Monday , Mar , 28 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Nash and Hill to follow Carter out of Phoenix?

Suns coach Alvin Gentry inserted center Marcin Gortat and swingman Jared Dudley into the starting lineup, putting Gortat into the spot of Robin Lopez, who had been groomed as a future franchise center, and Dudley in place of guard Vince Carter, who likely won’t be with the Suns next season.

Gortat, 27, has received minutes and produced the numbers as if he were a starter and embraces the idea of a bigger role in the future. Sunday was his first start as a Suns center after receiving one previous start at power forward alongside Lopez.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: How the mighty have fallen.

A decade ago, Vince Carter was supposedly the next Michael Jordan. ‘It was over’ when he won the Slam Dunk Contest with the Toronto Raptors. 

Five years ago, Carter was still a perennial All-Star with the New Jersey Nets, running the break and filling the lane alongside Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd.

Today, he lost his starting spot to Jared Dudley, a very solid but hardly spectacular player for the Phoenix Suns. Carter probably won’t return to the first-five this year.

His timing couldn’t be worse.

Carter’s $15 million per annum contract isn’t guaranteed for 2012, so expect the Suns to exercise the $4 million buyout, making him a not-so desirable free agent.

Heading into training camp, center Robin Lopez was an up-and-comer for the Suns. Coach Alvin Gentry even declared him the team’s second most important player behind Steve Nash.
 
Well, it hasn’t worked out.

Lopez has struggled with his game and emotions. He was recently replaced in the starting line-up by the active Marcin Gortat, who was acquired in the same mid-season trade that brought Carter to Phoenix from the Orlando Magic.

Like Carter, Lopez`s demotion isn’t a short-term thing. Gortat is the man in the middle. For now, and for the foreseeable future.

Change has hit Phoenix. Unfortunately, Carter may not be the only aging starter jettisoned out of Arizona.

Grant Hill and Nash are in their mid-to-late thirties. Unlike Carter, both can still play; however, Phoenix has to rebuild at some point.

And trading Nash and his considerable salary would provide much-needed relief for owner Robert Sarver’s limited resources.

The once mighty Carter and Lopez have fallen. Sadly, the still mighty Hill and Nash could also go this summer.

–Oly Sandor.

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