Today, in preparation for tonight's match-up with the Suns, we bring to you the treat of a little Q&A we conducted with SB Nation's very own Suns blog, "Bright Side of the Sun." Wil Cantrell, one of their main bloggers, graciously offered his time and energy to answer a few questions that we posed regarding the current state of the Suns.
Wil Cantrell responded in kind, and later today you can head on over to their outstanding site to see the answers I provided to him on the current state of the Thunder.
Three Questions for the Bright Side of the Sun:
1. Consider the career of Steve Nash in the same light that you might Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. How closely intertwined is the Suns' culture and future with Nash's professional and personal identity? Given Nash's age, how can the team make the transition from that Steve Nash culture when his playing days are done?
sub-part a) Who is the goofier looking multi-MVP: Steve Nash or Larry Bird?
sub-part b) Does it help or hurt Nash that he bears a striking resemblance to Jackie Earle Haley?
Bright Side of the Sun:
Simply, put, Nash is the Suns. Without him, this team probably wins about half the games they already have this season. I think Alvin Gentry may have even said that.
You don't need to go digging into the numbers to know that the team suffers when Nash is not on the court. Part of the problem is that his backup, Goran Dragic, hasn't been able to play consistently solid basketball.
And to expand a bit, a lot of people simply do not understand how smart of a PG Nash is. Watching him every night out we see what he does-how he anticipates where his teammates are and will be, how he runs the offense, how he can see things developing both on offense and defense before they occur. The little intricacies of the game that we don't even see are very clear to him.
Further, he is the team leader on and off the court-you just can't replace a guy like that and expect your team to be the same. As far as making the transition...Man if I knew the answer to that I wouldn't be a blogger.
Sub-part a) I have a lot of female friends that say Nash is dreamy, so tread lightly on this one, pal. I'll go with Bird. That mustache was so 80's. I bet Bird drove a gold Firebird and wore Carerra shades back in the day.
Sub-part b) I had to google that one and it ruined my answer to a. In Phoenix we just say "Kelly From Bad News Bears." And yes I think it certainly helps, especially when Nash enters the court on his dirt bike and cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
2. The Suns seem to rely on a revolving door of swing players: Joe Johnson, Raja Bell, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, and now, Vince Carter. Is Carter merely a rental this year to fill in this role, and if so, what other young players could fill his position at a cheaper price than his inflated contract?
Side-question - has Vince reduced his cookie intake?
Bright Side of the Sun:
I think the Suns and fans would like Vince's Suns jersey retired (or burned) as soon as possible. My opinion on the guy is that he says all the right things but at this stage in his career he's simply cashing his paychecks and playing balls out when he wants to (or when an all-time scoring record is near). He's probably not 100% healthy and he certainly isn't the player he once was. He can still contribute, but I think he's mailed it in.
Personally I'd like to see Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, or Mickael Pietrus start at the 2. The problem is that neither of the three are natural shooting guards. Dudley works his ass off, but he's not athletic or big enough to hang with the big 2's in the league. Josh Childress can't shoot and isn't even in the rotation, and Pietrus, who just got placed back into the rotation, is being used in the second unit.
The Suns have been trying to find an identity all season long so I think something drastic would have to happen for Vince to sit in favor of someone else. It's too late in the season to continue making changes that effect on the court chemistry.
I think Vince may own a Mrs. Fields franchise somewhere in North Carolina, although I'm not totally certain on that. (sarc)
3. How do you think fans and the franchise view the Steve Kerr years as GM?From the outside looking in, I was disappointed that his aggressive moves did not work out, because he clearly took a shot to get over the Spurs/Lakers hump. In retrospect, would it have been better to just have remained where they were and not lose two prime years where Nash was trying to run high screens with an immovable object (Shaq)?
Bright Side of the Sun:
It's a good question. I think the common fan probably grew to like Steve Kerr. He made some big mistakes and he owned up to them. People tend to respect that. He had a steep learning curve and to attempt to change the culture so drastically when D'Antoni left was beyond ballsy. Of course it failed, but at least Kerr realized it and rectified the situation fairly quickly.
Personally I liked Kerr. I like him even more now based on his replacements-Lance Blanks and Lon Babby. I've never met Lon Babby, but I've heard him talk and read quotes. He reminds me of a used car salesman at a Kia lot. Clearly his work with Robert Sarver in the offseason (Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, and Josh Childress) were busts from performance standpoints. However, they did provide some trade pieces to use in the future. As far as Blanks, I have no clue what to make of him. He doesn't speak much and I assume he doesn't have much independent decision making power.
Well hindsight is 20/20 no? As I said, they were ballsy moves, but if you're born a hippopotamus, you can't paint white stripes on your body and call yourself a zebra. The team was built to run and it was built for Steve to run the show. You can't drop a 300 pound gorilla in the paint and expect Nash to do what he does best and the team to thrive. So yeah, perhaps the Shaq era was a mistake.
Many thanks to Wil Cantrell and Bright Side of the Sun for helping us out. Make sure you check out their site to see our responses to their questions, and also to see how the Suns fans will be cheering for tonight's game.