Utah Jazz 100, Phoenix Suns 88 — Botched play-in game

Posted by on April 25th, 12:09 am

Marcin Gortat and the Suns didn't show up on Tuesday, and they'll miss the playoffs because of it. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart).

That’s it, that’s all folks.

Despite an improbable run to turn around what was once a 12-19 season, the Phoenix Suns’ playoff hopes are officially squashed after they fell to the Utah Jazz 100-88 in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night.

Thanks to a trio of monster double-doubles from Paul Milsap (26-15), Al Jefferson (18-16) and Derrick Favors (13-11 and five blocks) combined with a two-point performance from Marcin Gortat and little offensive production elsewhere, the Suns will miss the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988.

Their season-long climb from the basement of the Western Conference into the playoffs race fell two games short, leaving the Suns with nothing but a late lottery pick, a handful of expiring contracts, little young talent, an organization lacking direction, and a two-time MVP set to explore the free agent market.

Excited for the future of Phoenix Suns basketball right about now?

The Suns had a chance put that inevitably grim future on hold for at least four playoff games with a win against the Jazz, but all of the problems they entered the season with came out in the biggest game of the year.

With Gortat rendered ineffective and the Suns sorely missing Channing Frye and Grant Hill, the Suns had no go-to-scorer to extend the 76-74 lead that Michael Redd gave them with 10:14 to go in the game. From that point on Phoenix missed 12 of its last 17 shots, with three of the makes coming with under a minute left and the game in hand.

The Suns had no answer for the Jazz bigs as Utah’s three-headed monster of Milsap, Jefferson and Favors accounted for 57 percent of the team’s points and 75 percent of its rebounds. And Phoenix once again struggled taking care of the ball as the Jazz turned 15 Suns turnovers into 19 points and scored 24 fast-break points to boot.

Tuesday’s game was a microcosm of the Suns’ season. This once-random collection of everything from NBA journeymen to former lottery picks couldn’t come together with their season hanging in the balance, and their post-All-Star break resurrection was wasted.

But although Suns fans everywhere are mired in disappointment, the mere fact that this game meant anything is a testament to Nash and Alvin Gentry. A year ago no one would have thought that a team that plays guys like Sebastian Telfair and Michael Redd major minutes and starts players like Shannon Brown at shooting guard would even have a shot at the playoffs.

This roster has no business being mentioned with the best eight teams in the Western Conference. But through sheer chemistry and the direction of Nash and Gentry they came together to give themselves a chance. Even without Frye or Hill on the road against a hungry Jazz team, the Suns made it close early in the fourth. This team greatly overachieved, and there’s value in that.

“No one gave us a chance when we were 12-19 and really didn’t have any answers. It could have went the other way,” Nash said after the game. “I’m really proud of the coaches and the team. We hung in there and found a way to make it work together and gave ourselves a shot.”

But despite the moral victories and feel-good storylines surrounding the Suns’ comeback, the reality is they will miss the playoffs and face an offseason full of uncertainty. To play off the popular phrase, they can’t call it a comeback and not even Robert Saver, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks know what this team will look like next season.

Nash has made it clear he’ll test the free agent market. His decision will shape the future of the franchise for the next five years plus. Phoenix will either bring him back and build for one final run, or search for a new face of the franchise and move in a new direction.

All of that will come to light eventually, but for now, Tuesday night’s loss expedites the sobering reality of what the Suns have to work with moving forward.

Nash may never be in purple and orange again. Arguably their best piece, Gortat, just proved he may not be an All-Star caliber player without Nash and Frye opening up the pick and roll for him.

Then there’s questions like, is Markieff Morris really a starting power forward of the future? Is there a reason to try and re-sign Robin Lopez? Is the free agent market good enough to try and build around Nash?

All year the Suns had one last potential Nash-led playoff push to lean on. They could focus on winning games this year and sneaking into the playoffs, setting the stage for another Suns-Spurs rivalry series.

Now that’s out of the window and it’s time to face the music. The dreaded crossroads is here and Phoenix Suns basketball is set to go through the spin cycle with no concept of what type of team will come out.

And 1

  • Gortat on his performance: “I am going to take the blame for that. I should finish stronger just played smarter and make the right decision. I was just rushing everything. My teammates were open on the wing I should have kicked it to the wing make sure they got the shot.”
  • Gentry on the game: “We just got to play better. In a game like this you’ve just got to play better. We kept hanging around and then we got it to 73-74 and we had several opportunities to go ahead. We just didn’t play very good tonight. You can’t afford to not play well in a game like this. You’ve got to give them credit. At the end of the game, I thought Al stepped up and Paul played well. They did a good job overall on our screen and rolls tonight I thought. They kind of took Marcin Gortat out of the game.”

Mike Schmitz

Mike Schmitz is a former ValleyoftheSuns writer who now works as an assistant video coordinator for the D-League\\’s Bakersfield Jam. He specialized in video breakdowns for VotS.

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Tags: Marcin Gortat · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap · Playoffs · Steve Nash · Utah Jazz

48 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tony // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Gortat is not a franchise player, heck, he’s not even an all-star caliber player. Just another pretty good player not to be depended on when it matters most.

