What Are Your Overheads?

Last week, the Suns traded Kurt Thomas and two future first-round draft picks to the Sonics for a conditional second-round pick. The trade is obviously a cap-related move for the Suns, and it does in fact put them out of the luxury tax bracket. But it’s also an awful move on virtually every other level. It puts them in a worse position next year, in future years, and arguably in a long-term financial sense, as well. Unless a trade for a major post presence pops up in the next few months, this team did nothing to improve itself heading into next season.

These issues have been covered on other sites. Brian McCormick points out that keeping rookies actually helps the salary cap long-term, which makes the Suns decisions to sign guys like Diaw to huge contracts questionable. Why keep Marcus Banks when you can sign Rudy Fernandez; he could even stay in Spain for a year or two to limit the cap hit. McCormick also observes that it doesn’t make sense to sign Sean Marks when you can get a rookie who sits on the bench just as well for fewer dollars. Additionally, PAR of the Ltd. Hoops Blog says that this will leave Phoenix at a disadvantage when it comes to defending the Duncans, Garnetts, and Boozers of the West next year; Thomas was the Suns’ best post defender…and it’s a big step down to Amare.

At the same time, it’s not like the Suns won’t be competitive. They’ve played with Marion, Diaw, and Amare as their main big guys before. Remember, for instance, that the 04-05 team ran Amare and Marion at the four and five every game and did just fine. That team was also much more exciting than any of the franchise’s last few incarnations, so this recommitment to threes and dunks could make for some damn watchable basketball.

But if that’s the direction they wanted to head in, why not commit to it fully? The Thomas trade also renders the other moves of the Suns’ offseason questionable. The drafting of Alando Tucker didn’t make much sense at the time considering that Tucker doesn’t consistently make threes, but it makes even less sense now that they have to play shooters who can run. Why not take Morris Almond or Derrick Byars instead?

The sale of this year’s draft pick to Portland doesn’t make a great deal of sense to begin with for the reasons outlined by McCormick, but why include James Jones, a shooter, when they could have thrown in a less necessary piece?

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Grant Hill signing at the time because of his age, bad legs, and lack of outside shooting, but it makes even less sense now. It’s nice that they got him for cheap, I guess, although cheap doesn’t matter much when they need shooters. If you’re going to try to save money, at least do it with an eye towards the team identity. Pairing Hill with Thomas in a slow-it-down lineup at least made some sense.

That leaves Nash, Barbosa, Marion, and Raja to chuck as many threes as they can next season. An impressive group, to be sure, but nothing close to the Joe Johnson, Q Richardson, Leandro, Nash, Marion, Jim Jackson, and even motherflippin’ Casey Jacobsen group from 04-05. So let’s not assume we’re getting a repeat. I guess Kerr could add another shooter, but I don’t know how that’s possible when Sarver et al. are so scared of the luxury tax.

For that matter, why the hell are they terrified of the luxury tax in the first place? This team was two bad David Stern suspension decisions (no unfounded Donaghy blame here) from a likely championship this year. I realize the luxury tax is a bummer, but winning an O'Brien brings extra revenue from playoff ticket sales, merchandise sales (I realize offsite merchandising gets split among every team, but I think they would have made plenty), and general “team of the league” wonderfulness (not technically a revenue stream).

I think it comes down to the organization having no concept of their window. This team is built around Steve Nash, who has no more than three prime years left (and likely fewer). Unless the Hawks have another awful year (very possible), it’s unlikely the Suns will get a point with that pick with the potential to match Nash at any point in his career. Even then, the only guy who fits that bill is Derrick Rose. Additionally, the Suns without Nash will still have cap problems because of the Marion/Amare/Diaw contracts, so it’s not as if they’re heading for calm rebuilding waters.

So why not go for broke now? There’s nothing to lose except a few million. It’s the same reason they should have gone full bore for KG (and maybe they still are, although I’m not sure how it’d work) and not thought twice about dangling Amare. You only get so many chances. Carpe diem that shit.

No comments: