Sun Devils’ Graham visits Downtown campus

Sun Devil Football Head Coach Todd Graham spoke with Downtown campus students Wednesday about last year’s season and the coming season.

Joining Graham were two ASU football players, including quarterback Taylor Kelly.

Graham opened up to students about the differences between the 2011 and 2012 seasons when it came to ASU football and the team of 85 players.

Two of the major improvements between 2011 and 2012 were academics. In 2011, the average grade point average was 2.2 and it rose to 2.56 in 2012. The number of classes missed on average changed, as well. In 2011, the team missed 141, but in 2012, the team only missed 19 classes.

Graham noted how close ASU was to playing in the Championship, but lost the chance after losing a last second field goal to UCLA (the University of California at Los Angeles).

“One of the biggest wins of the year was going down and winning the Territorial Cup, but that’s the bare minimum expectation of something we’re gonna do every year,” Graham stated, matter-of-factly about the University of Arizona game.

According to Kelly, winning against U of A on their home field was the best feeling ever.
Graham also made sure to note that 2012 was the best season the Sun Devils have had so far, both in student participation and in game plan, and that he plans for 2013 to be even better.

By around 2016, Graham believes that a new stadium will be up and running. He has been speaking to students to see what they wanted and one of those things is a club section for students.

Continuing to look forward, Graham shared that not only the school has high hopes for the team this coming season, but so do others. ASU is picked to have the most polls in the top 25 in the country and ESPN has picked ASU to win the South.

“I want to be the first head coach to win a National Championship at Arizona State and I really believe we can do that,” said Graham.

On April 18 at 6:45 p.m. at the Sun Devil stadium, the football team is holding an event that will feature a movie and the opportunity to speak with the team, coaches, and staff.

Local racewalker trains for race

Georgina Norun trains for Monday’s Downtown Racewalk 5K, her first competition since she was disqualified in 2011. (Jo Mahma/DD)

To her friends and classmates, journalism student Georgina Norun doesn’t seem like an elite quasi-athlete.

“Yeah, I guess she does walk fast,” fellow Cronkite student Mark Normal said. “I don’t really think about it.”

Norun is one of thousands of competitors expected to compete in the USGD-sponsored “Downtown Racewalk 5K.” The 5K has the biggest cash payout of any Racewalk on the 2013 National Racewalk Circuit, with a prize pool of $37.50.

“It’s not about the money,” Norun said. “It’s all about the love of the pseudo-game. I’m not saying I couldn’t use my share of the cash, but I’m not about the fame or fortune. When I’m up training kind of early — like, maybe around 10 a.m. on a Saturday — it’s not money that keeps me going. It’s first place.”

Norun has persevered through multiple controversies and injuries throughout her storied career. This is Norun’s first event since her controversial disqualification in the 2011 “McDonald’s Racewalk 300.” Norun finished the race in first place, but had her victory taken away for a running violation. Norun missed the entire 2012 season with a cut on her left big toe.

“There were times last year when I really thought I wasn’t going to come back,” Norun said. “My toe was pretty bad. It was bleeding a little.”

The injury required three regular sized bandages, although some doctors from the U.S. Olympic team argued one extra large bandage would have been a better approach.

Norun claims that she is 100% healthy going into 2013, but some of her competitors have their doubts.

“I’m not sure if you ever really recover from a major injury like that,” said Swedish racewalker Sebastian Eklov. “I mean, I guess the toe will recover physically – but are you ever the same again mentally?”

Norun’s injury, along with shocking retirement of 2012 Circuit champion John “Iron Toe” Smith, leaves the field for the 5K wide open. With the aforementioned historically high prize pool and a handshake and Facebook friend request from USGD President Joe Grossman for the winner, things are going to get heated.

“Wait, we’re sponsoring a what? Oh, yeah, I guess my new Facebook friend request is going to be a big deal,” Grossman said. “Has the ASA ever put on a racewalk? No. No, seriously, somebody tell me if they have because I really didn’t even know this was a thing.”

