Anyone can have a blog about an NBA team, but some set themselves apart from the rest with the dedication and valuable insight they bring to their craft. We’ll be sharing some knowledge from these dialed-in writers on Hoops Rumors in a new feature called Top Bloggers. As with The Beat, our ongoing series of interviews with NBA beat writers, it’s part of an effort to bring Hoops Rumors readers ever closer to the pulse of the teams they follow.
First up is Dave King of SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun, where he serves as managing editor. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @, and click here to check out his stories.
Hoops Rumors: Do you think the Suns will ultimately give in to the trade demand from Markieff Morris, and if so, what could they get for him?
Dave King: I have tough time predicting the front office’s moves, as most people do. They didn’t move Eric Bledsoe last year when many said he was on the block, and they’ve yet to move Morris. On the other hand, they’ve traded guys no one thought they’d trade. The only telegraphed moves the Suns have made were the Goran Dragic/Isaiah Thomas trades at the deadline, given all the lead-up to it. And, as you might expect, telegraphed moves are rarely good moves.
I think they would trade Morris for a comparable player in a heartbeat. They might even move him for a prospect with a slightly higher ceiling, even if that means less production in 2015/16. The Rockets, for example, have four power forwards under contract: Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones, Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell. All are on rookie deals right now, so they don’t need to trade anyone, but the Suns would do well to acquire any of them for Morris. Houston will lose one or both of D-Mo and Jones next summer when they hit restricted free agency and the offers start coming in that Houston can’t match.
There’s probably 25-30 power fowards out there that would be comparable to Morris, which leads us to the Suns’ problems with trading him. If you’re an NBA team with a comparable guy already on the roster and he’s NOT a head case, why swap him to acquire Morris?
Hoops Rumors: The Suns made five-year, $70MM commitment to Brandon Knight after he played only 11 games in a Suns uniform following the trade this February. Is he the right complement to Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt?
Dave King: We won’t know if Knight is a great complement to Bledsoe until the season starts, but I believe they will each put up 18 points and 5 assists a game regardless. That’s their history, and the Suns’ scheme will allow them to continue that trajectory. If the Suns want to make the playoffs, though, one or both will have to improve significantly in one or both areas (scoring/playmaking), and I’m not sure that will happen. The good news is that they are both on the upswing of their careers.
Hoops Rumors: What becomes of former No. 5 overall pick Alex Len after this summer’s signing of Tyson Chandler to a four-year contract? Can Len fulfill his potential while he’s on the same roster as Chandler?
Dave King: This is a good question. In a perfect Suns world, Len becomes a force off the bench for one or two years and gets a chance to become consistently healthy, while Chandler leads the Suns to the playoffs as the starter. Then in 2017, Len takes over as the long-term starter (when he’ll still be just 24 years old) while Chandler shifts to a bench role in his old age. By 2017, a $13MM contract for a center will be comparable to today’s $8MM contract, which is commonplace among fading star centers in their final years.
Worst case, Len never develops and Chandler gets hurt. But then, they’re no worse off than last year.
Hoops Rumors: The Suns have a team option on Jeff Hornacek for 2016/17, but until they pick it up, he’s a lame duck for this season. Hornacek’s agent also denied a report that he declined to interview for the job at Iowa State. Will Hornacek be coaching in Phoenix for much longer?
Dave King: I sure hope so. Hornacek is not the problem (See Dave’s article from today on this topic right here.)
His main shortcoming, if you will, is expecting players to act like adults and having little patience for those who don’t. He wants to be a teacher and facilitator, not a dad. When they complain, he brushes it off rather than handling the kid like a millennial who needs constant reinforcement. But other than that, Hornacek is a perfect coach. He’s clever and willing to take risks, and somehow has coaxed a 87-77 record from a bunch of inexperienced non-stars in a league dominated by stars. Give him a single All-Star and you might just see sustained playoff appearances. Give him two, and who knows how far he’d take it.
Hoops Rumors: How far away are the Suns from convincing a marquee free agent to sign with them, as LaMarcus Aldridge nearly did this summer? Was Aldridge an outlier, or will we see others follow in his footsteps and seriously consider Phoenix in the years to come?
Dave King: Players go for the money and the quality of the presentation. As long as the Suns stay on the right path, players will see themselves as the final piece to a good puzzle. There won’t be any problem with recruiting, just as there wasn’t this summer. The Suns nearly stole the show with Aldridge and Chandler, coming up just short.
Hoops Rumors: What are reasonable expectations for the Suns this season?
Dave King: If each player just repeats their game from last season, reasonable expectations are another .500-ish season and a 9/10 seed in the West. There still aren’t any All-Stars on the team, and still no proof they can overcome that shortcoming any better than previous years. If Bledsoe, Knight or another player or two develop really quickly, or if Chandler has a reprisal of his Defensive Player of the Year season, the Suns can easily slip into the bottom half of the West playoff bracket.