Change is coming in Phoenix.
Elfrid Payton joined the Suns early last month courtesy of a trade with the Orlando Magic. He knows that when the 2018-19 NBA campaign tips off he may not be in Phoenix. He knows the same reality exists for head coach Jay Triano.
Elfrid Payton is ready to face his former team, the Orlando Magic, on Saturday night. Story: https://t.co/sEp65kggoy.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) March 23, 2018
“So I do think it’s a great opportunity for me learning as much as I can from Jay in this bit of time that we have. I do like what I see from him as a coach. So I’m just trying to soak up as much information as possible while I can, because the harsh reality is that either one of us could be gone at the end of this season.”
Harsh indeed. The Suns were suffering historically bad losses before Payton arrived. After his addition to the lineup, the narrative has not changed.
He’s remaining positive though, with a franchise that’s made that exceptionally difficult the last several seasons.
“I think they have a lot of talent over here, a lot of young guys that can play and are still learning the game,” Payton said.
Well, that’s the right thing to say anyway isn’t it?
Payton has 16 games in a Suns uniform on his resume. They’ve lost 15 of those contests. He’s been unable to avoid the Phoenix flu, for which only Devin Booker seems to possess the appropriate antibodies. His field goal percentage has dropped from 52% in Orlando this year to 45% in Phoenix. His three-point percentage went from 37% to 22%. His turnovers per game are up from 2.6 to 3.1.
Is Payton an example of a good player inserted in a losing culture who has become the worst version of himself or is he actually bad? There’s a significant roster overhaul brewing, so perhaps we’ll never know.
Payton and Phoenix are staggering to the finish line in the 50th season of Suns basketball. The Cavs are next, tip is at 7:30p Friday night. Saturday Phoenix visits Payton’s old employer in Orlando. Then eight games remain. Hang in there.