A few thoughts on the future
I have sporadic internet access at the moment but here's some food for thought that I'll write more on later.
Grant Hill possibly returning
Alvin Gentry possibly returning
I officially gave up hope after the crushing OT loss to Utah last Saturday. That followed by the stinker in Sacramento was it. Today's nationally televised blowout in Dallas simply gave the jerks at ESPN ample opportunity to pick at the Suns as they fade into the lottery.
I find it funny how Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Jon Barry can espouse at length on what it takes to win an NBA title when none played or coached on a title team. Listening to Jackson and Van Gundy complain about how bad the Suns and Mavericks are was inexcusable given that they get paid to be there. Fans of both teams are watching and these guys sound like grumpy New Yorkers who didn't want to make a trip to the South. I've hated ESPN/ABC's coverage for a while and it seems to be getting worse. One thing I liked about watching the NBA Finals in Europe last year was having no idea what the Portuguese announcers were saying. I could watch the game without Jackson's fortune cookie observations and Van Gundy surliness. If it's Kobe vs Lebron this year, I might have to mute and hope Dr. Jack Ramsey is on the radio.
Since the season is going to end a lot earlier than we've grown accustomed to now is as good a time as any to think about the draft. With Suns all but mathematically locked into the 14 spot, I think they can get a rotation worthy player with shrewd scouting. One player I really like is Sam Young of Pittsburgh. He knows how to play. We were watching tourney games a couple weeks ago and he was involved in every play down the stretch as Pitt pulled out a tough win. He makes spectacular plays and the little plays that don't show up in the box score. Blocking a layup after a foul to prevent a three-point play and then the player misses a free throw. Runs a late in the shot clock inbounds play to perfection with an assist while simultaneously screening two guys to give his teammate an open shot. He can guard guys bigger than him, he's explosive and runs the floor well. He's a senior and a little older than others in this draft class but I don't see how that hurts him. He's the type of player you can see playing on a winning team.
We won't have a clear draft picture until May 19. Players have until April 26 to declare and the lottery drawing is May 19. While it would be a miracle of sorts if the Suns slips into the top 3, they can start the rebuilding process with a good pick at 14. This offseason will be interesting.
Alvin Gentry has gotten a lot out of this group, especially bench players who gathered dust under Terry Porter. He seems like a great choice to coach this team going forward. We'll see what Sarver and Kerr do. They could go in another direction and pay a retread to install a new system with a new roster.
Steve Nash and Grant Hill could return or be let go or traded to chase rings. While I really like both players in Phoenix, I'm rooting for them individually to win it all as well. There are plenty of great players who never won rings but I really want it for Nash. As mentioned before, I've been watching him since I was high school including watching him play in-person in the NCAA tournament. He's my favorite player.
Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal have value and big salaries so their names will come up often in trade rumors. I personally think the Suns will pounce on a draft-pick or young-player laden trade offer this summer for one or both. While the Suns may continue to be an uptempo team, there will be some sort of moves made that balance out the roster with youth and players who excel on defense.
The pressure is really only on one person: Steve Kerr. All the main players on his roster a proven commodities. This season has proven that the Suns had a tenuous yet effective balance between their stars and role players under D'Antoni. The Gentry mini-era has proved that only the role players on this team will guard anyone. We've seen lineups with Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson make runs because they make scrappy plays on defense that feed the break and keep the tempo up. With the firepower this team has, it only takes a commitment from the stars to play come defense. Nash is a bad defender because he's small but he's usually one of the league leaders in charges taken. The reality shortcuts the effort. With Amare and Shaq, they're huge but they don't bring the type of energy a player like Tyrus Thomas, Paul Millsapp or even Samuel Dalembert brings on a consistent basis. Big men are a precious commodity in the NBA and it really hurt Phoenix this season that they have two that are poor on defense. It's up to Steve Kerr to commit to a vision for this team and execute the moves to bring it to fruition. Robert Sarver is watching that balance sheet closely and losing don't sell tickets
As we move further away from the suspension series, it seems that Horry hip-check changed the direction of this franchise. The Suns have not caught a break or made a smart move since. With the Lakers dominating the West, Portland poised to add the final piece and the Nonics two drafts away from completely dominating the league- the Suns need some luck, some smarts and an infusion of youth to be an elite team again. I'll keep following but honestly I can't wait for football to start.