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A gift is a gift. When you have a gift, no matter how frustrating it is you need to find a way to turn that gift into a positive. I have the gift of guessing completely wrong on the Phoenix Suns next moves. They have been much more aggressive than I have given them credit for.

Three times this spring, the Phoenix Suns have made a huge decision mere hours after I posted an article predicting a long waiting period before the Suns would make their move - extending Lon Babby, firing Lance Blanks and hiring Jeff Hornacek.

April 2, 2013 - Lon Babby's two-year extension announced

  • 7:00am - I post an article predicting nothing imminent on front office moves, warning Robert Sarver's decision on Lon, Lance, Lindsey might not be until July when Babby's contract ended
  • Later that morning - Babby accepts extension offer, announced via press release

Dave's faulty reasoning:

It's certainly possible that Sarver rides out this current front office through July since they are already under contract, but is that likely? Is it likely he has a new staff inherit the work of the prior regime without the opportunity to shape the roster before their first season in power?

Sounds crazy, but he's done it twice before. He did it in the disastrous summer of 2010, when Babby and Blanks were not hired until the heavy lifting had been done already, absolving them of any blame but also castrating them for 1/3 of their contracts. He also kind of did it in 2006 when Bryan Colangelo went to Toronto. Sarver simply promoted D'Antoni to GM without engaging in a GM search.

Suns 1, Dave 0

April 22, 2013 - Lance Blanks fired

  • April 21 at 7:00am - I post an article concluding that the biggest issue going forward is the front office, and that the delay on Hunter could be about Blanks
  • The next day - Lance Blanks is let go

Dave's spot-on reasoning:

I still think the bigger issue is the player evaluation staff. The guys who have to "nail it" this summer and next to re-set the trajectory of the franchise in an upward direction.

Maybe that's why the coaching decision is taking so long. By now they know if Hunter is their man or not. Maybe it's more about the rest of the front office than we are being led to believe.

Stay tuned.

Suns 2, Dave (a shaky) 0.5

May 25, 2013 - Jeff Hornacek hired as head coach

Dave's faulty reasoning:

The delay, which could extend to late June

Because some of the best coaching prospects are still roaming the sidelines in the Conference Finals, that's why. Brian Shaw (Indiana), Mike Budenholzer (San Antonio), David Fizdale (Miami) and Lionel Hollins and Dave Joerger (Memphis) are all on the short list of favorites.

Indiana, in particular, has declined all interview requests through the end of the playoffs. Not only is Brian Shaw on a lot of teams' lists, so is GM Kevin Pritchard to take over front office openings.

Suns 3, Dave (a shaky) 0.5

Conclusion - Do the opposite

Three times, the Suns have made a smart, timely decision without bringing me into the loop. Imagine that?!? All three decisions have been good ones, and I would have agreed with each one if they had just asked me.

Why Lon didn't call for my advice is beyond me. I'm flabbergasted, really. In fact, I emailed this timeline to Lon yesterday and asked 'what gives'?

"I read your posts and do the opposite!" he replied, employing a sense of humor used too infrequently in the past three years.

Yes, folks, I have a gift. You want something done, have me write an article concluding the Suns will sit on their heels and procrastinate. A new Suns era has begun.

New drafts already in the works

  • "Don't bet on Suns adding another lotto pick or three"
  • "Don't count on Burke or Bennett going top-4, allowing Oladipo to drop to Suns" (courtesy carey.s.adams)
  • "Don't hold your breath on Suns releasing Beasley any time soon"
  • "Don't bet on Suns trading Beasley or Scola for valuable draft picks"
  • "Don't count on Suns making playoffs during Dudley's contract"
20120424_jla_ai4_237

The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a very busy, very important, and an unequivocally cataclysmic period in the franchise's history. So, right on cue here come the Bright Siders to evaluate the process.

There will likely be no consensus here, partially because of the imbalance of opinions here is the reason why this staff continues to put out quality, timely, and entertaining content daily.

What do we think of the hiring of the 17th coach in franchise history? Well, we are glad you asked:

1) Be: What do you think of Jeff Hornacek as the Head Coach?

