You've read all of the headlines. You've seen all of the speculation. But now, the start of the 2015-2016 NBA season is upon us, and your Phoenix Suns are officially back.
The Suns have made a lot of news over the past year, including in the off-season, but not exactly for the right reasons.
When we last saw the team, they were coming off of yet another disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs. And they once again fell into the late lottery, where they seem to have set up permanent residence over most of the last few years.
But the biggest news over the past few months concerned the lone remaining twin left on the Suns roster, Markieff Morris.
In case you've been hiding under a rock, or in a late-lottery induced coma, Markieff was nary too happy with the Suns organization after trading away his twin brother Marcus Morris during Phoenix's oh-so-close, yet ultimately failed pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge during free agency.
And well...let's just say he wasn't too shy of foretelling his own NBA future that would not be in Phoenix.
However, who was the first player to step up to the podium at Suns' Media Day today? You guessed it...Markieff...in Phoenix...in a Suns uniform.
Let the Awkwardness Begin
Markieff Morris started the press conference saying that he doesn't want to talk about the past, and that he was "looking forward to the upcoming season" and that he "wants to be here". Keef also stated that he "Glad to be back with his teammates and back with the team".
Unsurprisingly, Keef refused to answer any specifics about his feelings, or his communications with the Suns. In fact, the only time he addressed the Suns trading of Marcus at all was when he was asked how difficult it will be not playing with his brother, to which he responded, "I've gotten better every year that I've been in the league, and will continue to get better with or without my brother".
When asked about his concerns over the fans' reactions to his comments this summer, he only stated that "We're going to get back." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but perhaps Keef anticipates that he and the fans will "get back" to having a positive relationship...at least that's my best guess.
Keef went on to speak in mostly platitudes...with the usual responses of, "The ultimate goal is to make the playoffs." "I feel like we're going to be better", and so forth. However, he also gave some insightful answers into his relationship with certain people.
Keef seemed most emphatic about his responses toward Tyson Chandler, saying that "this is his 15th season, he's seen a lot and done a lot, and he's been on a couple of different teams". He continued, "we're super excited to have him and he's going to help (the Suns) in the locker room and show us the way".
When asked about his confidence in Hornacek, Keef said that he was "super confident" and that they have "a great relationship". However, when asked about his relationship with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, he said to "ask him that".
Markieff did say that he worked on "shooting three-pointers for the most part" this off-season, and admitted that he "shot it terribly" last year, while vowing to "shoot them better this year".
Keef didn't have much else to say, and didn't grant any one-on-one interviews today...even shunning his biggest fan, our own Jim Coughenour, when he asked if Keef would read a promo for the BSOTS podcast (at least he tried).
But luckily, there were still many other Suns' players and personnel willing to talk with us today...Here are some of my thoughts:
Everyone Loves Tyson Chandler
If there was a common theme in today's media circus, it was that Tyson Chandler is a God among men. Ok, maybe that's a bit much. But seriously, the players and coaches seems to absolutely adore him.
People couldn't stop talking about how much of an influence he is going to have on the team, and what he will bring to the offense and defense. Players and coaches alike seemed genuinely excited and impressed with all things Chandler. And from a media perspective, I can tell you that we are all going to love him too (he gives great interviews).
Watch Out For Weems
Another name that seemed to be on everyone's lips was that of newcomer Sonny Weems. I didn't get the chance to talk to Sonny today, but I almost feel as if I did, judging by how many times his name was brought up during my many conversations with players and staff.
The thing they all seemed to agree on is that he just knows how to play, and can affect the game on both ends of the court. They talked about his energy and hustle, as well as his defense. He seems to have already made quite the impression in his short time here.
The Suns Have Size
Alex Len seems to continue to get taller each year I talk to him. I swear he's at least an inch and a half taller than me now (or maybe I'm shrinking?). But Dave noticed it too, so I think I'm in the clear...whew!
But seriously, Len looks not only taller, but bigger...again. Long gone is that thin frame that he was drafted out of college with. He's a big, strong, pure center.
And hey, the Suns got even bigger adding another 7'1" big body in Tyson Chandler. The most exciting aspect of this season in my opinion will be watching how Len benefits from Tyson's mentoring. They both seem to be very open and receptive to working with each other, and I'm already hearing great things (more on this in another article soon).
Love Is In the Air
Media day is always a happy occasion. They haven't lost a game, nobody is complaining about lack of playing time, and everyone has high hopes for the coming year. However, Dave and I were talking about how the team genuinely seems to have a positive feeling surrounding themselves right now. Heck, even Keef was all smiles today...at least, for the most part (see picture above for evidence).
Again, it's hard to judge...I personally thought last year's team had a nice rapport going at last year's media day as well, and we all know how that turned out. But still, I kept hearing the words, "chemistry", "balanced", and "depth at all positions" which gives me a little more hope going into this season that it isn't all just smoke and mirrors...we shall see.
The Bright Side of the Sun crew will be bringing you plenty of more articles, interviews, and videos of today's event very soon, but hopefully this was enough to whet your appetite while holding you over in the meantime.
There were a lot of great quotes and candid insights into the team this season, and I think we will all have our unique takes on various aspects which we will be sharing with you shortly.
Until then...Go Suns!