    Next season the Suns will probably be bottom 5 in the league. No two ways about it, they are not likely to draft higher than 13th, which may produce another Morris caliber player, but nothing special. The only elite free agent left is Williams. The two other best free agents are both restricted, in Gordon and Batum, and neither players’ management is likely to be as cheap as Sarver and allow the Suns to outbid them. Brooks will be a restricted free agent, but with Nash probably leaving, I’m expecting him to be the new starting pg. Then, when considering that Hill, who was our best perimeter defender until he got hurt, is also most likely gone after the season, the team will have no veteran leaders and will be stuck with a boat load of mediocre players with no direction or cohesiveness whatsoever.

    Once again, thanks Sarver! You’ve done a heck of a job…in turning a great and proud franchise into a joke!

  • 2 Davin // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:54 am

    I’m so done with this ownership group. This franchise was handed a hall of fame point guard by the NBA because they changed the way handchecking was called on the perimeter. Since Robert Sarver has purchased the Suns, he has literally done nothing but screw over Steve Nash. It’s on the verge of seeming almost personal. Over and over again he has handed Nash the steering wheel of a consistently worse roster year after year. And year after year Nash overachieves and makes everyone around him better. Two years ago Nash willed this team into the WCF. Sarver responds by blowing the team up again. Has any player ever been so constantly diregarded and insulted by his franchise and yet still remained loyal. The opening day roster that Sarver handed Nash this year was literally like a smack in the face. And yet somehow we had a chance today. I know he’ll never read this but I would personally like to thank Steve Nash for 7 years of incredible basketball. And thank you Sarver for ruining a dynasty.

  • 3 grover // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Better to use the amnest clause on Childress or Warrick? Childress makes more and for an additional year so would allow the Suns more spending room, but it is somewhat imaginable that he could provide useful minutes at some point. Warrick is difficult to imagine playing under any circumstance.

    The other option is to save the amnesty clause so in 2013 or 2014 we can get rid of whatever mediocre player we sign this summer to a long term and expensive contract. I’m only half way joking…

  • 4 Scott // Apr 25, 2012 at 1:04 am

    It’s possible, with Hill ending the season hurt, that he might consider retirement.

    But it will be tempting to return, should there be any hope of finishing the unfinished business of returning the Suns to their perch as a perennial playoff team.

  • 5 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 25, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Ah… That’s me beathing easy.

    I’m sorry to all of you fans who really wanted to make the playoffs to be absolutely obliterated by San Antonio 4-0. Personally, I’m so happy that didn’t happen. Now for them to make sure they don’t win against the Spurs to ensure the best chance at the lowest ping pong ball possible.

    Listen, I know a lot of you really thought you wanted this team to continue to flourish as it did during the second half of the season. I know you thought it was for the good of the franchise. It simply was not.

    All a playoff bid would have done was give ownership another year to say, “we can get it right with Steve Nash if we can turn some of this salary cap space into a couple of good players!” Basically it would have given them yet another year of avoiding the #CleansePhoenix movement. I’ve got that going on Twitter by the way. Help spread it.

    Instead, it is now known that Steve Nash plus whatever is available on the open market simply does not equal success. He is the final piece to a championship puzzle, not the foundation of one. There is a major difference and I don’t want a foundation of my beloved franchise leading me to 9th or 10th in the west.

    You guys can turn on Gortat all you want. Dude is a stud who got assaulted by 3 post players constantly banging on him, by himself, on both ends of the court. If this were a rookie season, his numbers would earn him RoY. He wore down as a result of being the only true “big man” on the Suns’ roster and teams recognizing and adjusting to that fact. That adjustment made even easier because of the singular plan of attack he needed to run while on the court with Nash.

    Don’t worry though, because sadly, if Nash does leave and the team looks to blow it up and try go get an extra draft pick or two, Gortat will have to be at the center of that trade and the only really skilled center Phoenix will ever have will have been a starter for the team for what amounts to 1 full season, basically.

    How good would having Dragon in house along with that draft pick look right now? The rebuild would be far simpler and quicker in the beginning.

    Anyway, one thing is true, this team has a lot of quality role players. Contending teams love quality role players and will deal future draft picks for them. They’ll even deal young potential for them.

    So guys like Dudley will have some value on the FA market.

    Hopefully the Suns set fire to the current roster and finally start over. If Nash is brought back again, I may have to adjust my league pass to avoid watching this season happen againg, but over 82 games.

  • 6 Elviro (Italy) // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:37 am

    QED!
    We’re off!
    We did just that “donkey race” I mentioned in my comment on the post about loss to the Nuggets (it’s an Italian saying to describe a “race useless”, a “race that leads nowhere”, “get busy to get nothing in return, “I hope you get the idea … it’s a frustrating thing!)!
    I am sad!
    Really sad!
    it is sad to see your favorite team to make this order: no playoffs and no future (at least in the short term …)!
    Let’s face it: we ran for the whole season behind an illusion, a mirage!
    We hoped that a team with a mediocre old great player like Nash and a very good player like Gortat would give us the play-offs … wanted too much, indeed, someone wanted too …
    I had the clear potential of this team and I have always maintained that it was better to start rebuilding the team this season instead of wasting time over something impossible … and even if obtained comunqua (playoffs) would not have brought to nothing and would have only extended the agony of a team that needs to be overhauled!
    it’s amazing how this property and this leadership in a few years they have destroyed one of the most beautiful and spectacular teams in the NBA and have it transformed into a dress full of pieces unpresentable for special occasions!
    it’s amazing how a property management and does not face questions like: what are we? What we want to be?
    The first answer was: we are a mediocre team!
    The second was to be: we must build a winning team for the near future!
    Now we are no playoffs and no future with so many dark clouds on the horizon … it will rain for a long time guys …. prepared an umbrella!
    On this team were the only players to save Nash, Gortat, Morris (but this should grow slowly is a good young prospects)!
    Worthy to do the extras (bench), were: Dudley Brown, Frye, Redd, Hill, Warrick, Telfair …
    Useless: Lopez, Childress, Price
    How to make a claim if the winning team with the exception of Nash and Gortat all they could do other than the bench in the winning teams in the NBA?
    We lost time, we had to rebuild!
    Now what gives us the future, Nash goodbye, goodbye veterans, no major free agents on the horizon, the less good prospects for the draft! Thanks Sarver & co.!