Dave King: I like the hiring from a PR standpoint and certainly from a forward-thinking standpoint. The Suns are in for a rebuild, so why not have a guy in place that everyone likes to talk to, and would be loved in the valley on name alone. He will get a long, long leash from fans and media.

Jacob Padilla: At this stage, I'm somewhat indifferent. I wasn't around to see him as a player, so don't have that attachment. I like the idea of getting back to the team's successful roots, though, and the move is getting rave reviews.

Jim Coughenour: I really like the hire. If McMiracle is an up and coming GM, then Hornacek fits the same model as a coach. People around the league are overwhelmingly effusive in their praise of his abilities and potential. If he hadn't stepped back to spend time with his family (which is another plus to me) he would have already been a head coach before now.

Kris Habbas: The idea of Hornacek as a PR move and a head coach in general is intriguing even as the announcement is fresh off the presses. He fits the need as a young coach that can connect with the soon to be young core and gives the team a personality for the fans (and media) to believe in.

Sean Sullivan: Like it. Very intelligent guy by all accounts, and I like the idea of keeping it in the family during our rebuild. Why not?

2) Should the team have brought in a coach with experience?

JP: Not necessarily. I was in favor of hiring an up-and-coming assistant rather than going with a retread. He may not have been the most qualified of those assistants, but let's give him a chance to prove himself.

JC: Head coaching experience was a non-factor, or maybe even a deterrent. Just because Jeff is a novice doesn't preclude him from excelling in his new capacity. Every head coach in the league was a first time head coach at some point.

KH: Could they have, sure, but how have retread coaches worked for the rest of the league? Charlotte, anyone? This was the right move.

SS: Our choices were limited in this regard anyway, it's not like we were going to get Doc Rivers. Horny is as good a choice as any.

DK: Head coaching experience? Probably not. We already had Alvin, who played his best guys to the detriment of player development and youth movement. The Suns need a fresh face who is patient and will learn along with the team.

3) Obviously they need to make this hire soon versus later, but was this too soon? Defend your stance?

JC: I already stated that I wanted the team to interview Hornacek. Apparently Jeff killed the interview. If the powers that be felt he was the man for the job there's no reason to let him leave and risk him taking a head coaching job with another team with a vacated position. Same dynamic with free agent players... don't let them leave without signing the contract.

KH: There are two scenarios that I am envisioning with this hire. One, Hornacek was on the short list as a Top Candidate and he absolutely killed the interview. In that case they couldn't let him go elsewhere. Two, the team was looking for a PR move that would appease the fans while impatiently hiring the first legit candidate they spoke to. Cross your fingers for Scenario One!

SS: Maybe. My only gripe is we didn't wait until after the other coaching candidates were freed up. But if Horny was their guy, I'm glad they got him.

DK: That's my only beef with this hire so soon. The Suns should have at least interviewed more people in order to make the best possible selection. They cut the process short, and so no one knows if Hornacek would have beaten everyone out.

JP: You always want to see a team do its due diligence, but if they were sold on Hornacek being the guy then I'm glad they made it official. Now they can move forward and get ready for the next step: the draft.

4) The first word that comes to mind when you think of this hire? Now, elaborate.

KH: Retro... The team tried Porter, Gentry, and Hunter before going back to the Suns Well of talent digging out Hornacek. If he can bring back the old school jersey's full-time then maybe it will be a double win for the franchise as they push forward into the future.

SS: Intelligent. Hornacek strikes me as a McDonough type of guy, whether or not he was actually his hire. I think he'll mesh well with our new GM.

DK: PR, baby! And there's nothing wrong with that. JC did it four different times - hiring a former player to help transition into a new era/team without losing the fanbase.

JP: Whoa. I was away from the Internet this weekend and just found out about it Sunday night, so it was a bit of a surprise.

JC: Circular. When Hornacek was traded to the 76ers for Charles Barkley it was bittersweet. I was both elated about the new addition and crestfallen about the subtraction (mainly Hornacek... not Tim Perry or Andrew Lang so much). Now Jeff has the chance to return and entrench himself even deeper in the Phoenix Suns' legacy. It illustrates the wisdom shown by not burning bridges (Cough! Blanks!). It will also be nice to see him back on the Suns' bench after finishing his career with the Jazz.

