Robin Lopez made news for two completely unrelated reasons on Tuesday night. Before the game Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations told Fox Sports Arizona that the team won't be offering Lopez an extension before the January 25th deadline. Lopez was then ejected in the second quarter of the Suns loss to the Raptors for making contact with an official.
Here's what Babby had to say about the extension he won't be offering:
Suns won't extend Lopez's contract Suns coach Alvin Gentry said Lopez has been limited by Marcin Gortat's efficiency this season rather than any further regression, and Babby said the fact that Lopez's contract not being extended should not be interpreted as referendum on the organization's feelings about his future.
"I wouldn't read anymore into it than there's a deadline and the deadline's going to pass," Babby said. "And we've agreed to put this off to another day."
Without the extension, Lopez will become an restricted free agent at the end of the season. He can receive offers from other teams which the Suns have the right to match.
The frustration Lopez showed on the court Tuesday night after not getting a call on the offensive end was likely not related to the lack of an extension offer (Lopez in the FSN story seemed fine with the decision), but his coach's reaction to the ejection very well could signal what happens next.
Instead of backing Lopez or giving a neutral response when asked what happened during the game, Gentry said:
"I don't know. I don't really give a shit to tell the truth. You have to talk to him about that."
Those were not the words of a supportive coach. Lopez was unavailable to the media after the game.
The Phoenix Suns really needed to get a home win against a 4-13 Toronto Raptors team. Second of a back-to-back coming off a five-game road trip or not, this was a game the Suns needed and blew thanks mostly to another horrible third quarter (see also Dallas, game, loss). The final score in the miserable affair was 99-96 and dropped the Suns to 6-11 on the season.
The Suns took a four-point lead into the second half thanks to 53 percent shooting show and capable defense against one of the league's worst offensive teams. Then things fell apart and fast as the Suns gave up 18 points to Andrea Bargnani in the third quarter with the skilled Italian put another page rookie Markieff Morris' "NBA Defense" lesson book.
The energy and chemistry was horrific at the end of the third and start of the fourth until Alvin Gentry called a timeout and threatened, cajoled or otherwise motivated the Suns into showing signs of life. The push cut into a 12-point Raptors lead with the Suns finally showing the kind of fight they needed to have for the entire 48 minutes.
Things got a little interesting in the final minute when Jared Dudley (finally) hit a three to cut the Raptors lead to four and then stole an inbound pass and dunked the ball to cut the margin only two points with 23 seconds on the clock.
But Bargnani made his two free throws after being intentionally fouled and Nash missed a fairly open layup to end the Suns' chances of a miracle comeback in a game they didn't deserve to win.
Steve Nash finished with 17 points and 14 assists and Marcin Gortat had his ninth-straight double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Bargnani scored 36 points in his first game back after missing the last five due to injury. Leandro Barbosa added 19 against his old team.