A discussion on the Phoenix Suns' offseason


Editor’s Note: The following is a free-flowing conversation between Michael Schwartz and Kevin Zimmerman on the Phoenix Suns’ options this offseason.

Michael Schwartz: Two seasons ago the Phoenix Suns faced a franchise-altering summer and came away with a slew of overpriced role players after Amare Stoudemire departed.

The Suns are embarking on another critical offseason in which they may lose another franchise icon and be left with a few banks worth of cash to start the rebuilding process. Or Steve Nash could return and they could try to put the best team out there while getting younger at the same time. Or maybe Nash returns along with a stud free agent like Eric Gordon and the Suns are good again. Or maybe the first scenario occurs and the Suns keep their powder dry until next offseason.

This offseason could go in many different ways and whichever way it does will color the direction of this proud franchise.

At a lunch with the media on Wednesday, Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby hammered home the point that the Suns will not spend just to spend with just over $30 million in commitments for next season. They will be disciplined in their approach and will not just fling around money because they have it as seemed to be the case two years ago.

The counter-argument (which I do not subscribe to) is that Babby is just setting up the Suns to be cheap if they don’t re-sign Nash.

Kevin Zimmerman, are you with me that this is the right approach to rebuilding the Suns back into the “elite” team Babby proclaimed he wants them to soon be?

Kevin Zimmerman: I’m with you in that the philosophy Babby was trying to sell is a good one. Now we get to find out if that’s an honest plan from the man at the top in Robert Sarver, or if it is indeed the counterargument of Phoenix being cheap.

Look, at some point all those sold draft picks has to culminate in something.

To Babby’s credit, he did mention those sold draft picks this week, saying the Suns really need to do better in developing young talent. So I think that while spending money on free agents — and wisely at that — is important, watching the amount of activity on draft day will also lend evidence as to whether or not Phoenix is really trying to work toward building an elite team.

Before the trading deadline, I thought it would be a good sign if the Suns made some small moves to free up more cap space/acquire young players, or even if they were rumored to trade a guy like Robin Lopez. In that, we could at least see that the Suns were really trying hard to go in a new direction. We didn’t hear so much as a peep.

This summer, there had better be a little more action between the draft and free agency. While it’s not the worst thing if they hold off and sign some one-year contracts to look to next summer, they at least need to show the fans that they’re active in change, because the status quo isn’t working.

Home run signings aside, what would you consider a positive offseason?

Schwartz: Very interesting question that’s difficult to answer before we know what choices they have, but if they avoid any and all dumb moves I would consider it a positive offseason. Making a smart draft pick should also be part of this equation, but coming from the guy who thought Earl Clark was a smart pick it might take time to judge that part of the summer.

I understand to some that could be seen as a fairly low bar to set, but I just hope we’ve seen our last mid-level contract for a role player for some time. The reason I’m grading this on a scale is because there just isn’t very much of that top-shelf talent available, so if they don’t get the big fish what else can they really do?

For it truly to be considered successful, I’ll add that they need to make one savvy, Sam Presti-style move. That could be making a lopsided trade, winning an amnesty auction or whatever else. Just something to give hope that the Suns are going about things the right way.

If Nash leaves, bringing back The Dragon would qualify as a good move in my book and taking a shot at a talented but thus far underwhelming young gun like O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless could be interesting as well. Just as long as they don’t overpay.

So two questions for you. How do you think this Nash thing plays out and who are some under the radar free agents you think the Suns should go after?

Zimmerman: I think it’s evident that this early into the process Nash has no clue what he’ll do, but I do think that he’s a unique beast in how he will handle this process.

Everyone agrees that Nash, more than most, deserves to sign with a championship contender, but even some of Nash’s teammates had gut feelings that he’d stay. That’s important to note. Those guys know Nash as a person better than anymore, and it’s proof that his Canadian-bred loyalty will go a long way in the potential for Phoenix re-signing him. In the end, I believe the Suns have a realistic shot at re-signing the two-time MVP if they have a solid plan going into the offseason and into the next few seasons. Then again, if the free agent market is as dry as it appears, maybe he’ll have to jet if he doesn’t think Phoenix is a playoff contender.

I think what we’ve heard on every front is true; the Suns want Nash back and he’ll look for a good reason to stay.  But that doesn’t mean he will. The front office will have to give him reasons to stay early in the free agency signing period.

As for other signings, I think we’ve all agreed that Eric Gordon is the main get after Deron Williams. After that, there are some interesting names that might fit what the Suns need.

Especially if Grant Hill doesn’t return to Phoenix, adding a player like Mayo can go a long way. He’s a do-it-all guard that fits with or without Nash. He can be another lockdown defender alongside Jared Dudley, he can shoot the ball, and he can act as a primary ballhandler capable of shouldering some of that workload.