    I wanted to ask what the situation is under contract NO Gordon? Maybe he could come in handy as Williams to rebuild quickly!

    But what can we do to actually take these two players (if possible)?

    It will be capable of this or our management team we recur (with all my respect for what they have done in their career) for a good tournament between homes for the elderly?

    I see other teams: fast, athletic, physically-performing! When we have a team like that?

    What a disappointment!

    We’ll have to chew bitter for many more years boys if things do not change drastically!

    But I hope you like the phoenix we will rebuild soon!

    I love the Suns!

    the sun will rise again! I hope …..

  • 7 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 25, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Gordon is a restricted free agent and looking forward, I don’t see why NOH wouldn’t match any offer made towards him.

    So far, what the Suns front office has done has rubbed all of us the wrong way. As far as major stars though I think they’ve made all of the right choices and some of those choices were made for them.

    The Dragon + Pick move was a suicide-attempt type move. Going into this season, though, the Suns made sure they didn’t tie themselves down to any new contracts and they have a few contracts that would be attractive to a contending team as far as trades go.

    A lot of personnel will come off the books after the Spurs game and a few more will more than likely get traded away.

    To be honest, there are a lot of risks when managing a contending team at the apex of their power as they begin to decline. One bad move, (Hedo / Warrick, etc), and you dive sharply. On top of that, you have the added anger and pressure from a fan base used to contending year in and year out.

    We’re beyond that now, and as long as the team doesn’t try to continue being something it’s not anymore I don’t see how the front office can mess things up going forward. It’s a simple formula from here on out.

    1) Keep ugly cap-clogging salaries to a minimum unless the player coming in is a super star.

    2) Trade away remaining role players for future assets**

    ** Hard part is, picking up potential that will fit into the scheme and / or identity of the team going forward.

    3) Build through the draft**

    **quite simply, the current free agent landscape means our Suns have no choice but to draft wisely. There are no major names due to hit free agency anytime soon minus D-Will.

    To be honest, Sarver and company should have no problems moving in this direction once Nash is gone. You get high-impact players on small salaries for 3 and 4 year contracts. It’s risky, but affordable, and you appear to be rebuilding the franchise in a responsible way. I don’t know why he wouldn’t sign off on that plan of attack.

  • 8 shazam // Apr 25, 2012 at 3:50 am

    cant add anymore than i added before this season started…interesting to see how many converts there are now…before the season started tony and i both predicted exactly this…that we would semi compete….not make the playoffs and win just enough games to get a shitty draft pick…man we took heat for admitting it in print….see you next year

  • 9 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:03 am

    @tony – you thought the suns would be bottom 5 this year. If I remember correctly, your prediction was 13th in the west. Your constant, incessant whining and negativity is truly a bore. You don’t know what you’re talking about, yet you constantly feel the need to say nothing worthwhile.

    Anyways, I predicted 32 wins this season and ending up 2 games out of 8th… Not too bad. In a way, the suns actually did a little better than I had hoped.

    I’m with rich. Clean house. Package anything worthwhile in a deal to get new talent, and avoid big, long contracts to high risk players like the plague. It’s going to be fun seeing if this can turn around quickly.

  • 10 David // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I tip my hat to these guys for turning things around in the second half of this season. It’s just truly a dissapointment to see how much Sarver has depleted this franchise. It’s sickening to think of all the talent that we had over the years and how well respected we were each year going into the playoffs and now we are possibly heading into the phase of being the Washington Wizards of the West!! I hope Steve Nash stays but if he doesn’t i can totally understand why. I can tolerate him going anywhere except Miami! Please dont go down there Steve! One way or another it’s going to be hard to watch these guys next season because even though we have some cap room to work with in the offseason, i dont see who they could possibly bring in to help turn things around. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are free agents but that’s a long shot and wishful thinking. I still get angry when i see Dragic playing for the Rockets! He was our Steve Nash protege and they just traded him as if he was of no good use! I’m afraid to see the future for this franchise. I love the Suns but Sarver is ripping us apart and we are going to be the bum team of the Western Conference if he doesnt spend the necessary money and get the true talent we need in order to get us back to being a playoff caliber team.

  • 11 A-ROCK // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Last night just proved how much of a stud gortat is letting undersized centers dominate him easily
    He just looked like a girl out there haha
    He is not the future.
    Nash showed no urgancy, not taking open 3 pointers, I think he wants a break from this team as early as possible hahaha
    So do I this season was horrible.
    I told you so!!!

  • 12 shazam // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:15 am

    @ steve..youre right… i forgot about tonys 13th place prediction…tony you suck :) …but also steve your position is a lot closer to tonys today then it was at the beginning of the season…i think if we over look old animosities we can agree that in real time we are pretty much all on the same page now

  • 13 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:30 am

    @shazam – you boast about predicting the future at the beginning of the year.

