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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns go 2-2 this week, now 7-11 for the season

The Fantable discusses what the Suns should do with new acquisition, Greg Monroe

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

vs Los Angeles Lakers L (100-93) Full Recap

vs Houston Rockets L (142-116) Full Recap

@ Los Angeles Lakers W (122-113) Full Recap

vs Chicago Bulls W (113-105) Full Recap

Two wins, two losses. Not a bad week for the Suns and the win against the Lakers on their home court sure felt good!

Newcomer Greg Monroe got a chance to show off his game quickly as he was slotted into the starting lineup due to Tyson Chandler’s timely illness. In his three games (21.3 minutes per game) with the Suns he averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals while hitting 66.7% of his field goal attempts. He’s lacking on the defensive end but still proved himself to be very useful on the court.

But the real plus for the Suns isn’t his play, it’s his expiring contract which will prove valuable whether the Suns keep him for the rest of the season, trade him or buy him out as some have suggested that they do. The Suns will be able to clear a good bit of cap space to use this summer in the free agent market if they desire to do so.

Yes, I can already hear people asking, “What big name free agent would choose to come to play with a bad Phoenix team when there are other, better options?” Well, as many as 20 teams are already capped out or near it and the Suns will be one of the few teams that will have the cap space to make a really big offer. And many of the other teams that will have cap space aren’t very good teams either.

They say that money talks. I guess we’ll see if that’s true this summer.

But until then, I’ve asked the Fantable for their opinions on Greg Monroe and his possibly very short future in a Suns uniform.


Fantable Question of the Week

What are your opinions on what the Suns should do with Greg Monroe… keep him and play him, trade him, buy him out or a combination of any of those ideas?

GuarGuar: I very much like the offensive skill set that Greg Monroe has. His low post scoring ability is very refreshing considering we have only had Tyson Chandler and Alex Len to watch this season. Monroe’s defense is atrocious but really isn’t much different than what Tyson gives us. Both can’t defend a Pick and Roll near properly so the total points given up isn’t much different. I don’t see Greg as part of our future at all so the options of what to do with him are limited.

My preferred option is to play him until the deadline and then try and deal him for some value. Maybe we can get a couple 2nd rounders like for P.J. Tucker last year. If we can’t trade him, then I have no problem playing his contract out the rest of the year or buying him out. I doubt Monroe wants to ride the pine though with the logjam of big men we have (especially when Sauce gets back). The probable ending is we buy him out. I’m hoping McD can somehow get some value out of him though.

Sun-Arc: Call me skeptical that Monroe would work out well with the stated way the team wants to play. Can Moose keep up with the 3rd fastest paced team? Seems Milwaukee didn’t think he would keep pace with the starters. But then, could he work if we try a new version of Seven Seconds Or Shaq/Moose? Maybe?

I could envision a possibility of everyone else getting out in transition with Monroe bringing up the rear in case (and sometimes inevitably) they get stuck without an open shot. And he does pass quite well for a big man, with an assist % average of 13%. But he is not a modern big-man and cannot hit 3’s at all. He’s good out to about 16 ft, which might create enough spacing for our other players to operate. But then again it might not.

But then I worry about his defense. His rebounding is fine, but will he stop opposing centers from scoring? Maybe. His ORtg to DRtg differential has almost always been in positive territory, and his DWS isn’t terrible. But I’ve seen him play and never thought he was an outstanding defender. He also isn’t a shot blocker. He isn’t very athletic.

A perfect center for our team would be someone like Hassan Whiteside (without brain issues) or Rudy Gobert – a really long athletic rim protector and excellent defender that can occasionally hit open shots but otherwise we opportunistic around the rim and rebound like a fiend. Monroe is not one of these types of players. He’s an old-school lumbering offensive-minded big man who can score inside and rebound.

The positive is that he can create his own shot within the paint- something no one on this team can do. Even Alan Williams needs to be set up. Moose potentially doesn’t. And that might just give this team another option on offense when defenses are locked in on the shooters. And if that works and Moose has it going, it might just open up the shooters for more shots. Maybe.