And this might just be me, but J.R. Smith in a Suns uniform would be exciting in the system that won’t hinder a player of his ability from putting up shots.

I’m not jumping on the Nic Batum or Jamal Crawford trains. How about you?

Schwartz: Crawford, definitely not, at least on a multi-year deal. The only scenario in which I would like him is if Nash returns but they want to save the rest of the powder and go with one-year deals. He could fit in the Shannon Brown instant offense off the bench role, but other than that I’m not feeling him at all.

I do actually like Batum quite a bit, but not for how much he will cost. Really first of all I don’t think there’s any way Portland lets him go shy of a just stupid deal. They dumped all those contracts and certainly have more than enough money to keep a player they really like.

I think Batum would be a great piece on a contender but not necessarily a first or second banana. He defends and can shoot threes and would be a great star role player, but his cost will be much higher than you can bear when the words “role player” are involved in the least bit. If he could be had for a reasonable price, I would be on board.

Now to shift the conversation a bit, one of the most interesting points Lon Babby made on Wednesday was that he hates tanking.

He said, “I’m adamantly opposed to this concept of tanking. I don’t think it’s the right way to go about things. I don’t think it’s good for our franchise, I don’t think it’s good for our fan base, it’s not good for our city. Quite often what it does is I think allows you to mask bad decisions year after year claiming that you’re in this idea that you’re trying to get bad to get good.”

What should we make of that in light of the possibility that Nash leaves and this team needs to rebuild? Do you believe in tanking if this team has no choice but to be bad? Or is it admirable that the Suns could be the one team unwilling to tank?

Zimmerman: I think it’s admirable for Babby and company to be against the mindset of tanking at this point, if simply because you never go into a season expecting to be downright awful.

I mean, do you think the Bobcats planned this season to go as it has? No, but at a certain point in the season where it’s not worth it to win games, I think the philosophy of tanking can begin to be discussed. So whatever Babby says now, I think you absolutely can’t be ready to tank before the year begins, even if Nash isn’t re-signed and the team doesn’t have a big free agent signed in the offseason.

If that’s the case, the Suns still need to put enough of the best one-year contracts together and attempt to win. It’s not fair to the fans to do otherwise. And that’s especially true because this roster isn’t composed of very many young players where the team can use the excuse of player development as a synonym for tanking.

As for later in the year if it all goes downhill and Phoenix is already looking toward next year, then Babby’s anti-tanking comments can be further criticized. And that will have to be later in the year, because I’d argue that the late-season playoff push this year was good for fans’ attitude toward the team as well as business.

Now, I don’t see any other path than to swing for the best basketball team possible.

From your point of view, what should the Suns do if Nash splits town and they aren’t in line for the likes of an Eric Gordon?

Schwartz: It’s funny you bring up the Bobcats. I actually do think the Bobcats went into the season knowing they were going to be at the bottom of the league. Maybe they didn’t set out and make it a goal to be the worst team in NBA history during training camp, but when they traded Stephen Jackson around the draft and dealt Gerald Wallace at the previous trade deadline, they were going for the all-out tank, especially with two lottery picks in their back pocket from the 2011 draft.

As for your question, if Nash leaves and they aren’t in line for a Gordon I would go into all-out savvy move mode. That means I would save my flexibility for next offseason and be disciplined unless I could use the cap space for valuable future assets.

That could mean making the Kurt Thomas trade in reverse whereby the Suns could pick up future picks to take on a bad contract, it could be a lopsided trade to acquire a talented player for nothing, it could involve winning an amnesty auction, any of that kind of stuff. I’d even be willing to take a chance on a guy like Mayo if his deal is reasonable and you feel he can become an important part of your future.

Quality youth and picks would be the mantra, and all mid-level deals would be avoided.

Add it all up, and that would signal the start of the Suns’ rebuilding process. That’s inevitable if Nash leaves, so all moves I would make would revolve around getting solid young players that can help you build a team that can contend once you land that superstar.

OK, time for final thoughts. What do you think goes down this summer in the Valley?

Zimmerman: Oof, way to put me on the spot. If I’d have to guess as an optimist I’d say Phoenix can’t get enough help for Nash to consider returning. That’s not so optimistic but at the end of the day, the free agent class isn’t worth spending all their money upon. Phoenix makes a pickup or two of solid role players, but the Suns hold off on spending this offseason in hopes of hitting the jackpot next offseason.

Oh, and they also make a good draft of a future All-Star despite being at the end of the lottery.

Schwartz: My official stance is that it’s 60/40 Nash returns. In his heart of hearts I think he wants to come back, he just doesn’t want to spend the twilight of his career competing for the eighth seed year in and year out. If the Suns show any signs of being able to put a competitive team around him I think he’s back.