5) So, what are the expectations of Hornacek as a first year head coach for you?

SS: Tempered. Even Phil Jackson couldn't sniff .500 with this squad. If Horny can show some progress while giving this team an identity then I think that's all we should hope for this season.

DK: Make fans happy without having to win games. Be a pleasure to talk to, give fans signs of hope. Hornacek will get a long, long leash in the valley, something Babby has not enjoyed since he signed on.

JP: I expect to see some semblance of a gameplan on both ends (I didn't see one last year). I want to see him get his system in place and the players buying into it. Development from the young players would be nice too.

JC: I have no expectations for the upcoming season, so anything positive will be a pleasant surprise. I give McMiracle and Hornacek a hall pass for the 2013-14 season. The 2014-15 season is where I will expect to see their purview over the franchise paying dividends.

KH: There are no expectations other than progression. That should be the expectation of the entire fan-base for this upcoming season of Suns basketball. Some progression in the teams character, effort, and overall skill development will speak to the coaching abilities of Hornacek this season.

BONUS: Dan Majerle, bring him back as an assistant to get the band back together?

DK: No on Majerle. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Eddie Johnson on the sidelines.

JP: I'd love to have Thunder Dan back in the fold, but with him recently getting a new job and the circumstances of his departure, I don't think it's in the cards.

JC: I wouldn't be diametrically opposed to Majerle returning in an assistant role, but I think that bridge got Blanked and is still under repair. I don't foresee Dan bailing on his new commitment the first time the wind changes. I would surmise that Hornacek already has a good idea of who he wants to bring on (or is already in place) and that it was discussed as part of his interview.

KH: This cannot be Hornacek's team with Dan on the bench. It is that simple. Hornacek got his opportunity on his own and Dan will do the same, on his own.

SS: Nope, that ship has sailed. Go Antelopes!

20120424_jla_ai4_237

The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a very busy, very important, and an unequivocally cataclysmic period in the franchise's history. So, right on cue here come the Bright Siders to evaluate the process.

There will likely be no consensus here, partially because of the imbalance of opinions here is the reason why this staff continues to put out quality, timely, and entertaining content daily.

What do we think of the hiring of the 17th coach in franchise history? Well, we are glad you asked:

1) Be: What do you think of Jeff Hornacek as the Head Coach?

Dave King: I like the hiring from a PR standpoint and certainly from a forward-thinking standpoint. The Suns are in for a rebuild, so why not have a guy in place that everyone likes to talk to, and would be loved in the valley on name alone. He will get a long, long leash from fans and media.

Jacob Padilla: At this stage, I'm somewhat indifferent. I wasn't around to see him as a player, so don't have that attachment. I like the idea of getting back to the team's successful roots, though, and the move is getting rave reviews.

Jim Coughenour: I really like the hire. If McMiracle is an up and coming GM, then Hornacek fits the same model as a coach. People around the league are overwhelmingly effusive in their praise of his abilities and potential. If he hadn't stepped back to spend time with his family (which is another plus to me) he would have already been a head coach before now.

Kris Habbas: The idea of Hornacek as a PR move and a head coach in general is intriguing even as the announcement is fresh off the presses. He fits the need as a young coach that can connect with the soon to be young core and gives the team a personality for the fans (and media) to believe in.

Sean Sullivan: Like it. Very intelligent guy by all accounts, and I like the idea of keeping it in the family during our rebuild. Why not?

2) Should the team have brought in a coach with experience?

JP: Not necessarily. I was in favor of hiring an up-and-coming assistant rather than going with a retread. He may not have been the most qualified of those assistants, but let's give him a chance to prove himself.

JC: Head coaching experience was a non-factor, or maybe even a deterrent. Just because Jeff is a novice doesn't preclude him from excelling in his new capacity. Every head coach in the league was a first time head coach at some point.

KH: Could they have, sure, but how have retread coaches worked for the rest of the league? Charlotte, anyone? This was the right move.

SS: Our choices were limited in this regard anyway, it's not like we were going to get Doc Rivers. Horny is as good a choice as any.

DK: Head coaching experience? Probably not. We already had Alvin, who played his best guys to the detriment of player development and youth movement. The Suns need a fresh face who is patient and will learn along with the team.

