To lift the curtain and step behind it, that is everything. And why this hesitation and delay? Because we do not know what things look behind it.
Time to bite the bullet. Pull the plug. Look to the future. Put the muzzle in our mouths and...
This season is lost, the window is closed. The only thing left for us true purple blooded Suns fans is pain and misery. At least for a season or two.
The 2010 off season acquisitions of Josh Childress, Hedo Turkoglu, and Hakim Warrick and the resigning of Channing Frye was anticlimactic in most respects, but in hindsight were strong business moves. Sarver was hedging his bets by picking up 3 players with the unlikely potential to pick up the slack left by Amare Stoudemire's departure. And if the deals didn't work out, the men were all tradeable-that is, they all had reasonable contracts and market value. At the time we heard words to describe the signings as "adding depth, talent, and flexibility." Guys like myself bought into the talent part and hoped for the best as far as chemistry. But I (we) were wrong. Hedo didn't fit, Chill got hurt, and Warrick proved a one trick pony. The good news is that Hedo and his awful contract are gone, and both Warrick and Childress are decent NBA role players that could be tossed into any deal or dealt by themselves.
Flexibility may be a very vital role in life for anyone. But in a corporation it is critical. Flexible business model, flexible parts of the machine, the ability to change while remaining profitable. This is rebuilding, Suns style. For now anyway.
The Suns, as they stand right now are a snake-bitten squad. Lacking confidence, expectations smashed, new faces and brains trying to fit into the system. It is all too much to handle. Too much for Alvin Gentry and his staff, too much for Nash to quarterback, too much for fans with high expectations to weather.
We crave a big 4 to fill Amare's spot, but that is only one small piece of the jigsaw. A big is certainly needed, but another trade enshrouded with expectations of positive change is impossible. As we have seen this season, change smacks consistency in the face. Change is the opposite of continuity, and the result of a lack of both consistency and continuity breeds uncertainty. Things could work, or things could not. 50/50, man. But we have all seen the result of rolling the dice with the our last hundred bucks, praying for the jackpot. Vegas always wins.
The lineups have changed, the roles have changed, the personnel have changed. In the meantime losses have been mounting. Not just "hey we played hard but couldn't pull it out..." but also the type of soul crushing losses that leave a team looking for answers where there are none. We hear quotes like "we need to work at it...we need some time." Work is good. Blood, sweat, tears. Sure. But it doesn't always make one a winner.
The Suns dealt Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, and Hedo Turkoglu to the Orlando Magic for Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus, a first, and Vince Carter. Again the Suns FO obtained value and flexibility. Vince Carter is only taking up space until he can be dealt or his contract runs out. In return good ol' Bob is once again hedging. Robin Lopez has returned form injuries and proven confused, docile, and obviously ineffective. Will he return to prime 2010 form where he proved vital in parts of the season when he wasn't injured? We can only hope so. Marcin Gortat may be a lot of things, and motivated is one of them. That along with intelligent and athletic usually produces a quality big man in the NBA. Pietrus may be a chukker, but he is young, cheap, and has the right attitude. Most 2's are streaky.Most quality 2's have size. Pietrus fits the mold, and most importantly he is young and could be molded into a 3. He is what he is right now, but it doesn't mean he cannot change. They key is he as potential, is motivated, and is coachable.Aside.....
Last week before the 76ers game, there was an air of excitement and possibility as Vince Carter was to play his first game in a Suns uniform. Hell, some people were even breaking out the bearded one's old nickname, Vinsanity. The era of Vinsanity. How, 2001 is that? But in his office before the game, Alvin Gentry accidentally waxed nostalgic for Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson as he spoke about last year's run into the WC Finals. It was enough to make one take melancholy notice, swallow hard, and for a moment, come close to shedding a a couple of purple and orange tears. Last year was so very special. Do you remember it? Up and down and up and down then finally up. We heard little from the pundits and national media about how storied the season was for the Phoenix Suns. If a book called ":07 Or Less" could be published, so could a novel about the Suns v. 2009-10. What would you call it?
The good news for us fans is that the Suns have a nice group of young core players. Jared Dudley is a gamer that brings 110% effort every night. Goran Dragic, although inconsistent, is an athletic, quality NBA talent who has an excellent attitude and has shown signs of dominance in clutch situations . Marcin Gortat is an above average, hard nosed, NBA big man with a chip on his shoulder and some skills. Channing Frye is serviceable, wants to be in the desert, and has multiple dimensions to his game. Mikael Pietrus is also a youngish, serviceable player who can D it up and hit from deep. Robin Lopez needs to decide if he is healthy or not, if he wants to play basketball or not. Right now, he still has trade value although he has played mostly awful this season. The Suns FO should be open to trading him for a decent return. Hell, no one on this squad should be untradeable.
With two first rounders in the upcoming draft the Suns could pick up some young, quality, cheap talent. Dealing Hill, Nash and Carter could yield at least another 1st rounder and or a decent 4 or PG. Who? Let the masses rosterbate together, I never learned how to effectively rosterbate.
The problem now is that of expectations and hope. After last season's improbable deep playoff run along with Amare Stoudemire's departure, we hoped for the best despite realizing we had lost a very huge reason for our team's success. The Suns went through ups and downs like crazy before settling in when it mattered. The squad never quit on a game, the team always had a chance to win. The perfect balance of age, athleticism, and most importantly, chemistry had been struck. And With Steve Nash on your squad, you don't quit, you always have a shot to pull out a W.
Of course Nash is still in town but his supporting cast is vastly different than last year's. We fans want to believe with Nash around there will always be a chance of turning around a game or, a whole season for that matter. However, it cannot happen. Will not happen. This team cannot stop anyone in the league, regardless of how simple the defensive schemes are constructed. Without Jason Richardson around the offense has sputtered. There is no go to man. It's Nash and Hill versus the world....On any given night this team can hang with the best team in the league for 3 quarters but inevitably lose. The mental toughness needed to stay focused and close out the opponent is gone.
If Nash was a superhero, he would be Batman. His sidekick would be Grant Hill as Robin. The dynamic duo are solid. The only problem is they have zero help from the Justice League. At some point you need a Superman, along with some support from Aquaman, Green Lantern, Apache Chief. Screw the Wonder Twins though. Form of a bucket of water? BS, this is the NBA.
Steve and Grant are suffering. Nash and Hill are saying the right things, thus illustrating how exceptional they are as human beings as well as athletes. They do not quit on their teammates or their fans. They are desperately attempting to rid the boat of accumulating water from the giant hole in the bow. But the hole is too big, the ship is all but sunk, Titanic style. For all of their blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, and effort it's time to do for them what they will never ask for.
It is time to let go of the delusion that the Suns can turn this season around. It is time to let go of the past, look forward to the future.
Trade them, begin again.
Why it May Not Happen
Money. There is zero draw to a Suns game without Nash and Hill around. Maybe penny beer night would bring 'em out to the arena. The loss of revenue in ticket and jersey sales is probably unappetizing to Mr. Sarver and Co. But fans don't care about that. Fans care about W's. Fans care about a title. Neither of which are going to occur as this team is presently constructed.
Fans love to crucify the rich owners for trading their beloved players away, or not offering guys enough cash to stick around. But in this case, trading away the two most beloved assets on the team is the only answer. Eventually the draw will lessen, regardless of whether Nash and Hill are around. Losing will do that. Thus, keeping them around while the team is losing is doing no one any good. Any fan who has eyes and respect for what these two men have done for the franchise will understand what needs to be done.