Saturday , Mar , 14 , 2009 Oly Sandor

The cost of Phoenix’s penny-pinching: No Fernandez, Johnson, Rondo, or Robinson for post-Nash era

Rudy Fernandez, Rajon Rondo, and Nate Robinson were auctioned off at successive drafts because owner Robert Sarver wanted to save money. Today, with the playoffs looking unlikely, the Suns are paying for their thriftiness. Part of the reason for Phoenix’s decline is that they failed to develop talent for the short or long term. For instance, Rondo and Robinson could’ve helped Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire in past playoff battles against San Antonio. And after some on the job training, they, along with Fernandez, could’ve assumed greater roles …


The cost of Phoenix's penny-pinching: No Fernandez, Johnson, Rondo, or Robinson for post-Nash eraThey should be playing for Phoenix. 

Rudy Fernandez, Rajon Rondo, and Nate Robinson were auctioned off at successive drafts because owner Robert Sarver wanted to save money. Today, with the playoffs looking unlikely, the Suns are paying for their thriftiness.

Part of the reason for Phoenix’s decline is that they failed to develop talent for the short or long term. For instance, Rondo and Robinson could’ve helped Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire in past playoff battles against San Antonio. And after some on the job training, they, along with Fernandez, could’ve assumed greater roles.

With a major rebuilding project coming, the Suns don’t have one young player capable of logging major minutes. Consider the damage done during the Sarver era: 

No Rudy … 

At the June 2007 draft, the club selected Fernandez, a top international player, near the end of the first round. Rather than pay the Spaniard 4 million dollars over the life of his rookie deal, the Suns sent him to Portland with James Jones for cash.

Fernandez, an established international and European club star, is making an impact in Portland. He can hit the three, attack the basket, and possesses great energy. He would’ve been a fit in Mike D’Antoni/Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo scheme. 

No Need for speed … 

At the June 2006 draft, speedster Rajon Rondo was dealt to Boston with Brian Grant for a future first rounder. Again, this was about the bottom line. The Suns wanted Grant off the books and sacrificed Rondo’s potential for the savings.

Right now, the University of Kentucky grad is the starting table-setter for the defending world champions. He has played like an All-Star this year and is one of the game’s steadiest point guards.  

No to Kryptonite … 

At the June 2005 draft, Phoenix traded first round pick Nate Robinson and Quentin Richardson to New York for Kurt Thomas.

On the surface, this made sense. Thomas, a strong post, was supposed to supply an interior presence, especially on defense. Unfortunately, the veteran never got healthy and was shipped to Seattle in another cost-cutting move.

Meanwhile, Robinson, who had some ups-and-downs in New York, has finally emerged as a top reserve with, ironically, D’Antoni as his coach. 

What about Joe? …

Of course, Sarver’s greatest blunder was refusing to sign All-Star Joe Johnson to below market dollars before his contract expired. Even lowly Atlanta realized the two-man’s worth, tendering him a max contract in free agency.

An awkward sign-and-trade followed. And Johnson, one of the game’s best all-round players, has led the Hawks’ renaissance. Right now, with the Suns transitioning out veterans, Johnson would have been a nice first or second option.

Bottom line: With some common sense, the Phoenix Suns could’ve had four players for after the Nash era. They have nothing; the cupboard is bare. And Sarver’s penny-pinching is to blame. 

What are your thoughts on Sarver and the Suns? How would Rudy Fernandez, Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, and Joe Johnson look in Phoenix? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe The Blog for further NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of phantroll.