    I’ve been writing about this result, if Nash was kept and a rebuild was attempted, since AMARE left. It was an easy conclusion to see coming.

    What comes next is interesting. I really don’t believe that we will only have one draft pick in this draft when it’s all said and done. I think, for once, we might actually be the ones buying a pick rather than selling them.

    …. But, if Nash returns, prepare to be utterly depressed for the duration of his new contract.

  • 14 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @shazam – I know, you’re right. We’re really not that far off from each other, but I feel like we’re separated by the Seven Seas. I just refuse to accept that constantly thinking the sky is falling is an acceptable way of living, and I seriously can’t stand the constant beratement of nonsensical negativity. Crap happens, you know? There are 14 teams in the NBA that didn’t make the playoffs, just like the Suns, and does it really matter that much in the grand scheme of things that you would ever feel the need to waste hours every single week of your life to pointlessly chide a rich man you’re never going to know? It just makes no sense to me… I’ll take the offseason to forget about it though, and come back with a different plan for dealing with the Tonys of the world next year.

    @David – I don’t think it’s an issue of spending money. Even with the medicore roster the Suns had this year, they were still close to (or maybe even over) the cap. Spending money WISELY is the issue. This season, the Suns took all the right steps toward spending wisely, signing a bunch of cheap, low-risk/high-reward players to one-year deals. They added nothing to their long-term payroll to allow the flexibility to blow where the wind takes them down the road. However, I don’t think that the wind is blowing them anywhere good next season. Things can always change, but right now, I don’t believe Phoenix will truly start the reconstruction stage in 2012-13. They’ll still be in demolition mode, and the key is to keep long-term albatross contracts off the books.

    One personnel predicition: my guess is that they will actually retain Childress if the opportunity to sign one or two major players doesn’t present itself. He might be pretty much useless in this system, but he’s a high character guy, a good teammate, and he will fill up cap space (which actually might be something they’ll need for next season if they can’t land a big fish).

  • 15 Tim in BC // Apr 25, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I was disappointed with last nights loss to the Jazz although the Suns did give it a good shot the last half of this crazy season. To get this close to the playoffs with the team they had is an achievment (overachievement?) I think the players and coaches did the best they could with what they had and the blame falls on management for getting rid of so many good players like Dragic, Barbossa, etc, etc. I really hope that Steve Nash stays but if he doesn’t don’t go to the Lakers or Heat, please Steve! If this does happen I can see them making Brooks the main point guard which probably won’t work at all. Telfair is a good back up guard and Gortat is also a good back up forward but not a starter and wonder how well he will do if Nash not there feeding him those great passes. I still think they should have signed JJ Hickson as he could have been a good fit and is doing well with Blazers. I have hope for future but might be distant future unless Suns get a couple of good free agents and a decent draft pick. (bring back Dragon!)

  • 16 A-ROCK // Apr 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Didn’t the suns get a center from oralando….. I swear he disappered last night. Come on 1 for 8 and no free throw attempts. gtfoh

  • 17 Elviro (Italy) // Apr 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I believe … crucify Gortat for the match played against the Jazz is ungenerous …
    He was the best player of the season with Nash …
    anyone remember how many … has produced double-doubles this season or have already forgotten it all?
    Certainly not Howard, not Bynum, but is a great player, not a sample, but a great player!
    is the only one on the roster that, aside from Nash (which I think we would do well to sacrifice this season in a trade to get something good for the reconstruction), deserves to remain with the Suns!

  • 18 Marley // Apr 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I TOLD YOU SO!!! LOL

  • 19 Suns Critic // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Gortat fell off big time in the second half of the season. He was absolutely man handled last night. I understand why we didn’t go back at their big lineup (Favors, Jefferson, Millsap) with Lopez, Gortat, Morris because we haven’t played with them in that format but, man it would have been at least worth a shot especially when they were murdering us down low. Lopez simply should have got more run last night. He is a big guy and has brought good energy after healing from his injury. Aside from that I think once again the bench played well together. I hope we are able to retain this second unit into next year as they came together nicely. Last time we had a good 2nd unit we blew it up and the team blew up. I realize changes need to be made.. I hope we can do a sign and trade with Nash. Its hard to say exactly what we should do because there are so many different paths the suns could take with all the expiring contracts and similarly skilled players its all very up in air. We just got to find out what each player is worth to other teams and get the best we can. To me no one on the team is safe they should all be trade-able.

  • 20 Scott // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    A lot of negative comments here.

    If the Suns had a normal-sized pre-season, they would have been able to get the rosters better arranged, get everyone better into position, and probably would have won more games early on.

    This year’s Suns had a lot of talent. Not star talent, but a lot of regular basketball talent. If they’d have done just a tiny bit better, they’d have been in the playoffs.

    Likewise, in this last game with Utah, if the Suns had injured starters Frye and Hill, they probably would have won.

    I don’t have a problem with these Suns. They fumbled a lot in the early season, but they put forth great effort after the All-Star break.

    I would have liked to have seen Gentry try some lineups more, and some less.

    But I guess the bottom line is that the Suns won’t make any serious sort of run in the playoffs without more star level talent. They need another creator and/or a go-to guy if they want to take a step up the ladder.

    In this coming draft, the Suns should try to take the best player available, regardless of position. However, depending on where they pick, this is likely to lead to either a PF or SG. I don’t mind either pick, so long as A) the PF rebounds and has a back to the basket game, or B) the SG can create their own shot as well as score.

