Should I be tucking my shirt into my jeans?  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has spoken about the debacle that the 2011-12 season has become. In a story found on AZCentral.com, Paul Coro brings us some quotes from Sarver who has been relatively quiet this season, at least to the public.

Sarver is not saying much, but sometimes we can speak volumes with what we do not say, yes?:

(on the season thus far) "...I'm disappointed...I think we haven't performed up to the level of our potential. If we want to be a playoff team, we have to make up ground and definitely hold the fort better (at home). I think we can make up the ground but we've got to start winning more at home...I think we're potentially a playoff team but we're going to have to show it."

Potential? What potential? To have potential you have to have enough talent to build expectations. The Suns are clearly lacking in talent, that is no secret. So did Sarver really have playoff expectations?

Sarver is pointing a finger here, but it isn't clear who specifically he blames. Obviously the team has had some nice flashes, but the overall result is poor play, 14-20, 13th in the West.

The team is made up of individuals, so who exactly isn't performing up to their potential? Well let us search the roster...

Obviously you can't blame Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, or Marcin Gortat. That's a given. Nash IS the Suns, Hill is playing lights out D as usual and defying age, Dudz is giving 110% as usual, and Gortat has spent most of the season leading the league in field goal percentage, and the Suns in rebounding and points. No, no disappointment there. Oh yes, Josh Childress. Very disappointing season for Chill, right? In his 13 minutes per game, we should be seeing much, much more production out of him, right? And Hakim Warrick? Enough said. Oh and Shannon Brown, the career journeyman (6 teams in 6 seasons) who has some rings from hanging out with Kobe Bryant? The career 41% shooter, and 8 ppg game guy whose averaging 8 ppg and shooting 3.5 percentage points lower than last season? If Brown was going to be a star, it would have happened. He couldn't beat out Jared Dudley for the 2 guard spot.

And while we're at it let's just add in the rest of the cheap additions to this year's squad: Telfair and Price. Disappointing? Of course. However, that doesn't mean that there was talent or potential. Did you expect Sebastian Telfair to be the Suns future PG? No. To stabalize the second unit? Well, maybe we were hoping, but no, not a realistic expectation. He couldn't do it anywhere else, could he? How about beat out Ronnie Price definitively for the backup job? He couldn't even do that.

Alright now, let us get down to brass tacks here. Robin Lopez. Is Robin Lopez averaging career lows in nearly every category? Yes. Is he a disappointment? Yes. But he was last year. And every moment since the 2010 season ended. We all hoped that Lopez could rebound from injury and poor play this season, let's be honest, weren't the odds less than 50/50 that he could return to the same form as when he started alongside Amare Stoudemire?

Channing Frye. Disappointing season this far? Yes. Did we have higher expectations? Yes. Does he have the potential to be better? Absolutely.

So, in summary, our good players are playing good. Channing Frye has played most of the first half of the season in disappointing fashion. This leaves Brown, Childress, Price, Telfair, Lopez, and Warrick as disappointments who haven't played to their potential. Or, they haven't integrated into the group to cumulatively form a better team.

But, they aren't good NBA players. So, if you take a bunch of medicore to bad NBA players and throw them in with a few good players, what do you think is going to happen?

What's my point? There are a few. First off, Sarver clearly isn't accepting any blame for the poor accumulation of talent on this team, and he certainly isn't calling out Lon Babby and Lance Blanks (if Blanks has actually been let in the building yet). He is not talking about the lack of talent on this team. Which, to me, is the biggest disappointment of this season. The Suns were never formed to make the playoffs. The were formed to cheaply round out a roster with some vague hope that something magical could occur. Well, it hasn't and I don't think it will.

But if Sarver thinks there is talent on this team (outside of the SteveDuHillTat), then perhaps what he is saying is that Alvin Gentry and Co haven't done a good enough job. If the talent is there, but the execution and results are not, who do you blame?

Here's a little something that hits home with you and I:

"We could use a couple thousand more people in the arena," Sarver said. "It helps encourage the players and helps the home-court advantage. But winning at home helps to encourage fans to come out."

