Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson and former University of Arizona big man Sean Rooks have officially been added to the Phoenix Suns as members of the player development staff, the team announced...

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Dear Lon,

First and foremost I want to sincerely thank you for hosting Bright Side of the Sun (BSotS) at this year's Media Day. I believe that online media outlets are the way of the future and act as a medium that provides unique access to audio, video and information that enables fans to be closer than ever to the teams they ardently follow. Your cooperation (and maybe tolerance in my case) with these types of forums fosters a propinquity with the fans that I know they ineffably appreciate. Big ups Babs.

You referred to me as Mr. Negativity when we made our introductions. I've never had a nickname before, I didn't even use a pseudonym when I joined this forum, but I think something more sinister and nefarious might be more apropos. You also joked that I like to use big words that nobody understands (at least I think that was a joke), so perhaps we could incorporate that. Would it be a solecism for me to devise my own moniker? I know some people are of the opinion that it has to be a label issued by another. If so, maybe you could come up with something catchy like the lugubrious lexicographer or the sesquipedalian assassin?

It is not my intention to foment misgivings between BSotS and the Suns' organization. I don't know that I'd necessarily call this extending an olive branch (although speaking of olives, they have these tantalizing double stuffed garlic jalapeno olives at Costco... delish), but I wanted to let you know that I gave careful consideration to your request that I acquit myself professionally as a journalist and strive to be honest and accurate. Given my current and prior approach, that shouldn't require much change.

I was flattered to hear that you've taken such a keen interest in BSotS and, more specifically, my writing. Your admonishments were well received. The plaudits were appreciated (the way I remember it there were some plaudits). I surmise that you would also be flattered by the keen interest that BSotS has taken in you. We watch you like a cat watches a tuna fish sandwich because you are largely the caretaker for something that is of great importance to us.

During our discussion you mentioned Curt Flood's quote -- "I am pleased God made my skin black, but I wish he had made it thicker." It is never my design to be demagogic or cast aspersions on the franchise or it constituents. To do so would only propagate crepuscular morbidity. At times my content may be stinging and abrasive. Sometimes I defenestrate standard etiquette because of my brooding pessimism zany and unconventional style. After all, isn't character assassination the highest form of flattery? Or is it imitation? I can never remember. My goal is to refrain from writing anything about a person that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying to his face. I realize that I fall short at times.

Allow me to offer a quote that explains the nature of the fan's vituperative temperament perspective. Mark Twain said something to the effect of, "I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened." That is how it is for the fans. Missing the playoffs is intolerable. A losing streak is calamitous. A missed lay up can cause the blood to boil. Witnessing the team struggle is excruciating.

I believe your trepidation over the perils of leaping without looking are well founded. You cautioned against "change for the sake of change", to which I responded with the Wooden quote, "never confuse activity with achievement." There is definitely prudence in the measured approach you have taken with this team, while also demonstrating an ability to act with celerity when the appropriate situation presents itself (Gortat, Beasley, Dragic). You have also shown an ability to own your mistakes and not let them own you. I think that is an admirable trait.

I agree with your assessment that Phoenix is an attractive place to play. While the Eric Gordon situation may or may not have been the best litmus test (after all, he had to get that max offer from somebody in order to force the Hornet's hand), the prevailing opinion seems to be that players are enamored with our city, fans, climate, organization, medical staff and even front office (to a lesser extent, of course). Goran Dragic echoed these sentiments and said that as soon as he learned of your interest he was "all in". I think that speaks volumes. You have made it clear that you don't take credit for that, being that many of these variables preceded your arrival, but I will give you credit for maintaining the Phoenix Sun standard.

The roster has seen tumultuous changes. You didn't seem to be smitten with the concept of "fingerprints", but you acknowledged your role in the transformation by stating that every player on the team is here because you want them here and they want to be here. In fact, every player on the active roster on opening night will be directly attributable to your decisions (Frye was re-signed 12 days before you took office). That being said, the landscape of the NBA has changed. The predominant trend has seen stars congregating in the Goliath markets, leaving the Davids the challenge of developing Promethean strategies to compete for their services. I hope you are up to the task.

Ultimately, this is a results based business. Effort is required to achieve those results, but in no way guarantees them. The results are the basis for judgment. Yours can be a thankless job (although I'm sure it has its perks). If the team succeeds, you're just doing your job. If it flounders, you are the target of the angry mob. If you'd ever like to bounce some ideas off of me, please feel free to shoot me an email and we can set up a lunch date. My treat. Just remember, I'll be buying on a pro bono journalist's salary.

Speaking of lunch, I still haven't accepted the bribe of free sandwiches despite encouragement by Seth to partake. My paranoia leads me to believe that the food may be laced with something that would slake my pugnacious temperament. At the very least, I don't want to subconsciously connote Lon Babby with free sandwiches due to concerns that it may cloud my ability to impartially report on the team. Then again, maybe you're just attempting to be hospitable...

I have at times been castigated for my volubility and circumlocution (I personally can't see it), so I will close with a list that I concocted, with my own personal facetious spin, based on your suggestion that I try to be more positive.