The winner of the 5K will be in a great position to compete for the 2013 Circuit championship. A championship is the only thing Norun is missing to finish cementing her legacy, which includes an Olympic gold medal and 3 Most Valuable Walker awards.

“It’s all about championships,” Norun said. “I’ll be honest — 6 months ago when I had to put a second bandage on my toe, I didn’t think I’d even be here. Now that I’m here, I’m going to make it count. Always remember: Anything’s possible!”

Norun becomes eligible for the near-sport Hall of Fame next year, where she hopes to join legends in fields like underwater basket weaving, hot air ballooning and professional video games.

The Downtown Racewalk 5K will be held Monday in Civic Space Park. More details can be found at the event’s Google Plus page.

Streaking Suns?

When the Suns win big games, I end up buying a jersey of some kind.

There’s a certain sense of pride when your team wins against a good opponent, and that sense is
multiplied 100 times when your team is terrible. When Phoenix beat the Lakers in Steve Nash’s
first game back at US Airways, I bought a Charles Barkley retro jersey. And when the Suns
pulled off the improbable overtime win against the West-leading San Antonio Spurs, I knew I
had to buy another one.

Such is the life of a win-deprived Suns fan.

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris (15) and forward Markieff Morris (11) walk off the court during the second half against the Boston Celtics at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeated the Suns 113-88. (Jennifer Stewart/USA TODAY Sports)

For just the second time this season, the Phoenix Suns have won their third game in a row,
pushing their record to 21-39. Even more impressive, those wins have all been quality victories.
First there was an overtime win against the injury-depleted Timberwolves last Tuesday, which in
and of itself is not all that impressive. But they followed that up with an overtime victory against the Spurs on the road the very next night, which happened before Tony Parker went down with an ankle injury. Then, Phoenix defied the odds once more with a quality home win over Al
Horford and the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

The Suns are playing great basketball right now and the old-school throwback jerseys they’ve
been wearing are the best in the league, but I’m not going to do anything foolish like call them
a brand new team or declare there’s hope for the immediate future. Because there really isn’t, as any Suns fan will tell you. No offense to the Dragon, but when Goran Dragic is your best player, you’re not going to be contending for titles. But during this recent stretch, watching Phoenix play has been bearable and – dare I say it – fun.

So how have the Suns strung together this little winning streak? Well, it all starts with defense. During this three-game stretch, the Suns have held their opponents to just over 90 points per game. They’ve limited their opponents’ field goal percentage to 39.7%. And although they were outrebounded by the Hawks by five, the Suns have narrowly outrebounded their opposition overall.

The elevated play of Goran Dragic, Jermaine O’Neal and Markieff Morris and the addition
of Marcus Morris to the lineup have also been helpful as the Suns have done their best to not
completely alienate and disgrace their fan base. Dragic is evolving into the kind of playmaker the Suns have desperately needed since Steve Nash left, averaging 9.4 assists in his last five games. O’Neal has been a rebounding machine off the bench and has given the Suns’ second unit much-needed scoring, averaging 14.7 points, 10.3 boards and 2 blocks during Phoenix’s win streak. Mark Morris has put up 10.6 points in his last five while Marc Morris is averaging 13.5 points and 2 steals in his last three. The whole “Hey! Come to our games because we have twins!”
approach is still a pretty lame PR strategy, but so far having two copies of essentially the same player has worked out decently.

However, as much I enjoy buying jerseys to show off to all my fellow Suns fans who are
depressed by the here and now and need frequent reminders that Phoenix actually used to be a
good team, this resurgence really isn’t in the team’s best interest. The playoffs are well beyond reach and have been for quite some time. Which means the best approach, as much as I hate to see it, is tanking. As a fan of competition, I abhor the concept of losing on purpose to try and cheat the system for better draft prospects. But is it too much to ask that my favorite team stays competitive while losing the rest of the way to earn a better pick? Is it too much for me to ask that if my favorite team is going to fail, they at least do it right? Apparently so, because Phoenix has now moved up over the Hornets and Kings in the West, which means a lower draft pick. The Suns also get the Lakers’ first-round pick if LA misses the playoffs, but since that’s not a lock, getting a high pick would definitely go a long ways in helping this fan base feel more secure about its team’s future.

