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The Other Side: Phoenix Suns


What in the world are we doing right now? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Phoenix Suns conclude a six-game East Coast trip against the Washington Wizards on Monday with the hope of returning home at 3-3. The Suns opened the trip with a win in Toronto, but lost three in a row in Boston, New York and Charlotte before winning defeating Atlanta, 104-99, on Sunday.

The trip has been very disconcerting because it included losses to former coach Mike D'Antoni in New York and former Suns Boris Diaw and Raja Bell in Charlotte. And, the three losses were by an average of 14.7 points. Before playing Atlanta on Sunday, General Manager Steve Kerr and Managing Partner Robert Sarver met with the team. Kerr and Sarver met with groups of players at the hotel restaurant and Kerr addressed the team before the game. The Suns broke out of their funk against the Hawks, but most importantly, Leandro Barbosa finally broke out with 20 points. He had failed to reach double figures in any of the three losses -- the longest stretch since 2005.

Phoenix has gone from 13-9 on the day it acquired Jason Richardson from Charlotte to just 11-9, and Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen said Kerr should consider making more moves if he wants to make the Suns a true contender. Here is what else you should know about the Suns before they play the Wizards at Verizon Center tonight:


1. Fun-N-Gun Is Done
They used to be a shock to the system, a team that tempted opponents into a track meet then ran them off the court. When the Suns lost in New York last week, Amare Stoudemire said that the team doesn't scare opponents anymore. Point guard Steve Nash has been making cryptic comments this season and has been openly discussing his future plans when he becomes a free agent in 2010 in stops in Toronto and New York. Nash is still among the top three in assists (9.2), and the Suns rank fifth in scoring (103.8), but Terry Porter would rather his team not score a lot of points. Arizona Republic columnist Bob Young asked recently if Planet Orange is dying. A Dutch View has already buried the Suns as we once knew them.

2. Shaquille O'Neal's Not Done Yet
Buried, lost and almost forgotten through an injury-plagued final half-season in Miami, O'Neal has been rejuvenated in Phoenix with the help of the Suns' top notch training staff and Suns Coach Terry Porter's reliance on the 7-foot behemoth. O'Neal has scored in double figures in each of his past 14 games, averaging 22.2 points and recording nine double-doubles during that span. With the dearth of big men in the NBA, O'Neal could earn a spot on the all-star team after missing the event for the first time in 14 seasons. O'Neal believes he belongs among the league's best in his new adopted home town.

3. Amare Stoudemire Could Soon Be Done in Phoenix
Stoudemire sent the first signal of the underlying problems in Phoenix when he told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith in November that he wanted to be the focal point of the Suns' offense. Terry Porter hasn't necessarily granted Stoudemire's request and it has led to some uneven performances this season, including a 0-for-7, three-point game in Boston last week. Still, Stoudemire is the only Sun guaranteed to be in Phoenix for the All Star Game, after fans voted him in -- at small forward, no less -- for the first time in his career. But with Stoudemire eligible to become a free agent in 2010 and upset with the direction of the team, CBS Sportsline's Ken Berger wrote that the Suns might consider moving him.

By Michael Lee  |  January 26, 2009; 3:25 PM ET
 
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Next: Suns (24-18) at Wizards (9-34)

Comments

This team is coached underwhelmingly. They have at least one legit three point threat in Nash. They have a guy who is a great slasher and can get his own shot in Stoudemire. With Shaq, the best passing big man in the game, they should be doing better.

So you're not a track meet team anymore. boohoo. It didn't win. Do you want a title or do you want to cry because your scoring average is down?

Posted by: Matte | January 26, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Well at least the wiz can play their traditional role: the magic pill that can make sluming teams feel better about themselves.

Posted by: jones-y | January 26, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz have been facing teams with two big men a lot lately. Tonight is no exception with Shaq and Amare.

Yet Taps sticks to Blatche and Jamison. Jamison can't defend anybody, so this leaves two big guys against Blatche.

Taps says he doesn't want to destroy the young players' confidence by playing them in the wrong way. But he seems to be doing exactly that with Blatche.

If he were true to his word, he'd start Songolia tonight. But that would conflict with another self-imposted rule.

I'm baffled by all of the nonsense this year. Maybe Kallie's thought process is sneaking into my brain.

Whoever owns the Prozac brand should have a pretty good year.

Posted by: Izman | January 26, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

How bout trade for Amare by givin up a possibly 1st draft pick. That would be a steal

Posted by: forbid | January 26, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

forbid: How bout trade for Amare by givin up a possibly 1st draft pick. That would be a steal"

Yes it would. Have to be a really high pick. Even then...

Posted by: Samson151 | January 26, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, coach implements a successful offensive system, GM fires coach to improve the defense, players completely lost and playing uninspired ball- kinda sounds like the Wizards!

Posted by: twigmuffin | January 26, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

^^^ plus the team has been hampered by an owner valuing dollars over what's best for the team. The suns could have won multiple championships with the players it could have drafted instead of selling off their draft picks every year.

Posted by: detox04 | January 26, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking the Suns management believes they missed their chance when the Spurs beat them in that contested series a couple years back. That's when they decided to bite the bullet and go in a different direction. Shaq came in, D'Antoni went out, and neither Stoudemire nor Steve Nash have drawn a happy breath since.

Nash is near career's end, and those guys never like to learn new systems, It's Amare who really suffers. He's possibly the NBA's most talented big man, excepting Howard of Orlando. But he's been playing in one system since he was a teenager, and who knows how he'd adapt to another?

So if he goes anywhere, it needs to be the Knicks or the Warriors, some team like that. Or maybe the Nets.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 26, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

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