Good point. Alvin Gentry pointed this out, and we all know that home court should be an advantage, and that is due in part to playing in a friendly environment. But...I'm just spitballin' here...Would you pay good money to watch a few guys perform well but inevitably lose because the majority of the team just isn't very good? Sorry for the way things work here Mr. Sarver, but we won't come just because you built it. You need to build it well. Oh, and you shouldn't get locked into a war over money for several months with other millionaires while the little people are forced to bear the brunt of your greed. That tends to sour some people away from the game.

I suppose the good news here though, is that at least Sarver is coming out and admitting he isn't happy with what is going on. And perhaps that will reaffirm his commitment to improve the roster some time soon. Then again, if he looks up and down his roster and thinks this team is a playoff contender, well then...Ah, nevermind.


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What are we going to do? (AP Photo/Matt York)

At the all-star break, the Phoenix Suns sit right about where we expected when the season started - a little under .500 with a handful of 'shoulda coulda' games in the loss column. We all know the Suns' biggest problem is a lack of overall talent. The fans know it. Opposing teams know it. The Suns' front office knows it. Even the untalented players themselves know it.

But that's not the worst part. To know it is one thing. To accept it, to talk about it with the media is quite another. Rather than saying "we're talented enough, we just didn't execute", the players discuss their own limitations in a way that's generally reserved for beat writers and bloggers.

"We are not a very talented team," Nash says, which was echoed by at least Channing Frye recently.

At least head coach Alvin Gentry has so far refused to play that card. He talks of hustle and effort as the difference between wins and losses, and he's right to an extent. I can count on more than one hand how many times this team has lost because they didn't work as hard as their opponent.

But this roster is not built to win games on hustle. Their two best players almost 40 years old. Their middling players are, in their late 20s, already past their "hustling" prime. The only midseason addition to the team is a guy in his 30s who was never a hustle guy to begin with. No, this team is not built to win on hustle.

So why in the world is the front office sitting on its hands?

They have a plan, they say. Sarver and Babby have said it before, and said it again recently. They don't want to blow it up because their research shows it takes 8-10 years to get back to the top once you've blown it up.

Instead, they want to remain competitive and retool on the fly. And that this summer will mark the start of that retooling, when they find $30 million burning a hole in their pockets (possibly more if they decide to eat Childress and Warrick's contracts via amnesty and release, respectively).

This is more money than the Suns have been free to spend since Sarver's first summer as Suns owner in 2004, and that one turned out quite well. But the difference between 2004 and 2012 is striking.

In 2004, the Suns were spending money to supplement a young core of Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Leandro Barbosa - none older than 24 and all with individual NBA awards in their future.

This time, the draft and free agency period is supplementing a middling core of Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Only Morris is young by NBA standards and he doesn't project to win any individual NBA awards in his future. But those three guys are good pieces to a larger puzzle. Either the Suns' puzzle or someone else's.

Of course, the Suns front office knows this. To get back to the top, they have to infuse a lot of talent. They know it. You know it. The players know it.

There is no present with this current group of players. And there is no future with this current group of players. There is only purgatory. No wonder they're not winning games on hustle. Guys only hustle when they believe in something bigger than themselves.

So I ask again, why is the front office sitting on its hands?

I understand, and wholeheartedly agree with, the plan to keep everyone on 1-year contracts for maximum offseason flexibility.

And I understand, and somewhat agree with, the plan to win as many games this season as possible without compromising the main plan.

But when you know your bench is not cutting it, to the point where every single non-starter has been 'DNP - coach's decision' at some point, why not scour the waiver wire, D-league rosters and the end of other NBA rosters for a diamond in the rough? What can it possibly hurt?

Jeremy Lin was available to every NBA team a month ago. Gustavo Ayon was available in December. Wesley Mathews was discovered this way a couple years ago. Sundiata Gaines, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver as well. These guys aren't going to make you a long-term winner, but why not try them out just in case? This season could be about feel-good stories for a handful of guys who just need that chance. Could they do any worse than Brown, Telfair or Price?

With two weeks until the trading deadline and eight weeks until the end of the season, the Suns front office needs to make a decision and run with it. Hard.

There is no long-term value to keeping this roster exactly as it is through the end of the season. There's nothing more to learn about any of the players who will be let go this summer.

They are who we thought they were: not a very talented bunch.

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What do you think?


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