So please, Phoenix. I love watching you win. I love being able to talk smack to my friends for a
few days. And I love remembering the good old days with my fellow Suns fans by showing off
a new Charles Barkley or Jason Kidd jersey. But also keep our future (and my bank account) in
mind.

Phoenix Suns welcome back Steve Nash in perfect fashion

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

Suns fans are used to seeing their hero Steve Nash in purple. Seeing him in purple and Laker gold is a different story.

Like many Phoenix residents, my Fourth of July was ruined by the news that our two-time MVP was not only leaving, but that he was heading to Los Angeles. Although the Lakers-Suns rivalry isn’t really much of a rivalry for a storied franchise with 16 championships, recent playoff battles have cemented Kobe Bryant and his golden-clad cronies as the most hated team in the hearts of Suns fans.

Hearing that Nash was heading to play for our ultimate archenemy would be like Luke Skywalker joining Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi. Our biggest hero had joined the Dark Side.

Of course, nobody knew his future back in April, when a U.S. Airways Center full of emotional Suns fans started chanting, “We want Steve!” We all hoped it wouldn’t be the last time we’d see Nash in purple and orange. But as much as it hurt, there was an undeniable air of finality that night.

That’s why we all showed up to the last regular season game for a team no longer in playoff contention to take pictures. That’s why Grant Hill’s last game for the Suns, a game he didn’t even get to play in, went relatively unnoticed. That’s why the final score didn’t matter. And that’s why our cries of “We want Steve!” shook the building for ten minutes in the fourth quarter until coach Alvin Gentry finally obliged.

Maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing that Nash’s first play after all our cheers was an anti-climactic turnover. Maybe we should have seen the heartbreak coming when Gentry pulled him only a minute after his gratifying curtain call. But in that moment, an entire stadium knew one thing: Steve Nash was an irreplaceable era of Suns basketball.

That’s also why his departure for LA left us scarred and questioning what his time in Phoenix meant. I’ll readily admit this column would read a lot differently had I written it the day after the news surfaced. But as angry and hurt as I was to learn the city’s basketball icon would be playing for our most hated foe, he had justifiable reasons.

After all, he did choose the Lakers so he’d be closer to his kids. On top of that, the Suns never gave him a reason to stick around in the first place. In a league full of superstars whining about management and looking for a team to house all their superstar buddies, Nash always defended us. And even when all hopes of a title left with Amare Stoudemire, Nash stuck with the Suns. He never complained. He never demanded a trade. And he never offered anything less than his best, even as it became more and more obvious Phoenix was stuck in the mud. And because of that eternal optimism and loyalty, Nash endeared himself even more to his fans.

Which only made our parting that much harder.

No one can deny Nash deserved better than playing for a floundering franchise in search of its first playoff appearance in two years, let alone that ever-elusive first championship. Still, my initial reaction (read: overreaction) was, ‘I hope he never wins a title with the Lakers.’ Those sentiments only grew stronger when Dwight Howard joined the mix. As a kid who grew up idolizing Michael Jordan, the thought of Kobe Bryant winning his sixth ring to tie MJ and usher in a whole new era of ludicrous “MJ or Kobe?” conversations makes me sick to my stomach. I’m not a Kobe hater and I respect him as one of the all-time greats, but it’s hard to describe how disappointed I’d be as a Suns fan if our former hero helped him win another ring.

