Off-Season Grade: B-
The Suns went with a quantity over quality approach when replacing Amare Stoudemire this summer clearly targeted long, athletic, versatile players who would excel in an up-tempo offense.
Their immediate reaction was re-signing Channing Frye and adding an athletic Hakim Warrick for reasonable contracts. Phoenix also dealt Leandro Barbosa to Toronto for an unhappy Hedo Turkoglu in hopes that a new destination would light a fire under Turkoglu. To replace Barbosa on the wing, the Suns acquired Josh Childress via a sign-and-trade with the Hawks that just only cost Phoenix a second-round pick.
Just months after making a run to the Western Conference Finals that included a second-round sweep of San Antonio, Phoenix underwent a bit of a facelift with Amare Stoudemire bolting the desert for the Big Apple. The question now becomes can Steve Nash and a litter of complementary players remain in the upper echelon out west?
Nash is obviously the fuel that fires Phoenix and their up-tempo offense. Whether it has been Amare or Dirk, Nash has always had a star to run alongside. It will be interesting to see how he handles the responsibility of leading a team of role players that does not have a clear cut No. 1 scorer. Plus, he turns 37 in February so durability could start to become an issue.
If there is going to be a wingman for Nash this season, Jason Richardson seems most likely to fill that role. He has played with Nash for the past two years and can score in a variety of ways. If Turkoglu can regain his form from his Orlando days, he could be a dangerous weapon alongside Nash as well.
Outside of those two there is a deep roster of role players who will play a certain part but should not be counted on to do too much. You know what you are going to get from Grant Hill assuming he is healthy. Channing Frye is a perimeter-based big man who is not very physical. Robin Lopez provides energy inside. Childress and Warrick are long and athletic, and can run the open floor.
As has been the case the past few years, defense is pretty much non-existent on this roster. The Suns will once again rely on trying to outscore their opponents which will be a more difficult task minus Amare. Phoenix should still be a playoff team out West, but I would not be surprised one bit if they missed out on the postseason.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
Starters Jason Richardson and Grant Hill become unrestricted free agents next summer which will cut almost $18 million off the Suns' salary cap. Plus, Jared Dudley is in the final year of his rookie contract and becomes a restricted free agent. Even if Richardson and Hill walk, the Suns would only have about $7 million available in cap space so they will probably try to re-sign Richardson during the year or possibly even trade him.
Looking at the bigger picture, Steve Nash will be entering the final year of his contract next summer. Phoenix will either need to be active in reaching an extension with the face of their franchise, or if the Suns struggle this season and decide it is time to re-build a bit, could choose to shop Nash to other teams.