Winter is coming.
No, not the premiere of Game of Thrones. But it does involve a Dragan.
It’s the month of August in the NBA and it is the darkest of all as after almost a full year jam packed with news, trades, highlights and signings the league will basically go quiet.
Before we hibernate until informal workouts and while we worked off our massive Vegas hangover –and if you don’t have one, you didn’t do Summer League right — there are a three things, actually, make that four things we need to know about the Suns.
1) Why is Brandon Knight Still on This Roster?
Let’s be frank, Brandon Knight AKA the Walking Dead, was the most disappointing players on the Western Conference’s worst team last year. With $44 million left on his contract and the fact that he sat half a season, makes him about as easy to move for Ryan McDonough as a grand piano from a third floor apartment with no elevator. Much like the piano, it’s going to take a friend or two to help the Suns get out of this jam.
The Suns will either have to take a bad contract back — the best scenario for the team — they’ll have to Kurt Thomas him and jettison one of their coveted draft picks to entice a team to take him or buy him out. Options one will only happen if the contract they’re getting back is less than Knights, which likely won’t happen. The third option likely won’t happen because it requires ownership to eat $44 million with nothing in return. Something that seems highly unlikely. Which leaves parting with a draft pick to get rid of Knight.
While it’s not ideal, it’s likely the best case scenario. Knight has Markieff Morris potential written all over him. Sure, last year he toed the company line and kept quiet but when given an opportunity to get back in the lineup at the end of the year due to injuries he mysteriously had “back spasms.” Combine that with the fact that he cleared out on exit interview day and hasn’t been back since while the rest of the roster has worked out, it’s pretty easy to assume he has no desire to return.
With culture being the No. 1 rule of #TheTimeline it makes no sense to even chance having a malcontent in the locker room potentially corrupting your young players. Sure, you can try to play him and rebuild value but that means taking minutes away from young guys in the hopes that he plays well enough to catch a GM’s eye. Oh, and Knight showed he doesn’t play well off the bench so you’d likely have to start him.
It’s time to just bite the bullet and deal a draft pick as sweetener to get this done. That, or get Phil Jackson another job somewhere. He’ll take anyone.
2) What Exactly Was With Marquese Chriss in Summer League?
Inconsistent is a kind way to put Marquese Chriss’ performance in Summer League. He had some rough outings and then also had a 26-point performance. A lot of “Twitter Scouts” will point to the extra 20 pounds of muscle he added as something that may have slowed him down and hurt his athleticism.
To me, it looked more like Chriss was bored. And can you blame him? He started 75 games in the NBA his rookie season and played major minutes in every game. What motivation did he have to go and dominate a bunch of could be’s and never were’s in Vegas?
We’ll have to wait till training camp to see if Chriss drops any of the weight and if the same athletic and engaged player we saw last year shows up.
3) Why is it All Quiet on the Alex Len Front?
In a month where if a GM so much as looks up a player’s stats on BasketballReference.com we get a tweet reporting their interest in him, we’ve heard not one word about Alex Len. Does this say more about Len or the current state of the center position in the NBA?
Len is the prototypical center, from a decade and a half ago. In today’s game you have to be able to spread the floor, pass and be more than a tall guy who can score around the rim. He’s tried to expand his game — anyone remember 3-point Alex from a few Summer League’s past? — but to no avail.
It’s likely time for the Suns to cut their losses and run with veteran leader Tyson Chandler and newly re-signed Alan Williams and address the future of the position next offseason. That is, unless you find someone who wants to trade for Chandler and you can get Len on a team friendly deal.
4) Why Hasn’t THIS Happened Yet?
Our NBA winter is coming in two weeks and we’ll have to wait and see if any of our questions get answered before than.