But as queasy as I might be watching Nash run the pick-and-roll in Laker gold this year, that one memorable night in US Airways keeps coming back to me. It outweighs all the anger or disgust I have at his new squad. It will be the one redeeming thought I’ll hold on to if the Lakers somehow succeed in the playoffs. Because even though it killed me to hear the news, I wanted Nash to move on deep down. It doesn’t make any sense as a Suns fan, but after all he’d given my team, I wanted more for him. He’ll get that in Los Angeles, whether we like it or not.

So what was my reaction last night when Nash stepped onto his old home court as a Laker for the inevitable throttling of his former team? Now that I’ve had a few months to cool down and think with a clear head, my answer to that question was very different. Although a few boos sprinkled the arena when his name was called for the starting lineup (which I can’t entirely fault those fans for), the overwhelming majority of those in attendance cheered. And when the video tribute went up during a timeout, it was no surprise to see a standing ovation.

When I first heard about the trade, my instinct was to say we boo him in his first game back. Diehard fans live and breathe for their favorite teams and teams; Steve Nash was a prime example of that. But even though passion made his departure so heartbreaking, it was that very passion that pulled us to our feet for Steve Nash one last time. It certainly didn’t hurt that we got some vindication through an improbable Suns victory over the very rival Nash left us for, but there was no way of knowing the outcome when that tribute went up in the first quarter. We weren’t cheering for a potential victory in that moment. As a class act in the NBA who gave the Suns the prime of his career, Steve Nash deserved one more standing ovation.

Even if he was sporting that despicable Laker gold while we did it.

Sun Devils get “back to basics,” sweep Rams

Sun Devil Hockey Captain Colin Hekle looks for a pass during the second period on Saturday night. Hekle had the game winning goal against the University of Rhode Island Rams. (Will Argeros/DD)

The No. 2 Sun Devils walked over the No. 17 University of Rhode Island Rams this weekend, winning both games without allowing a single goal.

Over the weekend, junior goaltender Joe D’Elia stopped all 38 shots he faced over the two games.

D’Elia did not dress for the series against the University of Central Oklahoma after he surrendered six goals to the University of Oklahoma. He said it was good that coach was confident in him, and that it helped in this series.

“I felt my mental approach was better. This week I worked on staying at the top of my crease and challenging the shooter and that helped me for sure,” D’Elia said.

The team blocked 19 shots between the two games, and D’Elia said the defense did a good job of clearing loose pucks.

Senior defenseman and alternate captain Brian Parson said the team showed an improved defensive focus.

“We were doing the little things right: blocking shots, looking for the simple pass, not trying to be the hero,” Parson said. “No one wants to be the hero out here.”

The Sun Devils only managed seven goals on 98 shots this weekend. Head Coach Greg Powers said the team just needed to get back to basics.

“We just have to get more traffic and simplify. I want to see guys put the puck in the net, you can’t let teams hang around. When you have the chance to step on someone’s throat, you have to do it,” Powers said.

Of the seven goals, four came from the No. 1 line of juniors Colin Hekle and Dan Styrna, and sophomore Faiz Khan. Hekle said they have a special on-ice chemistry.

“It’s something you just can’t teach,” he said. “We see each other on the ice. I just don’t see anyone else as well as I do [Styrna and Khan]. We think two steps ahead of the play.”

The Sun Devils will need their top line to continue to produce as they take on the University of Arizona on Friday and Saturday for the final home games of the season. The puck drops at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Editor’s note: Will Argeros is the official stats tracker for the Sun Devil hockey team. His responsibilities include counting hits, blocked shots, shots for and against, face-off wins and losses and power play and penalty kill successes, as well as tracking goals, assists, penalties and plus/minus. The position is unpaid.

Phoenix Suns face rougher season without coach

Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns in action against Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The tumultuous journey that is 2013 Phoenix Suns basketball just got a little bit rockier with the news that head coach Alvin Gentry and the Suns “mutually agreed to part ways,” announced yesterday. An interim coach has not yet been named, but management plans on announcing one within the next few days since the Suns don’t play again until Wednesday.