I’m not saying it absolutely won’t work. But it is not ideal. I really worry about Greg taking up too much space in the paint for T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, and the guards to do their thing. On the other hand, could the PG’s work with him, set up Monroe, and let him do a lot of the heavy lifting, thereby becoming our needed third scorer? Maybe.

Lastly – I think bringing him in was to be a trade asset. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Monroe’s huge expiring contract could be a better trade asset than Eric Bledsoe was. Certainly something more teams would covet more than Bled than the few that needed his services. There are several teams that would love to get rid of an albatross contract. NYK: Joakim Noah. WAS: Ian Mahinmi, LAL: Luol Deng. ATL: Miles Plumlee/Kent Bazemore/ Dennis Schroder? POR: Evan Turner? (blech) TOR: Serge Ibaka? MIA: Kelly Olynyk? IND: Victor Oladipo? What you get back in return would have to make it worth it to give up the expiring contract. And, to me, it’d have to be pretty damn good. Schroder or a really good pick, for instance.

But in the meantime, I don’t mind trying out Monroe. He seems to understand what is going on with the team, regarding developing the youth. And yet he needs to display his talents to get his next contract, which could actually go either way. But if it works in our favor, he could make the season much more watchable.

In the end, I’m for trying him out but with the majority of the effort going towards a trade. But if the right trade isn’t there, I say let him play out the season if it works and take the expiring for cap space.

SDKyle: I say just go ahead and keep him and play him. Why? Because he’s better than our other options at center and the alternatives do not inspire me. We could trade him, but not for very much. He’s not a hot enough commodity to return all that much, and buying him out really achieves nothing.

So the Suns should just trot him out there and see what he does. If he keeps playing well, great…we could see what kind of deal might make sense this Summer if Monroe is interested in staying in the valley. If he doesn’t play all that well or gets hurt, the risk is minimal because we can just part ways after game #82.

I was one of the fans who was pretty upset with our front office’s handling of the Bledsoe situation, and who was pretty disappointed with the return. But there’s no use crying over it anymore, and we have a big man in town who is almost unarguably a better player at this point than Tyson Chandler or Alex Len. So let’s move forward with him and see what happens.

SouthernSun: I believe the Suns should hold onto Greg Monroe unless a great opportunity presents itself. Monroe had a great first game, and an underwhelming second game, but it’s already clear that he brings something to the team that no other player on the roster can provide, reliable post scoring, and a true third offensive option to take pressure off of Devin Booker.

Some people on BSotS have expressed worry that playing Monroe will have a detrimental effect on the team’s chemistry by angering Len or Chandler. I don’t think that’s the case. Chandler has long stated that he wants to be here, and I don’t think a decrease in playing time will affect that. He, like Jared Dudley, knows that he’s here to do more than play on the court, he’s here to help shape these young players.

Both Chandler and Monroe provide important things to this team. That said, if one of them can be traded in a package (with a pick or two) to bring back a starting caliber point guard, then that should be done without a second thought. As I’ve mentioned before, I would really like Schroder, Jordan Clarkson, or Marcus Smart. If Smart is available, the only trade that makes sense is a swap of Len and a pick for him, which would leave us with a center rotation of Monroe and Chandler (not too shabby). A trade for Schroder could likely include either Chandler or Monroe. A trade for Clarkson would only be possible with Monroe, however.

Basically, if you can get a 1st rounder for him near the deadline, or package him in a trade for a point guard, then okay. He’s too valuable to trade for some nothing return like a 2nd rounder.

Buying him out makes no sense whatsoever, so that should go ahead and be forgotten. Cavs, Nuggets, and Spurs fans can go ahead and give up the hope for that.

I vote that the team hold onto him, unless another team comes calling with an offer the Suns simply can’t refuse (though that offer is more likely to be made closer to the trade deadline after Monroe has had a renaissance of sorts with plenty of playing time). He is the best center on this roster, and he needs to be playing.

Once again, many thanks to GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun for all their input!


