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The West is wide open after Warriors injuries but the Suns should play the long game

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals are over and while the series provided us beautiful moments of basketball, it also gave us moments of horror. In the last two games, the Warriors lost stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to two gruesome injuries, a torn Achilles and a torn ACL.

Obviously this is a terrible moment for everyone as these men are deprived of up to a year playing the game they love in their prime, fans will be deprived of their greatness and the Warriors are forced to play without two of its three best players next season.

While this is a tragedy for the Warriors, the 2019-20 season will come and this provides the West with something it hasn’t had in years: a championship window. With how badly the Warriors got bitten by the injury bug, the top teams like the Rockets, the Blazers, the Nuggets and others have an opening to chase a title. It’s similar to how the Eastern Conference opened up once LeBron James left last year and we should see these teams make moves similar to their Eastern counterpart.

For a team like the Nuggets, it could gamble on trading for Anthony Davis much like the Raptors gambled on Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers with LeBron James will most likely go even more into win-now mode since this year could be the King’s best chance to win ring number four. The Thunder could try to ship Steven Adams to Washington for Bradley Beal to try and make a deep push this postseason. The West is practically wide open and every team will most likely try to exploit that opening for themselves, especially after seeing the Raptors’ gamble pay off with a title.

So where does that leave the Phoenix Suns? The Suns are not a good team right now, having not posted a winning record since 2014. The Suns are young but have a lot of talented pieces that alongside new coach Monty Williams, could have had an interesting 2019 season before the Warriors were smacked with injuries.

The Suns are still rebuilding and aren’t going to magically become playoff contenders because of that. The team could try to go after Anthony Davis but his impact on this team won’t be the same as Leonard had with a Raptors team that had consistently made the playoffs.

Sure, the team could perhaps make the playoffs with AD but with each Western team trying to make big moves and capitalize on this window, the Suns might end up in a similar position in 2014, on the outside looking in the postseason. And once the season ends, the Suns could end up with nothing to show for it and that success will only be for that brief moment. Going for a home run deal isn’t something the Suns should try to do this offseason.

However, the Suns should view this next season as a chance to stop its tanking ways and play like the Kings did this year. No one really looked at the Kings before the season started and expected them to play so well but the team did and were a few games out of the playoffs. Why can’t the Suns do the same thing? The team doesn’t need to fight for a playoff spot for the 2019 season to be a success but to compete each game and look like an actual NBA team will be a great place to start.

The Suns have some glaring holes but with the sixth pick in the draft and some cap flexibility, the team can make moves to fix it. Bring in a guy like Patrick Beverley to not only play but bring that gritty mentality and attitude to the court and locker room. Use the pick to either snatch up someone like De’Andre Hunter or Darius Garland or trade for someone like Aaron Gordon or Jrue Holiday, solid players that will help move the Suns in the right direction. Not a home run but a good deal nonetheless.

I don’t want the Suns to throw patience and caution into the wind and try to make a big splash in free agency. The rest of the West will most likely try to do that and the Suns aren’t ready to make a deep playoff run. However, the Suns shouldn’t just sit mildly by and let the entire conference walk over the team like a doormat. This next season should be the one where the Suns move from the conference cellar and fight to be middle of the pack. Fighting for a playoff spot would be incredible but ending up a few games below .500 is more realistic and the path for that starts right now.

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