There are two things Suns fans need to recognize about this move. First of all, the Suns’ current status at the very bottom of the Western Conference with a 13-28 record is not Gentry’s fault. As much as I’ve complained all season long about some of Gentry’s nonsensical lineups and his frustrating tendency to rely too much on the bench, if you’re looking for the real reason Phoenix is struggling, you have to start with Robert Sarver. There are only a handful of coaches in the world who could make something out of this roster and although Gentry is a personable, likable and intelligent coach, he’s not included in that group. In other words, if Sarver weren’t so terrible at doing his job, Gentry would have been better at his.

On the other hand, this move was bound to happen sooner or later. It seems stupid to fire a coach who had his team in the Western Conference Finals just three years ago, especially when you consider how weak the Suns’ roster is this year. It’s clearly not Gentry’s fault, but when you fall that far from grace, it’s hard to disagree that changes need to be made. No coach can go 13-28 for the first half of the season and get away with it, no matter who’s to blame. Gentry, for all his coaching skill and media savvy, was not the man for this job. The Suns need a developmental coach who can come in with enthusiasm and turn this season around. However, this raises another question: Who’s the right man for the job?

In his press conference yesterday, Lon Babby said the interim replacement would be an internal hire. This means the leading candidates are probably lead assistant coach Elston Turner and Lindsey Hunter, who is a development coordinator for first-year players with the Suns. Hunter definitely seems like the best hire at this point, considering his reputation for being a helpful personality on coaching staffs in the past, such as the Detroit Pistons. Knowing Suns’ management however, don’t be surprised if the best candidate doesn’t get the job.

Long-term, there are a few options the Suns could look into if they aren’t satisfied with the interim replacement by the end of the season. Stan Van Gundy is still available and would certainly be a great hire considering how well he coached the Orlando Magic last season, even without Dwight Howard on the floor. There’s also Avery Johnson and Scott Skiles, who were both recently let go by their teams. Johnson’s fiery personality and strict expectations might be helpful for a struggling team like the Suns, but Skiles would probably be a little too harsh for this group. And of course, basketball romantics will throw out names like Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, but the likelihood of either of them returning from retirement to coach a bottomfeeder team like Phoenix is absolutely zero. Stan Van Gundy seems like the best hire for the long-term future, but again, knowing Suns’ management, we’ll be lucky to get ANY high-profile coach instead of sticking with whatever interim coach they select.

But all this talk of long-term doesn’t give much hope to Suns fans in the here and now. The fact remains that this coach-less Phoenix team is at the very bottom of the Western Conference halfway through the season and there’s little hope in sight other than future draft prospects. If the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns get their first-round pick in addition to whatever lottery pick they acquire, based on how poor their record is. But even though next year’s draft will be relatively weak and I’ve never been a fan of tanking for good draft picks, that will likely have to be our rallying cry for the next few months considering how bad this season could get. If the interim coach can shift the focus back to the pick-and-roll, find a way to get Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat going early on offense, teach Luis Scola how to play defense, help Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown shoot better, breathe life into a sorry second unit, keep Michael Beasley firmly planted on the bench, heal Channing Frye’s heart and morph Wesley Johnson into Kevin Durant, the Suns will be fine. But since the interim coach will not be a superhuman wizard with magic powers appointed by the basketball gods, expect this long season to feel even longer.

Don’t feel sorry for Gentry. Now that he’s not responsible for the Phoenix Suns, he’ll probably live a few years longer. He’ll have no problem finding another job and if you give him a decent lineup, he’ll make something of it. In fact, don’t be surprised to see him on D’Antoni’s staff in Los Angeles as an assistant that won’t have to deal with the stress of managing a struggling squad. If anything, feel sorry for the Suns. Because as bad as Gentry’s been at the helm lately, it’s about to get worse. Only an interim coach who’s absolutely perfect for the job could turn this season around, so don’t be surprised to see the Suns enter full-out tank mode.