3) Obviously they need to make this hire soon versus later, but was this too soon? Defend your stance?

JC: I already stated that I wanted the team to interview Hornacek. Apparently Jeff killed the interview. If the powers that be felt he was the man for the job there's no reason to let him leave and risk him taking a head coaching job with another team with a vacated position. Same dynamic with free agent players... don't let them leave without signing the contract.

KH: There are two scenarios that I am envisioning with this hire. One, Hornacek was on the short list as a Top Candidate and he absolutely killed the interview. In that case they couldn't let him go elsewhere. Two, the team was looking for a PR move that would appease the fans while impatiently hiring the first legit candidate they spoke to. Cross your fingers for Scenario One!

SS: Maybe. My only gripe is we didn't wait until after the other coaching candidates were freed up. But if Horny was their guy, I'm glad they got him.

DK: That's my only beef with this hire so soon. The Suns should have at least interviewed more people in order to make the best possible selection. They cut the process short, and so no one knows if Hornacek would have beaten everyone out.

JP: You always want to see a team do its due diligence, but if they were sold on Hornacek being the guy then I'm glad they made it official. Now they can move forward and get ready for the next step: the draft.

4) The first word that comes to mind when you think of this hire? Now, elaborate.

KH: Retro... The team tried Porter, Gentry, and Hunter before going back to the Suns Well of talent digging out Hornacek. If he can bring back the old school jersey's full-time then maybe it will be a double win for the franchise as they push forward into the future.

SS: Intelligent. Hornacek strikes me as a McDonough type of guy, whether or not he was actually his hire. I think he'll mesh well with our new GM.

DK: PR, baby! And there's nothing wrong with that. JC did it four different times - hiring a former player to help transition into a new era/team without losing the fanbase.

JP: Whoa. I was away from the Internet this weekend and just found out about it Sunday night, so it was a bit of a surprise.

JC: Circular. When Hornacek was traded to the 76ers for Charles Barkley it was bittersweet. I was both elated about the new addition and crestfallen about the subtraction (mainly Hornacek... not Tim Perry or Andrew Lang so much). Now Jeff has the chance to return and entrench himself even deeper in the Phoenix Suns' legacy. It illustrates the wisdom shown by not burning bridges (Cough! Blanks!). It will also be nice to see him back on the Suns' bench after finishing his career with the Jazz.

5) So, what are the expectations of Hornacek as a first year head coach for you?

SS: Tempered. Even Phil Jackson couldn't sniff .500 with this squad. If Horny can show some progress while giving this team an identity then I think that's all we should hope for this season.

DK: Make fans happy without having to win games. Be a pleasure to talk to, give fans signs of hope. Hornacek will get a long, long leash in the valley, something Babby has not enjoyed since he signed on.

JP: I expect to see some semblance of a gameplan on both ends (I didn't see one last year). I want to see him get his system in place and the players buying into it. Development from the young players would be nice too.

JC: I have no expectations for the upcoming season, so anything positive will be a pleasant surprise. I give McMiracle and Hornacek a hall pass for the 2013-14 season. The 2014-15 season is where I will expect to see their purview over the franchise paying dividends.

KH: There are no expectations other than progression. That should be the expectation of the entire fan-base for this upcoming season of Suns basketball. Some progression in the teams character, effort, and overall skill development will speak to the coaching abilities of Hornacek this season.

BONUS: Dan Majerle, bring him back as an assistant to get the band back together?

DK: No on Majerle. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Eddie Johnson on the sidelines.

JP: I'd love to have Thunder Dan back in the fold, but with him recently getting a new job and the circumstances of his departure, I don't think it's in the cards.

JC: I wouldn't be diametrically opposed to Majerle returning in an assistant role, but I think that bridge got Blanked and is still under repair. I don't foresee Dan bailing on his new commitment the first time the wind changes. I would surmise that Hornacek already has a good idea of who he wants to bring on (or is already in place) and that it was discussed as part of his interview.

KH: This cannot be Hornacek's team with Dan on the bench. It is that simple. Hornacek got his opportunity on his own and Dan will do the same, on his own.

SS: Nope, that ship has sailed. Go Antelopes!

