It is evidently time to play the blame game here in the desert. Our favorite collective of professional basketball players are losing in horrific, depressing fashion, and the calls are coming from all angles with ideas on how to right the ship. I agree it is time for Robin Lopez to find some new surroundings. I agree the team has basically two consistently good players . But I also agree this team wasn't constructed to win, but rather, to raise some hopes, fill some seats, and keep us quiet until next season when the Suns front office and ownership will allegedly spend some money and completely rebuild this team into a Western Conference contender.
Yet the recent efforts of Sarver, Babby, and Blanks to fill the roster have been pathetic. They were medicore attempts to sign mediocre players to mediocre money. Don't blame Alvin Gentry for failing to find the right mix of players to form a rotation. When you have a roster chock-full 'o career journeymen and role players, how can anyone expect this team to be good? Here are just a few examples as to why the Suns are not a good team right now, thanks to Sarver, Babby & Blanks (sounds like a law firm you see on the back of a phone book, ya?):
- Shannon Brown is on his 5th team in 6 seasons. He's a career 41% shooter who you could call a champion as a reserve player riding Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson's coattails. The Suns had zero shooting guards going into this season other than Jared Dudley. Out of necessity BBS (Babby/Blanks/Sarver) needed a cheap body for the fans to accept. Well, fans like athletic guys who can dunk and have championship rings. Forget the fact he's a career 33% shooter from beyond the arc. Forget the fact he's been trade fodder all his career and never been able to find a home for more than a year or two. Brown has struggled to adapt to the system, they say. But did you really expect Ray Allen or even Jason Richardson? Brown is basically shooting near his career averages at 32% from 3 and 39% overall. What were we all expecting?
- Sebastian Telfair has been with 6 teams in 8 seasons. He was an alleged phenom coming from the mean streets of NYC. Like shooting guard, the Suns needed depth. He was cheap, young, and we embraced him because in the words of Alvin Gentry "he's never had the opportunity" to stick in a system and prove himself. He's a career 39% shooter, and barely averages 30% from beyond the arc. Were we expecting the heir to Steve Nash's throne?
- Ronnie Price has never played more than 61 games in any of his 6 seasons in the league. His shooting numbers are nearly identical to Telfair's. Like Brown, he's athletic; unlike Brown and Telfair, he can play defense. And once again the Suns have a one dimensional guy who's tossed out on the wing to toss up brick after brick from beyond the 3 point line. All for $854,000 a season.
Did BBS add these three to a mix of mediocre role players to team with Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Marcin Gortat and say "Hell yeah, we're going to the playoffs baby!!!!!!???" Anything's possible, right? Wrong. Have you ever emptied out the fridge and tossed a bunch of leftovers in a pot with the hopes you end up with something delightfully tasty?
As much as this season has proven to be a disaster thus far, the seeds of the 2012's failure were sewn back when STAT left town, Sarver brought in a career player agent as an NBA executive, and hired a GM who had never been a GM before. The result: the preposterous signings of Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick. Some of us bought into it. After all, we love our team, we weren't so so jaded as to think that the suits were setting us up for frustration and apathy: Hedo could play out of position and take up some of the slack left by a 20/10 guy, Childress could re-adapt to the NBA and could actually make a jump shot, Hakim Warrick could do something else, other than dunk. WRONG...
And to make up for that trio of suck, someone of another trio: BBS, attempted to make some lemonade out of lemons by shipping one of them to Florida. But let's be honest, you, me, and my 10 year old could have thought to pick up the phone and call Orlando to inquire about Marcin Gortat. It wasn't like he was a diamond in the rough, he was simply stuck behind one of the best centers in the game. I don't give BBS credit for that deal, I thank the Magic for their generosity.
Now, here we sit, looking for answers after watching two former Suns light up the present Suns in back to back games. Here's one idea that was bound to start cropping up:
Maybe this situation would feel different if Nash wanted to end his career in Phoenix. But there's no evidence he'll accept the direction and pay cut coming from the new regime. And judging by the declining attendance at US Airways Center, where a famous buzz has been replaced by a sense of mourning, there is no proof that sentimentality is still selling on Planet Orange.
Well, I have a better idea. DON'T. Why? Because he is Steve Nash. And Steve Nash didn't destroy the franchise, Robert Sarver did. HOW? By letting talent walk-Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Kerr, Rick Welts, etc. I hate looking back and saying "What if..." or "I told you so..." Maybe not offering that last guaranteed year was a smart thing when attempting to sign STAT, maybe there was no way to keep Welts from his significant other and family in Northern Cal, and maybe, just maybe Kerr really did need to spend more time with his family. Alright, I can accept that (although I do not believe it). But what I cannot, and do not accept, is why the talent that made this franchise so great both upstairs and on the hardwood was not replaced by equal or at least potentially equal talent.
Mr. Bickley and many others are calling on the Suns to trade Nash, tank the season, and draft the next great thing. Because the NBA champion Mavericks were built through the draft right? Because Mark Cuban and Co. were brilliant enough to draft Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, and even Dirk Nowitzki. And the Lakers drafted Kobe Bryant right? And Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom? the Celtics drafted KG, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo right? The Heat drafted LeBron and Bosh (OK they drafted Wade). You get my point, champions aren't drafted, they are constructed. Let's face it, do we trust the Suns brass to draft Chris Paul or are they more likely to draft the distant cousin of Nicholas Tskitishvili?
Yes, the 2012 draft is deep. Maybe there's something or someone great in there that the Suns braintrust can pick out, and maybe, just maybe in 5 or 6 years that player will pan out and lead the Suns to the promised land. In the meantime?
Futility, Ugliness, Losing
Trading Steve Nash is not the answer to any problem. It makes the problem worse. You think attendance is down now? Try this team without Nash. Watch them go from 6-11 to 6-35. How many games are you as a fan going to attend? How many jerseys are you going to buy? Are you going to cancel your league pass? Are you going to bother listening to Tom Leander's drivel on TV while watching the Pietrus-level talent the Suns get in return?
Here's another point from Mr. Bickley:
Already the owner is stigmatized for deconstructing a championship-caliber team. Imagine if another All-Star leaves without a whiff of compensation in return.
I completely disagree with this statement. Imagine if our memory as Suns fans is Nash being traded for Jameer Nelson or a late first round pick, or hell, ANYONE. The return for Nash will never provide the franchise with what Nash has provided: Wins, excitement, class, and not to mention a future Hall of Fame member wearing a Suns jersey. And imagine being the guy or draft pick who we all remember as the return for Nash. He or they are destined for failure.
Letting Nash finish his contract and walk is the ONLY classy move Sarver can make. Further, it's the only way he can do anything positive for his reputation. In that case he can say "Steve wanted to move on. We tried to keep him but we couldn't." Would the average fan believe that? Probably not, but it's better than looking as though you thought you were getting fair return with a 2nd round pick and Jason Terry.
Unless the Suns are honoring Nash's trade request (if he makes one-which he has not, and will not), the idea of trading the best player you have is nothing more than an act out of frustration-"The team sucks, let's nuke it." It is irrational decision making and bad for any business. It doesn't improve your situation, it makes it worse. Kind of like drinking coffee when you're drunk. IT DOESN'T SOBER YOU UP, IT JUST MAKES YOU JITTERY AND DRUNK, which my friends, is not a good combination.