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The Cost of Hedo…

After Friday night’s loss, the Suns are once again on the wrong side of .500 and on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They’ve lost four of their last five, two of those to the team that they’re battling for eighth, and they seem incapable of rebounding against a team of grade eight girls. While it’s never a good idea to make declarative statements about teams 30 games into the season (see the hyperbole that surrounded the Miami Heat’s demise three weeks ago), I think we could have definitively said that these Suns are at best a first round sweep and at worst a 14th pick in the first round – which is basically the worst pick to have. Too late in the process to get a great player, but just early enough to mean you missed the playoffs. Honestly, who could have seen this coming… Actually, everyone. Everyone, except, apparently, Robert Sarver.

I think that I’ve made this point a couple of times: I’m less than impressed with some of the moves the Suns made this offseason. With Amare tearing up New York, it’s hard not to think the Suns erred in not bringing him back. Worse though, is that the money they could have spent on Amare they instead spread amongst Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, and Hakim Warrick. That’s like saying, hey waiter, can I trade this fillet mignon for a corn dog, a moldy banana, three cheerios, and some processed cheese. You could make the case that given his injury history, the Suns were smart not to bring Amare back, and that’s fine, but… After the Turk’s pathetic performance last year, you just cannot trade for Hedo Turkoglu. You can’t.

Yesterday, that boneheaded move ended up costing the Suns Jason Richardson. So, if you’re counting at home, after making the Western Conference finals last year, Robert Sarver’s cheapness has now cost the Suns GM Steve Kerr, star Amare Stoudemire, star Jason Richardson, and two bench players (Leandro Barbosa and the surprisingly useful Louis Amundson). Ouch. Of course, ultimately the player that all these maneuvers will possibly cost Phoenix is Steve Nash. Just don’t expect that to happen this year.

Sadly, I actually like the trade for the Suns. I say sadly, because I hate that they had to trade Richardson (and not just because he had such a great given name). Still, once they’d made that boneheaded Hedo acquisition, they were always going to have to give up something valuable to get rid of the smoking Turk. No doubt, Vince Carter has his flaws, and he’s also four years older than JRich, but there’s a good chance that playing next to Nash helps Vince recover enough to at least resemble what Richardson did for them. On top of that, they add a good defensive wing in Mikael Pietrus and an actual real, live, center.

Marcin Gortat is the reason that the Suns might be better off after this trade. Assuming that Vince can replace most of Richardson’s value – which given the success he had playing next to Jason Kidd in New Jersey is a reasonable expectation – and that Pietrus wont (can’t?) be any worse offensively than Hedo was, then the Suns come out neutral before considering the addition of Gortat. Once you factor in that the Big Pole brings some of the rebounding, shot blocking and post defense that the Suns sorely needed, it’s hard to conclude that they are any worse than they were yesterday morning. Now, between Gortat and Robin Lopez the Suns actually have a real center rotation. It’s not quite Bill Walton backing up Robert Parish, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the famed Earl Barron – Channing Frye combo that the Suns were using last week.

So, the Suns are better today than yesterday, even without Richardson. Of course, there’s no reason that they should have had Hedo and his bloated contract in the first place, so while I like this trade, the Suns are worse now than they were at this time last year.

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