  • 21 A-ROCK // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Who wouldn’t be a scoring leader on the team when you get as many touches as the pg who commands the ball to be in his hands and any starting center should get double digit numbers on the boards.

    Come on what is your basis for Gortat being a legit center?

    He was on a mediocer team of course he will shine, French Fry did the same thing last year with all those 3′s he made then the following year he became a bust!

    Numbers do lie….. especially when your a focus point on the team only because of your height and position as center but you get dominated by undersized centers gtfoh

  • 22 JZ // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Phoenix needs to draft a Center that can defend (Fab Melo? or Meyers Leonard) and ship Gortat for some nice pieces. It is a team with quality bigs that win championships with a few exceptions. If Phoenix drafts Kendall Marshall they will be drafting a player solely for entertainment purposes. I understand Phoenix has had several quality point guards, but none have ever been able to deliver a championship to the valley. In order to retain Nash, Phoenix has to acquire a big with good hands that can easily play the pick and roll (Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, David Lee.) Frye could then be used to stretch the floor like they did 2 seasons ago. It’s possible that Steve does resign here in Phoenix for a one year deal worth close to 10 mill and give it one last shot. Other teams will be low balling him due to his age. If Steve chooses to leave, I believe he will head to NY even without D’antoni. Just have to wait and see.

  • 23 A-ROCK // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Gortat is a bust without Nash!

  • 24 Marley // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Now everybody is pooping on Gortat? LOL

  • 25 Suns Critic // Apr 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Keep our energy guys and get rid of anyone else no matter if Nash goes or stays.

  • 26 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    @JZ – Nash will have no problem getting $20M on a three year deal, in my opinion. He’s more valuable than that in one year to Phoenix, and his value would be very high in virtually any market. I think the Suns will end up offering him 2 for $20M or 3 for $25M, or something in that ballpark, and in that case, it’s going to be very easy for Nash to walk away to a better team willing to give him $7M-$8M.

    P.S. – Gortat, the Polish Hammer? Try the Polish Puppy Dog! He’s so soft! lmfao. hahahaha. The only thing tough about Gortat are his brick-like hands, lmfao. Omg, he can’t even dribble. gtfoh.

    P.P.S. – Shannon Brown is a demi-god. One time, he winked at me, and the next day I was doing 360 windmills. He passed his power down to me. lolz.

  • 27 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I missed this gem earlier from Davin:

    “Two years ago Nash willed this team into the WCF.”

    Not sure if everyone realizes this, but Nash didn’t up his play in the playoffs considerably. Regular season PER was 21.6, postseason PER was 22.3. There were a few things that contributed to the success of the 2009-10 Suns far more than Nash’s play.

    1. Portland was gimped. They were playing without their best player. Imagine if Portland had had Roy for that series and the Suns were without Nash. Yeah, that series was made infinitely easier for the Suns due to injury (and Portland still took them to 6).
    2. SA was garbage that year. The only player who was playing halfway decent ball for them when the playoffs rolled around was Manu. It was nice to beat the Spurs, but those Spurs were nowhere near the quality of the Spurs of yesteryear (as proven by their first round exit last year and their upcoming defeat this year).
    3. Jason Richardson amped up his game BIG TIME in those playoffs. He jumped from a 16.6 PER to a 22.3. That’s the difference between the Suns having a Big 2 and having a Big 3, right there. Without Jason Richardson (and the marksmanship of Channing Frye), the Suns might not have even been able to get past a gimped Portland team.

    I’m not trying to belittle Nash’s play. He played great… as he always does. It wasn’t Nash who “willed” them to the WCF though. It was other guys (Richardson mostly, along with Frye and Lopez) who stepped up and made that team special… not to mention the easy road.

    The first real opponent they ran into, they only lasted 6 games.

    Btw, that 2009-10 team got as close to the Finals as any other Suns team of the Nash era, so how is it that the Suns have progressively gotten worse every year since Sarver has owned the team… your logic doesn’t follow.

  • 28 GoSuns // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Agreed scott, and lmao @ marley, knew you couldnt stay away, im proud of this team and I hope nash is back next yr go suns!

  • 29 Ty // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I may be the only one but I am actually wanting Nash to leave. Sarver and the Suns have relied on him way too much during his time here. The other players because they had one of the best point guards of all time feeding them the ball and giving them easy opportunities and carrying them into the playoffs year after year. Sarver because he could just sit back and say “see we DO have a star player.” And let Nash carry the team into the playoffs. Nash leaves and that all goes away. No more playoffs, terrible record, all the other players will get worse. And who are the fans going to come to see? I went to most of the marquee games this year and several of them were not even close to being full. Just imagine next year when we don’t have the allure of Nash and are under .500. I’d also like to see Nash get a ring, I don’t even care if he goes to the Heat. He has paid his dues and deserves a legit chance to win it.

    This will hopefully make Sarver realize that he needs to actually spend some money and put a good team on the floor. There is no draw of just going to see Nash anymore. Unfortunately its going to be too little too late because there are no big name players available at this time. And even if there were why would they want to come to Phoenix? A team with a bunch of average role players, and an owner who won’t ever help you.

    I am legit scared for the next few years, there is so many question marks it is unbelievable. I can easily see us becoming like the Bobcats or Wizards. I was actually rooting against the Suns for a while because I was afraid this would happen. We played just good enough to screw ourselves out of a chance for a high draft pick. The future looks very bleak my friends.

