Just the other night, LeBron James put up 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for Miami Heat in one of the best playoff performances ever.

Well, on this day in history, June 1, 1993, the Phoenix Suns' Charles Barkley blew that LeBron game away with 43 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in pivotal Game 5 to help the Phoenix Suns beat the Seattle Supersonics.

Yes, that's not a typo. 43 points, on 16-22 from the field plus 11-11 on free throws. 15 rebounds. 10 assists. Oh, and 2 blocks and 2 steals to boot.

The Phoenix Suns came into the game tied at 2-2 with the highly talented and well-coached Seattle Supersonics in the 1993 Western Conference Finals. Wins were traded back and forth as they both took one on the other's floor. The winner of game 5 wins the series more than 80% of the time. Thanks to 62 wins that year, it was the Suns who enjoyed the home court.

Watch Barkley absolutely dominate this game.

To dominate so much inside, the Suns had to be making lots of shots on the perimeter.

Shouting guard Dan Majerle provided the outside touch, making an astounding 8 of 10 three-pointers on the way to 34 points, along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

It was Majerle's 8th three-pointer, a league playoff record, that sealed the Suns victory.

"If Majerle misses that three, it might be a different ball game," Sonics head coach George Karl theorized after the dust settled. "You don't like to get beat by threes, but he was making them in a zone."

The Sonics kept it close with hot shooting and quick-strike offense of their own (14 steals and 11 blocked shots). Shawn Kemp put up 33 big points while Ricky Pierce lit up the sky with jumper after jumper for 27 of his own.

While you're watching the 2013 playoffs routinely net scores of like 93-86, don't forget how wonderful the game of basketball was played 20 years ago. In this game, the Sonics put up 114 points... and lost.

This game is now an NBA classic and will always be one of the warmest memories for 20+-year Suns fans.


The workouts, which start on Monday, will also be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week at US Airways Center. Media will be permitted to watch the last 10 minutes of the workouts and talk with the invites and Suns' staff after the workouts are completed. The list of players attending each workout will be released on the morning of the workout.

Be sure to check in on the Brightside for lots of exclusive content next week as we will be reporting from on site.

My initial takeaway is that this is a refreshing change from the clandestine nature of the last few years. I believe a team can still be open with their fans without revealing their trade secrets. Since the Suns haven't exactly been worldbeaters recently maybe they were just being furtive to disguise that they had none (trade secrets).

Either way, the new front office structure appears to have a better idea of how to walk the fine line and I'm sure the followers of the team overwhelmingly appreciate that.

Strengths Zeller’s biggest strength is his combination of size and athleticism. Despite being seven feet tall, he runs the floor with the grace and speed of a guard. Most NBA players with Zeller’s...

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After signing Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and James Harden last year, the Houston Rockets need more cap space to sign a veteran max free agent like Dwight Howard.

The Rockets acquired #5 overall pick Thomas Robinson at the trade deadline in February, a salary dump from the Kings. Now, according to Yahoo! Sports, they would rather have the cap space than a 21-year old power forward.

The Rockets have made clear to multiple rival teams that they plan to accept the best offer to move Robinson and eliminate his $3.52 million salary for the 2013-14 season.

Without the salary of Robinson and others, the Rockets will have the space to offer Howard a maximum deal starting at approximately $20.5 million a season.

His salary is paltry. Not much more than other players on their roster, but the Rockets have supposedly decided that Robinson is the best combination of trade asset and unnecessary future piece for a championship contender.

Just a year removed from being a top pick, it's interesting that two teams who lack starting-quality power forwards have come to the same conclusion already - it's better not to have him at all.

Which begs the question: are those teams giving up on Robinson too early? Or is Robinson destined to be nothing more than a backup big for the rest of his career?

Suns GM Ryan McDonough is looking to "build through the draft, maybe through trades if we have to, to bring in some young players who maybe haven't hit it yet, haven't broken through."

Robinson appears to fit that mold. But McDonough also says the Suns need shooting, and Robinson has shown little offensive game beyond putbacks.

If you're still on the Robinson bandwagon, ask yourself this: Is Robinson really better than the Morri? Is it worth giving up a good asset, bringing Robinson into the Morri mix, or trading one of them away to make room for Robinson?

It's worth noting that Robinson played behind Markieff Morris at Kansas for two seasons, only starting for one year after Morris had left for the NBA. That junior season was a revelation, to be sure, vaulting Robinson into a higher selection than either Morris brother had been. But it was still just one season. As a junior.

Robinson only played 16 minutes per game for the worst team in the NBA. And then only 13 minutes in 19 games for the surging Rockets after the trade, losing minutes to the likes of Greg Smith and Terrence Jones. Marcus Morris, on the other hand, played ahead of Jones and Smith, getting 21 minutes per game in 54 pre-trade contests for the Rockets at the PF position.

It could be that Robinson was slow to pick up the Houston scheme, or that his game just didn't fit with Houston. But they needed big bodies in the playoffs. They needed rebounding, Robinson's calling card. But Robinson was not called upon in the playoffs.

