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Many former Phoenix Suns still in the NBA playoffs, but Kerr, Gentry, Griffin might have last laugh

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has a lot of roster churn, year over year. Most rosters are turned over within three to four years, so it's no surprise that every NBA team has a lot of former players on someone else's playoff roster.

Some of us added them up across the SB Nation blogs. The Sixers blogger counts 22 former Sixers that made the playoffs this year. The Kings had 20. The Mavericks and Grizzlies had 15 apiece. The Nuggets had 13. The Jazz had only nine.

How many do the Phoenix Suns have? A lot. Seventeen, by my count. Many of whom moved on to the second round.

Eastern Conference (10)

Still alive in the Second Round

Marcin Gortat (Washington), Aaron Brooks (Chicago), Shawn Marion and James Jones (Cleveland)

The Eastern Conference's final four teams boast one former Suns player in a starting lineup (Gortat) and three bit players. Former Suns Assistant GM David Griffin, who'd spent 17 with the Suns before leaving in the summer of 2010, now runs the Cavaliers. He brought Raja Bell into the fold in the front office and signed Marion and Jones for bench duty on the last legs of their careers.

Gortat has made the playoffs both years since being traded from the Suns in October of 2013. Brooks has made it twice as well, since leaving in 2011. Marion and Jones each has tasted the playoffs nearly every year since leaving, but best of all have won championship rings with Dallas and Miami, respectively.

Out in first round

Isaiah Thomas (Boston), Miles PlumleeTyler Ennis and Jared Dudley (Milwaukee), Joe Johnson and Earl Clark (Brooklyn)

Four players traded from the Suns on February 20 of this year made the playoffs in the East, though they bowed out in the first round. Of the players traded this year, Thomas had the biggest role leading the Celtics to a great finish. Plumlee and Ennis hardly saw the court in the playoffs. Jared Dudley has seen the playoffs both years since leaving the Suns in 2013 in the Bledsoe trade. We all know Joe Johnson has made an annual pilgrimage to the playoffs since leaving in 2005, while even Earl Clark has tasted playoffs four of the past five years since leaving the Suns.

Western Conference Second Round (7)

Still alive in the Second Round

Vince Carter (Memphis), Leandro Barbosa (Golden State), Matt Barnes and Hedo Turkoglu (LA Clippers)

The West's final four teams also boast one starter (Barnes) who used to be a Phoenix Sun, plus three important role players off the bench. Well, two at least (Barbosa and Carter). Barnes has been in the playoffs all but two years of his entire career, including every year since 2010. Barbosa, who left in 2010 right after Steve Kerr and David Griffin, has made the playoffs twice in the past five years. Carter, former honoree of the CTLVOF, has made the playoffs three times since leaving the Suns in 2011.

Out in first round

Robin Lopez (Portland), Boris Diaw (San Antonio) and Amare Stoudemire (Dallas)

The Suns had a 21 year old prototypically-sized center with injury issues that they eventually gave up on before he fully recovered and grew into one of the better starting centers in the West. That guy's name was Robin Lopez, who has made the playoffs in two of three years since leaving the Suns in 2012. Diaw languished in Charlotte for a bit after leaving in a huff in 2009 and has found a home with the Spurs, making the playoffs the last four consecutive years there. Amare has made the playoffs for two different teams since leaving in 2010, including Dallas this season.

Lots of post-Suns success

That's 17 former Phoenix Suns players (5 starters) who have made more playoff appearances than the Suns in the past five years. Three of whom own championship rings (Marion, Jones, Diaw). Most of whom are quality rotation guys.

None is a star today, though Amare, Marion and JJ were still stars when they left the Valley. Of the three, only JJ is still in a starting role.

Some have gotten better since leaving the Suns. Gortat, Lopez, Barnes and Joe Johnson all have been major impact players for their later teams. Isaiah Thomas will likely join these ranks.

Even exiled executives are having fun

A sign of a good franchise is that your former staffers have success after leaving the organization. No, I'm not talking Lance Blanks here. But many folks who used to walk the halls of US Airways Center are doing just fine since leaving.

In fact, it's quite possible that the 2015 NBA Finals will pit the three most important management folks from the last Suns playoff team (2009-10) against each other for a title they couldn't win here.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr walked into a perfect situation in Golden State and made it even better. He hired Alvin Gentry to his staff and together they made the Warriors one of the best teams of the 21st century overnight. They tried to win a title in Phoenix, most notably with the 2009-10 team, but couldn't do it. Now they are coaching a ready-made team that only added Barbosa and Shawn Livingston since last year.

In the other conference, Cleveland GM David Griffin opened the door for LeBron James, but didn't sit on his hands before or after that. He made trade after trade to surround James with a winnable rotation in his first year on the job rather than waiting to see how it played out. In the Least, that might be enough to get all the way to the Finals.

Both Kerr and Griffin have had good fortune with their current franchises, to be sure. Kerr stepped onto a successful team with a budding MVP in the fold, while Griffin himself stumbled into the greatest player of a generation. But both made a good situation a lot better.

Five years after leaving the Suns, Griffin and Kerr might have the last laugh. With Alvin Gentry, the Brazilian Blur and Raja Bell sitting in that room with them.

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