Armed with three first round picks from 14-27 in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns plan to use them in trades rather than on rookies to join Archie Goodwin and Alex Len next year.

With 48 wins under their belts this season, the Phoenix Suns have already moved beyond the 'get as young as possible' phase of the rebuilding process. From now on, it is about acquiring top-end talent rather than stockpiling rookies.

No one in the Suns front office feels like this past season was a fluke, or that the youth they already possess is likely to regress next season.

"We are not going to sit here as a team that didn't make the playoffs and say we're all set," Suns GM Ryan McDonough said. "There are some roster upgrades you can make. But I don't think there are any glaring holes that aren't filled if you factor in some internal improvement."

Rather, President Lon Babby, GM Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek foresee bright futures for this year's rookies, 19-year old Archie Goodwin and 20-year old Alex Len.

Add in the almost-certain return of 24-year old Eric Bledsoe and the continued maturity of mid-20s Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris and you are already looking at six young rotation players on the rise in the coming seasons. And of those six, only Bledsoe will be on an expensive contract next season.

So would you really add three more rookies to that mix?

"I think it's unlikely that we'll bring in three rookies to the Suns," McDonough said. "With the success we had this year, and it's a good problem to have, it's tough to develop rookies and win a lot of games. If you look at the Rookie of the Year candidates, most of them are on teams at the bottom of the league. It's hard to do both."

Archie Goodwin, 19, showed a great deal of promise, but most of that was in the Summer League and during practices. He did not play much in the second half. Alex Len, 20, was injured for much of the first half of the season but played a bit in the second half as the backup center. Neither got more than 15 minutes per game.

McDonough discussed the options for those six picks in the next two years, and one of them was a new twist.

"I think if we do go in with the 14th, 18th and 27th pick," he said. "It's not likely we draft three guys and bring them to the Suns."

"Our preference would be to trade for a star," he said, just as he always has. In an ideal situation, the Suns would trade some of those picks for a top-10 NBA talent and start planning for deep playoff runs.

The second best option, short of acquiring a star, would be to package picks to move up in the draft for a better talent than is available outside the lottery.

"We could also draft a European player or two and leave them overseas," he said, as option #3.

If all those fail and the Suns can't move up, there's another way of moving out that just pushes the can down the road a bit.

"We could also trade our pick for future picks," he said. "And kind of spread the picks out."

There's something we hadn't considered before. Why bring in six rookies in the next 15 months to this team? No one really wants to do that. But there are other teams who want youth today, and they might be willing to trade today's mid-teens pick for tomorrow's potentially higher pick.

"You know we have three this year and potentially three next year." McDonough continued. "So we might spread them out a little. Lon did a great job of stockpiling picks and we added to that last summer. It gives us a great deal of flexibility going forward."

But the preference, of course, is to convert those picks into a star. That's always been the plan and will remain the plan going forward. Trading picks into future years only extends the Suns' flexibility if all else fails. You don't trade a 2014 pick for a 2016 pick unless all other options are off the table.

"We would like to retain as much of our core as possible," he said, "but if you look at our cap sheet, we have a lot of flexibility coming up. But we also have big decisions to make. How can you upgrade the talent? Or, how can you retain the talent you already have?"

Rather than six picks in two years, the Suns could benefit from having two picks per year for the next four years. That would allow them to always be able to trade a pick, and even picks in consecutive years. The NBA's CBA does not allow a team to go pick-less in consecutive years, so teams cannot trade consecutive picks unless they have more than one coming to them.

Still, the #1 priority is to acquire a star. The Rockets did it by getting James Harden two years ago, and then Dwight Howard last summer. The Warriors did it by acquiring Andre Iguodala last summer after having their own resurgent season in 2012-13.

"If we can use our draft picks in a package to get better, to get a veteran," McDonough said, "to get us from the upper 40s to the 50s and even the 60s, you know we'll do that."

McDonough concluded with a telling comment that the Suns are not just going to bring back the same exact team next year. They won't trust that everyone will come back with the same attitude and that making the playoffs is only about internal improvement. The Suns have 13 players under their control for next season.

