Phoenix Suns refocusing on rebounding, rotations and respect
Phoenix kids' return to school has meant refocusing on reading, writing and 'rithmetic.
The Suns' return to US Airways Center means refocusing on rebounding, rotations and respect.
They are familiar themes to the Suns, who continued voluntary workouts, welcoming new arrivals Tuesday, the day after Labor Day - an unofficial reporting day for informal pickup games. Eleven of the 14 Suns players under contract have arrived in town, with Jason Richardson expected any day and Hedo Turkoglu and Goran Dragic facing off Wednesday in Istanbul for the World Championship's Turkey-Slovenia quarterfinal.
The Suns have five new faces (Turkoglu, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Gani Lawal and Matt Janning) but a similar predicament to a year ago - a team rich in talent but slim on rebounding, a coach with a chore to pull off another 10-man rotation and continued defensive-rotation improvement.
The Suns must address those issues, and more, to reclaim the respect they earned in the spring.
The conference finalists have been put back on the playoff bubble. A poll of 93 ESPN NBA experts slotted them ninth in the West.
"Instead of worrying about what we don't have, I'm going to worry about what we do and be excited for that," guard Steve Nash said. "We should have a good locker room. We should have a smart, skilled team and a team that can move the ball, play together and make good decisions. Hopefully, defensively, we'll understand our roles and pick up from where we left off last year. We've got a lot to be optimistic about regardless of losing our big power forward (Amar'e Stoudemire)."
Turkoglu looks to start at power forward but there will be others, possibly including Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Childress. With multi-position players, coach Alvin Gentry will use even more lineups.
Establishing chemistry early last year went a long way later.
"You still have to not only work hard and be committed but spend time building the chemistry and camaraderie," Hill said. "It's not something you take for granted. It's easier to focus on when you have new guys, new faces, new pieces. You're forced to work on it. It's a challenge. The fact that we have guys here working and trying to get in shape is a good first step."
Dudley joined workouts Monday but has worked out plenty. He said he weighs 220 pounds, 13 fewer than at the end of the season. He said he did not take a summer break, even working out on vacation to prepare for guarding stars such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and to become more explosive to score off one- and two-dribble jump shot moves.
Dudley is eligible for a contract extension through October but the Suns might let him become a restricted free agent after making long-term commitments to Childress and Turkoglu.
"It would be nice," Dudley said of an extension. "I'm not optimistic. My mindset is to go out and play my last year and go as far as we can. At the end of the year, I know if we win, I'm going to have a good year. I do a pretty good job of keeping healthy. My goal is to come out and have a better year than last year and have the team better. When a team is successful, everybody usually does pretty well. Look at Channing (Frye). $30 million. Tell him (to) let me get a little bit of that."
• Veteran point guard Chucky Atkins and Valley resident Steven Hunter, an ex-Suns big man, joined workouts Tuesday in hopes of getting to the Suns' training camp that starts Sept. 28.