|Photo: Barry Gossage - Getty Images|
What a wild summer it's been thus far.
You've got to love NBA free agency. No individual player makes more of an impact on their team in any other professional team sport than the National Basketball Association.
That's why, for me, the NBA off-season is always the most exciting. Hell, with so many movers and shakers this off-season, it's helped me forget about the fact that the upcoming 2012-13 season is still a ways away.
There have been lots of moving pieces this off-season, some more relevant and newsworthy than others, but nonetheless, you've got to believe that the Phoenix Suns have been the top overall "winners" of free agency.
It's been a crazy off-season to be Phoenix Suns fan. Some notable subtractions from Phoenix were franchise face Steve Nash being shipped off to the rival Lakers via sign-and-trade (tough choice, but right one) and Grant Hill signed with the Clippers.
I'm going to miss those guys, no doubt, but realistically, it was time to move on. Neither sides' goals would have been achieved had the relationship continued, so it was better off cutting ties now. It also doesn't hurt that the Suns received some draft picks and cash in return for Nash, especially when he could have signed elsewhere like Toronto and left the Suns high and dry. This way, everyone left the table satisfied.
As for the notable additions, Goran Dragic makes his triumphant return to the Valley to take over at point guard for the now-departed Nash. To this day I still hate the trade that sent Dragic to Houston for two seasons, but now I see that, in a roundabout way, it was the right move. Dragic needed to get out from under Nash's shadow.
It was the only way he was going to get significant court time to further his development. As a Suns fan, I'm just happy to see the Front Office admit their 'mistake' and bring Dragic back. I thought there would be an overwhelming drop off in offensive execution once Nash left, or at least some bad years while new Suns draft pick Kendall Marshall continued to develop, but with The Dragon back in the fold, I'm much more confident in the team's abilities.
Michael Beasley was also brought in on a three-year deal. The now 23-year-old former second overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Beasley has adamantly swore up and down that his days of doing the mary jane are in the rear-view mirror. For his case and that of the Suns, I hope he's right. Beasley has all the versatility and talent in the world, and at 23, he's only going to get better. If he stays focused, this could prove to be the steal of free agency.
Another minor three-team trade that was just recently agreed to sends Hakim Warrick and underwhelming seven-footer Robin Lopez (you know the one, the guy that looks like he has a live Bulbasaur nesting on his head) to New Orleans, and in return the Suns receive the Grizzlies' 2013 protected first-round pick (via Minnesota) and young swingman Wesley Johnson. (There are a few more minor details, but they're not relevant to the Suns). The Timberwolves were the driving force behind this deal, needing to shed cap space to free up room to sign free agent forward Andrei "AK47" Kirilenko.
The best part about this off-season for the Suns, however, could be the fact that they've set themselves up nicely to be players next summer as well, which is shaping up to be the summer of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, etc.
It's nice to see the Suns front office finally turn things around after that horrendous debacle in the summer of 2010 when, after losing Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks in free agency, the team essentially panicked and signed Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress, and overpaid Channing Frye.
The Suns may still need to pick up an additional big man, (though they did win the amnesty auction for veteran big man Luis Scola after Houston cut ties with him) to hold down the fort in the backup center role behind Marcin Gortat until Frye is fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery.
An honorable mention for the Suns FINALLY falling in line with the #AmnestyJoshChildress campaign on Twitter too.
All in all, at least in my book, this off-season by the Suns deserves an A+.