But they are unlikely to bring back the whole team while just kicking a couple of draft picks down the road a bit.

"We could bring back all the guys," McDonough said. "But I think we'll make some tweaks and try to get better."

PHOENIX — In their first full season with the Phoenix Suns, GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek took the team from bad to good. As miraculous as that task seems when considering...

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Eric Bledsoe's exit interview followed a pattern that has made me feel uneasy since his arrival in the desert and makes me question his desire to be a Phoenix Sun long term.

Let's play word association. Try to answer this before reading on to see how your answer compares to mine.

What's the first word that comes to mind when I say Eric Bledsoe?

What was your answer (feel free to share in the comments)? Was it something relative to his electric, exciting style of play? Perhaps his ridiculous athleticism?

My word is aloof.

Just to clarify what I mean by that let me offer the definition of that word. Aloof - at a distance, especially in feeling or interest; apart; reserved or reticent; indifferent; disinterested.

That about sums it up.

My stance on this hasn't changed, either.  After Bledsoe's knee surgery this past season I referenced this dynamic in one of the Round Table articles on this site.

After his (most recent) surgery the press release basically said to ask his agent any questions about the procedure. It would be hilarious if people are told to ask his agent about his timeline for returning to action down the road. Something has felt off to me about Eric's body language since he came here - not sure if that means anything except that I possibly have issues with not feeling loved. If for some reason Bledsoe becomes a misfit for McMiracle's puzzle I can easily see him moving him. I think McMiracle sees all the players he brought in as valuable members of the team... and completely movable assets.

Ideally, it's great to have players that fans can have love affairs with. In this day that is becoming rarer with the turnstile rosters of professional sports teams. The Suns are one of the teams that has maintained great relationships with their players, current and former, over the years and many of them are very sincere in their fondness of this city and organization. Just look at former player/current head coach Jeff Hornacek. The Suns build those types of long lasting relationships.

When Eric was asked at his exit interview yesterday whether he would like to come back and play for the Suns he replied, "I'm just going into the summer trying to get 100% healthy and enjoy my family."

Rather benign, right? Well, he was asked variations of that question six times and responded the same way six times. He didn't stray from that response or expound upon it. He didn't go into greater depth. For me, though, it wasn't necessarily what he said, but what he didn't say.

He could have easily responded with something to the effect of...

I had a great time this season being a part of this team. The players, coaches and everyone in the organization made me feel really welcome. Phoenix is a great city and the fans here are awesome. Ultimately, though, this is a business and we'll just have to see how things play out this summer. I'm just going to be focusing on working hard to improve my game and spending time with my family.

But he didn't.

He had a chance to be complimentary of any of those things that I mentioned above. To give the impression that he enjoyed playing here, but instead he was, well, aloof.

Puzzlingly so to me. It seems pretty obvious to me he's being coached. The answer that he kept reiterating felt very rehearsed. So why are his handlers giving him this advice? This goes back to the embargo on media interaction during his rehabilitation process. Like it mentioned in my quote above, the official press release after Eric's surgery actually directed people to address inquiries to his agent rather than the team. Doesn't that seem a little off?

Even before that I always felt that Bledsoe's feelings towards being in Phoenix were lukewarm. I'm sure many of you have been in work environments where some people are really engaged and just love their job. They just seem to exude this aura of passion and and effervescence. Others just seem to be there to collect a paycheck. They are there more out of necessity than desire. It's a means to an end and they perform their duties in a perfunctory (at best) manner. They would have no problem leaving at the first instant a better opportunity presented itself.

Which of those descriptions do you think fits Bledsoe better?

People have different personalities, so maybe Eric's is just of a more stoic nature. It's entirely possible that I'm reading way too much into this. But if I'm reading too much into this I would be surprised if I'm the only one who is somewhat perturbed about his indifference.

