I don't care about making the playoffs and I want to pretend for a minute that financial considerations are not going to impact basketball operations (Yes, I also live in a fantasy world where I believe the "Senate Ethics Committee" is not an oxymoron and may actually police its members).
Can you -- do you want to -- imagine 7 Seconds or Shaq with Amare and LB back in the mix?
In all honesty, I don't know how I'm voting. I'm still on the fence. Whatever position I take today will probably change tomorrow.
For all the grief we've given Amare, he was still getting over 20 points a game. With Gentry running the show, why wouldn't he average close to 30? On this point, notice how Nash has gone from, "I've got a lot of mouths to feed," to "I need to be more assertive and get some points." Coincidence or the lack of Stoudemire? If he were still around, there'd be a lot less hand-wringing and furrowed brows about the playoffs. There'd also be a little more optimism than, "If the Suns make the playoffs, they shouldn't be huge underdogs for Game 3 against the Lakers."
I'm still waiting to see if the guys get tired without LB. More than anything else, he can carry the offensive load and offensive energy for periods of the game. This helps during long stretchs of closely-bunched games. I guess we'll find out over the next 3 games.
If the team gets blown up, we're going to get a lot of "hustle play" from guys like Amundson and a lot of fumbled passes from guys like Amundson. Do you want to see that for the next 2-3 years or do you want to bring a team together that could be a dark horse in 2010 and then see Amundson fumbling passes for 2-3 years? Are you good with just delaying the inevitable or is it time to man-up and take your medicine?
Given that it's essentially a foregone conclusion that an 8-seed/lottery team should not pay an 8-figure luxury tax, someone will probably have to go. Mainly because of my affection for the players over the last 5 years, I'd get rid of the overly-expensive new guy. However, I'm thinking doing that unthinkable is the easiest thing to do in regard to other teams' willingness to wheel-and-deal. If that is what happens, Barbosa seems to play better when he emulates Tony Parker than when he emulates Steve Nash (I'm not making comparisons, I'm telling you who LB should emulate). If Hill sticks around, that's a pretty good starting five with a solid bench (as we've seen over the last month).
Even that squad, though, is probably not a top-four team in next year's Western Conference. Maybe -- maybe -- good enough to compete for the fourth spot. With that squad in the 4-spot, Hollinger probably gives you a 13.63982715% chance of winning the title.
Over the last week, I've seen enough of the team working together to give me hope for next season. I'm just worried that I'm setting myself up for another season of frustration.