The Phoenix Suns and Jeff Hornacek have “agreed to terms” on a contract that will make the former Sun the franchise’s next head coach, according to multiple media reports. Hornacek...

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20130420_mjr_su5_194

Transcendence only comes around maybe once a decade and if you are lucky enough to be around for a truly talented generation of basketball maybe 2-3 times at the most. There are very few players or personalities that can stand-up above the game and look down on it as their playground.

Nine years ago Diana Taurasi stepped onto a WNBA court and immediately became one of the best players in the league winning MVP trophies, League Championships, and creating a legend.

Other great players have come into the league since then, but none with the star power, magnitude, and appeal of the latest No. 1 Overall pick; Brittney Griner. She has the spotlight squarely on her as she transitions from being a star at the University of Baylor to one of the most successful WNBA franchises in the past 10 years.

The pairing of Taurasi and Griner has the potential to create a new level of transcendence that has not been seen in the WNBA.

However, individual transcendence is not what the Mercury are trying to accomplish with this current group. They have the potential as a unit to be a transcendent team with the pieces in place. Last year they took Samantha Prahalis with the No. 6 overall pick and she turned out to be one of the better overall players in the entire draft class. Her emergence as a point guard is good sign for the future with her ability to make plays for others and score the ball.

She teamed up with DeWanna Bonner to form a one-two-punch that was not successful in terms of wins and losses, but was effective in the way they played together.

Bonner became a star in her own right last year controlling the offense with Sammy on the perimeter. Those two were the primary offensive weapons last season and will shift into lesser roles for the better of the team. Sammy is better suited as a play-maker with her vision and play-making ability. With the ball in her hands she will be a highlight reel in the pick-and-roll with her new 6-8 above the rim new toy, Griner.

There is no doubt that Taurasi and Griner will be the stars with Bonner and Sammy as secondary play-makers to take some of the pressure off.

Having glue around substance is essential to becoming an elite team. Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree will be the glue with their ability to score off the ball, rebound, and do all the little things on the court. Taylor has been around for a while and is coming off of injury so easing her in without the expectation of 20 points a night would be an ideal situation.

Head Coach (and General Manager) Corey Gaines did a quality job rounding out the rest of the roster with role players that know how to play a specific role.

Briana Gilbreath (defender/shooter), Krystal Thomas (rebounder/paint clogger), Alexis Hornbuckle (perimeter defender), Charde Houston (perimeter scoring), and Lynetta Kizer (floor spacing) all have a defined role that they can excel in no matter the distribution of minutes. The bench is very versatile, providing toughness, defense, shooting, and basketball factors that the starters may not exude.

This is more than a one trick pony show or a two trick pony show with the depth and flexibility they have compiled.

With this new-found depth of stars the new task for Coach Gaines will be balancing the minutes and massaging ego's to help this team reach its true potential.

He has pressure on him to make sure the team is organized, but also has to stay out of the way of this team's potential greatness. That pressure was on the Minnesota Lynx last season which led to Head Coach Cheryl Reeve playing her starters to the bone causing the team to fall just short of their true potential. That is a cautionary tale for Coach Gaines and the entire Phoenix Mercury this season.

Potential can change with the snap of a finger or the turn of an ankle, that is how sudden a fortune can change in the world of professional athletics. That is preaching to the choir to Mercury fans as misfortune took away the potential of the 2012 WNBA season, which is now nothing but a distant memory.

Just as quick as misfortune can strike, it can change for the positive.

Numbers Do Not Lie

Last season the Mercury were without 48.3 points per game from Taurasi and Taylor due to their injuries as well as 8.3 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and 126 made three pointers.

They will be a welcome addition to the roster as well as with Dupree who missed 19 games due to injury.

Chasing Team History

Over the 16 year history of the team the best record they have mustered a 23-11 mark twice. They have won the WNBA Championship twice in that time, but this year they have a considerable opportunity to win a franchise record amount of games and could chase league history...

1. 27-3 Houston Comets 1998 (90%)

2/3. 28-4 LA Sparks 2000, 2001 (87.5%)

4. 28-6 Seattle Storm 2010 (82.3%)

Where will the Mercury finish?

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