So I’ll predict that the Suns chase Gordon but New Orleans doesn’t let him get away. They will sign an upside guy like Mayo to take some of the creating pressure off Nash and Two Time returns.

But I wouldn’t exactly be willing to go to Vegas to bet on that. It’s such a tough situation to judge and I’m sure variables will emerge as we get closer to July that we haven’t even considered yet. To throw out a wild one, what if the Suns win the Anthony Davis lottery?

If Nash leaves, I think they will make a run at a guy like Gordon and then go into powder-saving mode while investigating the trade market.

So many possibilities exist that I’m entirely unconfident about all those predictions, but I do know that the Phoenix Suns are in for a franchise-shaping offseason no matter how it goes down.

  • Tony

    @Michael, Michael, Michael!

    Again, why are you praising Babby for advocating a frugal off-season? It’s ridiculous to argue that since a couple seasons ago Sarver overpaid on role players and otherwise did a disasterous job in the post-Amare summer that success this off season is to be judged by them not repeating the same mistakes. You are setting the bar so low for the FO that they basically are in a win-win situation. That is, if they spend, which I doubt, they will be perceived as committed to winning but if they don’t spend, which is more likely, you will give them credit because at least they didn’t repeat the 2010 fiasco.
    I don’t understand cheering failure and if the Suns don’t make big moves this off-season, they will be in the bottom three teams in the league and thus, next season will be another failure for the Suns. If so, that will be three straight seasons without making the playoffs.

    In sum, we should never be proud of a FO that puts together a lottery team. Furthermore, just because horrible mistakes were made in the past by overpaying role players, we should not judge the FO based on whether they make the same mistakes again. If they do end up overpaying role players again, then they should be criticized as such. But if they refrain from making significant moves to improve the team on the false premise that they want to keep the salary cap low so as to make a big splash next off-season, the FO should be criticized just as much as the former scenario. Remember, they said the same things last season that they are now saying-that is, that they want to keep salary down to make big moves in the coming off season. At what point will you call their bluff? In other words, assuming they don’t significantly improve the roster this off season, will you give them the benefit of the doubt if they do the same thing the following year too?

  • azbballfan

    Lan Babby has pretty much put the Suns this off-season in an impossible situation

    The Suns wont spend money, but if Nash returns, they are going to have to, to be competitive.

    So the Suns are painting themselves into a corner with this idea

    The Suns cant possibly be frugal and be competitive at the same time without rebuilding unless they somehow magically get some people to sign that are so desperate to be in the league they will play for a low contract

    The Suns are TERRIBLE at developing young talent, so the fact the suns are gonna have to find people that other teams have overlooked seems unlikely

    I heard the latest Suns Podcast i think on another site maybe and they had a clip of Babby saying something like we want to compete for a title every year

    That is impossible

    The Suns are not the cash machines that the Lakers or Knicks are, and Sarver is unwilling to pay the price in luxury taxes for them to do that espcially with the last CBA

    It is impossible to be competitive, yet at the same time compete for a title and somehow rebuild on the fly,

    Not when other players dont want to come to Phoenix

    Not unless Babby hires some Ninjas to Chloroform some NBA All-Stars and jedi mind trick them into playing for the Suns

    Just give it up blow up the damn team already.

    Its bad enough that Babby got his former clients to sign contracts with the Suns then all those players turned out to not get any playing time.

    Childress, Warrick and Turkoglu didnt even give us 15 points a game combined

    If your going to sign people to rediculous contracts, you might as well play them.

    maybe the 3 Stooges should Chloroform themselves

  • Scott

    Heh. You guys were terrible with that draft. My pick, Taj Gibson, has a PER this season of 16.9. Not even mentioned by you guys, though.

    Four words for you guys: Draft Express dot com. ;)

    As for Mayo, I liked him more when the Grizz were trying to dump him. While I like him, and I like the idea of an athletic combo guard, I don’t want to overpay for him, and that’s a likely possibility in the current scenario.

    The Suns need to acquire and try out players when they are cheap, not when they are expensive.

    As with Mayo, the Suns should have picked up Lin when he was in summer league looking for a job. The Suns were so asleep at the wheel on that one, because they needed a brainy young PG who hustled, passed, and played defense.

    I believe things will work out for the best so long as the Suns remain disciplined in their player acquisitions. If they go nuts as so many fans suggest, they’re likely to become the next Bobcats.

    My confidence in the notions of fans: low.

    My confidence in the abilities of the Suns’ management: slightly higher.

  • Jason A.

    I still say bring in Garnett and/or Ray Allen, resign Nash and Hill, and with Gortat you have a formidable (and very old) starting lineup. Let Lopez walk, move Frye to backup center. Resign Redd and/or Brown if you can get him cheaply. Amnesty Childress. The 2nd unit is Telfair, Redd, Dudley, Morris, and Frye. Plus Warrick, Price, and Brown. Plus our draft pick. Am I crazy here or does this team keep us competitive and preserve our long-term cap space? Also, it put fannies in the seats. Right??

