Wednesday, July 9, 2008

East Valley Tribune: Barry out of picture, Suns still seek wing player

Jerry Brown, Tribune

Brent Barry is off the Phoenix Suns radar. Darius Miles and Devin Brown are on the periphery. And Tyronn Lue remains the favorite to be Steve Nash’s backup at point guard.

As he was last March, the 36-year-old Barry showed interest in signing with the Suns — even though they could only offer him the $1.262 veteran minimum salary. But all indications now are that Barry will wind up in Houston, where the Rockets can offer him their bi-annual exception of $1.9 million.

The Suns weren’t in a position to match or beat the offer. If they fill their remaining roster spots with rookie Robin Lopez and nothing other than veteran minimum contracts, their payroll will be $76.1 million for the 2008-09 season. That’s a shade under $5 million over the luxury tax, leaving the Suns with a payroll and tax bill over $80 million ($81.1 million) — the highest in franchise history.

So with Gordan Giricek likely headed to Europe for a more lucrative offer, the search for a wing backup player continues.

Miles, who has been working out locally with former Suns trainer Robin Pound, was examined by the Suns medical staff on Wednesday — specifically, the right knee that has kept him out of the game for more than two years and led to a retirement settlement with Portland.

While there is some interest for Phoenix, Miles’ past (injuries, substance use, etc.) could go a long way to shying them away. The Portland Oregonian reported that Miles would miss the first 10 games with any new team to serve a suspension for violating the league’s Anti-Drug program — which would be the “fourth strike” on the program’s ladder.

Brown, who averaged 7.5 points in 78 regular-season games with Cleveland last year, is also of interest to the Suns. He is an above-average defender with offensive skills and could fit the bill price-wise (he made $1.2 million last season).

Meanwhile, Lue remains the No. 1 choice at point guard. The two sides have been keeping in contact, although no formal offer has been submitted by Phoenix to this point. Anthony Johnson remains another player of interest.

I'm really sick of the Rockets frontin' up on the Spurs' KoolAid. Whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean, it still pisses me off.

If this ends up being true, then I, for one, will miss Brent Barry. Guy was always great at running the offense and providing a spark, and nailed some big shots in his time here.

But he still needs to find a way to get younger.

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