10 Reasons Why I'm Positive Heading into the 2012-13 Suns Season

  1. I'm positive that (at least) one player on the Suns will wildly exceed my expectations.
  2. I'm positive that Goran Dragic will make our female members swoon.
  3. I'm positive that Channing Frye will be missed.
  4. I'm positive that you will utilize several new pithy maxims in your discourse with the media and fans.
  5. I'm positive that Jared Dudley will rule the roost on twitter.
  6. I'm positive that you will be immensely entertained if you continue reading my articles.
  7. I'm positive that there will be mixed emotions when Nash returns.
  8. I'm positive that next has finally started.
  9. I'm positive that the new court is hilariously perfect for a Halloween night launch.
  10. I'm positive that we're doomed.

I could go on ad infinitum, but I think you get the gist. Baby steps, right? Or is it Babby steps? Thanks again and best wishes for serendipitous outcomes in the approaching season. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the on-court product takes shape.

Best regards.

Jim Coughenour

P.S. If you would ever be amenable to engaging directly with our staff and/or fans via a live chat session I would be thrilled to set that up.

Editor’s Note: This is ValleyoftheSuns’ contribution to the seventh annual “NBA Blog Previews” put on by CelticsBlog. Team Name: Phoenix Suns Last Year’s Record: 33-33 Key Additions: Goran...

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Each year, the folks at SB Nation preview their teams for the rest of the world to see. This "Cliffs Notes" preview is a snapshot of the team from the Valley of the Sun. We do know that "he who was MVP" is no longer running the show, but we're ready to move on to the next era.


Team Name: Phoenix Suns

Last Year’s Record: 33-33 (10th place in the West)

Key Losses: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Michael Redd, Ronnie Price, Robin Lopez

Key Additions: Luis Scola, Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Jermaine O’Neal

1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?

Welcome to the rebuilding era of the Phoenix Suns. The two faces of the franchise, Steve Nash and Grant Hill, have both found new homes in Los Angeles, Nash with the Lakers and Hill with the Clippers. For the first time in eight years, the Suns are without their franchise point guard and two-time MVP. It was a tough pill to swallow.

Childress met the amnesty axe ending his brief and disappointing stint with the Suns. Michael Redd remains floating in the free agency pool and Ronnie Price has found a new home backing up Damian Lillard and Nolan Smith in Portland. Warrick and Lopez have both been shipped off to New Orleans.

Enter: the New Guys. With the 13th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Suns chose North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall. Marshall might not start right off the bat because of the return of Goran Dragic and the solid play of Sebastian Telfair last season, but I can see Phoenix handing him the reigns to the team within the next two seasons. Winning the amnesty auction for Scola gives the Suns a pretty decent inside presence with him and double-double machine Marcin Gortat. Phoenix also is taking some risks by signing Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal and hoping Wesley Johnson contributes more than he did in Minnesota.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?

Outside observers, at first glance, won’t have many good things to say about the new-look Phoenix Suns. They see that Nash is gone and has left thousands of fans with out-of-date No. 13 jerseys. I see something different. I see a Suns team that finally has youth at its foundation and a high ceiling for potential.

Besides Hill and Nash, the Suns lost five role players. With Scola, Beasley and Dragic, they have gained three potential starters. Kendall Marshall has potential to be a franchise point guard. Markieff Morris is coming off a strong rookie campaign. Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley are joined by Wesley Johnson to give Phoenix a young, fast offensive-core that has potential for excitement.

With a team this young, chemistry is vital for youth to either be their strength or their weakness.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

The weakness of the team is that they lack consistency. For eight years, they had one of the best guards that the NBA has ever seen. The Suns knew who was going to be leading them, who was going to deliver night in and night out and who was going to have the ball with the game on the line. That consistency is gone. Nobody knows who is going to take that last shot.

The other weak aspect of the team is that they lack size. Besides Gortat and Scola, Phoenix doesn’t possess another big man who can bring in rebounds and provide stability in the paint. Markieff Morris is inconsistent and Jermaine O’Neal has not been able to prove he can remain healthy. The Suns might have to employ a lot of small-ball lineups that spot Beasley or Johnson at the four. Losing Channing Frye for the season, if not his career, was a blow in this area. I would not be surprised if the Suns go with a big man in the next draft or try to make a move for one during the season.

4. What are the goals for the team?

The main goal for this team should be to remain competitive for a fringe playoff spot. I understand that is a very optimistic goal, but that’s why it is exactly that … a goal. Realistically, Phoenix needs to show that they are a unified team. They need to demonstrate that they can be competitive in their post-Nash era.

The Suns front office has to prove with action that they believe the team has a chance. They have to show that they are willing to spend, build and create a team that will be competitive in the near future. No more treading water.

5. Is there any hope for the Phoenix Suns in the future?

Yes. Although next year’s draft class is considerably weaker than the 2012 class, there are some viable prospects that can fit well with the Suns. Phoenix has a youthful core that has potential, plus a boatload of draft picks and cap space, to give the Suns a bright future and create some excitement on the court. I think that in order for the Suns to be a real threat in the Western Conference, they need to add size and a consistent scoring threat.

The NBA announced Wednesday morning that it intends to stop the flop, but it only took until the afternoon for resistance to rear its head. The NBA announced a penalty ladder that begins with a...

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