Entering training camp, Suns could find inspiration in NCAA teams of transfers

New eras of NBA basketball teams come with skepticism. That skepticism is hard to argue against considering winning teams are built upon consistency in the lack of roster turnover and in the front office.

The Phoenix Suns have little of either.

Yet they also had little choice. Sooner or later, they’d have to face the end of the Steve Nash era, and at no point would anyone see the post-Nash Suns being successful off the bat. In speaking of the skepticism of roster turnover on NBA teams, chemistry appears at the top of the list for why a team in Phoenix’s position could fail.

But here they are. The Suns hold Media Day on Monday and will haul straight to La Jolla, Calif., for training camp. Let the answers begin to unfold.

Before Phoenix faces the tough reality of rebuilding, we can ask the question, “Why not?”

Why can’t a team of misfits become a winner off the bat? Pending the potential untapped talent coming to fruition, here’s an argument that it can happen. CBS college hoops blogger Jeff Borzello wrote about NCAA teams like Iowa State and USC trending toward building their teams off transfers, and I couldn’t help but think of the Suns.

This is, after all, a team where second chances and proving doubters wrong will permeate through the new locker room culture, not only as a team but individually. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

At Iowa State, coach Fred Hoiberg turned the risk of a team of guys looking for second chances into a success story, leading the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament where they eventually lost to the national champion Kentucky Wildcats in the third round.

Could the Suns find inspiration in that?

They filled in Nash’s spot with Goran Dragic, and those in Phoenix can only hope it goes even half as smoothly as sports’ most recent example of protégé success stories — the Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers transition for the Green Bay Packers. Dragic is, by the way, the pure definition of second chances for the franchise, but he’s one new piece of many in Phoenix.

Michael Beasley is looking for opportunity and his place in the NBA much like an NCAA transfer — the high-profile guy who didn’t click with his coach and needed a change in environment. Same with Wesley Johnson, who struggled to find his confidence in Minnesota.

The chip-on-my-shoulder attitude could be the storyline from every player, from Marcin Gortat to P.J. Tucker.

Like all the returnees, Gortat must prove he can produce without the help of Nash. Tucker comes into his second try in the NBA with a professional attitude he developed in Europe. Even old man Jermaine O’Neal will be proving to doubters that he still has enough juice in his legs to contribute.

On paper, it’s a mess of players who didn’t pan out elsewhere. But similar to the case at Iowa State, the Suns have the chemistry master in Alvin Gentry. He’ll need to prove that his tactics will work with a rebuilding squad just as well as a playoff contender, and that will be learned as this year progresses.

If all goes well, call him the Fred Hoiberg of the NBA.

And 1

The Suns unveiled their new court on Wednesday, and it’ll probably rattle those of you who don’t like drastic change, especially when that change pushes memories aside. The biggest omission from the new court would be the striking lack of purple, which goes in line with the Planet Orange marketing campaigns of the last few years.

This offseason marked a good point for the team to make such changes considering the new era the Suns are entering.

The biggest change in the design is the centercourt logo reading “SUNS” and the out of bounds border being in all black.

What do you think?

  • boris

    Love the new court!

  • Ty-Sun

    I like the new court too.

    As for the main topic of the article, it comes very close to describing what I was hoping for this year. It’s definitely at the extreme upper end of my hopes but I think it’s possible, especially with younger players. If these guys can bond quickly and get a kind of “let’s show ‘em!” attitude then who knows what might happen.

    Phoenix has a history of winning even if it hasn’t won the “big one” yet. Some teams just have such a long and dismal history of almost perpetual loosing that I think that a lot of players who wind up on those teams just loose their enthusiasm for the game because they’re on a perpetual cellar dweller.

    That’s not Phoenix. Hopefully all of these guys – even the players remaining from last season’s team – will look at this season as a new beginning, embrace that concept with enthusiasm and go all out to try to prove all of the doubters wrong.

  • Scott

    With the new color scheme, they need to play “Back in Black.” Because that’s never been done before. ;)

    As for rebooting the roster, they pretty much needed to do that because they were stuck in lottery hell, yet were paying the luxury tax. You don’t do both.

  • B. Cray Z.

    I don’t care what the court looks like.

    I do, very much, care what the team looks like, on the other hand.

    Showing the door to Nash, our offensive leader, is not only a slap in the face to our fans & a purposeful attempt to make the team suck (slap in the face to both the fans & the players as well as the chemistry of the team ), it was a disgraceful way to treat a man who has done so much for this team. Same could be said for not even offering to resign our best (by far) defensive player Grant Hill. What makes those efforts to tear our team apart even worse was that they (as well as our RoLo move) were done with duplicity & covered over with Babby’s candy-coated lies. Fact is that Scott is way off base & we could have easily resigned them all without even coming close to the luxury tax & still brought Gogi (& even LB) back. Gogi, Luis & Alvin (next to be shown the door) are the only bright spots for our Suns.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Ty-Sun

    Letting Nash go was the best thing to do for both him and the team. The team needed to get younger and Nash has a real shot at winning a championship before he retires. Yeah the Suns could have afforded to keep Nash and bring back Dragic but there’s no way of knowing if he would have accepted an offer to be Steve’s backup again when there surely would have been other offers by teams at least promising him a shot at the starting job.