  • 30 Fan in Chi Town // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Steve – regarding our playoff run two years ago, I personally believe that we had a better suns team than you seem to think we had. I agree with you about Portland for the most part, with a healthy Roy it would have been tougher, but if you take away game 1, when the suns apparently hadn’t realized the playoffs had started yet, we beat them pretty easily.

    As far as san antonio

  • 31 Fan in Chi Town // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    As far as san antonio, I believe they were a better team than you give them credit for. They had just beat a number two seed that won the finals the next season. Also, no matter what spurs team it is, sweeping them is never easy. And lastly, you said the “marksmanship” of Frye, but that choke artist missed so many threes during that postseason that I still don’t trust him. On top of that, he hadn’t learned defense yet, so he was almost useless during that postseason. Also we didn’t have a center until the third round (Lopez) and even when he came back he wasn’t completely healthy.

    BTW, I used to think if we had gortat that year we would have beat the Lakers, however I don’t believe that now, because that guy doesn’t have an ounce of toughness in him. If only Lopez had his offensive skills…..aaaah the possibilities…

    As far as this team this season goes, I said to myself at the beginning of the year that if nash managed to get this team of D Leaguers to the playoffs at 38 years old, it would be his greatest accomplishment yet. And they almost got there. If it weren’t for two untimely injuries to two starters they probably would have. So I’m proud of what they did, but uneasy about the future because I don’t trust this front office at all.

  • 32 Davin // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    How haven’t they gotten worse every year? In Nash’s first year in Phoenix they had the perfect team to run and gun for a decade. They have since downgraded at every position except PG. Joe Johnson turned into raja bell. Shawn marion turned into grant hill. raja bell was replaced by jared dudley. Amare Stoudemire was replaced by hakim warrick/hedo/channing frye. leandro barbosa was never even replaced. The list goes on and on. Your kidding yourself if you think the 2010 Suns could’ve matched up with the 2005 Suns.

  • 33 Davin // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I love how some of these Suns have played. Dudley is a warrior. Michael Redd is one of my favorite players ever. Shannon Brown is amazing. Raja Bell is another one of my favorite suns. But they just weren’t correct for the system. Really they only had a perfect roster for D’Antoni one year. Yes technically they got just as close in ’10 as any year. 2010 was so fun. That team clicked for Alvin and they were so smooth to watch. That doesn’t mean they were at the same level as previous years.

  • 34 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    “Shannon Brown is amazing”

    All credibility lost.

    @Fan in Chi Town

    I hear you. My point wasn’t to try to spark a debate on the quality of that team, it’s more to point out that that team got as close as any other Suns team to the Finals, it wasn’t just Nash who got them there, and the guy who was quite possibly the most important piece of the puzzle (Richardson) was a brought in during Sarver’s time (not to mention a great number of other guys from that team like Lou, Dudley, Frye, Grant, Goran, and Robin). Btw, I brought up Lopez for the quality of minutes he provided, not the quantity. His PER was significantly better in those playoffs than it had been in the regular season. I was pointing out Nash wasn’t actually one of the guys who stepped it up big time.

    Anyways, you’re on about Frye in those playoffs. I was thinking about Dudz when I was remember all of those triples. 25/59. J-Rich was monstrous though. 48/101 from behind the line in those playoffs. That’s beastly.

  • 35 RockChucker // Apr 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    My biggest issue with the Suns is their inability to develop young talent. The Suns would draft the #1 overall BUT could they develop that talent? My answer is no. Hard to name one draft pick that the Suns were able to develop properly before shipping them off to another team or cutting them due to negligence. The Suns definitely have an M.O. of giving up on rookies if they don’t come out of the gate NBA-ready.

  • 36 Ty // Apr 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Whether Nash decides to return next year or not I think the Suns are in a good position to go forward to get better. I’ve always been a Nash fan but maybe it would be best for the Suns if he decides to move on… or maybe not. I can see at least 3 free agent PGs that will be available next season – NOT including D-Will – that the Suns could get that would make at least a reasonable substitute for Nash if he leaves. With the number of “one and done” contracts that the Suns gave out this year, there’s also a lot of leeway to pick up some very good although not “star” quality free agents next year.

    And I’m sure some people will disagree with me but I think it’s time to let Grant Hill go… unless he’s willing to come off the bench and take a smaller salary next year.

    The Suns will probably amnesty either Childress or Warrick next year because they can’t use it beyond that time. Which one they amnesty will probably depend on who the get in the draft and who the can trade for during the off-season.

    A lot of people have been critical of the lack of moves that the Suns’ management made this year but there really wasn’t much time for any team to make deals/trades due to the lockout. That hurt the Suns as well as many other teams going into this season.

    I’m sad that the Suns didn’t make the playoffs this year but I’m also a little glad because it should force them into making some drastic changes to make the Suns into a more competitive team. If they don’t, then everyone SHOULD start comparing the Suns to Charlotte, NJ, Washington, Sacramento or Toronto. The moves that management makes during this off season will tell the tale.

  • 37 Tony // Apr 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    @Steve,

    you are correct that I did pick the Suns to finish 13th, but so what? What does that prove? It’s a testiment to Gentry and Nash that the team did as well as they did. However, this is still the first time in over 20 years that the Suns have not made the playoffs in consecutive years.

    I have utter disdain for you Steve. Not because you equate your opinion with fact, nor because you throw out stats as if they are entirely reliable in assessing a player or team, but instead, because it’s people such as yourself who enable an elite franchise to become a laughing stock because of your incessant vocal and monetary support of Sarver. Listen, anyone who calls Childress a good shooter has no credibility whatsoever. Anyone who claims that because the 09/10 Suns team made it to the WCF was therefore as talented as the Suns 06-08 teams’ clearly is an utter moron.

