not expected to re-sign with the Suns.
Brian Skinner, Free Agent:
Skinner joined the Suns before the season opener and became a pleasant surprise for the Suns. Once Shaq joined the team Skinners numbers were reduced substantially however. The Suns could bring him back again next year as a backup to Shaq. Only two players averaged more blocks per 48 minutes than Skinner which is promising for him in coming back next year. He might be in demand on the market this summer though so the Suns might have to part ways with him if his asking price is too expensive.
Amare Stoudemire, 3yrs $49.1 million remain with player option for the 3rd yr:
Amare Stoudemire who quickly turned into a top 10 MVP candidate after Shaq arrived had a very solid season and a very solid beginning of the playoffs vs. the Spurs. He seemed to disappear in games four and five when the Suns went to Diaw as the offensive target. He has now been eliminated by the Spurs in the playoffs four times. Amare needs to work on staying involved with the offense and not getting pouty when he doesn't get the ball. He also needs to work on his rebounding which has come under some scrutiny. Amare is the franchise player and will come back with a great season again next year.
D.J. Strawberry, $711k team option for 08/09 season:
DJ Strawberry was drafted as a defensive specialist but didn't really get an opportunity to play that often this season. The times he did he seemed to struggle with his outside shot and his finishing when driving to the basket. The Suns will work with DJ this off season to get that jump shot going. The Suns goal most likely will be to groom DJ into a nice backup PG to Steve Nash next season.
Alando Tucker, 3yrs $3.9 million remain with team option for the last 2yrs:
Tucker mostly played in the D-League this past season which saw him shine as one of the leading scorers in the NBDL. He will participate with the Suns Summer League team in Las Vegas with DJ Strawberry. The Suns would like to see Tucker develop more because of what he could bring to the Suns next season. Time will only tell if Tucker and Strawberry will see more playing time next season.