COMMENTARY | It wasn't a matter of if Marcin Gortat would be traded, but when.
Now that one of the major questions for the 2013-14 season has been answered, let's make five bold predictions:
Eric Bledsoe Will Get DNP-Tank More Than 10 Times
It's a delicate balance when you've got a tank-first approach to a basketball season. How do you lose games while still developing players and chemistry? Bledsoe is the kind of player who goes hard regardless of the score and regardless of the office's wish to secure a top lottery spot. Expect him to come down with some random illnesses throughout the season in order to preserve the ping-pong balls come 2014 NBA draft time.
Emeka Okafor Won't Play a Game for the Suns
He was just acquired, but he's currently out with a herniated disk in his neck. There's no secret here -- the Suns were simply shedding salary and wanted the pick. Okafor is another trade chip who could be turned into more assets (not one 2014 first rounder, not two, not three...). As a veteran guy, teams know what Okafor brings. He's not a nightly double-double threat, but he'll play solid defense, is a serviceable rebounder, and has decent hands around the basket. Expect the Suns to move him to a contender in return for a draft pick.
Gerald Green Will Average Double-Digits
He's got athleticism in spades, but he hasn't been able to translate it to scoring on a consistent basis. He did average 10.4 points per game for Boston back in 2006-07 and then 12.9 points for the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12. He did play two years in Russia in between those times, which shows that he hasn't been able to keep the momentum going. However, his per-36 minute scoring average is a respectable 16.5 for his career, and he's going to get quality minutes on this Suns team. Look for 11 points per game from Green, mostly off the bench and in spot starts.
Goran Dragic Won't Be Traded
Unless a team is willing to give up an unprotected 2014 draft pick, there's no rush to move Dragic. His contract isn't expiring so he's not going to walk away, his value isn't going to plummet anytime soon, and he might be a good fit next to Bledsoe. The Suns should play this one safe and reevaluate closer to the trade deadline. The Dragic/Bledsoe combination could lead all NBA starting backcourts in steals per game and they're sure to be fun to watch. While I didn't think Gortat would be moved so early, I really don't see the reason to trade Dragic this early.
Jeff Hornacek Will Secretly Seethe Over Direction of Team
Think about the kind of player that Hornacek was. He was a gritty competitor who wasn't the most athletically gifted, yet he found ways to produce and always worked his butt off. Now, he's (unofficially) being asked to lose for an entire season. Yes, it's for the greater good and it's designed to expedite the rebuilding process.
But this is a man of principle and a man with a lot of pride. Nobody likes to lose, especially if he feels like he can do something about it. Keep a close eye on Hornacek's demeanor later in the year. I'm willing to bet you'll see some seething beneath the surface.
Michael Dunlap covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Emeka Okafor
- Eric Bledsoe
- Marcin Gortat
- Washington Wizards
- Goran Dragic