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Tony What would you do if you were Suns management assuming you can’t get studs like D-Will or Gordon? I know you want them to spend money to be competitive, but what moves do you think would make sense toward that goal? What I’m advocating is just to be smart, although I see how you think I’m setting the bar too low. Basically the way I see it is if Nash doesn’t come back and then assuming you can’t get Gordon, you’re not going to be good for at least 2-3 years so there’s no reason to make a rash move in free agency. I suppose if they re-sign Nash I would have a slightly different idea of a successful offseason because in that case you’re in “win now” mode and should potentially make signings that match up with Nash’s deal length so you could have another free agency bonanza when he retires.

    @Jason A Sounds interesting in theory, but I don’t think there will be enough cap room for Garnett, Allen, Nash, Hill and Redd/Brown unless they all took below market value deals.

  • Jason A.

    @Michael If we amnesty Childress we’ll have about $31 million in cap room. $8 mil to Nash, $7 mil to Garnett, $7 mil to Allen, $5 mil to Hill, $3 mil to Brown, $1 mil to Redd. It may be a bit under market for the Big 3 but not by much at this stage of their careers. Would a 3 year/$21 million deal do it to steal the Celtics? Even if we just got one of the C’s that would be a huge upgrade.

  • steve

    I think that’s a highly optimistic view of how much money those players are going to make next season, Jason. Garnett is balling, nash is still an all star, and redd proved he can still score with the best of them despite being unable to outrun dick bevetta. And brown is going to want a lot more than $3m. I’m not saying he’s worth it, but he will want it. The suns won’t be good next year, in my opinion. However, I also don’t think they’ll be awful. If the right pieces fall into place, I think the suns can be back in contention after two more offseasons filled with savvy moves.

    The front office seems much more focused and intentional than they have before. I’d like to imagine they’ve learned from their mistakes rather than assume they’ll doom the team to bobcat status.

  • Jason A.

    Ok, if we can’t get both Garnett and Allen how about just one of them? Nash at $10, Celtic at $9, $5 to Hill, $5 to Brown, and $2 to Redd. That would work.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    Yep, that would work. The first viewpoint certainly seems optimistic to me as well.

    But that basically would entail one solid veteran and bringing back the rest of the current crew. That’s probably a playoff team but not one that’s competing for a ring.

  • Jason A.

    I agree, no ring with only one Celtic. But if we can get both KG and Allen, and get lucky and stay healthy, I really do believe that team would be a legitimate contender. What can I say I’m an optimist!

  • Roger

    Guys,

    Nash is going to Orlando because D’Antoni will be the coach there next season. They’ll get Amare, add Diaw and JRich to stay for a championship run with Dwight H. Sounds like the Florida Suns, almost.

    Jokes aside, Nash will wait for FO to make their moves before he decides. It’ll be to his interest to keep mum until Sarver tips his hand. Chinese saying ” He who speaks first loses ” and Nash ain’t talking.

    Actually, I would like Nash to play w/Dwight. It’ll be fun to watch that duo!

    Roger

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    That is indeed true, I believe you are setting the bar way too low concerning the Suns FO and what a successful off-season would entail. I’m not suggesting I have the answers either, but I refuse to commend the organization for advocating a frugal approach that will most likely lead to an abysmal Suns team next season.
    I don’t believe the Suns have any shot to land Gordon simply because the Hornets are not going to let him get away for nothing. He’s their only “star” player and with new ownership trying to make a name for themselves, Gordon is their one player they can market around. The Blazers cut cap space this season so I expect them to retain Batum. Thus, the two best restricted free agents are not going anywhere and it’s also pointless to even contemplate Williams signing with the Suns as there’s a better chance the Suns win the Finals next season than D Williams signing with the Suns.

    As far as I see it, the most important thing the FO needs to do next season is to make the Suns relevant again. I know you and some others will probably disagree, but I don’t see the Suns becoming really relevant again until new ownership comes in. However, assuming that doesn’t happen anytime soon, the Sarver-led front office has to make it a priority to foster a reputation for demanding excellence and being winners. Ending up as a lottery team, despite having a ton of cap space, doesn’t do this. Instead, losing only makes a franchise less and less relevant.

    The main thing I want to see from the FO this off-season is that they are committed to building an elite team. What this does not entail is publicly professing their plan on not using their ample cap space to make an immediate impact on building a contending team. The easiest tactic the FO can take is to claim they are unable to seriously upgrade the roster this season because they want to be “disciplined” and maintain cap flexibility so as to avoid repeating prior mistakes. As I’ve repeatedly said, failure should not be commended. A committment to not spending this off-season is a committment to losing, simple as that. This team is not going to be a winning team next season if their best signing is Jamal Crawford or resigning Lopez.

