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Before last night's game against one of the best teams in the league, I asked Alvin Gentry at what point does the season become more about player development than wins and losses?

"I would say we're approaching that," he replied to me, but with a visible drop in energy.

He had not yet publicly discussed the idea of scrapping the season, but recent losing streaks of 5, 6 and 7 in a span of just 23 games (that's 18 of 23 for you math majors) has forced everyone in the organization to start looking past the playoffs.

Clearly, this wasn't the first time Gentry contemplated his future and that of the team. But it was the first time he went public with the admission.

"We have to look at the big picture," he continued trying to hedge a bit. "Obviously if things don't turn in a hurry here, that would be our top priority to start looking at younger players, putting guys in situations to see what they can do."

It's dangerous for the coach to toss in the season before the halfway point. You run the risk of losing the team entirely, especially your veterans.

How do you bench veterans like the hard-working Luis Scola in favor of giving more minutes for second-year man Markieff Morris or Luke Zeller?

How do you bench a guy like Jared Dudley, who may be playing for his next team as much as for the Suns, in favor of former high draft picks Michael Beasley or Wesley Johnson?

And how do you bench an already-frustrated Goran Dragic and/or Sebastian Telfair in favor of untested rookies Kendall Marshall and Diante Garrett?

"I think it's difficult," Alvin Gentry said today after practice to the pool of reporters, clearly readier to discuss this topic after a night to think it over, "because everyone has a competitive nature about them."

Yeah, try telling Luis Scola - who wants to play for a winner more than anything - that he can't showcase his talents. Plus the Suns front office will want to get asset(s) for Luis this summer, and they won't get anything if he spends the rest of the season on the bench.

"I think ultimately you have to try to do what's best for the team and the future," he continued. "Somewhere along the line we are going to have to start playing the young guys."

Don't expect to see a whole 5-man unit of youngsters any time soon. To Gentry, it would be a disservice not to pair them with quality veterans who can help make it easier to succeed. He wants them to play quality minutes, not a bunch of garbage time.

There are 42 games left in the schedule as of today. When will this youth movement start?

It starts when everyone with blood in the game is on board with it, starting with the guy who offers the contracts and signs the paychecks. Gentry and PBO Lon Babby's contract are expiring at the end of the season, after all. And if Babby goes, GM Lance Blanks almost certainly goes with him. Ending the season in a mountain of losses could be their death knell.

But Gentry is pragmatic. He knows he has to think about the bigger picture. He will soon have a heart-to-heart with Lon Babby, Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to "decide what's best and understand from that standpoint that there might be other things more important things than the win-loss record at this stage."

No one else in the organization has yet spoken publicly on this topic. Gentry acknowledged that a collective decision will come soon, but did not indicate it was imminent.

"We got to figure out what exactly do we have for the future, to see if they can show improvement over the next 30 games or whenever we decide to do this."

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Another loss and another practice to try and get better. Before the Phoenix Suns (13-27) lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder (30-8) last night, their head coach Scott Brooks had an interesting observation about the state of the Suns and his respect for fellow head coach Alvin Gentry.

"It is almost impossible," stated Brooks about assimilating nine new players to a team. "I give coach Gentry a lot of respect, because when you have continuity like I have had and like our organization has had it makes it a lot smoother. It takes a lot of the stress of not knowing what to do. Our players know what to do. It makes it easier, I am not saying it is easy, but it makes it easier. This is a tough job."

That is one thing that feels appropriate to mention here as the Suns had a major overhaul with nine total new players including three current starters. Not many teams had that process happen, even the dregs of the league behind the Suns in the standings had some form of uniformity between last season and this current season.

What Did The Team Do?

Near the end of practice the team scrimmaged and then ran through sets that they will see Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. They ran through a lot of ISO offense using Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown as their scout team quarterbacks of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The concept of an ISO offense is tough to guard especially if the team has good shooters and finishers with spacing. The Bucks beat the Suns late in their first meeting of the season, here there is a chance at redemption.

Expect to see a lot of smaller line-ups from the Suns and for P.J. Tucker to get his share of minutes on Ellis.

It was good to see Tucker actively talking throughout practice. Since the start of the season to today the former Euro League star has become one of the leaders on the team. He and Telfair were the most vocal out there directing traffic.

Channing Frye came in to see the team and get some shots up and as Gentry stated is living it up, "playing golf everyday." He wasn't on the course today, instead he was at practice talking with coaches, helping the younger players, and adding a positive force that, in a tough season, is desperately needed.

Injury Update

Jermaine O'Neal sat most of practice due to continuing back spasms. He missed the teams last game with the same issue, which is part of the grind of an 82-game season heightened by being in the league for going on 17 years.

Jared Dudley was a light participant in practice as he continues to nurse his strained right wrist. In the scrimmages and the walk through he was active and should be ready to go on Thursday.

Goran Dragic has been hampered by a nagging right ankle injury that occurred on the road against the Boston Celtics a few nights ago. He stated he is feeling better, but was limited in practice and should be ready to play in the next game. This was part of the reason he has been less aggressive over the past handful of games, "every game is different, maybe it is because we are losing, I don't know if it is because of that," said Dragic about his ankle limiting his aggressiveness. "I didn't feel so quick, but I just have to push myself even harder to practice more."

Coach Gentry's Take on having more practice time over the next two weeks:

"We are looking at that big gap and maybe trying to do something practice wise. I wouldn't call it a mini-camp, but to do things along those lines. It gives you really quality practice days. It is like we are in a bowl game, but we are 35 days short (in terms of practice time). We are not in a very good bowl, we are in the Spam Treat Bowl."

On the team taking short cuts in practice:

"No, I don't, but what I think is over practice you have to make sure that you are stopping and correcting. I have been in the league over 25 years. It is just human nature without the fans in the stands guys have the tendency to short-cut it a little bit. That is true with every team I have been on and I have been associated with some great teams, some average teams, and some bad teams."

The 2013 NBA Draft Update

As of today the team is slotted in the 5th, 12th, and the 27th spots in the draft if it were to happen today. The 12th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

The Suns would also receive the Memphis Grizzlies pick (No. 27) today.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft (The Mock does not reflect current standings):

At No. 5 - Shabazz Muhammad

At No. 12 - Dario Saric

At No. 27 - Willie Cauley-Stein

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There is hope for entertaining basketball in the Valley this year, but it comes in the form of the Harlem Globe Trotters as they bring their act into town. The game will be played at Casa Grande Union High School on February the 8th at 7 p.m.

Here is a Google Map to the school.

Ticket cost:

Courtside seats are $55

General Admission $23 (some at $17)

Or with a Magic Pass you can have the unique opportunity to meet the players before the game and get discounts on game tickets now, and in the future. The Magic Pass is $15 on top of the ticket cost, which is your ticket to a wealth of great memories!

Here is a direct link for ticket purchase

Contest

Special offer for our Bright Side readers is the chance to win some merchandise.

What would you do to fix the Phoenix Suns?

Here is a picture of the head and armbands that are awaiting your amazing comments! Come and get 'em! As Jim Coughenour would say, the most lucid and picturesque wins!


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This game was full of highlights and entertainment, unfortunately most of them came for the other side as the Westbrook and Durant Show took over in 11th gear.
PHOENIX — The NBA is a star’s league such that it often seems like a pair of studs can beat a lesser team 2-on-5. That wasn’t far from the truth tonight on the offensive end at least, as Kevin...

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