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Updated Jan 19, 2012 - 9:45 pm

Are the Suns finally ready to trade Nash, hit rock bottom?

Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that’s the reality of it.

January 18, 2012 could one day be looked at as the date
when the Phoenix Suns, as a franchise, saw its fortunes
finally turned around.

It has nothing to do with the team’s 91-88 win in New York
over the Knicks, a victory that snapped a five-game losing
streak and gave the team a victory over the player whose
departure set in motion the events that led to this
season’s disaster.

No, what happened Wednesday didn’t even happen in New York
– sort of. A guest on Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf,
Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said 18
words that could mean the team is finally, earnestly,
ready to look towards the future.

“Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that’s the reality of it,” he said.

Maybe Babby was talking about the losing streak, which
even the best teams are known to suffer through from time
to time. Or, perhaps, he was talking about the nature of
being a good team in the NBA, as the cycle usually looks
something like this:

Be bad –> Get young talent –> Groom young
talent –> Compete for a title –> Watch young talent
leave, veterans age –> Blow it up –> Go back to step
one.

The Suns went through this – sort of – to get where they
are today. Their down period wasn’t long, as they went
from being a 29-win team in 2003 to winning 62 games in
2004, and haven’t had consecutive losing seasons since the
mid-80s.

Granted, losing big is no guarantee of future success,
though it’s generally the way to go in the NBA. The top
five teams in each conference boast at least one player
who was a top three selection in his respective draft
class, with some of the best squads featuring multiple
players of that ilk.

Pretty much, without at least one of these players the
chances of winning a title are about as high as Alvin
Gentry’s faith in Josh Childress is strong.

The problem is, the Suns are not going to get that guy
through free agency, and they don’t exactly have the right
mix of players with which to put together a respectable
offer from.

No, if the Suns are going to get that top three pick it’s
going to be because they “earn” a top three selection,
which means the team will need to be rather bad at some
point in the future. There was a time when it seemed like
the team was unwilling to sink that far, though now it may
really be out of their hands.

Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that’s the reality of it.

While no Suns fan in their right mind wants to see the
Suns become the new-age Clippers, it’s a smart enough
group to understand how the NBA works. If the ultimate
goal is to win a title, chances are the Suns will have to
hit rock bottom. And sorry, folks, but they’re not at that
point. Yet.

As John
Gambadoro pointed out
, the Suns aren’t
likely to receive an appealing offer for Steve Nash. No
team with loads of young talent will part with any of it
for a veteran who will likely bolt at the end of the
season, and the best teams in the league don’t exactly
have quality assets to send the Suns’ way.

But moving Nash won’t be about getting better, and,
unfortunately, it probably shouldn’t be about “freeing” the
point guard, as Paul Calvisi wrote
. Any trade will be
designed in part to help the Suns bottom out as soon as
possible. Sure, an extra draft pick would be nice, but a
high selection in one of the most loaded drafts in years
would do wonders for the team’s rebuilding process.

In other words, the sooner the Suns bottom out, the sooner
they can begin building back up. The Suns have never
really done that – even under Jerry Colangelo – always
instead choosing to swing a trade or sign free agents,
hoping that would get them to the top. That hasn’t really
worked before, and the strategy isn’t really an option
now.

Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that’s the reality of it.

It’s a reality the
Celtics’ Danny Ainge
has seemed to embrace, yet one
the Suns have been slow to acknowledge. It appears that
may no longer be the case anymore.

Good for them.

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