  • KeZ

    I´d love to see Josh Smith in a Phx uni……..

  • KeZ

    Do you guys think ATL would accept a Channing Frye, Jared Dudley for Josh Smith trade!? The salary match, and as we all now ATL are looking for a PF! I really like Dudley but I would take JSmooth in a heartbeat……

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    It probably isn’t doable, but how about Nash, Gordon and Lamar Odom? Nash and Odom for the short term.

  • steve

    @Jason – I’m definitely in agreement about the concept of getting some of those guys. Even if Garnett, Nash, and Allen ended up washing out, having three hall of famers on your team can really only boost the image of the franchise, even if they end up being bad.

    And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being optimistic. Spreading positivity is much better than the alternative.

    “We’re not on any artificial time frame. If the opportunities are there, we’re going to seize them…”

    “It MAY be that we make the decision that we kind of do a little bit of what we did last year and wait a year and keep our powder dry and be as competitive as we can be” (caps mine)

    “We have to make the decisions from the standpoint of not only what’s good for us today but what’s going to be good for us tomorrow.”

    Those are just a few of the quotes from Babby’s presser, and I get the feeling from each of those that the Suns are willing to do what it takes to get better, and unwilling to be content with staying mediocre.

    The NBA is as much about luck as can be. Had Boston not gotten Russell, would they have really been a destination spot in the NBA? People were always going to want to play in LA… but Boston? If Detroit had a crystal ball back in ’03 and picked Wade with the second pick instead of Darko, do you think that Miami could have attracted the likes of Shaq, LeBron, and Bosh in free agency? Miami was never exactly a destination city (although it was certainly no Milwaukee either).

    The point of the above is that lucky bounces don’t always go your way. The Suns would like to have a chance at a couple of marquis guys this offseason, but that might not happen, and it might not be within their power to control that. However, what they CAN control to a much greater extent is spending big on duds. They’re not going to spend $35M on a guy like Childress again (who, while he was serviceable in ATL, was never a star). They’re not going to give a guy like Hakim Warrick 4 years guaranteed. They’re going to keep their picks (and maybe get some more). They’re going to BUILD, and not just retool. Avoiding mistakes is almost entirely within your control. Signing or trading for fantastic players is almost entirely up to chance.

    I think it’s prudent to appreciate Babby’s words because he is focusing on what he actually can control, and he still says he’s entirely intent on luring the big fish to the Valley (although it’s impossible to force them to bite).

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Tony Looks like we agree in theory but not in practice. Everyone on this board wants to see the Suns relevant again. Even you and Steve would agree on that (although I shudder at the thought of your guys’ agreement ha!). The question is how do you get there?

    We all want to see that the Suns are committed to building an elite team, but that’s EXACTLY what Babby said the Suns are trying to do. In fact, he opened his hour-long address saying just that. All I’m saying is that if the right pieces aren’t available, then don’t throw money at the wrong pieces just to try to win the press conference momentarily. Like Steve wrote above, Babby also said they won’t hesitate to spend if the right deal is there, they just won’t feel forced to spend if it isn’t.

    My hope is that Babby has some savvy trick up his sleeve that none of us see coming at this point.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    you are too funny. I too shudder at the thought of agreeing with someone who calls Shaq one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA or blames the Suns misfortunes on everyone but the true culprits. LOL!

    Anyhow, besides setting the bar so low, I hope you realize Babby’s statements are purely a ploy. By that I mean the Organization also wants the bar as low as possible so that they put themselves in a “win-win” situation because either they make one decent move, in which case they will profess they’ve shown a committment to winning by getting one good player despite the “difficulties” of acquiring talent or they don’t make any moves to improve the roster and claim that fiscal discipline is essential and expect us to admire them for that position.

    My other point of contention is your faith in Babby. He recently stated that this Suns season was a disappointment because he thought the roster was good enough for them to make the playoffs. Now, I think most people would agree that the Suns overachieved this season. The team was picked by pretty much every objective expert to finish between 12th-15th in the west. The only reason they finished 10th was because of Gentry and the leadership of Nash and Hill. The fact that Babby would argue that they put together a roster good enough to make the playoffs is very irksome. I mean if he truly believes this roster was a playoff caliber roster, then I hesititate to ponder what he considers a championship roster to be.
    Furthermore, regarding Gentry, I also feel that Babby hasn’t given Gentry the praise he deserves. It was pretty obvious towards the latter part of the season that both Nash and Hill went out of their way to publicly praise Gentry and the rest of the coaching staff. So it seems as if there is some discord in the front office about the job Gentry has done. If this is the case, that’s absurd because to get as much out of this team as he did from the pathetic roster Babby, Blanks, and Sarver provided him, they should already be in talks with Gentry about giving him a contract extension.