    Look Steve, we get it. You think Sarver is blameless for the Suns current predicament. You ignore so much of the disaster that Sarver brought, such as letting JJ go for nothing, selling first round draft picks, which coincidentally includes Gortat agmonst others, hiring incompetent and inexperienced people to run the front office, trading away players each season to cut salary, letting Amare walk and bringing in Warrick, Hedo, and Childress as replacements, letting Dragic and a 1st round pick be traded Brooks, and on and on. His next accomplishment will be to let Nash walk and get nothing in return! You ignore all these facts and still have your head up Sarver’s ass. It’s people such as yourself who are the ones to blame for putting money in Sarver’s wallet and I’m sure you will continue doing so. And as long as Sarver has this steady stream of money coming in, what incentive does he have to change? By now it’s obvious winning is not a prominent focus for him. Even morons such as yourself must understand this by now!

    Regardless, I’m sure you’ll keep supporting Sarver because for you, facts have no bearing. I hope you’re not so clueless when it comes to your professional life, although I still have a sneaking suspicion you are on Sarver’s payroll.

  • 38 Tony // Apr 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    @Scott,

    the Suns have a lot of talent???? By a lot of talent, are you referring a starting lineup that consisted of only two legitimate starters in Nash and Gortat? If you think this Suns had a lot of talent, then how untalented does a team have to be before you’ll admit they are untalented? The Suns relative success this season had to do with team chemistry, great leadership, and so low of expectations that many teams who lost to the Suns took them for granted.

  • 39 steve // Apr 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    “you are correct that I did pick the Suns to finish 13th, but so what?”

    You’re a Debbie Downer without a grip on reality, that’s what. This Suns team wasn’t as talented as the WCF teams, but they also didn’t completely lack talent. You can’t see that though. You have a complete and utter inability to be objective regarding this team because you hate its owner so much (and misunderstand the role of a managing partner).

    “this is still the first time in over 20 years that the Suns have not made the playoffs in consecutive years”

    This is a fact… but what does it prove? Who was the owner the last time the Suns missed the playoffs in consecutive years? The same guy you’ve been pining for this whole year.

    “incessant vocal and monetary support of Sarver”

    Again, I don’t really support him. I know you’re not going to buy into this, but I actually have neutral feelings about Sarver. I don’t think he’s a good owner, but I don’t think he’s the worst owner in the world, as you purport. In all honesty, the only reason I pipe up is because you are so blatantly wrong about his supposed faults, and mostly because you blame the wrong person for any mistake you can find (and in the same breath praise people who were at fault). It has nothing to do with Sarver. It has everything to do with the fact that I cannot stand people who are flat out wrong and will not admit it. And if you want to say I’m the same way, just look through my posts, if you care enough. Just today, I admitted I was wrong about Frye’s hot shooting in the 09-10 playoffs. I have no problem saying I’m wrong. Being wrong isn’t a bad thing. STAYING wrong is a bad thing.

    “anyone who calls Childress a good shooter has no credibility whatsoever”

    Last time I checked, Shaq was one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen. I’m not going to say he would beat Steve Nash in a 3-pt contest, but Shaq’s layups and dunks were worth just as much as Steve’s jumpers inside the arc, and they’re still a “shot.” Childress is a good shooter in that his selection is very refined. He knows his limits, stays within them, and is very efficient at getting his buckets (well, he hasn’t been in a Suns uni so far, but you get the point). Shooting isn’t all about range and form. There’s much more.

    “It’s people such as yourself who are the ones to blame for putting money in Sarver’s wallet”

    Only you could construe support for the team as a bad thing. Sarver isn’t the only one who benefits from my ticket purchases. Every employee of the Suns benefits. Phoenix benefits (I go to downtown restaurants and spend other money while I’m there), the general economy as a whole for the downtown area gets a huge boost for Suns games. I’m not just lining Sarver’s pockets with money as you would imagine. And also, Sarver’s investment with the Suns isn’t the only thing he has going (or even the biggest). Regardless of whether or not anyone goes to the game, that ownership group (which he represents) has the cash to keep that franchise going. Like it or not, they’re here to stay. If I were you, I’d just get over my irrational hatred and deal with it in a positive way.

    “I’m sure you’ll keep supporting Sarver”

    I support two things. 1. The Suns 2. The hope that humanity has a sense of right and reason. Neither of those has anything to do with the object of your obsession.

    “I still have a sneaking suspicion you are on Sarver’s payroll.”

    1. This proves how crazy you are about him. Seriously, you’re insane when it comes to the topic of Sarver.
    2. If he was as cheap as you say he is, and I was on his payroll, how would I have all the money I have to be lining his pockets?

    Most guys, like shazam and A-ROCK, I can deal with their tomfoolery because it’s just a show. With you, it’s different. You are that blind, and I really just can’t stand it.

    So, sorry for the rant, VotS community. I had to get it out, because this will be the last time I will ever speak with Tony on this site. Sorry, Michael, for the distraction it’s been to your readers. You won’t have to worry about it any more.

    Adios, Tony. I hope you come around one day and stop with all the blind negativity and hatred. It’s not healthy, and it’s not right.

