The Phoenix Suns have an incredibly deep and flexible roster, which, according to a league source, could be a problem.
The Suns roster as it currently stands with the acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress is overloaded at the forward positions and yet, according to the source, will struggle defending the paint and rebounding the ball. These are the same concerns expressed by many fans and in our analysis of the trades several days ago.
The Suns were a deep team last season, but managed to have fantastic chemistry because players were given an opportunity to share minutes and contribute. In the NBA, it is difficult to keep players happy when they feel like they should play and don't.
With eight players (Lopez, Frye, Warrick, Turkoglu, Clark, Hill, Dudley, and Childress) on the roster who all can and should play at least 20 minutes a game, there's simply not going to be enough burn to go around. There's a total of 144 potential minutes at the two forward positions and one center position and eight guys playing 20 minutes each comes to 160 minutes. And of course, players like Lopez, Turkoglu, Hill and Frye all should be playing closer to 30 minutes per game, making the log-jam even worse.
What's also painfully obvious is that only Robin Lopez is a defensive presence in the paint and none of the power forwards on the roster are good rebounders.
The Suns understand these issues as well as anyone, which is why further moves this summer could happen.
The following ideas for how the Suns can address these issues are speculation and NOT any specific rumors heard; the main goal for any deal would be to free up the roster log-jam while also bringing back another big who can defend and rebound in the paint.
1. Josh Smith - Atlanta Hawks
Contract: $37.2 million over three years
2009/10 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 1.6 spg, 4.2 apg
Josh is an athletic and extremely talented power forward whose versatility and defensive abilities would make him a perfect fit in Phoenix next to Robin Lopez and Hedo Turkoglu.
With $64 million committed to 10 players under contract, the Hawks are on the verge of being in luxury tax trouble, but would be hard-pressed to justify moving Smith to their fans. The Suns certainly have the pieces to make a deal work, but it is unlikely that the Hawks would accept an offer of perhaps Dudley, Warrick, Clark and a first round pick and the Suns wouldn't have much else to give up.
2. Kevin Love - Minnesota Timberwolves
Contract: $3.6 million this season and then a team option for $4.6 million the next, before becoming a restricted free agent
2009/10 Stats: 15.1 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.6 apg
Kevin Love is one of the best rebounding big men the league has seen in a long time. He's a natural on the glass, making the most of his instincts, great hands, and strength. He is also an exceptional outlet passer, which could be lethal in the Suns' fast break offense. Kevin, however, is not known as a guy who's going to run the floor well and his lack of elevation, length and lateral quickness limit his defensive potential against power forwards such as LaMarcus Aldrige or Pau Gasol.
The Timberwolves roster is crazy right now. Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley are their highest paid players at just under $5 million each, which is indicative of their youth.
The Suns could offer Jason Richardson's expiring $14.4 million contract and Clark or Warrick for Love. The Timberwolves have a large trade exception from the trade they made with Utah and, with only $46 million in payroll, could easily absorb Jason's contract. He would provide veteran presence and much-needed wing scoring for that team.
This deal is also unlikely because the Timberwolves love Love and the Suns would severely miss Richardson's scoring. It's an interesting deal for both teams, though, but one that just doesn't "feel" like it would happen.
3. Derrick Favors - New Jersey Nets
Contract: Favors is in the first year of his rookie deal, which pays $3.4 million this season
Stats: 12.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg (Georgia Tech)
The Nets are reportedly very high on Favors, but perhaps they could be tempted by a couple of guys that can step into the the power forward role (Warrick and Lawal), along with the upside potential of Earl Clark or perhaps the leadership of Jared Dudley and a future first round pick.
This would be a great deal for the Suns, as they would get a power forward who could develop into an All-Star, but with Frye and Turkoglu, wouldn't need Favors to play a huge role his rookie season, which gives him time to develop.
The Nets desperately need Favor's potential, as well, so it is hard to see them going for this. I am not sure even including Steve Nash in a deal would pry the No. 4 pick out of the Nets' hands.
Other names to consider...
David West - Not a big fan, but the Hornets would probably be a team most interested in doing a deal.
Marc Gasol - It is hard to imagine the Grizzlies agreeing to any deal for Gasol unless they are convinced that Hasheem Thabeet is going to be a legit starting center.
Jason Thompson - Thompson is a nice skilled power forward who would fit well with Robin Lopez. He's not known as a physical, defensive player, but he did grab 8.5 rebounds per game. However, that was on a bad team where someone had to catch the loose balls. The Kings now have DeMarcus Cousins, Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry and Hassan Whiteside, so they might consider Thompson expendable if the Suns made the right offer, which would probably need to include Dudley, whose outside shooting would fill a need in Sacramento.
These are just names and ideas we are throwing out there more as an example of the type of things the Suns should be considering. What's clear to everyone is that the current roster does not have enough size and rebounding and is overloaded in several positions.
Dudley seems to understand this as well as anyone. Even though he claims to be joking, there's a lot of truth in this tweet:
RT @sportsguy33: JMZ, you presenting an ESPY with the other 6 Suns small forwards.( Lmao, they might be forcing me out lol Will see what happens)