The Suns summer reminds me of the old baseball poem, "Casey at the Bat". What does striking out this offseason mean for the Suns immediate future and is this actually symptomatic of a trend with long term implications?
This summer could have been better. No LeBron. No Love. No glitzy free agent signing (IT just doesn't move the needle). No blockbuster trade. The Suns are even struggling to re-sign what might be it's most talented player...
I had really high hopes going into this offseason, but have had to temper my expectations.
Maybe that's the problem. I set my expectations too high. This reminded me of a fictional character, the Might Casey, that had very high expectations placed on him... and failed spectacularly.
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Suns this past July
LeBron was just a dream, but they still gave it a try
He won rings with the Heat and the Cavs were his beginning
The chase became a two team race that Phoenix wasn't winning
There was no decision this time, instead James sent out a letter
Without the foofaraw and hubris it was received much better
Their advancements had been quashed, but the Suns were far from done
So it hardly even registered that this had been strike one
While the Suns were courting James they were busy on the side
For they were in love with Kevin and they would not be denied
Reports throughout the media, and even on this blog
Placed the Suns in the discussion, though they were an underdog
Klay Thompson seemed to be the key as rumors ran amok
But instead the Cavs were gifted with a windfall of good luck
Even though the Suns were stymied they still had things to do
At least they took a swing and hadn't just looked at strike two
It was time to dig their heels in and negotiate a deal
But things began to go awry with an ominous feel
Phoenix used the market to determine what was fair
While Bledsoe's agent, Rich Paul, said he really didn't care
It didn't matter that there wasn't a max offer sheet
There is still another option rather than admit defeat
If Eric takes the QO it won't leave a shred of doubt
That the Suns just couldn't meet the challenge - Phoenix has struck out
The Suns don't necessarily need to hang their heads on the way back to the dugout (except possibly for the Bledsoe imbroglio). At least the team took some cuts instead of just watching the pitches fly by.
Still, the missing swings are piling up. As I wrote about in a Going Gorilla post earlier this month, the largest contract the Suns have signed since 2006 was 5 years and $34 million to Josh Childress. That's getting pretty damn close to a decade. Why can't the Suns seal the deal?
In 2012 the Suns gave a max offer sheet to Eric Gordon, but that was (in one of the most miraculous strokes of luck in the history of mankind) matched by the New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets).
Later that year Phoenix tried to enter the James Harden sweepstakes, but they just didn't have the assets to contend with Houston's offer. The team has been very transparent that they have been attempting to acquire the right combination of assets and financial flexibility to be competitive in these types of situations moving forward. The team has explicitly stated that they are hunting down a superstar.
They are still looking.
This summer the Suns were on a short list of teams in the hunt for Kevin Love, but even before the confluence of
total bullshit luck circumstances sent Love to Cleveland the Suns had never been listed as a favorite. The Suns were mentioned in the LeBron James discussion, but never as a real option.
The Suns seem to be in the conversation in every deal surrounding a premiere player, but is that really a good thing?
Have the Suns arrived on the big stage, or is that just an endemic point of view? Is the team actually in contention for these star players, or is this just a situation that reeks of desperation as the Suns put together underwhelming bid after underwhelming bid...
What do you think?
It almost seems like "team X" can use Phoenix to set the baseline for the player they are trading and then wait for the better deals to roll in. I guess a team needs to at least try, but is there a possible negative backlash from being associated with every single rumor?
I'm just ready for the Suns to hit one out of the park. Instead I might have to wait while the Suns are linked to other deals in the future that are ultimately consummated by other teams.
Maybe I need to be patient... but maybe that line of thinking is specious. After all, what fans are more patient than those of Arizona sports teams? The Suns might not be able to get national credibility, but Phoenix is widely known as one of the most miserable sports cities in the country. I've known hardcore sports fans here that died being patient, waiting for a championship that never materialized. In a way, patience is for losers. Winners don't need any because they're too busy winning.
Is it better to be linked in too many deals than none? Sure.
But it would be even better to get one done.
Coach Zdovc praises Suns Goran Dragi? after the win against Lithuania. Dragon gives his thoughts as the team leaves for Spain.
On Saturday Slovenia managed to beat Lithuania in the last friendly match at home. With 11.000 fans cheering for victory, Lithuania was nice enough not to push the last seconds for overtime. The final score was 74:72.
(Asked if the critiques he gave his player after the tournament in Lithuania helped):
As a coach I'm almost constantly dissatisfied, I mean in the end we are coaches, players are praised by their girlfriends, wives, friends. Coaches are the critics, who always want more, always want them to be 100%, which is difficult. So it's important to give your max, if you make a mistake you can quickly fix it.
(On Goran Dragi?)
Gogi needs time, it's not easy for him. He's under a lot of pressure, everybody is expecting a lot from him, and at the same time he didn't play for 4 months. Right now I'm really pleased with him, he is giving even more than I expected. Still, sometimes he gets carried away. So there are still some things that could be done better. And I'm back to wanting everything be perfect.. He can only continue to rise.
The final preparation game USA:SLO will take place tomorrow in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 8 pm Slovenian time. Slovenia probably won't get the win (unless Gogi goes full Dragon mode, Prepeli? is hot from 3 again, Lorbek or Zoki have 15pt and everyone plays defense the way Zdovc will be shouting). But it will be interesting to see how our young team plays against the NBA stars.
On Sunday the team gathered at the airport and Goran Dragic gave some statements before departing for Spain. The interview goes in circles about this upcoming USA:SLO match. Here is the jist:
(On playing against team USA)
You can't fix much in one game. We know they (USA) are the favourites, we just have to watch out for injuries since it's the last warm-up game, but it's still a good match. Maybe the youngsters will show what they can do, and in the future come across the ocean.
(On team USA)
Like you said, it's not the Dream Team, but they're definitely quality players who play on a high level. I heard even Lillard didn't make it and he was one of the best playmakers in the league. It will be hard, they are one of the favourites.
(On team goals)
With this team it (not getting to the quarterfinals) wouldn't be a failure. We have to be realistic, we don't have a team for the top spots. We won't be going there with a white flag, we'll fight as best as we can and we'll see what happens. Like you saw, we didn't play great in the last game, we're still a little lost, but we'll see how it goes in the world cup.
(On sounding kinda pessimistic - still being lost..)?
Well, it isn't a secret. You watched the games, just the way it is.
(On whether they can still fix things during this last week)
It's possible but hard to do, if we haven't fixed it in the last 2 months, it will be hard to do so (now).
He also adds; that the old team always had great chemistry, won the friendly matches and then lost when it counted. So perhaps now it will be the other way around. They got off to a bad start, but maybe they’ll come together when they need to. Optimism at its best I think.
I managed to get a photo of Gogi signing stuff and taking pics before the game vs Lithuania. He really has endless patience when it come to signing and taking selfies - hung out with fans for about 30 minutes before getting rushed away to prepare for the game. And he still stopped to take a(3) quick pic(s) with me. While waiting for that, Zoran Dragi? was being friendly and silly, poking this guy and then hiding behind me so I'd take the blame. He might just be more loveable than the Dragon. (Trivia: Gogi & Zoki will be roomies in Spain:)