This current incarnation of Suns basketball holds fast to the team's tradition of bringing in players that the fans can really connect with. High characters guys who give off the impression that they genuinely want to be here. Unfortunately, I got more of that vibe out of every single other player on the roster this season than I did from Bledsoe.

I think that a lot of fans here in Phoenix would like Bledsoe to be a Sun, I'm just not sure that he strongly shares that sentiment. So maybe I should hold off on becoming too enamored with the idea of him being here... since he doesn't appear to share that sentiment.

Or maybe it's just a case of my skin not being as thick as Lon Babby's. That I'm just upset because, like I previously mentioned, I have issues with not feeling loved.

But I don't.

Do you?

PHOENIX — As the Suns trickled out of the U.S. Airways Center on Thursday with bags full of whatever was left in their lockers, the same themes popped up. Jeff Hornacek should be coach of the...

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Here it is Brightsiders. Make your picks for this year's NBA playoffs and win the admiration and respect of your peers... or at least have something to lord over their heads next time they doubt your prognosticative prowess.

As soon as the final buzzer sounded on last night's game, and the Suns season, I know the exact question that was on every Suns fan's mind - How awesome is Archie Goodwin? Where is my playoff prediction contest?

Back by popular demand (and I use demand in the loosest sense of the word) is the (second annual) Bright Side of the Sun 2014 NBA Playoff Prediction Contest!

*This is the part where I imagine people cheering in the background as I type.

I actually won the playoff prediction contest on this site in 2012 (there may or may not have been a tie), but didn't put up a formal staff run thread until last year. That means the winner of the first annual contest was none other than the inimitable MMotherwell... who I would wager will be back this year to defend his crown (he didn't really get a crown). This could be your chance to unseat him and be immortalized in Bright Side of the Sun glory!

Here's how to play: Choose the winner of each series and the number of games each series will last. You will be awarded two points for each correct series winner and one more point if you correctly predict the number of games it took the victor to triumph. Once an entry has been submitted no duplicate entries will be accepted from different contestants.

Here are tiebreakers for the NBA Finals round (because ties suck): If two or more contestants are tied going into the Finals and picked the same team they will be asked to pick the total points scored in the deciding game on a first come first serve basis. The winner will be whoever is closest without going over. If two or more players end up tied after the Finals and picked different teams the contestant who picked the correct team will be the winner.

I think that covers it, but let me know if you notice any loopholes. I've had a rough life.

Western Conference

First Round

Spurs over Mavericks, 4-1

Thunder over Grizzlies, 4-2

Clippers over Warriors, 4-3

Rockets over Blazers, 4-2

Conference Semifinals

Spurs over Rockets, 4-1

Thunder over Clippers, 4-3

Conference Finals

Thunder over Spurs, 4-2

Eastern Conference

First Round

Pacers over Hawks, 4-0

Heat over Bobcats, 4-0

Nets over Raptors, 4-2

Bulls over Wizards, 4-1

Conference Semifinals

Pacers over Bulls, 4-3

Heat over Nets, 4-3

Conference Finals

Pacers over Heat, 4-2

NBA Finals

Thunder over Pacers, 4-2

Point totals will be updated after each round and the story will be front paged as the results are updated. Fell free to check your scoring to make sure the results are correct. Please omit the spaces between your picks to help truncate the comment section. Please be sure to make your picks lucid, as confusing or ambiguous entries may be disqualified. No entries will be accepted after the start of the first game Saturday (4/19).

I had a pretty hard time picking my teams this year. The Eastern Conference is just garbage. Miami or Indiana would probably be the sixth seed in the Western Conference and I wouldn't pick either to get past the Clippers in the first round. Instead it's difficult for me to fathom one of them not getting to the Finals by default...

San Antonio seems like the best team in the Western Conference NBA, but I think that will be a popular pick so I'm going with OKC in hopes that may put me over the top if they can pull at least a little bit of an upset. Then again, the Grizzlies are by far (in my opinion) the best 5-8 seed in either conference, so maybe I lose my overall winner in the first round. Oh well.

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