    All the moves the Suns made this season are looking forward. I think they made some good gambles at reasonable prices on salaries. The team is younger and financially flexible going forward.

  • Manuel

    And let’s not forget: the 03-04 Pistons were a team of castoffs and outsiders. Things worked out pretty well for them that year.

  • PennyAnd1

    I love the new court! It’s hot! But it would be really nice to have some purple in it. Purple & Orange blending together just looks awesome. Maybe they should’ve had bright purple outline instead of white. Or Maybe purple outs. If we’re going to do a complete change I say the Jerseys for next year has to have good purple in it. Orange is just too stale and it’s just not the Suns without the purple.

    @B Crazy
    I agree. Nash would’ve stayed had the Suns made him a priority and not wait until he was finally gone, and then started making moves. As upset as I am, I guess this is as good of a time to embrace what we have and move on. I’m not really that depressed anymore just because I know Marshall has the potential to be a stud like Nash someday. Marshall won’t be MVP, but he’ll be an above average PG. The run n’ gun legacy falls in the hand of Marshall.

  • Bill_Thomas

    As far as Marshall, his best case scenario is something like a larger, more physical Rondo, medium case is an Andre Miller, and lower end case is a Raymond Felton or Jameer Nelson. None of this is a big disappointment.

    What is a disappointment is that we did not draft more people with a high potential and didn’t take more draft chances. Frankly I don’t know why we even bothered to ask the Lakers for draft choices in a sign and trade for Nash, except I know we’ll fob them off for Sarver cash or has been or never will be players.

    I think we did make a run at Courtney Lee and OJ Mayo, but they would not come due to Sarver’s reputation as a cut and burn guy. Unfortunately, now he probably needs to live down more than maybe he should have to live down.

    Nash was way overdone here. Two years in a row of not making the playoffs after pulling out all stops. PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!And don’t blame the Lakers for wanting to sign Nash and providing us with some very nice compensation therefor.

    I don’t understand the Wes Johnson deal. I guess Babby sees something here that no one else in the NBA sees. Maybe I can send a traveling eye doctor to all other teams’ front offices under contract to me, and make a mint off of it. It seems as tho’ we traded Warrick for Johnson with a chance to get rid of the Lopez problem with a fig leaf included. The draft pick involved has no great value, especially after the Laker deal.

    Congrats boys, if this all turns out badly you three should all be sent to the Chosun Reservoir, so to speak.

  • Scott

    @B. Cray Z -

    Fair enough, I had that wrong. The Suns were not paying luxury tax in the last two seasons where they missed the playoffs. In the 2010-11 season, for instance, they were $7 million over the cap, but still weren’t paying a tax.

    I’m still learning about the cap and when the tax kicks in. (I might be a slow learner.)

    Each year, from the 2007-8 season to the 2009-10 season, the Suns paid approximately $4 to 5 million in luxury tax. They did not pay luxury tax in the last two seasons, but – not coincidentally – in those two seasons they also did not have a star go-to type player, which was a pre-condition for Nash staying in Phoenix.

    BTW, who pays luxury tax, and how much?

    Some of the championship teams are regular payers of luxury tax. In the last 9 years, the Suns have paid a total of $15.6 million, while in 7 of 9 years the Dallas Mavericks paid more than that each year. In fact, the total Dallas has paid over the last 9 years is over $150 million; basically, 10x the amount the Suns paid over the same period.

    The Celtics and the Lakers have been big payers too, with totals of $46 million and $84 million, respectively.

    Not every team who pays the luxury tax is a winner. NY has paid the price for having had Isiah Thomas as their GM, to a total of $194 million over 9 years, despite never really threatening to contend.

    San Antonio, blessed with great scouting and luck in the lottery, paid about the same tax as the Suns, at $12.6 million.

    Do any good teams avoid paying the luxury tax? Yes, both OKC and Chicago paid no luxury tax in the last 9 years.

    But there’s also plenty of bad teams who avoided paying a luxury tax, and that’s Charlotte, Golden State, the Clippers, New Orleans, and Washington.

    Tax payers spreadsheet -


  • Bill_Thomas

    Sarver has no problems he can’t solve. If he is worried about the tax, all he has to do is fire Babby and hire Donald Sterling as his GM.

  • dayoldy

    Nice Court. I agree with @PennyAnd1 tho… just needs a little purple accent. Don’t abandon purple. I’d actually much rather Suns culture be PLANET PURPLE

  • Scott

    I think the orange and black court is interesting, if a little harsh and Halloweeny. Some purple here and there might soften it up.