FanPost

Why isn't Phoenix a Free Agent Destination?

With the Suns being over looked by big name free agents such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony for meetings in favor of "Bigger Markets", a question arises. Why isn’t Phoenix a "Big Market"?

Every time I turn on ESPN to get updates on the days rumors and signings they have some special about Melo or LBJ. They bring on their "experts" and debate where each star will end up. Oh sure we’re in the conversation, but never for long. There’s always the "…great young talented roster, but I don’t see LBJ/Melo playing in such a small market…" This irritates me to no end. What exactly defines a big or small market? And what’s stopping Phoenix from being one?

Defining a Big Market

Population/Size

When talking big market, a few cities come to mind. New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and Chicago. So let’s presume that big markets can be associated with big cities. The only problem with that is Phoenix is a big city. As shown in the table below Phoenix is the 7th biggest city in terms of population.

City

Population

New York

8,400,000

Los Angeles

3,880,000

Chicago

2,700,000

Houston

2,200,000

Philadelphia

1,553,000

Phoenix

1,500,000

So Phoenix is top ten in population, ahead of Miami and is estimated to take over the sixth spot in the next two years. So if population doesn’t seal the deal, what does? Maybe the actual size of the city? Well Phoenix is ranked even higher by those standards. Phoenix is the largest capital city in the U.S. It is also the 10th biggest overall, only trailing one city from the previous mentions. Houston. So we can rule out city size and population as the primary characteristic of a big market.

Cap Space

Money controls everything and should definitely play some type of role in this. Well, sort of. Miami has the ability to pay these stars the most, but only by default. They were already paying over $60M on LBJ, Bosh and Wade so of course when they opted out their cap space was highest. Coming in second is…Phoenix! So with enough space to resign Bledsoe and add James and friend to a 48 win team, we should be the front runner, right? Wrong. There must be something else.

Scenery?

Well Phoenix doesn’t have any beaches but we are ranked the 5th most beautiful state here. With desert scenery and beautiful skies year round, there is no lack of views to look at through the windows of the gym.

Well speaking of gyms, U.S Airways Center is ranked 11th overall here.

So let’s recap. Top 10 in population, size, scenery and stadiums it must be something about the teams.

Current Teams

Houston

(54-28)

Miami

(54-28)

Phoenix

(48-34)

Chicago

(48-34)

New York

(37-45)

Los Angles

(27-55)

Patrick Beverly

Mario Chalmers

Eric Bledsoe

Derrick Rose

Raymond Felton

Steve Nash

James Harden

Dwayne Wade

Goran Dragic

Jimmy Butler

J.R Smith

Kobe Bryant

Chandler Parsons

Rashard Lewis

P.J Tucker

Mike Dunleavy

Carmelo Anthony

Xavier Henry

Terrence Jones

LeBron James

Channing Frye

Carlos Boozer

Amare’ Stoudomire

Pau Gasol

Dwight Howard

Chris Bosh

Miles Plumlee

Joakim Noah

Tyson Chandler

Chris Kaman

Jeremy Lin

Norris Cole

Gerald Green

Taj Gibson

Iman Shumpert

Nick Young

Above is the most common staring five + one key player off the bench for last year’s teams. To evaluate their rosters more accurately the team’s regular season record is also given. To start, Houston won 54 games playing in the tough western conference. This is no easy task, but made much less difficult with their two all-stars, James Harden and Dwight Howard. It also helps that they had Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverly doing the dirty work. Despite possible chemistry issues the Rockets have the best overall roster of the big market teams.

The Miami Heat vastly underachieved in the weak eastern conference, and only came away with the second seed. With LeBron James and Chris Bosh shouldering the work load during the regular season, and Dwayne Wade kinda-sorta helping in the playoffs they found themselves in the Finals being embarrassed on a nightly basis by the Spurs. They major problem with this squad is a lack of support from the bench and D-Wade. Unlike the last two years the Big Two Three didn’t get any surprise contributions from the non-stars on the team, which led to their exit with only one win in the Finals.

The Phoenix Suns came storming out of the gates last season, surprising just about everyone. With a lineup of misfits and the Dragon the Suns cracked the top five seeds in the West for a split-second before Eric Bledsoe’s injury. After which the Suns continued to play above .500 ball until the end of the season. I have no doubt that if Bledsoe would have not been injured, we would have taken at least the 6th seed. Unfortunately Channing has left us, so barring any trades or signings for a stretch-four *cough-cough Kevin Love* the offense will most likely take a step down from last year.

The Chicago Bulls were another pleasant surprise. They sported the same 48 win record as the Suns in the much weaker Eastern Conference, but managed to sweep us in the season series, and grabbed the 4th seed in the east. They did lose in the first round to an overachieving Wizards team.

The New York Knicks were another huge underachieving team, and with the roster they had it’s really no surprise. With off the court issues from Felton and on court issues between shoelaces and J.R Smith the Knicks locker room fell apart. Mike Woodson wasn’t exactly the greatest coach to put the pieces back together, but there is no excuse for what happened in New York. One thing was made clear this season, Carmelo Anthony cannot carry a team to victory.

The Lakers have the one of the greatest lineups we have seen so far…if it was 2006. The Lakers starting lineup is a retirement home for used-to-be all-stars, and some trouble making youngsters who wouldn’t start on the 2011 Bobcats. Well, okay, they aren’t that bad, but still. With Nash and Kobe injured the only two players with any real talent are Pau Gasol and Swaggy P. Which is still not much to go on.

With the Lakers and Knicks having no real shot at contention without LeBron and/or Carmelo it looks like you do not need to be in contention to be a big market team.

Teams Legacy

Houston

Miami

Phoenix

Chicago

New York

Los Angeles

2

3

0

6

2

16

Past championship teams on the other hand, do make a destination. Well, that’s what the stats say. With Houston, Miami, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles all having won more championships than the Suns (grand total of zero) this is the one stat that separates Phoenix from the field. Now I’m not saying is that by winning a championship you become a "Big Market", because how often do you here a LeBron type player interviewing there. But Phoenix could be another story. Phoenix passes the eye test in every other aspect but this.

Resolution

The most likely solution to this is keep building how we’ve been building. Keep acquiring you talent for cheap, and draft for potential, not for immediate impact. Phoenix is close to finding that winning formula to get us a ring or two. We’ve waited over 46 years for a championship, we can wait a few more.

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