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?


It's a bit (okay, a LOT) surreal to be so excited about consecutive Phoenix Suns moves, but that's what happening and I don't know what to do about it.

I feel a bit like the Grinch (Jim Carrey version) who flops and plops around a while on his mountain in agony for a few moments until he figures out the source of the problem - that his cold, dead heart had started beating again. Add in a few more of these moments and I might start "leaking" some tears of joy.

For now, I'm happy with a beating heart. Lon Babby has hit a couple of home runs with his new General Manager (Ryan McDonough) and new head coach (Jeff Hornacek).

McDonough was widely lauded nationally as a great hire, a man already being mentioned in the breath of young, successful front office types like Sam Presti, Masai Ujiri, Rob Hennigan and Rich Cho before making his first move.

And now Jeff Hornacek is coming back into the fold after twenty one years away. While he doesn't have a long history on the bench, he's been mentioned as a head coaching candidate since nearly the day he retired from playing. He was considered in 2004 by Danny Ainge (another former Sun), who settled on Doc Rivers. He was considered in 2008 by the Suns, who settled on Terry Porter. In both cases, the interest was a non-starter while Hornacek stayed away from coaching until his kids graduated college.

This time, Hornacek is ready and the Suns pounced. Let's read a little of what others have to say about Hornacek from the SLC Dunk guys at the Utah Jazz's SB Nation blog.

Goodbye Jeff Hornacek - Dianaallen

When the Zone has interviewed the assistant coaches or during the halftime interviews with assistants, Jeff was the only coach I felt that said anything concrete, anything useful. What we'd hear from Sanders and Lowe is much like what we'd hear from Corbin, just a bunch of jargon. Jeff on the other hand would name specific things players had to do better, he would talk about specific plays, it wasn't the usual, "continue to get better" "work harder".

Over the years it seems like Jeff as been great at working with the players, building relationships with them.

Horny is the coach that seems to have pulled the Cour Four aside in timeouts to give instructions to or to encourage them. Hornacek will be greatly missed.

Horny in Logan - Kurt Adison - Giving a free speech to a small audience

His family did not have money for him to go to college. He worked making cups for McDonald's his freshman year. He worked hard to earn a scholarship and pushed himself to make it playing basketball.

His duties grew when Korver asked him to "watch him shoot". At that time Korver shot the ball flat and helped him with his arch. Then Wesley Matthews asked for help and etc. He works with Gordon Hayward a lot now.

One other thing he mentioned was that players don't seem to practice as much anymore. In "the old days", you would shoot from 9-10am then practice 10-12pm, come back after lunch to shoot some more. Now he says "it's like pulling teeth to get guys to stay for a 1/2 hr to shoot after practice. They like to run home to their video games."

Others have lauded the pick as well, either lobbying for Hornacek to be a head coach or praising it today.

Suns should consider Hornacek - Tom Chambers - arizonasports.com

"One name that always comes to my mind who was a coach of mine even though he wasn't a coach on the court was Jeff Hornacek," said Chambers. "He was spectacular, played in the league and was an All-Star in the league.

"I believe firmly that if you've done it and you're asking these kids today to do something you've already done, it's an easier task. Jeff came from a coaching family, he's always been a coach, he had to always work to hone his game...He knows what hard work is all about."

Hornacek a good fit for Suns - Jared Bray

As an assistant with the Jazz, Horny has helped several players improve their shooting technique. In fact, thanks to Coach Hornacek, Alec Burks went from shooting 29.2 percent from behind the arc in college to 35.0 as a pro.

Likewise, Gordon Hayward was able to increase his 3-point shooting percentage from 34.6 in 2011-12 to 41.5 this past season.

"Having a great shooter like that work with me helped a lot," Hayward said. "Not just with mechanics, but with my confidence."

Hornacek on fast track for head coaching job - Gordon Monson

And that's the key - similar in some ways to what Mark Jackson has done at Golden State - to what Hornacek could bring to a team as a head coach: an easy, intelligent approach, but one that still has high standards for success. Some observers might think Hornacek is too nice of a guy, too well-adjusted. But he has always had a no-nonsense competitive streak that runs to his core. That's what enabled him to go on playing on one leg, dragging the other up and down the floor, in his latter seasons. It's what helped him walk on at Iowa State and win, what helped him become an All-Star as a second-round pick by Phoenix. Former Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo once said of Hornacek: "Most of the people in the league thought Jeff was too slow, not good enough to play in the NBA. But there was something special about him. He had a big heart."

Amar Smith - Manager - SLC Dunk

"Personally it will be tough to see," Amar Smith, manager of SLC Dunk said via email this morning. "Because Jeff has been a huge part of my fan experience. Furthermore, the Jazz can't draft players who can't shoot anymore because he would take the extra time out of his life to give private coaching -- even Kyle Korver (who set an NBA record for 3pt% in a season) attributes Jeff for that mark. He makes your struggling offensive players better, and makes your great offensive players find another two or three shots in their arsenal.

"A number of Jazz fans would rather we trade you former Suns player Tyrone Corbin and keep Jeff. But our front office made their decision.

"And we wish Jeff all the best. Suns fans will love him. Well, they already do love him from the pre-Barkley years.

"All the best Jeff."

As first reported by Arizona Sports 620′s John Gambadoro late Saturday night, the Phoenix Suns are in negotiations with Jeff Hornacek to become the team’s next head coach. According to...

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Strengths As crazy as it sounds, when looking back at the 2013 NBA Draft, Ryan McDonough might be judged as much by what he does at No. 30 as what he does at No. 5. The Class of 2013 has been panned...

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Lon Babby said last week that he wanted to pay more respect to the Suns tradition, to the Suns loyalists, than they had done in the past three years. Suns fans agree. McDonough says the coach should embrace analytics, be a teacher as well as leader.

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.

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