The Phoenix Suns absorbed a big blow to the team earlier during free agency when all-star forward Amar’e Stoudemire skipped town to sign with the New York Knicks. After a deep postseason run that ended in a near series victory over the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers, it became clear that, as constituted, the Suns would not be poised for another such trip without making a change.
And that’s exactly what Robert Sarver did yesterday. The Suns owner who likely squashed his chances at re-signing STAT when he dismissed former GM Steve Kerr went out and acquired two players who immediately recharge a depleted starting lineup, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu.
Childress spent the last two seasons playing ball in Greece with Olympiakos, but before that he was a solid role player for the Atlanta Hawks, providing a spark of scoring and rebounding in an efficient manner. Though the deal isn’t officially done because Childress is a restricted free agent, the Hawks are extremely unlikely to match, now that Joe Johnson’s mammoth contract has financially handcuffed the team.
Turkoglu will come to the team as part of a trade, and the Suns’ major loss in the deal is Leandro Barbosa, the blinding-quick combo guard and former sixth man of the year. His loss is a tough blow to the shooting and quickness of the Suns team, but Turkoglu’s addition, assuming he plays up to potential, will more than make up for Barbosa’s absence.
Turkoglu leaves Toronto on fairly bad terms, after playing very bad basketball in his one year north of the border. Ideally, his change of scenery will remind him of his play the year prior in Orlando and make him a major contributor to Phoenix. If he does redevelop his skills on the basketball court, he’s a major asset.
At 6-foot-10, Turkoglu has the size of a power forward but the handling and shooting of a guard. As a result, he fits perfectly into the Phoenix run-and-gun system. While he’ll spend a fair amount of time in the post, making up for the void Stoudemire left behind down low, he’ll also be a major figure on the perimeter, taking plenty of three-pointers and running the point forward. This will give the aging Steve Nash a break on offense, allowing him to save his stamina and legs by not having the bring the ball up the court every possession.
Childress adds depth on the wing and an adept scoring touch driving to the rim and as a jump shooter. Expect his scoring numbers to increase playing alongside Nash in an uptempo offense.
While these acquisitions certainly don’t make the squad better than it was last year, it’s nice to see some degree of damage control and respect for Nash. Phoenix could have done nothing and suffered through a mediocre season while Steve Nash wasted away through possibly the final year of his career. Instead, the Suns still have a very good chance to making the playoffs in the West next year.