By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Dec. 10, 2008
Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr has been adamant about bringing a championship to Phoenix now, and his actions Wednesday illustrated his fervor in doing just that. In a three-player deal, Phoenix traded shooting guard Raja Bell, forward Boris Diaw and point guard Sean Singletary to the Charlotte Bobcats for shooting guard Jason Richardson, second-year forward Jared Dudley and a 2010 second-round draft pick. But the real key to the deal is the 6-6 Richardson.
An incredibly athletic slasher, Richardson was leading the Bobcats in scoring by averaging 18.7 points a game, while also pulling down 4.1 rebounds a night. As adept as he is at slicing to the hoop, the 27-year old guard is currently shooting a lethal 46 percent from downtown, good for 14th overall in the league. The former Michigan State Spartan was most renowned for winning the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest Championship in 2002 and 2003.
“We’re really thankful for everything Raja and Boris have done for us over the years, as well as, Sean this year, but we just felt like our team needed some change,” Kerr said. “We’re excited to add a 20-point scorer at the two guard.
“He’s a guy who is athletic, won a National Championship at Michigan State and has an excellent reputation around the league. Jason can play any style. He was a big scorer at Golden State on the run, he can play in the half-court because he’s a great three-point shooter and he can score in post-up situations.”
The trade says good-bye to two popular Valley athletes in Bell and Diaw. Bell, a Second Team All-Defensive performer last season, was in his fourth season with the club, while Diaw, the former NBA’s Most Improved Player, was in Phoenix for the same duration. Singletary, who was in his first season with the franchise, was acquired over the summer in a deal with the Houston Rockets.
“It didn’t surprise me that all three guys were very professional,” Kerr said. “They understand the business and they understand that our team is going through some changes and it’s a transition. I’m sure they will do very well in their careers. They’re all really good players and excellent people and we’re sorry to see them go, but we feel like we needed to make some changes and we feel like we’ve improved ourselves.”
Another key component to the deal was the acquisition of a hard-nosed player like Dudley. Only in his second season out of Boston College, Dudley underwent a pre-draft workout for the Suns two seasons ago. He is currently averaging 5.4 points and three rebounds, while shooting 38 percent from three-point land.
“Dudley is a versatile, defensive-minded player,” Kerr said. “He’s built to play multiple positions and can guard twos, threes and fours. He’s a character guy and hard worker and I think he helps our future because he’s a young player who has a long career ahead of him and can play a number of roles as we go forward.
“He’s more defensive-minded and can knock down open shots. He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades type guy and I think our fans will enjoy watching him play.”
With only 12 players signed under contract, Phoenix must find another player to fill the league’s mandatory minimum of 13 players on the roster. It appears that the front office is going to zero in on signing a veteran point guard.
“We’ve already got some names on the list and are going to try and improve our depth,” Kerr said. “We’re going to be looking at backup point guard situations with Sean leaving and Goran being a rookie. So I think we should strengthen that position a bit.
“We’ll be relying more on Lou Amundson and Robin Lopez which we feel good about. We think both players have a lot of potential and need to play. Dudley will have a chance to play and we can go small with Grant Hill, Matt Barnes and Jason Richardson – we have a lot of options and feel good about what we’ve done.”
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