Should the Phoenix Suns go after Nate Robinson?by Fabian Ardaya on May. 10, 2013, under Phoenix Suns
One of the biggest stories of the NBA playoffs, should the Phoenix Suns make a splash with “all heart, no height” Nate Robinson?
Robinson is 5’9” of pure flash, energy, and scoring ability, a shot in the arm, one of the hottest names in the NBA right now and most of all, an upcoming unrestricted free agent on a minimum contract.
While he’s hardly an unknown commodity, he has been from the top to the bottom before. He went to being the only 3-time Slam Dunk Contest champion to being unsigned and unwanted.
Now he has finally found his niche with the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, and has exploded with great performances throughout the season and playoffs, culminating in THIS:
So why should the Phoenix Suns sign him? Wasn’t he just two years removed from being an unwanted, unsigned free agent who was deemed too much of a risk to a NBA? He went from 17.2 PPG off the bench for a D’Antoni Knicks team to racking up consecutive DNP-Coaches Decisions for the OKC Thunder in just over a year and a half. The Suns already have a point guard for the future in Goran Dragic, and selected a “pure point guard” in Kendall Marshall in last year’s draft.
But the fact of the matter is that, despite the best efforts of former head coach Alvin Gentry and interim head coach Lindsey Hunter, the Suns simply lack offensive firepower and a guy who can create their own shot.
Also, the Suns need a personality who can bring fans back to the US Airways Center, where it seems the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA get a higher attendance than the lowly Suns.
Suns owner Robert Sarver, known throughout the league for being the ultimate penny pincher and common target of analyst Bill Simmons would hate to shell out the likely big bucks necessary to sign a name like Robinson, but it is undeniable that Robinson would bring a personality and charisma that hasn’t been seen since the era of the big “Shaqtus,” Shaquille O’Neal.
Derrick Rose is coming back and there would be no need to have four point guards on the roster, and with having both Krik Hinrich and Robinson as free agents, it would make more sense for the Bulls to resign Hinrich, who would likely offer a lower price tag despite having a higher salary this season.
The Bulls have shown in the past with such cases as Omer Asik that they are putting a priority on avoiding the luxury tax above putting the best team on the floor, allowing Asik to walk for nothing.
It could easily be foreseeable for the Suns to offer the 28-year-old point guard a 2-3 year deal with player and team options, at around $9-11 million a year, slightly higher than the infamous Michael Beasley contract. In doing so, the Suns get a fan favorite and a form of direction for a rebuilding Suns squad. If the Suns keep their run and gun ways, Robinson would likely flourish, just as he did within Mike D’Antoni’s system in New York.
It would also give Phoenix a chance to reclaim another reclamation project, along with Dragic. Among the great Suns who have been traded for almost nothing are Joe Johnson and Rajon Rondo.
After missing out on Eric Gordon as a restricted free agent last season, the Suns are desperate for a big name and potential face of the franchise. One of the names thrown around has been O.J. Mayo, who likely will opt out of his $4.2 million player option next season with the Dallas Mavericks in order to find a bigger contract and role on another team. While a very capable shooter who can get his own shot and an above-average perimeter defender, Mayo has widely been considered a bust in the NBA after being drafted third overall and traded for Kevin Love in 2008, as he was forced to settle into a Sixth Man role with the Memphis Grizzlies before spurning the Suns to sign with Dallas. After playing extremely well in the early going while having an expanded role in Dallas, Mayo never truly took advantage and fell off, once again falling short of expectations. When given the opportunity to bring in the Post-Dirk era to Dallas during Nowitzki’s injury, Mayo never really took the leadership role, especially in clutch moments like this:
OTHER POSSIBLE MAYO LANDING SPOTS: Dallas, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls
Another common name floating around for Phoenix would be J.R. Smith, who like Mayo has a player option for $3 million next season with the New York Knicks. Smith, who this past season won the Sixth Man of the Year Award while helping to lead a renaissance of New York basketball. Smith, like Robinson, is a streaky shooter, who has had some maturity concerns, such as his misgivings on his twitter account (https://twitter.com/TheRealJRSmith) and his poor decision-making in the Knicks’ first round playoff series vs. the Celtics, resulting in his suspension for Game 4 and allowing Boston back in the series.
Smith has never really had the opportunity to lead a team, as he has been surrounded his entire career by the likes of Chris Paul in New Orleans and Carmelo Anthony in both Denver and New York. It would be intriguing to see how Smith would respond to a featured role in Phoenix, as his high-volume scoring can be game-changing, and can even make up for his lack of consistent effort on the defensive end, which had been a major problem until he came under the leadership of former Defensive POY Tyson Chandler. However while being a similar situation to Robinson, it is unlikely that Smith will leave New York even if he opts out, as New York has the ability to pay Smith more than any other team, and has never been afraid to pay the luxury tax.
OTHER POSSIBLE SMITH LANDING SPOTS: New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks
One of the most common names thrown out there has been Andrew Bynum, who after being traded by the Lakers did not suit up a single game for his hometown 76ers. A gifted player with injury issues that may rob him of a max contract? Sounds like the perfect match for the Suns and their elite training staff headed by Aaron Nelson. But looking at it, Bynum was never a key factor on the Lakers’ two championship teams, and his talent level should have warranted more than just the single All-Star appearance he’s had thus far in his career. There has also been issues of maturity, leading to his conflicts with former neighbors, “bowling incidents”, and things like this:
I can’t see Philly giving up on the Bynum experiment so easily, especially after seeing the return of former players Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic. Also, I honestly don’t see any team willing to give Bynum the max contract he wants, or a long term deal, which could leave him going back to Philadelphia.
OTHER POSSIBLE BYNUM LANDING SPOTS: Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks
So why not go all out on Dwight Howard? Just kidding. While a potential option, Monta Ellis probably won’t be getting more on the open market than the $11 million he’s due if he accepts his player option for next year. Kevin Martin has looked great in these playoffs for the OKC Thunder, but it has become clear that he is not nearly the same player or scorer he was in the past, and he is not capable of carrying a team with his advancing age. Look for him to stay with his team as well, as the Thunder try to justify the James Harden trade. Nick Young is a great scorer, and may soon become J.R. Smith 2.0, but is extremely immature and completely incapable of running a team, which is why he’s currently on his third team in two years. Tyreke Evans has regressed with every passing year, and there’s no way that Manu Ginobili won’t retire as a Spur, even if it means spurning a potential reunion with Argentine national teammate Luis Scola.
So why Robinson? Derrick Rose is coming back, and there would be no need to have four point guards (Rose, Hinrich, Robinson, and Teague) on the roster, and with having both hinrich and Robinson as free agents, it would make more sense for the Bulls to sign Hinrich, who would likely offer a lower price tag (despite having a higher salary this season). The Bulls have shown in the past with such cases as Omer Asik that they are putting a priority on avoiding the luxury tax above putting the best team on the floor, allowing Asik to walk for nothing. While some would argue about Robinson’s age (he’s 28), it could easily be foreseeable for the Suns to offer Robinson a 2-3 year deal with player and team options, at around $9-11 million a year, slightly higher than the infamous Michael Beasley contract. In doing so, the Suns get a fan favorite and a form of direction for a rebuilding Suns squad. If the Suns keep their run and gun ways, Robinson would likely flourish, just as he did within Mike D’Antoni’s system in New York. It would also give Phoenix a chance to reclaim another reclamation project, along with Dragic. Among the great Suns who have been traded for almost nothing are Joe Johnson and Rajon Rondo.
OTHER POSSIBLE ROBINSON LANDING SPOTS: Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics
So who should the Suns go after? Comment Below!