The Suns had a grand plan all this time, the team said, and this season’s offseason moves were the culmination of deals they were eyeing since 2010. The Arizona Republic offered an interesting look inside the mind of Lon Babby‘s goal for the team, which — it doesn’t seem this long ago — was in three of six Western Conference Finals (last in just 2010). It’s hard to know what to think about Phoenix’s strategy, which went after Eric Gordon and showed a willingness to spend some money on young, elite talent to build around. But on the other hand they didn’t blow themselves up and work to build through the draft, which seems like not just the mode du jour of GM strategy but the proven one if you can’t spend gobs of money like the Lakers out West. They’re in this holding pattern that seems destined to put the Suns in a perma-seventh seed. We’re all for giving Michael Beasley one last chance to unveil his monster talent (Wesley Johnson a little in that way, too), while Goran Dragic jumped out last season and Kendall Marshall is an intriguing backup rookie. Even with the promise of some good basketball left, Luis Scola and Jermaine O’Neal leave us kind of shrugging, still not giving us total confidence in the frontcourt. The Suns aren’t the haves, nor the have-nots, out West, but instead are hoping to sit in that middle and surprise some people. If this were the NFL, cool. The Giants have shown you can sneak through the playoffs that way. But in the NBA it’s pretty hard to emerge that far back in the seeding. It just seems to us that this is a decent list of pickups, but doesn’t the finished product of that offseason seem a little underwhelming for something two years in the making? It seems that way because of words Babby himself said in the piece, that, “Hopefully, their talent ultimately vindicates where they were picked.” We like how the Suns kept their maneuverability flexible since trading away Jason Richardson, but that’s a lot of hope to bank on. … Hit the jump to hear whose back Bill Self and Deron Williams have …
Big Ben could ring again in an NBA arena if a team wants the former Defensive Player of the Year. Wallace can’t kick the NBA bug after saying last season was his last. The Boston Globe reported that in July Wallace decided he wanted to make a comeback. He doesn’t see Detroit as a destination for himself, though. Some teams with young big men should think about bringing in the big guy to give the young forwards a dose of what it takes to make it in the NBA — and maybe give them a Big Ben staredown for good measure like it’s 2004 if they step out of line. … The same Globe piece caught up with Grant Hill after his speech at a Hall of Fame event last weekend. He talked about how he believes the Clips can contend for a title right now, and now the L.A. rivalry intrigued him because it felt like Carolina vs. Duke all over again. You know who else is sharing in that Clipper confidence? Blake Griffin. The pair were chilling in a barbershop in LA recently when Blake told Grant he was ready to go off this season, post-knee surgery. Let’s see: Surgery following a big contract, sound like anyone you know, Grant? He said he told Griffin right then to take it easy out of the gate and not cheat his full rehab. … What will Griffin “going easy” mean for defenders early on? Is that saying he’ll stuff it in their face with just one hand or two? … The Billy Gillispie saga at Texas Tech isn’t precedent-setting, because players and coaches hash out their differences all the time. We’ll give you that going to the athletic director is rarer but still, it happens. What makes the situation at Texas Tech odd is how publicly is being sorted out. Deron Williams and Bill Self, among others, have come out to say they’ve got his back and that his methods aren’t madness. Self’s take on Sunday was very interesting partially because he initiated a call to ESPN to talk about it, and man did he talk about it. To paraphrase, everyone wants to win badly, every coach toes the line of what’s appropriate sometimes, and Gillispie is prone to do it a lot. However, Self, wondered aloud, why is there such a disparity between the unhappy players and those who have his back, some even from last year’s Tech team? We don’t have a doubt that the polar-opposite feelings between the two camps are real in their loyalty or unhappiness with the situation. Gillispie has won a lot and wins a lot of friends because of it — and like Self said, going 1-17 in the Big 12 won’t exactly make things all kum-bah-ya in Lubbock. Self plays both cards in his comments, saying they’re good buddies off the court but have had “some of the quickest handshakes” after games because they’re upset at each other (the two worked together before). The truth’s in the middle, which is what Tech’s AD is going after. We said here before that he deserves another season, because one year is a really short rope. Gillispie-ball isn’t for everyone but if there’s one thing he excels at, it’s taking a bad situation and turning up roses. With about eight new players coming in we’ll see if he can do it again. Be cautious betting against his odds of a turnaround. … We’re out like Blake going easy on a dunk.
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