NHL season to resume on Sunday with 24 games

Professional hockey resumes play this week after a nearly five-month hold on the regular season. The Phoenix Coyotes’ first home game is this Sunday. Shane Doan, above, is the only Phoenix Coyote to stay with the team since its move to the Valley in 1996.
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After the cancellation of four and a half months of the regular season, the NHL will resume play Saturday following the ratification of a new CBA.

Each team will play a 48-game season, with all 48 games coming against conference and division rivals. That means the Phoenix Coyotes will have 24 home games between Sunday and April 22.

After winning the Pacific Division and falling to the LA Kings in the Western Conference Finals, the Coyotes have a lot of momentum to ride into this year.

While there were some trades in the off season that saw the departure of forward Ray Whitney and several defensemen, there was much good news.

Captain Shane Doan signed a four-year $21.2 million deal in September. He is the only player on the Coyotes’ current roster that has stayed with the team since relocating to the Valley in 1996.

Perhaps an even bigger story came in December, when the Glendale City Council approved a new lease agreement with potential owner Greg Jamison. Jamison had offered to buy the team, which has been owned by the league since 2009.

An owner, the return of the captain and a division title have transformed the Coyotes from a joke to a serious contender. The key for success will be to come flying out of the gates. A short season means there isn’t time to slump.

Training camp opened Monday and the first home game is Sunday at 8 p.m.

The pros and cons of trading for Rudy Gay

Yesterday, trade rumors involving the Phoenix Suns and Rudy Gay began to surface. And ever since then, I’ve been asking myself: Would he make that much of a difference?

To put it simply, absolutely.

PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 6: Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies dunks against the Phoenix Suns on January 6, 2013 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

But before we get to how Gay could help an underachieving Suns team with an abysmal 12-24 record, we need to take a look at the proposed deal and examine why it makes sense for both sides. The rumor circulating throughout Twitter yesterday reported the Grizzlies would ship Gay in exchange for Jared Dudley and one or two future first round picks. On paper, this seems like a pretty sweet deal for the Suns and a pretty questionable one for the Grizzlies. So why would Memphis ship off one of their best players — and arguably their most dynamic scorer — for a guy who hasn’t even been in Phoenix’s starting rotation all season?

Well, as in life sometimes, so it is in the NBA: It’s all about the money. The Grizzlies are aggressively shopping one of the best players of a Western Conference-contending team because they want to avoid the luxury tax next year. Gay is one of the league’s most dazzling, high-flying athletic players, but his contract is an obese chunk of lard that is keeping the Grizzlies firmly rooted in the ground. Gay is owed $16.4 million this season, $17.8 million next season and $19.3 million in the season after that. The Grizzlies are looking to acquire an efficient role player on the wing in Jared Dudley, but they also won’t mind absorbing his incredibly sweet contract ($4.25 million) on top of that. In addition to money, there’s the matter of team chemistry. Rudy Gay has struggled at times with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, two elite big men who have shown their capability of dominating other teams in the paint. At times, Gay can be a perfect complement to these two forces in the paint as an electric and often unstoppable scorer on the wing. But his success often comes at the price of Randolph and/or Gasol’s efficiency, which usually ends with the Grizzlies underachieving. Dudley is a team player who doesn’t demand a lot of shots and would happily fill a spot on the wing with a winning team after playing with the struggling Suns for so long. And because Gay hasn’t been very efficient from beyond the 3-point line, Dudley has a chance to step in and fulfill the Grizzlies’ need for a perimeter shooter. In addition to Dudley, future first-round picks would ensure a higher chance at success in the future for an already impressive defensive core composed of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Dudley, Randolph and Gasol.

For the Suns, the deal seems like a no-brainer. Trading a former reserve, albeit a lovable one, for a potential superstar in Rudy Gay? Absolutely! But again, this is about more than talent. As the Los Angeles Lakers will tell you, trading for All-Stars doesn’t necessarily equate with success; if anything, it can create chemistry problems. And as the Brooklyn Nets will tell you, spending money to keep players happy doesn’t guarantee success; if anything, it means paying extra for the luxury tax and dealing with fans complaining about overpaid, underachieving athletes. Picking up Gay would be huge for Phoenix, but he also poses a few problems in addition to the obvious benefits.