Key Stats

32 assists

Believe it or not, that’s how many assists the the Suns had in the Chicago game. The Suns are presently 26th in the NBA in assists, averaging only 19.8 per game but they’ve been improving on their ball movement and assists lately. For the four games this week they averaged 25.8 assists per game which is 7th in that time period. Hopefully they will continue to improve as the season goes on.

Random stats: Devin Booker led the Suns in assists this week with 5.8 per game in the four games played.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns – Full Game Highlights November 13, 2017 2017-18 NBA Season

Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns – Full Game Highlights | November 16, 2017 | NBA Season 2017-18

LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / Week 5 / 2017 NBA Season

Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns – Full Game Highlights | November 19, 2017 | 2017-18 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

“I’m not going to let you make two mistakes. The game is full of mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to make turnovers. Don’t make a second mistake.” – Jay Triano


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson – 21.7 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.0 TO, 2.8 PF

Mike James – 23.5 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.6 TO, 1.8 PF

Alec Peters – Assigned to NAZ Suns

Davon Reed – DNP (Injured)

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


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News & Notes

Moore: Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough can get out of this ditch — just not this year. Greg Moore/AZCentral Sports

Devin Booker’s Suns career began with a push (and more) from P.J. Tucker. Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports

G League Power Rankings 1.0 (NAZ at #17). 2 Ways & 10 Days

Triano: Marquese Chriss working on not compounding mistakes. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Devin Booker will have none of a Lakers coach’s trash talk: ‘Don’t say anything to me’. Yahoo! Sports

Savage Mode (Devin Booker interview). SLAM


This Week in Suns History

On November 23, 1994, Wesley Person scored 19 points to lead 10 double-figure scorers in Phoenix’s 140-109 home win over the LA Clippers. The Suns became the third team in NBA history to have 10 different players score in double figures in the same game. On March 30, 1980, Seattle defeated Portland 135-104, with Gus Williams’ 23 points leading 10 double-figure scorers for the Sonics. And on April 14, 1994, the Sonics accomplished the feat again, defeating the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 150-101, with Detlef Schrempf’s 21 points leading the way.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

In the second quarter vs. Houston last Thursday, the Suns scored 42 points while allowing 45 points. This was the first time that both the Suns and their opponent scored at least 42 points in the same quarter since Feb. 15, 1970 when the Suns scored 42 and the 76ers scored 47 in the fourth quarter of a game at Philadelphia.

The Suns are 4-6 in games as part of back-to-back sets this season, going 1-4 in the first game and 3-2 in the second game with one sweep. The Suns play 15 back-to-back sets this season.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Wednesday, November 22 – Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks, 7:00 pm AZ time

Friday, November 24 – Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans, 7:00 pm AZ time

Sunday, November 26 – Phoenix Suns @ Minnesota Timberwolves, 1:30 pm AZ time

Last week Milwaukee beat Memphis and Detroit but then were handed a really bad beating (a 111-79 loss) by a very bad Dallas Mavericks team. I don’t expect them to play that badly when they come to Phoenix so I’m pretty much writing this one off as a loss. You-know-who had a very bad game (6 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds) but I doubt that he will play that badly in his first return trip to Phoenix.

The Pelicans still have Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins… and the Suns have no one who has a chance of doing more than hopefully slowing them down just a little bit. If the Suns can win the back court battle with New Orleans’ guards/wings, then they might have a chance at a win… but just a chance.

The Suns have already beaten the Timberwolves once this season in Phoenix. This time the Suns will be playing on Minnesota’s court and I don’t think that the T-wolves have forgotten that last game. I’m calling this one a loss for the Suns.

I’m thinking that the Suns may somehow get a win in one of those three games so I’m predicting that the Suns go 1-2 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “What should the Suns do about their point guard situation?”

The results were:

25% – Leave it alone. The Suns need one more high draft pick!

27% – Use some of those assets to trade for someone now.

48% – Let Booker play more PG.

There were a total of 210 votes cast.


This week’s poll is…

Read the full story at Bright Side of the Sun.