Even though I suggested that I should shut up in this post, I'm going to do this thing one last time.
The difference between the team that ended the game Tuesday night in Portland and the team that ended the games last year was one player. I won't name him, and I'm not calling him out. He is what he is.
Two things I connected really got my panties in a bunch.
First, all the talk of "chemistry" and "assimilating" and "figuring things out" is bogus. The game was lost in the last 5 minutes, and the only difference was that one guy being on the floor. Don't tell me that it was a lack of cohesiveness or bus-ride-inspired Meat Hook Productions or JMZ channel reporting that caused the 18-1 run. When Steve Nash said he needs time to "figure things out" what he means is that he's got to go back to the lab and figure out how he can make another group of players play their best. Put diplomatically -- how to best use the talents and assets of his teammates. Put bluntly -- how to cover up the weaknesses of his teammates. He's played to the strengths and away from the weaknesses of his Suns teams every single year.
I'm sure the mad scientist will figure it out again. I don't know when, but "In Nash I Trust." Even so, I'm not sure how far his brilliance gets the Suns I can sort of relate. When I coach kids, I always measure my effectiveness as a teacher by how good my worst player is (not by how good my best player, with God-given talent, instincts and athleticism happens to be).
Second, on letting Amare Stoudemire go. I know that the concern were the last years of Amare's 5-year contract. I also know that Indiana fans wished that the Pacers' FO hadn't maxed out The Drain's contract, even though they got a couple of good years out of that long-term contract. Here's the difference -- the Suns were knocking on the door of a return trip to the Finals with the core returning, a formerly green bench becoming battle-tested, the smartest floor general in the game, a handful of tradeable commodities (how'd you like to see Hedo coming off the bench for Amare or Hill?) and a rabid hunger to return.
(Sidenote: I liken this to Anquan Boldin's departure. The fans gave the younger Bidwell a pass on this one based on recent success, but it was a mistake as far as team quality)
In Year 4 of Amare's contract ($20M), the Suns are also going to be paying Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick a total of nearly $30M (I think Hedo's is a team option of $12M, half guaranteed, so that's not totally fair but it is close). Point being is that the dollars in Year 4 have a chance to be just as bad and the results have a potential to be just as damaging to the team. The difference is that in the first 2 to 3 years, the Suns can stay in the NBA elite with plausible dreams of reaching the Promised Land. Now, the next 2 to 3 years are going to be filled with enjoyable basketball moments without a plausible chance.