We all know the Suns have not developed their own young players well in recent years.
Last year, the Suns signed former NBA guard Lindsey Hunter to lead their player-development staff, and brought in Mercury head coach Corey Gaines to help. This summer, they asked Mark West (still an executive with the Suns) to work with the Markieff Morris.
Now, they have brought in two more retired big men to help this month, beginning with Ralph Sampson.
"With the addition of Ralph, we now have a development staff of experienced NBA veterans who can help each player at every position on our roster, on and off the court," said Suns General Manager Lance Blanks. "We are excited to have a Hall of Famer and a person of Ralph's character and integrity around our players every day. Robert Sarver's commitment of resources will allow us to return this organization to elite status."
Sampson will work with the young players and travel with the team during the season, focusing mostly on post players.
"The opportunity to work with an organization like the Phoenix Suns was one I could not turn down," said Sampson. "This situation is the right fit for me because of the great people involved, the great location, and because I believe in the direction of the team. Robert Sarver, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks are building something special."
Paul Coro spoke with Sean Rooks, a long-time NBA big man, this week in San Diego.
The Suns released assistant coach Bill Cartwright after last season and sought a younger big man to bang in the post with Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Rooks, 43, is a willing teacher, having strived to get to an NBA bench after being a D-League assistant with Bakersfield, Calif; New Mexico and Sioux Falls, S.D.
"I've still got all of 270 (pounds) on me," Rooks said. "I can definitely lean on somebody.
"I'm just happy to be with the organization. It's nice to be back in Arizona. This has been what I've been working toward."
Yay for Robert Sarver investing in player development!
First and foremost I want to sincerely thank you for hosting Bright Side of the Sun (BSotS) at this year's Media Day. I believe that online media outlets are the way of the future and act as a medium that provides unique access to audio, video and information that enables fans to be closer than ever to the teams they ardently follow. Your cooperation (and maybe tolerance in my case) with these types of forums fosters a propinquity with the fans that I know they ineffably appreciate. Big ups Babs.
You referred to me as Mr. Negativity when we made our introductions. I've never had a nickname before, I didn't even use a pseudonym when I joined this forum, but I think something more sinister and nefarious might be more apropos. You also joked that I like to use big words that nobody understands (at least I think that was a joke), so perhaps we could incorporate that. Would it be a solecism for me to devise my own moniker? I know some people are of the opinion that it has to be a label issued by another. If so, maybe you could come up with something catchy like the lugubrious lexicographer or the sesquipedalian assassin?
It is not my intention to foment misgivings between BSotS and the Suns' organization. I don't know that I'd necessarily call this extending an olive branch (although speaking of olives, they have these tantalizing double stuffed garlic jalapeno olives at Costco... delish), but I wanted to let you know that I gave careful consideration to your request that I acquit myself professionally as a journalist and strive to be honest and accurate. Given my current and prior approach, that shouldn't require much change.
I was flattered to hear that you've taken such a keen interest in BSotS and, more specifically, my writing. Your admonishments were well received. The plaudits were appreciated (the way I remember it there were some plaudits). I surmise that you would also be flattered by the keen interest that BSotS has taken in you. We watch you like a cat watches a tuna fish sandwich because you are largely the caretaker for something that is of great importance to us.
During our discussion you mentioned Curt Flood's quote -- "I am pleased God made my skin black, but I wish he had made it thicker." It is never my design to be demagogic or cast aspersions on the franchise or it constituents. To do so would only propagate crepuscular morbidity. At times my content may be stinging and abrasive. Sometimes I defenestrate standard etiquette because of my
brooding pessimism zany and unconventional style. After all, isn't character assassination the highest form of flattery? Or is it imitation? I can never remember. My goal is to refrain from writing anything about a person that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying to his face. I realize that I fall short at times.
Allow me to offer a quote that explains the nature of the fan's
vituperative temperament perspective. Mark Twain said something to the effect of, "I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened." That is how it is for the fans. Missing the playoffs is intolerable. A losing streak is calamitous. A missed lay up can cause the blood to boil. Witnessing the team struggle is excruciating.
I believe your trepidation over the perils of leaping without looking are well founded. You cautioned against "change for the sake of change", to which I responded with the Wooden quote, "never confuse activity with achievement." There is definitely prudence in the measured approach you have taken with this team, while also demonstrating an ability to act with celerity when the appropriate situation presents itself (Gortat, Beasley, Dragic). You have also shown an ability to own your mistakes and not let them own you. I think that is an admirable trait.
I agree with your assessment that Phoenix is an attractive place to play. While the Eric Gordon situation may or may not have been the best litmus test (after all, he had to get that max offer from somebody in order to force the Hornet's hand), the prevailing opinion seems to be that players are enamored with our city, fans, climate, organization, medical staff and even front office (to a lesser extent, of course). Goran Dragic echoed these sentiments and said that as soon as he learned of your interest he was "all in". I think that speaks volumes. You have made it clear that you don't take credit for that, being that many of these variables preceded your arrival, but I will give you credit for maintaining the Phoenix Sun standard.
The roster has seen tumultuous changes. You didn't seem to be smitten with the concept of "fingerprints", but you acknowledged your role in the transformation by stating that every player on the team is here because you want them here and they want to be here. In fact, every player on the active roster on opening night will be directly attributable to your decisions (Frye was re-signed 12 days before you took office). That being said, the landscape of the NBA has changed. The predominant trend has seen stars congregating in the Goliath markets, leaving the Davids the challenge of developing Promethean strategies to compete for their services. I hope you are up to the task.
Ultimately, this is a results based business. Effort is required to achieve those results, but in no way guarantees them. The results are the basis for judgment. Yours can be a thankless job (although I'm sure it has its perks). If the team succeeds, you're just doing your job. If it flounders, you are the target of the angry mob. If you'd ever like to bounce some ideas off of me, please feel free to shoot me an email and we can set up a lunch date. My treat. Just remember, I'll be buying on a pro bono journalist's salary.
Speaking of lunch, I still haven't accepted the bribe of free sandwiches despite encouragement by Seth to partake. My paranoia leads me to believe that the food may be laced with something that would slake my pugnacious temperament. At the very least, I don't want to subconsciously connote Lon Babby with free sandwiches due to concerns that it may cloud my ability to impartially report on the team. Then again, maybe you're just attempting to be hospitable...
I have at times been castigated for my volubility and circumlocution (I personally can't see it), so I will close with a list that I concocted, with my own personal facetious spin, based on your suggestion that I try to be more positive.
10 Reasons Why I'm Positive Heading into the 2012-13 Suns Season
I could go on ad infinitum, but I think you get the gist. Baby steps, right? Or is it Babby steps? Thanks again and best wishes for serendipitous outcomes in the approaching season. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the on-court product takes shape.
P.S. If you would ever be amenable to engaging directly with our staff and/or fans via a live chat session I would be thrilled to set that up.