I am not sure what to make of this but the Suns will not practice tomorrow before their 12:30 bus to the airport thanks to Jarron Collins. After the Suns finished today Coach Gentry gathered his troops, gave a quick pep talk and reminder about how good the Kings are and asked Jarron Collins to decide if the Suns would practice tomorrow (Monday).
Jarron coming from 8 years in Utah under Jerry Sloan and only getting meaningful basketball play on the practice court, probably wanted to go but he's a smart guy so the Suns won't be practicing tomorrow.
It's a silly story but representative of the Suns mood today after one of their worst defeats of the season. While fans might be stressing out, the team was loose. Nash, Barbosa and Dragic engaged in a little free style fotbol juggling after they finished their free throws. Nash even tossed one off his right foot at the rim (missed). Generally, there was plenty of laughing and jocularity.
Of course, that all was once the doors were open. There's no telling what went on during the actual practice time but you don't get the sense that there's a lot of hangover from the Memphis game. Coach said he watched the film twice and it really came down to getting out-played in all aspects of the game. No one is happy about it but this isn't the Utah Jazz.
Punishing practices and yelling and such are just not how this team rolls. You can argue more of that's needed but with a veteran team that has high-character guys like Frye, Hill and Richardson struggling that would probably do more harm than good.
Two interesting comments from Gentry and Nash about fans and roster moves:
Gentry addressing things from the fans perspective threw this out there without being asked or prompted in any way:
"I thought the crowd was great. We've got good fans. They seem to be coming back out to the arena and we really appreciate that. It's tough when you have the crowds and they start coming back and we're almost selling out all the games now and we play like that. It doesn't make you feel real good especially knowing how tough it is right now and the appreciation we have for them even coming and watching us play right now if you look at what's going on economically. We've got to make sure if that's the case that we're giving them an honest day's work for an honest day's ticket."
Nash responding to my question about possible roster moves to make the team better. What's interesting about his answer is what he didn't say (no trades are needed) and the position he lists hypothetically:
"The hard thing I think for fans to realize sometimes is 'what roster move'. You can't just go out there and take your pick of who you want. It's not that easy. It's not like a buffet or a smorgasbord where you can just be like 'you know what, we'll take uh, we'll take a big seven-footer who can post up'. It's not as easy as it sounds especially most of the talk you hear is probably bull shit for lack of a better word. Every team would love to make roster moves to get better. I just think the reason not too many of them happen is because it's difficult. And if you look at it, how many roster moves actually really do make teams better. There's always a risk
I think we also can't lose sight of the fact that we were picked to not make the playoffs this year and we're doing OK in the big picture. I hate to say that if that's a let down for some people.
Like I said last night, Memphis, Oklahoma City. We're not really more talented than those teams anymore and it's our ability to play together and maybe our experience that allows us to beat them. We've got to just keep fighting to be cohesive on both ends of the court and be as confident and as effective as we can. I don't know that roster moves are - I don't know how many exciting one's are out there. That's the biggest thing. You never know what's possible."
That was really not the answer I was expecting from Steve. He certainly leaves the door open for trades and of course it is pretty funny that he names a 7ft low post player as the one position that comes to his mind. We can't take too much from that. It was an off-the-cuff statement and he could have been trying to be somewhat ironic or even sarcastic.
But the conclusion Steve seems to be coming to is that this team is who we thought they were before the season started. Not nearly as talented as we might hope for and needing to bring it every night to get the win. Fortunately, that's no different than the rest of the tier 2 teams out there.
Denver has lost to Milwaukee, Minnesota, Charlotte and Detroit. Utah has lost to Minnesota and Oklahoma City twice each. The Hornets are below .500. Portland and Houston are missing big portions of their rosters.
I agree with Nash. Big picture-wise the Suns are still OK and certainly making any kind of panic trade would have the greater potential for being disruptive than constructive. The Grizzlies aren't giving up Marc Gasol for Robin Lopez. Kevin Love isn't being traded to Phoenix for Leandro Barbosa. Jason Richardson isn't going anywhere.
Time to settle in and enjoy the roller coaster ride that is this Suns season. Sometimes you will be riding high and sometimes your stomach will be in your throat and you will be puking your lunch on some poor fool sitting next to you. That's sports. Very few teams roll through a season with only minor bumps in the road. Most struggle. Some struggle more than they win. The Suns are better than most and worse than many. We knew that going into this season and nothing's changed.
Other side note:
Twice this season, Coach Gentry has gone with the mock turtle-neck instead of a shirt and tie. Both games turned out bad (Memphis and New Orleans losses). Gentry said he will not be going with that look again even if he has to wear the same tie on back-to-back games.
Suns' 10-deep rotation likely won't last
"I'm not sure if we can play 10 men and have everyone be content with those minutes," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. Gentry is happy about keeping the wear down on his starters, none of whom rank in the NBA's top 50 for minutes played per game. However, there is a balance that likely will turn Lopez into a situational rotation player.
Suns dismantled by Grizzlies
Memphis was a dangerous opponent for Phoenix because its strengths were the Suns' weaknesses. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in points in the paint and second-chance points - areas where the Suns are vulnerable. But Memphis' weakness - bench play - became a plus when the Suns allowed reserve Sam Young to score 14 points in the second quarter, including nine in Memphis' 16-0 run against Phoenix's reserves that broke open the game. Young was averaging 7.5 points this season.
SUNS: Postgame Quotes: Suns vs Memphis - 01/02/2010
That was a proud moment as a coach to see the whole group focus on our game plan, even the guys who came off the bench. I don’t know if we could prepare any better for a team and have it come to fruition the way it did.
SUNS: Newsroom Notes: Suns Bitten by Grizzlies
"These are the big games really," Nash said. "The Lakers and Boston wins aren’t big games; they’re bonuses. The big games are to defeat the teams that are below you in the standings."
Karen Dalton-Beninato: NBA's Grant Hill Endorses New Orleans Mayoral Candidate
With less than a month to go before early voting opens, New Orleans mayoral candidate James Perry scored an endorsement from the NBA's Grant Hill, an All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.