With Shaquille O'Neal having been dealt to Cleveland over the summer, the starting center spot for the Suns was suddenly up for grabs. It was a two-man race between second-year big man Robin Lopez and the newly-acquired Channing Frye, who was signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Suns' head coach Alvin Gentry confirmed to the media on Monday that he's giving the nod to Frye.
Gentry and the team's general manager, Steve Kerr, are both excited about the prospect of Frye drifting out to the three-point line to open up the floor for Amar'e Stoudemire.
"I just think with Channing out on the floor, he's a great three-point shooter," Gentry said. "He spaces the floor, and with Amar'e rolling to the basket, then I think that has to be a decision that the defense makes: 'what do I do, do I help? If I don't help, then Steve gets Amar'e the ball.' So I think Channing at the three-point line can be very effective for us."
Saying that Frye is a "great three-point shooter" might be a bit of an exaggeration, at least if you look at his career shooting numbers from behind the arc. Frye has attempted only 70 three-pointers in his 278 games as a pro, and has connected on under 29 percent.
Still, Frye provides at least the threat of offense, which is something that Robin Lopez -- at this point -- does not do. Lopez is a better defender, though, so Kerr could see the opportunity for him to be a situational starter.
"It's going to be totally up to Alvin and the staff," Kerr said. "But we've talked about that [Lopez starting over Frye], and I can see it, depending on matchups."
Gentry didn't rule it out, but seemed, at least at this early stage, like he planned on sticking with Frye.
"[Lopez starting] is definitely a possibility," Gentry said. "But I've often found that guys kind of like to have their roles and once their roles are established they have a pretty good feeling of what they're going to do."
Speaking of roles, all of this center talk didn't go by without Gentry mentioning that he'd like to see Stoudemire play the position, as well. In the past, Stoudemire has bristled at the idea of being a center, which is why Gentry joked that it would probably be best for him not to know when he's being used as one.
"I think when you see them announce our starting lineup, they'll announce Amar'e as a four, but he'll be a five," Gentry said. "Don't anybody tell him that, OK? I would like for you guys not to tell him that."