Frye Returns Home to Play for Suns

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: July 14, 2009

Channing Frye’s basketball journey has made a complete orbit and has landed him firmly on Planet Orange. The former Phoenix prep star and Arizona Wildcat signed a two-year contract by his home state’s lone NBA franchise Tuesday.

The 6-11 forward/center became a target of the Suns after they traded center Shaquille O’Neal to the Cavs on June 25. Once the free agent market opened on July 1, Phoenix began pursuing the St. Mary’s of Phoenix grad.

“We felt like it was important to add some depth to our frontcourt and Channing was No. 1 on our list,” President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr said. “We were really happy to see Portland rescind his rights. I think his shooting ability, his size and his ability to run the floor fit perfectly and that’s what he really attracted us and that’s why we felt that this was a really good match.”

Frye is heading into his fifth season in the NBA, spending his first two years with the Knicks before being traded to the Trail Blazers. The former No. 8 overall pick in 2005 holds career averages of 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds

on 46 percent shooting. His rookie season proved to be his most productive, posting averages of 12.3 points and 5.8 boards a game for New York.

Known for being long and limber, Frye is lauded for his ability to run the floor and knock down shots from the perimeter. The former Wildcat possesses the ability to play both center and power forward, due to his ability to drain mid-range jumpers on the pick-and-pop.

“For us and the way we play, when we have big guys that can shoot the basketball it really helps us open up avenues for guys like Steve (Nash) and Grant (Hill),” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think the biggest thing about Channing is that he’ll get consistent minutes. He truly is one of the best big guys as far as shooting the ball in the NBA right now.”

While his outside shooting touch makes him a valuable frontcourt player in the Suns’ half-court offense, his athleticism gives him the opportunity to outrun opposing post players. The Suns’ front office hopes that his agility allows him to be a menace as a pick-and-roll defender and as a weak-side shotblocker.

“One of the things that we’ve talked about this summer is being more active and agile with our bigs,” Kerr said. “We have versatile big men across the board now and versatility is the name of the game these days in this league. With his mobility, Channing will definitely help in that regard.”

Part of the reason that the Suns were able to sign Frye was because of their buyout of Ben Wallace on Monday. Not only was the organization able to ink Frye, but also Hill, who happens to be a fan of Frye’s.

“I think he’ll fit in well in our system,” Grant Hill said. “He’s a big body and he can help us defensively by giving us a little bit of a presence in there rebounding-wise. He can also open up the floor a little bit because he can actually shoot it pretty well.”

When Hill was negotiating his new contract, the Suns’ co-captain told Kerr and Co. that he thought that Frye would be a nice asset for the Suns.

“I told them (the Suns’ front office personnel) that he can have the best year that he’s had,” he said. “I think he can have a breakout season here and we look forward to playing alongside him.”

Besides Hill wanting Frye on-board, Nash placed a recruiting call to his newest teammate a day after learning of the Suns’ interest in him.

“Anytime your point guard, your leader can call you and be like, ‘Look, I want you here, I think you can help us,'” Frye said. “I think that’s a big factor in knowing they really want me here.”

Frye, who is renowned for his community endeavors, established the C. Frye Foundation in 2007, which is dedicated to teaching youth how to create a healthy lifestyle through exercise, nutrition and support systems. One of the aspects of the foundation includes his sponsorship of a high school-aged basketball team in Phoenix called the C. Frye Bulldogs.

“One of the important factors here is the type of person Channing is,” Kerr said. “He’s very bright, he’s a great teammate, he’s a hard worker and we have to continue to add people of high character as we go forward. We’re envisioning Channing being here a long time; hopefully a lot longer than the two-year contract that he just signed.”

So now all that’s left for Frye is for him to get started. Suns fans can rest assured that the Arizona-native has been working out every day and is already preparing for the upcoming season mentally.

“I talked to Coach Gentry the other day and I got a stack of film of all his games,” Frye said. I wanted to see where I can be successful and make sure I knew where my opportunities are going to come from and how I can make this team better.”

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