Phoenix Suns fans are going to hate this, but the process to build a championship team is going to have to continue at a deliberate pace and not speed up, now that LeBron James is in Los Angeles.
For the past five seasons the Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs (much to the delight of Phoenix Suns faithful), the longest such drought in franchise history.
The Phoenix Suns, however, have missed out on the big for the past eight seasons – also a franchise record.
But now that LeBron has signed with the Lakers, and will undoubtedly bring with him additional talent to help him compete against the Golden State Warriors who he now shares a division with (do not sleep on Kevin Durant heading south to Los Angeles next offseason), the Suns will continue to slowly build towards their own upcoming title runs, abiding their time while the Lakers and Warriors will be ram-rodding their way towards Division titles, Conference titles, and eventually NBA Titles, for the next three to five years.
The Suns will patiently have to wait their turn.
While many of us (yours truly included) were hoping for a free agency splash signing that would potentially spike Phoenix’s winning opportunities this coming season and beyond, no such move materialized – if it was ever the franchise’s plan at all.
In all actuality, it may never have been their intention. As it had been with the release of Tyler Ulis, the writing was on the wall for some time that LeBron was taking his talents to Will Rogers Beach in Los Angeles. Therefore, spending obscene money on a free agent in his mid-to late 20’s – who might actually be fading from his prime a little bit by the time the division is competitive again – would arguably have been the wrong play.
Could the Suns have somehow pulled a rabbit out of a hat and managed to at least stay competitive with L.A.? Probably not, but it certainly would have been a lot of fun if they had at least tried (especially when Aaron Gordon was such a hot commodity and the Magic have re-upped him for about $50 million less than I ever would have thought he’d go for).
In the meantime, they have compiled some cap space for the offseason of 2019, several trade assets, and a young enough team that if they can keep together, will be ready to pass their division superteams just as their rivals are fading.
Like a predator stalking it’s prey, the Suns can not jump at Golden State and Los Angeles too early as they will easily fend Phoenix off and move along their way.
The Suns need to wait until the heard draws near, then seeing that one or both have become weak, pounce and make their stab in free agency, finally themselves winning the offseason.
No one here wants to think about the Suns being patient any longer, ours – and probably the player’s – patience is running thin.
Growing, developing, and certainly aiming to pass the bottom-feeders while reaching for the back-end of the playoffs, should be their goal for the next several years. As Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, and others mature and improve both on and off the court, the team as a whole will gradually and continually climb in the standings.
That alone should be their main focus for now organizationally, pushing to be better in the coming season than they were the last.
But with LeBron James in L.A. building a second superteam in the same division as Phoenix, one that will have staying power for the next few years, the Suns will have to continue to slowly build, remain patient, and take their time. When the time is right they will be ready to pounce, they just can’t jump too early, or they’ll fall off much quicker.