Phoenix Suns: 10 Takeaways From The 2014-15 Season (Part 2)

Feb 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (left) against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeats the Suns 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (left) against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeats the Suns 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phoenix Suns
Apr 7, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks with guard Archie Goodwin (20) in the third quarter of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 96-69. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

5. This Team Needs Veteran Leadership

The common theme of exit day interviews was this team’s need for veteran leadership, though anyone could’ve told you that watching the Suns after the trade deadline. No offense to P.J. Tucker, but a guy who’s only been in the league for four years hardly counts as a veteran locker room presence, even if he’s been this team’s vocal leader over the last few seasons.

If you include older players like Tucker, Brandan Wright, Gerald Green and Danny Granger, the Suns aren’t even in the top five youngest teams in the NBA. But looking at the likely core of Eric Bledsoe (25), Brandon Knight (23), the Morris twins (25) Alex Len (21), Archie Goodwin (20) and T.J. Warren (21), this is one of the youngest teams in the league.

I mean, good for Earl Barron for trying, but a D-League call-up probably can’t be one of your biggest veteran presences either:

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said the offseason departure of Channing Frye left the team lacking in the leadership department.

“Ironically, I think some of our most mature guys and some of our guys with the best leadership potential are some of our youngest players, but that’s a tricky position for some of our youngest players with Brandon Knight at 23 years old or even Alex Len at 21 years old,” he said. “So we may need to bring somebody in in free agency or via trade who fills that role.”

It’s too early to start pinpointing certain veterans who will be available this summer, but one positive locker room presence might already be in Phoenix — Danny Granger, who has a $2.1 million player option next season and shares an agent with T.J. Warren.

“I have always embraced leadership roles, even younger in my career I had leadership roles in Indiana,” he said. “It will be something I embrace and I always pride myself as a teacher, even my two kids have to listen to my lectures as I like to teach so it is something I will look forward to.”

Granger, who didn’t play for the Suns because of past ailing injuries, has the added benefit of possibly the league’s best medical staff if he stays in Phoenix. Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said if he’s healthy, the team would love to keep him around in a leadership role.

“What’s particularly appealing to him, and we picked his brain a little bit today, was just his observations on our team and his capacity for leadership and his experience and his playoff experience and just being a solid veteran,” he said. “Obviously that’s something that we need and if he’s capable of providing that, that would be a plus.”

Granger is long past his prime, but one more cheap veteran presence won’t hurt, especially since Phoenix will have some roster spots to fill with all their upcoming free agents. Two of them — Brandon Knight and Brandon Wright — were singled out by McDonough as players the Suns are intent on re-signing this summer as the team tries to model itself after championship-caliber teams:

"“I think the best teams have players at all stages, and what I mean by that is you have some veteran players who are in their late 20s or early 30s who have kind of been there, have a lot of experience and hopefully have had a decent amount of success. “You have your players kind of in the prime of their career in their mid-to-late 20s who are your best players and kind of drive the team — traditionally that’s when guys play the best basketball of their career. “And you have the development players, the guys who are probably role players who help fill in when they’re needed and guys that keep it sustainable going forward and filling the gaps in the future as the older guys retire or move on. So we’re definitely skewed to the younger side this year.”"

On the leadership front, even having guys like Wright and Knight available from the start of training camp could be an added boost. Knight, who joined the team as the trade deadline, regretted not being able to play after his ankle injury and noted how hard the adjustment of joining a new team midseason was:

“When you start from summer and move forward it is easier to be vocal versus coming into game 60 when guys have a set rotation and set everything pretty much,” he said. “So it is tough to come in and be vocal and you have to pick your spots. When you start in the trenches with these guys it is easier to communicate with them because you’ve been there from the jump.”

Next: No. 4