The biggest debate on Planet Orange this season hasn't been about the relative merits of the various back up point guard options available to the Phoenix Suns. The discussion this year, once the lockout ended, has been all about keeping Steve Nash versus trading him and the larger issue of how to rebuild this team to it's past glory.
Outside of U.S. Airways Center everyone has an opinion. National pundits and analysts. Local radio jocks. Even those damn "bloggers" with their "blogs" and internets.
It's the primary topic of conversation for every Suns fans -- blow it up and rebuild through the draft or stay the course and trust the front office to make wise decisions with trades, free agent signings and the draft. Needless to say, "trusting the front office" is not something that's going to come easily given the history of Robert Sarver's decisions from selling draft picks to overpaying the wrong guys in the summer of 2010.
Inside of U.S. Airways Center, there's been only silence from the normally visible Robert Sarver and his new media adverse team of Lon Babby and Lance Blanks. Until now.
Sarver and Babby decided to share their plans with respected columnist Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic. Here's the meat of it:
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver says plan in place to quickly get the team back on competitive level
Blowing up the team is not the direction the Suns want to go. They look at a franchise such as Chicago. The Bulls won six NBA titles -- 1991-93 and 1996-98 -- then posted losing records and missed the playoffs six consecutive seasons. The team didn't return to the conference finals for 13 years.
"Bottom line: There is no tried-and-true formula," Babby said.
Personally, I tend to agree with Babby and Sarver. I've not been a fan of blowing up the Suns, trading Steve Nash, and generally rolling the dice that comes with a rebuild through the draft strategy.
Many of you, however, are passionate advocates for that plan and are rooting for losses so I have a challenge for you to do the research yourself and present a counter to the Suns assertion that "research shows that (blow it up) process can take from eight to 10 years."
We know that it took Sonics/Thunder two seasons between the time they traded their remaining stars (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) in the summer of 2007 until they were back in the playoffs in 2009-10 with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
I would argue that nearly everything went right for that team, including Durant "falling" to the second pick and that the more normal course is the Sacramento Kings. They started to re-tool in 2005 when they traded Chris Webber but held off a full "blow it up" until 2008 when they dumped Ron Artest.
Sacramento had made the playoffs for eight-straight seasons before re-tooling for two seasons (06-08) when they were about a .400 win team and then for the last three years they've been horrible with no more than 25 wins in any one season. They are on the upswing now, but it's hard to argue they are very close to being a contender although they could be a playoff team again in a year or two...maybe.
Then again, the Kings stadium and ownership situation has been unique and that perhaps played a roll as well.
The bottom line, as I've said many times before, I'm no fan of "blowing it up" and don't believe that you can win by trying to lose.
I do, however, think that the Suns' assertion that it's an eight to 10 year process is a bit off but I would love to see someone do the leg work of going back through every team over the last 15 years and showing us the data. Any volunteers? Maybe it's a group project with a couple of people work on it at once? Let me know.
You can't blame the Phoenix Suns for the lack of creativity when deciding how to lose games. At first it was the lack of scoring. Then it was the dreaded second quarter. Then it was the lack of defense. Then it was the lack of rebounding. Tonight was an oldy but goody. The dreaded 4th quarter collapse, and the Suns execution of it was nearly flawless.
The Suns started the game hot, using a 14-0 run en route to a 31 point quarter off of 59% shooting. Steve Nash dished 5 assists in 8 minutes of play while Grant Hill scored 9 and Michael Redd came off the bench to score 5 in his first three minutes of action. The Hawks shot 39% off of 9-23 shooting.
In the second, the Suns left the right side wide open for the likes of Willie Green and Joe Johnson, who combined for 3 3-pointers and Josh Smith kicked in 6 to reduce the lead to 2. But Nash and Frye responded with 3's of their own, and the Suns held the lead 57-46 at the half.
Josh Smith and the Pachulia guy teamed for 19 points in the third quarter, as the Suns began to run out of gas, shooting 6-17, losing the quarter to the Hawks, 26-21.
AND THEN THERE was the 4th quarter. I'll save you all the time and energy of reading the blow by blow. here's a short summary:
Suns: 2 technicals (one on Nash?), didn't score a point in 4+ minutes, 5 turnovers.
Hawks: 12-0 run, lots of Josh Smith, defended, rebounded, played like they wanted to win the game.
I'm truly embarrassed by this performance. Especially at home. I don't care about 3 games in 3 nights. These are world class athletes getting paid great money. No excuse there. Age? No. Nash went for 22 and 16, Hill went for 18 and 6 and played insane defense on Joe Johnson nearly all night.
There's my rant. And after listening to Alvin Gentry, I feel, I don't know, irrational? Here he is, speaking calmly:
"I thought we played really good basketball for a stretch then struggled...We couldn't seem to get anything against their zone...Too many turnovers, that really hurt us. I thought we did good a job limiting the offensive rebounds. I think we played really well for stretches, but it's a 48 minute game...We tried to take their best player Joe Johnson out of the game, and we did a really good job of taking him out of the game. But they had other guys that stepped up."
He sounds tired and he looked tired. I am tired too.
Next up, 2 versus the Lakers.
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