  • steve

    “You are what your record says you are.”

    What is overachieving? You are what your record says you are. As easily as anyone can pretend the Suns “overachieved” this season, one could also argue they lost more than a handful of extremely easy games at home (not to mention losses to terrible teams on the road). What you “should have” or “could have” accomplished is completely irrelevant and pointless in the face of reality.

    “I think most people would agree that the Suns overachieved this season. The team was picked by pretty much every OBJECTIVE expert…” (caps mine)

    Has anyone read Simmons’ recent article where he picks the 20 luckiest champions? The 2007 Suns/Spurs series was mentioned (something like #13 luckiest champions of all time, according to Simmons), and he says many times over, the Spurs were simply better. They beat the Suns in game 1 in Phoenix. Good teams don’t lose game 1 at home. Not only that, but they blew the Suns out of the building in game 6 even when the Suns were full strength. The Spurs were simply the better team (coming from an objective source who knows a heck of a lot more about basketball than any of us on here. Oh, did I also mention that he’s about as big of a believer in advanced stats as anyone on earth?).

    Now, I mention this because I have heard countless Suns fans, including the commenter I am quoting, argue that “the Suns would have won if the suspensions hadn’t happened,” or some other version of, “the Suns would have done better if not for X.” How can you pretend that the Suns would have done BETTER if not for X in one instance, but now say the Suns would have done WORSE if not for X (in this case, they were only good because of “Gentry and the leadership of Nash and Hill”). It makes absolutely zero sense and is so blatantly hypocritical (it’s the typical angry sports fan logic though).

    I know not every Suns fan is saying the Suns overachieved this season, but I’ve heard it from more than one person (just as I’ve heard the opposite more than once). However, why even bother thinking about what might have been better or worse if not for X? The fact is that what happened, happened. There isn’t even another possibility. It happened. “You are what your record says you are,” and that’s the truth.

    Haha, I’m still laughing about that. The Suns only finished 10th “because of Gentry and the leadership of Nash and Hill.” Haha, what’s the point of that statement. Gentry, Hill, and Nash were all on the team’s payroll from the get-go. It wasn’t like that was some uncontrollable benevolent circumstance that allowed the Suns to magically overachieve. Everyone in the entire league and every basketball fan knew going into the season that those three were a part of the organization. All of those pundits who picked the Suns lower than 10th were just wrong.

    I’m so tired of the “what-ifs.” There is no “what-if” scenario that is actually beneficial when looking at past or present occurrences. The NBA record books won’t remember that the 2011-12 Suns “should have” finished 22-44. They’ll remember that the 2011-12 Suns DID finish 33-33. No one will care that the 2007 Suns “might have” beatent the Spurs if Amare and Diaw hadn’t been idiots (which, by the way, does anyone have any doubt about Amare’s idiocy after his latest incident?). History will show that the Suns fell, and they lost two home games to a better team. History won’t care that Barkley probably came closer than anyone to besting Jordan in the NBA Finals. They’ll just remember that Jordan won when he wanted to (and many will even forget that Paxson was nearly as big of a reason as Jordan that they won 2 of those rings). Do I have to drive this point any further? There is no such thing as “could haves” or “should haves” or “would haves” when you’re talking about past events. If something has happened, then that’s just the truth of the matter.

    If I had struck that 6-iron perfectly, it would have ended up in the cup. If I had bent that free kick just a tiny bit more, it would have gone upper v. If I hadn’t put my face into that guy’s fist, I might have won that fight. If if if if if.

    It makes no sense.

  • steve

    If you tl:dr’d the post above, here’s the long story short.

    It’s just as easy to argue that the Suns “underachieved” this season as it is to argue that they “overachieved.” However, the truth that the Suns finished 33-33 trumps any argument to the contrary because it actually happened. Why ask “what if” when you already know the “what”?

  • Ty-Sun

    Yep, if you look back at some of the relatively “easy” games that the Suns lost this season you could just as easily argue that they underachieved this season. Frye’s game was MIA early in the season. Price performed better than Telfair early on as the backup PG. Brown looked like a complete bust early on. The second unit – except for Morris – just plain sucked during the 1st half of the season.

    But things just started to come together after the All-Star break. Make no mistake, I’m NOT saying that this team would have or could have gone far into the playoffs if this had been a regular season with a full training camp and full preseason but I don’t think it was as bad a team as some people think.

    But next season depends NOT on how much Sarver is willing to spend but on the FO just making some smart decisions… and whether or not Steve Nash decides to resign with the Suns. Whether Steve stays or goes changes everything for the future of the Suns. And to a smaller degree, whether Grant Hill stays, goes or decides to retire influences the future of the Suns too.

