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Suns making moves as they prepare for life after Nash

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Associated Press
7/5/2012 9:24:33 AM
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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns are off and running in their roster makeover to face life after Steve Nash.

On the same night the team sent their two-time MVP point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers for four draft picks in a sign-and-trade deal, they reacquired his former backup, Goran Dragic, and reached an agreement to sign forward Michael Beasley. Dragic's deal is for $30 million over four years and can rise to $34 million with incentives. The fourth year is a player option. Beasley gets $18 million over three years.

The flurry of activity began Tuesday night when the Suns agreed with shooting guard Eric Gordon on a four-year, $58 million offer sheet, although that move may never reach fruition because the New Orleans Hornets have vowed to match the deal.

The remodeling began when Phoenix selected point guard Kendall Hunter of North Carolina with the 13th pick in the draft.

Dragic's return is intriguing, because it was only slightly more than a year ago that the Suns gave up on him, sending him, along with a lottery-protected draft pick, at the trade deadline to the Houston Rockets for point guard Aaron Brooks. But Brooks was erratic, then spent last season in China, although he remains a Phoenix restricted free agent.

The deals for Dragic and Beasley were confirmed by a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because contracts can't be signed until July 11.

Several teams had been courting Dragic, who drew increased interest when he moved in as starter for the Rockets after Kyle Lowry was sidelined with a bacterial infection. Dragic was named Western Conference player of the week on April 8 after compiling 62 points and 25 assists in wins over Chicago, the Lakers and Sacramento.

Dragic has averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 assists in 28 minutes per game in his career, mostly as a backup.

The Slovenian, highly popular with Suns fans, was drafted in the second round in 2008, 45th overall, by San Antonio, then his draft rights were traded to the Suns.

His most famous day with Phoenix came on May 7, 2010, during Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at San Antonio, when he scored 23 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including 5 of 5 3-pointers, in a 110-96 victory.

Beasley was the second pick overall in the draft but has never reached his potential in two seasons with Miami and two with Minnesota, averaging 15.1 points per game in his four NBA seasons. His best season was 2010-2011, when he averaged 19.2 points with the Timberwolves.

The agreement with Beasley came hours after he visited the Suns' headquarters.

The Timberwolves declined an $8 million option to keep Beasley.

Despite his obvious talents, his problems off the court have followed him. Around 3 a.m. one night last June, he was ticketed for possessing marijuana and speeding in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka. While playing for the Heat, Beasley has acknowledged, he twice violated the NBA's drug policy and entered a treatment facility for a time in 2009.

Beasley had vowed to work hard in the off-season to improve his overall game, with former NBA player Norm Nixon as something of a mentor.

At 6-foot-9, Beasley fits the Suns' need for more athleticism and might have been the most purely talented player on the Timberwolves' roster.

Beasley also was bothered by injuries both of his seasons with Minnesota.

"Both years, and I told Michael this a couple times recently, it is a shame that he got hurt," Minnesota general manager David Kahn said. "His offensive game wasn't there at the start, but I at least thought he was trying defensively and just applying himself with more rigour than he had the year before with the previous staff, and I was at least hopeful that maybe there is something here. And he got hurt again, and again."

Goran Dragic (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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