Should the Suns acquire Thomas Robinson, to fight for minutes with the Morri?

  636 votes | Results


Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough realizes there's no single way that works to build a championship contender. One strategy is to hoard several years of high lotto picks. Another is attacking the free agent market. Yet another is trading for your star. All are fraught with risk, all more likely to fail than succeed.

McDonough's plan is a simple, yet ambitious one.

"First and foremost, to try to get the great players," he said. "If we can't get them right away, try to be patient and deliberate, try to build through the draft, maybe through trades if we have to, to bring in some young players who maybe haven't hit it yet, haven't broken through, and then hopefully we're building up and we're going in the right direction."

While there are different ways to do it, both examples started with stellar drafts.

The hope is that he knows the difference between great (Howard, Paul) and not-so-great (Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Paul Millsap). The not-so-great will just get you back to mediocre. There's no reason to sign a late-20s free agent who won't be top-5 at his position for the next 4-5 years. Not when you're just starting on the road back to respectability.

"I am not looking to patch this together, to get better in the short term but have no model of sustained success."

If you don't know what mediocrity without a model of sustained success looks like, just roll back your memory banks to the 2010-2012 Phoenix Suns. Granted, that was a different day and time. The Suns were riding out the Nash contract, honoring the Suns best player since Barkley with a chance at a run while also building to the future. A failed model, to be sure, but a well-intentioned one.

The Suns plan is clear. Build through the draft, while being aggressive when the time is right to strike.

"What OKC did was hang onto those guys and win with those guys," he said. "What we did in Boston was we drafted very well for a number of years, and then we kept some of the guys, traded some of them for Kevin Garnett, and traded some for Ray Allen. So it's a combination of those different things. There's different ways to do it."

While there are different ways to do it, both examples started with stellar drafts. You can't build a model of sustained success without good draft picks. Like they did in Boston, quality draft picks either become stars for your own team or assets in a trade for a top-notch player.

Just before Boston acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to make consecutive Finals runs, Danny Ainge was about to lose his job. The Celtics had descended into the doldrums of repeated lottery appearances, winning only 33 and 24 games the previous two seasons. Then they traded the #5 pick for Ray Allen, and young Al Jefferson and parts for Kevin Garnett and they went on to the Finals.

Just before OKC matured and became lauded as the best young team in the game, they had suffered through seasons of 20 and 23 wins with those same guys. In fact, during the 2009 offseason, there was (per a league source) considerable worry in the OKC front office that this group would never be playoff-caliber. Durant was one of the league's worst +/- players in 2008-09, and Westbrook was a shooting guard in the PGs body. But they stayed the course and they're all happy now.

Neither team signed the best player in free agency. They did it through the draft to start with, and they suffered a bit without any guarantee that the plan would work.

Does that mean the Suns are hunkering down this summer, eschewing the big names while they fill their war chest over the next few years?

"If a great player wants to come here, we're going to go get him," Ryan McDonough says without hesitation.

McDonough has made that declaration several times since being hired. He's not going to back down, just because the Suns are where they are. Top free agents available this summer include Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

"Trying to get guys here," he explained. "I think we have a lot of advantages: the market, the training staff, the tradition, the franchise. But you know it is a tough sell when you won 25 games the year before."

McDonough isn't fooling himself, but he's not taking himself out of the game either. If a great player wants to come to Phoenix, he wants to be in a position to get that guy and build around him.

"My initial instinct is it's unlikely we'll get one of them," he admits. "Just given that the team won 25 games and where we are.

"But if we can get one of them then we're going to try to accelerate the process and supplement them the best we can to win right away. I guess a team like Houston has done that, all of a sudden they got James Harden and that lifts your whole ship, lifts the whole program, and I think they're a team specifically that's very well positioned going forward."

The Houston model is interesting, bordering on disaster as they missed the playoffs for three years in a row, tore it down and struck out last summer on trading for Dwight Howard. But then James Harden became inexplicably available and Houston quietly engineered a trade with OKC for parts that, looking back on it, just weren't a fair trade.

Houston stockpiled first round draft picks (which the Suns have done) and then started trading their best players for even more picks (which the Suns have not yet done). Young starting-caliber PG Kyle Lowry was traded for a future pick which ultimately closed the deal on Harden. Fan favorite Luis Scola was amnestied. Other veterans were let go despite their love for the city. But no one's crying now. Houston is on the rise and still in the market for another star to pair with Harden.

McDonough is realistic though.

"We're always going to try to get the top free agents," he said. "But building through the draft is a more likely path. Veteran free agents, especially guys who are later in their career, they usually want to go somewhere they can win a championship for the next few years."

The Suns make a call to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to guage their interest in coming to the Valley. Likely, those guys are already looking in other directions.

I just hope the Suns stay the course and refrain from calling the older veteran free agents that won't turn the Suns into a Finals contender.

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