    There are just too many “ifs” for me to make any predictions for next year. Just like all the “ifs” from this season are useless to argue over now.

    There are no “star” players on the FA market this year that the Suns have a real shot at. D-Will is either going to stay in NJ/Brooklyn or go to Dallas. NO is most likely going to match any offer made for Gordon. Garnett is playing so well that the only way any other team is going to get him away from the Celts is to offer him a ridiculously huge contract that even the Celts think is stupid. Bring back Amare? Pleeeeeease! Don’t even think about it with his injury history. Allen might be a potential target but only if the price is right. I think Mayo is a very good option if Nash stays. If not, trying to bring Dragic back should be the first FA priority.

    But the draft will also affect things. No one know what the Suns’ future will be at this moment. Time will tell. As a fan I can only hope for the best.

  • Tony

    @Steve,

    Wow, you call me hypocritical for arguing that had Amare and Diaw not been suspended they would most likely have won that series compared to arguing that Nash, Hill, and Gentry made a sizable difference in the relative success of the Suns this season as somehow hypocritical????? Are you so blind as to think losing Amare and Diaw made no difference in the outcome of the series? By that logic, it makes no difference if Westbrook or Rose miss a playoff game because in your ignorant mind, if the Thunder or the Bulls are truly better than their opponents, it won’t matter if they are missing their best players, they’ll win anyway. Furthermore, unlike MLB and NFL, home court plays a much more prominent role in winning in the NBA. The Suns gained home-court advantage after that big win against the Spurs in the 2007 series, and the very next game at home, without their second best player in Amare and their other playmaker in Diaw, they didn’t have enough to overcome a Spurs team only missing a role player in Horry.

    As far as this season’s Suns team, you really believe leadership made no difference in the Suns achieving a 33-33 record? Look at teams like the Kings, the Blazers, or even the Knicks, all teams with far more talent than the Suns, yet all fell apart because of a lack of leadership on the court and in the coaching staff. The Knicks players I believe truly quit on Mike D’Antoni and that’s a major reason for their success post-Antoni. I realize ignorant people such as yourself Steve have such a minimal understanding of basketball that they believe all that matters are statistics, but at this professional level, success has as much to do with the mental aspect of the game because the parity in talent isn’t so great. Intangibles, such as leadership, hustling, and chemistry all play a critical role in determining whether a team is successful or a lottery team. Heck, even players on the Suns team credited Nash and Hill with going as far as they did because of their leadership.

    As far as the team losing easy games this season, did you forget those losses came primarily during the early portion of the season, when the team’s chemistry wasn’t set yet? Without a regular training camp and preseason, key rotation players such as Telfair, Morris, Lopez, and Brown were still developing a comfort zone with their surrounding teammates and in understanding how to utilize the system they were playing in. Furthermore, although the team did lose some games they should have won, they also won several games they were favored to lose and probably would have lost had their opponents’ not had so many injuries to key players.

    FYI, anyone who first claims that Childress is a good shooter, who then backs that up by claiming Shaq was one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA, and also claimed that Gortat was the second best center in the league, even ahead of Bynum, clearly does not understand the game of basketball and pretty much has zero credibility. It’s why this same individual argues that Sarver is a decent owner or that a starting lineup of Nash, Dudley, Brown, Frye, and Gortat in fact underachieved when EVERY OBJECTIVE analyst picked them between 12th-15th in the west.
    It’s impossible to argue with someone so ignorant and at the same time, so confident in their baseless opinions. Not to dwelve into politics, but it reminds me of arguing about Bush Jr.’s presidency with President Bush supporters. Facts simply have no relevance to them. Truth to them is only what they want to believe and nothing will deter them of their beliefs no matter how absurd they are.

  • steve

    Post #22 (Tony’s) Definition of missing the point.

    Post #21 (Ty-Sun’s) Definition of getting the point.

    @Ty-Sun – I think Mayo is a good pick-up (assuming the price is right, of course) whether or not Nash stays. He’s shown just enough flashes of brilliance in his NBA career that I believe he’s worth taking the chance (again, assuming the price is right). I would love to see him in a Suns uni if no better combo guard can be found. He has the ability to average 20 if he gets his head straight (18.5 in his rookie season), and that’s something the Suns are badly missing. Best of all, he can get those 20 with or without being fed easy buckets.

    The biggest problem with Mayo is that I think he already makes more than he’s worth (he made $5.6M this season), and I don’t think he’s the type of guy who would be fine with a paycut.

  • Ty-Sun

    It’s very difficult for me to take anything someone says seriously when what they post is laced with verbal attacks on other posters with different opinions.

    I suppose it’s par for the course for sport fans to label other fans as “ignorant”, “stupid”, “clueless” or something similar when they disagree but, honestly, personal attacks on other people with different opinions really makes ME doubt the logic of any person who makes such attacks.