  • 40 Tony // Apr 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    @Steve,

    Wow! What a ludicrous response. Firstly, the Suns lack of talent apparently was obvious to most but I guess not to you. When did I ever say the Suns have the least talented team in the League anyway? Sure, they are easily in the bottom 5 in terms of talent, but is that really a stretch to say that? Since you have no understanding about basketball, let me briefly explain. Talent is not a sufficient condition for success. It’s a necessary condition though. Thus, team chemistry, which is another necessary condition for success, is pivotal and is principally the reason for the Suns relative success this season. Their wins had nothing to do with their talent level. If winning a game was all about talent, the Suns would be 13-14th in the NBA.

    Next, please elaborate that if Sarver was not responsible for selling 1st round draft picks, for low-balling JJ, for trading Marion for Shaq and subsequently using Shaq in a salary dump trade the following season, for letting Amare walk and bringing in role players to fill his void, for hiring Lon Babby and Lance Blanks, so who is responsible for those decisions???? Furthermore, Sarver was not the managing partner when he purchased the team. He sold some of his share a couple years ago when he couldn’t afford to retain complete control. However, he stills retains the majority of control over the franchise. So tell us all then, since you are so “smart,” who is to blame?? Is it the Invisible man behind the curtain? Tell me this Steve, why is it that the Spurs, in a smaller market than the Suns, are able to compete at a high level each season and seem to keep getting better? Are you so stupid as to think that Peter Holt has nothing to do with that? Or is it just luck?

    Next, so now you’re telling us you only go downtown because of Suns games? You mean to say, that if not for Suns games, you wouldn’t support the local economy? Only you could equate lining Sarver’s pockets with supporting the team. I understand supporting a franchise when they are in a bad stretch that is caused by injuries, bad breaks, or other reasons not related to the ownership. But when the principal problem of the team is the ownership, then the mere fact you are spending money to buy the ownership’s “product,” is directly supporting the continued existence of that particular ownership. Just as with any inferior product, if consumers don’t purchase it, the manufacturers will be forced to either improve the product or sell their ownership rights to it. This is basic stuff even someone like you should grasp this.

    Calling Shaq one of the best shooters in NBA history is borderline lunacy. Just because he had a high fg% from shooting a majority of his shots inside the paint does not make him a great shooter! I cannot even fathom how you could make such a ridiculous claim. Childress has a good shooting percentage because he never shoots! How can you call someone a good shooter when they rarely shoot the ball? It’s like saying a player who is 1 for 1 at the free throw means that he’s a perfect free-throw shooter. Of course you can’t make that argument. The sample size is way too small.

    Lastly, I’m done trying to get your head out of Sarver’s ass. Just leave it there, maybe someday you’ll have an epiphany and realize what a horrible horrible owner Sarver has been. In the meantime, keep up your vocal support for Sarver, I’m sure he appreciates all the support he can get these days! Oh, and go ask Cedrick Ceballos about working for Sarver too….Ten years he worked for the organization and didn’t receive one pay raise! I suppose that had nothing to do with Sarver too right? It was just absurd for Ceballos to request one right?

  • 41 5ko // Apr 26, 2012 at 3:18 am

    I always open and close this site with smile.You guys never give up. Sometimes I open this site just to check your posts. Although I`m on Tony`s side, hope you continue your ‘discussions’ in the offseason.

  • 42 A-ROCK // Apr 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Don’t mention my name why your all up in sarvers A hole, you sound like a rookie water boy haha

    Shaq a great shooter hahahaha
    that’s why he can’t make free throws right!!

    to be a shooter you have to actually shoot.
    To have a good shooting percentage is a whole nother topic in which you have to watch that players game.
    It’s obvious you don’t watch and just talk or stay up sarvers tail end right!?

  • 43 steve // Apr 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Steve Nash is one of the top 5 pure shooters in history (a pure shooter is different than a shooter). But he would be an awful shooter if he attempted the shots Shaq took.

    So, Shaq couldn’t make Nash’s shots, but Nash couldn’t make Shaq’s shots. It works both ways.

    Shaq has the highest eFG% in NBA history and he’s #37 in TS%. I know numbers mean nothing to you A-ROCK, and you’re just in this to clown around anyways, but facts are facts. Shaq was an exceptionally good shooter.

  • 44 A-ROCK // Apr 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Obviously you don’t watch basketball but are some type of Neo from the matrix that see’s numbers only because shaq didn’t shoot but dunked most of the time and took down back boards. That isn’t something you brag about in a shooting contest! He can’t just go around and say he is the best shooter because his numbers say he has the best percentage. You really are a fool neo hahaha

    And did you see that layup nash did the other night driving baseline and up and under on the other side of the rim, Nash shoots up close behind the arc and everywhere.

    Your argument is useless gtfoh with that pure shooter and shooter crap including shaq in the same sentence!

  • 45 steve // Apr 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    ^^^^^^^^^^^

    “I know numbers mean nothing to you”

    Point proven. Have a good one.

  • 46 Tony // Apr 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    @A-Rock,

    this guy Steve has zero credibility. First of all, he’s a staunch supporter of Sarver. Secondly, anyone and I mean anyone who claims that Childress is a good shooter and then defends that by then claiming that Shaq was one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA, solely based on his fg% with 90% of his shots coming within 10 feet of the basket, obviously has no understanding of basketball whatsoever. By his logic, the best shooters in the league have to all be bigs because they have the highest fg%, nevermind that the fact that they don’t have the range of guards or small forwards or that they take the overwhelming percentage of their shots in the lane!
    He’s just a clown which is why he supports Sarver.

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