Pop quiz! How many times in NBA history has a team drafted at No. 30 position of the first round of an NBA Draft? The answer is eight times to date and the Phoenix Suns are in position to be the ninth team in just under two months.

This pick has traveled a lot this season. It started in South Beach with the Miami Heat, but was subsequently moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the LeBron James "trade." The Cavs then sent it to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Ramon Sessions deal and then they shipped it to the Suns for Steve Nash. There is a winner in there somewhere.

The pick itself has wielded mixed results, but has offered two not so subtle themes over the years.

Over the years the trend for the last pick in the first round has become either a college senior or an international prospect that may or may not pan out.

Five times a senior has been selected with the No. 30 pick because it came from a team with title aspirations.

David Lee (Knicks, 2005), J.R. Giddens (Celtics, 2008), Lazar Hayward (Wizards, 2010), Jimmy Butler (Bulls, 2011), and Festus Ezeli (Warriors, 2012) have all gone with the final pick in the first. They all filled a need for a team with the potential of making the playoffs or even making a deep run. Aside from Giddens the group as a whole has produced at a high level for having 29 others taken in-front of them.

Players like Butler help teams in ways that do not necessarily show-up in the boxscores, but then again they do. With all the injuries to the Chicago Bulls this season he has become an Ironman in some respects playing all game when needed and defending three positions.

The Suns have Goran Dragic and to some extent P.J. Tucker that can do that, but Dragic is supposed to be the teams star and Tucker is limited.

He is somewhere between a Lee and an Ezeli as a perfect role player that does not hurt you when he is one the court. Butler plays both ends of the floor with vigor and is not a liability for the coaching staff.

Internationally there have been three picks at No. 30 in Joel Freeland (2006), Petteri Koponen (2007), and Christian Eyenga (2009). All three have had not had much semblance of a career in the NBA today.

There has been a run of three years with a senior selected and four in the past five years with Eyenga sliding in-between Giddens and his peers. Eyenga was and still is a player with potential to become a productive player in the NBA, but the same cannot be said for Koponen and Freeland. Up until this season (Freeland came over this year) neither had dressed for an NBA game and the picks were throwaways.

Adding a proven talent that knows their role and value provides in itself some inherent value. These prospects are different than a typical rookie. They are borderline veterans at ages 21, 22, and sometimes older in the increasingly younger NBA game.

The Suns have the 30th pick, but the last pick in the draft in general over the past 20 years has produced some hits and some misses, but with the margin of error on a smaller cliff.

Over the years the likes of Mark Madsen (2000) and Nazr Mohammed (1998) became quality role players with elongated careers as the last pick in the first round. Both won championships and were key producers for their teams, coming out of college as seniors that knew their roles.

Josh Howard (2003), Tony Parker (2001), and Lee have all played in All-Star Games with Parker and Howard leading their teams to the NBA Finals.

Parker is the ultimate example of maximizing value at the end of the first round. He is a multi-time NBA Champion, All-Star, and widely looked at as one of the top point guards in the league today. That is an expectation nobody has with the No. 30 pick. It can be a throw-away as seen in many years.

Even taking a senior here can be seen as a throw-away, but they are the ones that produce.

For every Parker, Lee, Butler, or Howard there are a dozen David Harrison's (2004), Leon Smith's (1999), or Malcolm Mackey's (1993). Suns historians will remember (or maybe not) the 22 game stint of Mackey on the 1993-1994 Suns team that that lost in the Conference Semifinals.

Whether the Suns go with a seasoned college player or an international risk, there will be choices for both in the upcoming draft.

There are three seniors ranked between 20-40 on the NDI Big Board this year in Brandon Paul (SG, Illinois), Richard Howell (PF, N.C. State), and Solomon Hill (F, Arizona) that could be options. In some ways they all fill a need with shooting/scoring (Paul), leadership/rebounding (Howell), and leadership/basketball IQ (Hill) that would be welcome with the value of No. 30.

The internationals that fall in that same ranking window are Dennis Schroder (PG, Germany), Giannis Adetokunbo (SF, Greece), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (F/C, France), Lucas Nogueira (C, Brazil), Livio Jean-Charles (F, France), and Nemanja Nedovic (G, Serbia).

That group has some ultimate risk/reward talents in Schroder, Adetokunbo, and Nedovic. All three could be pedestrian NBA players, but they also have the upside of a Tony Parker type.

With that the Suns can explore the options of taking the calculated risk or an international prospect, a college veteran, or the best player available with the last pick in the first round. All strategies have seen success and shortfalls. The good teams seem to find the success stories.


None of this is confirmed, but wouldn't it be a PR fourth of July if Lon Babby decided to hire former Sun Charles Barkley as his General Manager and former Sun Jeff Hornacek (who was traded for Barkley) as his head coach?

The entire Suns community would be exploding with cotton candy and sweet tarts if those names headlined a new chapter of Suns lore. Fans would start buying Suns jerseys again, painting their houses and cars orange, begging for season tickets and generating a buzz not seen in these here parts since the last time those guys wore purple and orange.