  • Tony

    @Ty-Sun,

    It also makes me doubt the credibility of someone who just assumes who the perpetrator of verbal attacks is when they haven’t fully appreciated the past discussions and who started such remarks in the first place.

  • Scott

    BTW, it occurs to me to mention that the Lopez situation is another one where it could turn out to be too expensive.

    If the Suns get a big man in the draft, it will make it easier to let Robin go.

    And for the record, I think Frye is a C, not a PF. He should play at C.

    Gortat, on the other hand … I’d like to see him play at PF before I rule him a C.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    My gut says they overachieved, but perhaps that’s just in relation to my preseason predictions. I guess the truth is they most certainly underachieved in the first half when they lost all the games to crappy teams and overachieved in the second half. To me it still feels like an overall overachievement because of how greatly they overachieved in the second half.

    @Scott I really kind of think Babby was sending a message through the media on Lopez. I think the Suns would like him back at the right price, but I could not imagine them matching a hefty offer to RoLo.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    That’s the way I take it. As an attempt to scare off potential suitors, or make them bid high if they really want him.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    there’s no question about it-the Suns overachieved this past season. It’s just ludicrous to argue to the contrary. Some of the players on the team said it themselves. I mean come on, a starting unit of Nash, Brown, Dudley, Frye, and Gortat, with a reserve unit of Telfair, Lopez, and Morris, should have been a playoff team or even come close to being one? Maybe in the D-League or possibly in the eastern conference but certainly not in the west. We also have to remember the Suns caught several breaks with opposing teams’ missing their best wing players’ due to injury. Particularly when Hill went down with injuries, several games the Suns won that they probably would not have won had the other team had those wing players.

  • steve

    Again, the underachieving argument can be made just as easily.

    Bad breaks, good breaks, they all happen all the time at different times during seasons. That’s just part of the game. No team wins games it shouldn’t or loses games it shouldn’t. If they’re good enough to win, they’ll win.

    For this once, I’ll break my silence to tony and ask this: when was the last time I insulted you. And what is the worst insult I have even given? I don’t know why you take such issue with those who don’t give you the respect you feel you deserve. If people don’t give you what you want, since when is the correct response to kick, scream, and cry about it then yell, “HE STARTED IT,” when you’re called on your folly.

    I haven’t been hostile to you for quite some time, and I think it’s about time you jump on board. Not for my sake, but for the sake of VotS and its readers.

  • Scott

    I don’t think the Suns overachieved. They just “achieved,” and if anything they under-achieved, in that they didn’t come out of training camp looking significantly more “jelled” than any other team. In fact, the 2nd unit took an exceptionally long time to come together, despite the fact that everyone on the team but Morris was a multi-year vet.

    Of course, I blame part of the 2nd unit unreadiness on Gentry, because he could have started the year playing more guys already familiar with the system, and instead he played primarily guys who were new to the system, typically having Lopez on the 2nd unit as the sole holdover from last year.

    How much better would the Suns have been if the new guys all had to prove themselves in practice before they got onto the court?

  • bird33

    i think the sun should keep nash,brown,redd,dudley, and go get gerald wallace, eric gordon, nick young and a big that can bang like greg monroe

  • Ty-Sun

    Interesting that, even though I named NO ONE in my anti-insult post, one person seemed to think that it was aimed at him. Lol.

  • barnes

    guys – babby alluded to not just having cap space to sign someone but to also possibly facilitate a trade by taking on salary what do you guys make of this? there seems to be a couple of teams in the market of dumping salary or positions which are overstocked. Granger and josh smith immediately come to mind, particularly smith who the hawks simply cant afford to pay with johsnon teague and horford already their future??? A lot of teams wont go near smith because of his attitude etc to so wouldnt this be a trade the suns should be exploring with atlanta? a future first round pick, lopez/markieff morris gives atlanta their cheap bigs and allows horford to spend more time at PF and seems to work for both teams doesnt it? Looking at indianna danny granger plays paul georges position and that will get sticky if they sign a shooting guard like eric gordon – they would have to move granger. In that case the same deal would seem to make sense for indy too? If the suns could land smith or granger and draft high potential in someone like austin rivers or perry jones if he slides or worst case a henson/zeller big man, doesnt those guys with nash, dudley, frye and gortat make a pretty solid core and leave room to possibly sign a mayo or bring back hill? it leaves them thin at backup centre with none but they could draft one and frye performs better at centre than PF so he could come of the bench with the draft pick? We just dont seem to be going after these guys like josh smith that would thrive in our system but need to be traded from their current teams.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      I don’t know if Granger or Smith will necessarily become available, but if they do this is definitely an area to look into. Sarver said last year he thinks they will acquire their next big piece via trade, not free agency, and this would be the year to make something like that happen.