Suns’ roster lacking ‘clutch’ player

After a summer of roster juggling, the Phoenix Suns have inspired the

big thinkers from at least one basketball-bouncing website to expect a

fourth-place finish.

That’s fourth in the Pacific

Division.

This judgment was passed down by five

writers from Hoopsworld.com (three fourth-place votes, one fifth and one

third), who are taking the time to examine each NBA team in categorical

form.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of their Suns

critique was the uncertainty inside the “Top Clutch Player” category.

With Steve Nash now working in Hollywood, the author of this Suns

preview listed Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola as clutch

candidates.

We’ll see if someone emerges as the

season progresses; unfortunately, entering training camp with this

question in the wind pretty much explains why the Hoopsworld guys expect

little more from Phoenix than a hearty stab at the eighth playoff spot

(if that).

If Beasley becomes the stretch-run leader

on a nightly basis, it would strongly suggest that the Suns have struck

reasonably priced gold.  Beasley is the only player on the

payroll with the physical capacity to be special.

I

know. Dragic has a shot at being really good,

too.

NASH RIDING OFF TO SUNSET

BLVD.

In a recent tweet, Nash informed his

followers of a “last stand” night on the town with the Suns’ training

staff. The two-time MVP indicated he was picking up the tab for dinner

and upper-tier transportation.

It’s only right that

these expert caretakers of muscles, joints and ligaments be shuttled

around town in a stretch limo.

We’ll soon see how

much of a stretch it will be for Lakers coach Mike Brown to present the

merging of Nash into Kobe Bryant’s

traffic.

HARDEN

KNOCKS

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins —

who often is given credit for more than he seems to deserve — recently

took on the role of front-office media emissary.

When

asked about the contractual future of teammate James Harden, the

fabulously remunerated Perk assured his inquisitor that OKC and Harden

were closing in on a deal. That, of course, would be funeral music for

fans of the Suns or any team seemingly interested in hiring Harden as a

free agent next summer.

But subsequent reports

strongly suggest the luxury-tax-threatening franchise is not close to

re-signing the former Arizona State star. And, by the way, Harden

reportedly is still seeking a max deal.

A max deal

probably won’t come directly from OKC, but the Thunder could wait for

another team to offer its max-level deal (which would be less than the

Harden or any other player’s own team can offer) and match it … and

then chew on the luxury-tax ramifications.

So, like

that nerdy character on the Cox telephone commercial who gave his phone

number to three “smokin’ hot ladies,” we’re saying there is a

chance.

BARNES

HOPPIN’

Former Suns forward Matt Barnes is

moving down the hall from his Lakers stall at Staples Center for a space

in the Clippers’ dressing room.

The addition of the

crusty journeyman raised a few eyebrows from league observers who may

think ol’ Matt may not fit in with solid citizens such as Chauncey

Billups and Grant Hill.

Not so fast, chemistry

students.

“First of all, they’re trying to win a

championship … not a trophy for having the most nice guys in a locker

room,” an NBA personnel executive said of the Clippers. “Second, he

(Barnes) fills a need for a wing defender and he brings them some

toughness.”

By the way, in case you’re thinking the

Clips already had some knuckleheads in new additions Jamal Crawford and

Lamar Odom, please note that both players are considered solid

teammates.

Well, as solid as they can be when not

associated with their cable TV shows.