Say what you want about the Nash years, but the shiny penny feeling of 1989-1992 (Horny's best years) and the 350,000 fan parade for losing the NBA Finals in 1993 (Barkley's best) still remain, to this day, as the greatest moments of pure joy in Suns lore for a multi-generation fan base now laying dormant in the valley.

Back in the Hornacek and Barkley years, my father was a Suns fan through and through. He had season tickets in the 12th row, dedicated an entire room of his house to Suns colors, re-watched every game on VHS after seeing it live, bought autographed this and that, and generally epitomized the ultimate Suns fan.

But after Barkley left, a lot of air went out of the balloon. Through this season, twenty years later, those tickets were still in my dad's name but he stopped going to games in the late 90s. He re-sold the tickets each summer to a friend, who shared them with me the last several years.

Last month, my dad, the friend and I all gave up the tickets. I've got the media pass at this time, so I couldn't even use them last season for the most part. Dad's friend just lost her fire. So we rebuffed the Sixth Man rep and let the tickets go, knowing we could buy back in anytime we wanted because the arena might never be sold out again.

But if Barkley and Hornacek are hired to run the Suns, would Dad or my friend buy back in immediately? Probably not (the team still sucks). But they would at least consider it. Their hearts would pitter-patter with hope and excitement. Their minds would harken back to the glory days of Suns basketball. They would smile, for the first time in a long time, at the future prospects of the Suns franchise.

But are these guys REALLY in the hunt to return to the Suns?

One rumor is from an off the cuff comment by Shaquille O'Neal on TV. At the end of their nightly TNT show during the playoffs, Shaq riffed that Barkley - who was apparently less jovial and cavalier on TNT than usual all evening - was "auditioning" for the Suns GM job. In response, Barkley said... nothing.

Does that mean Barkley had (or would soon) interview for the Suns GM post? Or is that just some made-up crap? The use of the word "auditioning" is suspect to me. Auditioning is for television. Interviewing is for jobs. Was it a simple slip of the tongue?

The other rumor, the one on Hornacek, is even sketchier. Adrian Wojnarowski, the most plugged in NBA reporter in the business, wrote that Hornacek "could be considered" for the Suns' head coach position. It was an innocuous comment that offered no backing, no sourcing. But if it came from Woj, could it be laced with truth?

As you can see, this is all sketchy.

But if I were Lon Babby, I would interview Barkley. Without even thinking twice. Would I expect to hire him? Probably not. But I would want to talk to him. I would want to give Barkley a chance to "wow" me. I would want to compare his answers to my tough questions to the answers I got from real, live front office guys. I would want to see how Barkley stacked up. I've hired novices before, and been successful because of it, thanks to this strategy. And I've discounted novices too, when their answers just didn't stack up. The key is having an open mind.

Jeff Hornacek, on the other hand, is a much better known quantity. He's been an assistant with Utah for years and has a great demeanor. He fits the bill of former players who became successful coaches - he did more with less all through his career. He wasn't the most skilled or most athletic, but he made himself into a star nonetheless. He knows how to mold, and shape, and make it work.

Let's pretend, for a moment, both of these rumors are true. What would a team run by Babby, Barkley and Hornacek look like?

Well, exactly as it looks today. At least for a while.

The Suns have 10 guys under contract for next season already. Barkley would have to hit the ground running (I don't think he's run anywhere in a decade at least) to make a number of trades if he wants to reshape the roster. He clearly doesn't like the one that's already here.

Barkley, who has never held an NBA front office position, would have to learn the ins and outs from Lon Babby, whose only been here for three years, and remake an entire roster within months. Could he do it? Would it be even better than the one he's got now? It's one thing to say what you'd do, to "audition" for a job, but it's quite another to actually DO it well.

I don't think Barkley would be hired over up-and-comers Jeff Weltman or Ryan McDonough, or even a seasoned veteran like Scott Layden or David Morway.

But it sure is fun to think about, isn't it?

Charles Barkley at GM. Maybe he would hire Grant Hill to work alongside him?

Jeff Hornacek at coach. Maybe Horny would hire Eddie Johnson as an assistant to be the team's shooting coach? Or Tom Chambers to coach the big men. Or Paul Westphal to give awesome post-game speeches. Or all three, for goodness sakes.

The team might suck, but at least the fans would get enjoy the press conferences again.

Shaquille O’Neal waited until the very end of Inside the NBA to drop the bomb, when only die-hard NBA and TNT crew fans were still watching. Barkley, O’Neal said, was...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Shaquille O’Neal waited until the very end of Inside the NBA to drop the bomb, when only die-hard NBA and TNT crew fans were still watching. Barkley, O’Neal said, was...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
With the Suns’ season over and the offseason already in full swing as the team searches for a new general manager and a head coach, questions are aplenty. So instead of the traditional 5-on-5 to...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

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