Right on “Q”
Updated: July 14, 2004
Steve Nash may not be the only talented player the Suns land this summer. The club also agreed to a deal with restricted free agent swingman Quentin Richardson. An offer sheet has been signed and the Clippers, his current team, now have 14 days to match the offer and retain the four-year NBA veteran’s services, or decline and allow him to make his way to the Valley.
The Clippers drafted the Chicago native out of DePaul with the 18th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Richardson had his most productive season in 2003-04, registering career-highs with 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists, while averaging 36 minutes a game.
“He’d be a great compliment to our team,” said Suns Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. “I remember one time last year he made 11 straight threes, so he can shoot. His versatility would make him a valuable piece.”
The 24-year-old former Conference USA Player of the Year would add an element of toughness to a Suns team looking for an edge to return them to postseason play after missing out on the playoffs two of the past three years.
“When I think of 'Q,' I think of versatile and tough,” said Suns guard Casey Jacobsen. “He’s just a tough player to guard. I’ve guarded him several times before and he’s a hard body to move, and yet he’s extremely quick for how big he is.”
It could be a long two weeks while awaiting the Clippers’ decision on whether to match the Suns’ offer to Richardson, but General Manager Bryan Colangelo feels it will be worth the wait if the club can land the rising talent.
“We feel like we’ll add some veteran experience,” he said. “We’ll add a hard worker. We’ll add a very talented and athletic player. We’re going to certainly run some teams out of the building this year if we do indeed land Quentin.”
The agreement with Q came as a surprise to those who felt that the Suns' would be looking to free agency to sign a center, but the club adjusted to the marketplace and wound up pursuing the best athlete available. With the crazed nature of the free-agent negotiating period the past two weeks, the Suns took themselves out of the running for the majority of the big men they had originally sought, unwilling to overpay just to put another body in the middle.
“Obviously, this team was in need of a big,” Colangelo admitted. “We were hopeful that there was the right deal out there for a free agent that would fill that need for us. But, when the stakes continued to rise on some of the players that have gotten fairly significant deals, we respectfully decided to take a pass.
“We felt like at some point we had to go for the best basketball player, not filling a need. Quentin certainly reinforces our wing play because of his versatility, toughness and work ethic.”