For all the minor chemistry issues he’s created at times in Memphis, Gay is still a dynamic scorer who would undoubtedly see some of his career-low numbers this season spike by being “the man” in Phoenix. However, his contract is a pretty hefty one to take on. Picking up Gay really endangers the Suns’ proximity to that nasty luxury tax. Then there’s the future draft pick to consider. No fan wants to hear that their team should settle on rebuilding with good draft picks, but the Suns currently own the Lakers’ first-round lottery pick provided LA misses the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, that concept was laughable, but considering their poor record and unhealthy frontcourt, it’s not out of the question now. This would mean a first-round lottery pick for Phoenix in addition to another first round pick the Suns would likely earn for missing the playoffs. The Suns currently have the fifth-worst record in the league, so assuming the draft stays true to form, that’s a top-five pick. Next year’s draft is admittedly weak, but is trading two lottery picks for a great player the right move to make?

Overall, this trade presents a lot of problems for both sides, but the Grizzlies would recover quickly. The Suns would only be giving up a fan favorite who doesn’t have a lot of room for potential and they’d receive a dynamic scorer, but they’d be dealing with some salary issues for sure. When all is said and done though, Phoenix could really use Gay, and not just because of his talent that would shine through were he “the man” in Phoenix. Gay is a big name that could draw in much-needed fans, attention and excitement for a team that’s had its lowest home attendance in history this season.

There are just a couple of things to make note of, Suns fans. First, don’t expect Rudy Gay to turn this team around if Phoenix does make the trade. There are definitely worse attitudes in the NBA, but Gay seems to relish beating down the Suns every time Memphis comes to town, so don’t expect him to be overly excited about having to carry the load for the second-to-last team in the West. He’ll have his moments and the Suns will start winning more games with him on the roster, but the playoffs are still a long way away. Second, a lot of talk on Twitter was about whom the Suns would end up trading Rudy Gay for. While I personally would love nothing more than seeing Michael Beasley and Channing Frye shipped off, the fact that John Hollinger is now involved with Grizzlies management tells me a trade involving Beasley, Shannon Brown or Sebastian Telfair (the kind of trade we want) won’t happen. It’ll likely be Dudley and draft picks or nothing at all. Dudley has gained my respect over the years for his defense, his hard work and his great personality, but if the Suns have an opportunity to trade him for Rudy Gay, they have to do it. At the very least, it’ll put people in the stands and give fans a jersey they may actually want to buy.

Dbacks Acquire Didi Gregorius for Trevor Bauer

New Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius
Source: Getty Images

The Diamondbacks have acquired their long-coveted shortstop.

In a deal that materialized late Tuesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team deal that also included the Cleveland Indians.

Diamondbacks get: SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Tony Sipp, 1B Lars Anderson

Indians get: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Brian Shaw, RHP Matt Albers, CF Drew Stubbs

Reds get: RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jason Donald

Gregorius figures to compete for the starting shortstop position, but the team may also decide to start him in Triple-A Reno to help further his development.  Sipp is a left-handed specialist who had much success at the major league level.  Anderson is a first baseman who was a former high prospect with the Boston Red Sox.

Trevor Bauer is the key player leaving Arizona. He was the Dbacks first round pick (third overall) in 2011. He was the top prospect in the organization entering the 2012 season, but fell out of favor with the team after a short stint in the majors during which he reportedly had clashes with veteran catcher Miguel Montero.  Shaw and Albers are both right-handed relief pitchers.

The Diamondbacks managed to acquire a major league ready shortstop without having to surrender right fielder Justin Upton, who will presumably not be traded. The team no longer has any pressing needs for which they would have to trade their young star.