Will the Suns ever find that efficient understudy for Steve Nash?
It wasn’t Leandro Barbosa or Eddie House. It surely wasn’t Marcus Banks, and so far attempt No. 4 has been a big swing and a miss with Chris Duhon, Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue all bypassing the Suns for more money elsewhere.
So what if it isn’t Sam Cassell, Damon Stoudamire or Jason Williams? Word is the Suns will go to war with second-round pick Goran Dragic — if he can buy his way out of Europe — and second-year player D.J. Strawberry for the 15-18 minutes (and possible 10-12 games) that Nash is slated to be off the floor next season.
Can that really happen? In an ultra-competitive conference and with Nash’s back always a concern, can a veteran team with no time to lose cross its fingers and hope two kids can learn the ropes?
The front office feels Nash burned himself out keeping the Suns afloat last season and that scenario can’t repeat itself. But the veteran’s minimum contract Phoenix is waving at free agents may not be any more successful with the next wave of prospects as the first.
Even if it does — Stoudamire played behind backup Jacque Vaughn in San Antonio last year; Williams is coming off a horrible season and is a loose cannon to boot; Cassell showed he can still play, but don’t expect him to run the offense, Sam does what he does, and everyone else watches.
It’s looking more and more like the Suns have to investigate the trade route, starting with teams who have a glut at the point spot (Indiana, Memphis, Portland, etc.). No matter how good Strawberry looks in Las Vegas or how cool Dragic looks on YouTube, the Suns can’t go down that road.
What a perfect time for the Diamondbacks to pick up Tony Clark. With the Cubs coming up on the schedule next week, it’s the perfect time for Clark to gather up his young teammates in a local hotel room and try to repeat last year’s magical “hitters only” meeting.
He automatically becomes Bob Melvin’s No. 1 pinch-hitting option. Other than a solid, late-inning defensive replacement, don’t expect too much more from Clark. He struck out 32 times and hit one home run in his 88 at-bats with the Padres, a team that expected to challenge for a playoff spot but instead sits as the second-worst team in baseball.
But off the field, as a wise sage and confidant in the dressing room for a gaggle of struggling young hitters, Clark might turn out to be infinitely more valuable.
• Good luck with Richie Sexson, Yankee fans. Fans in the left-field bleachers should be close enough to feel the breeze from those swings and misses. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are down and, finally, the money tree is empty and has the Bronx Bombers trolling the same waiver wire as everyone else.
• David Duvall, Greg Norman and Tom Watson are on the leaderboard after the first round of the British Open. If this is 1994, please let me know because there are some, um, investments I’d like to shift around in my portfolio.
• Can’t blame Minnesota if it got a toe or two over the line when it comes to talking to Brett Favre. If anyone is a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender, it’s the Vikings.
• A happy birthday to Connie Hawkins, without whom no Suns Ring of Honor is complete. The Hawk turned 66 on Thursday.