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Updated Jan 19, 2012 - 2:46 pm

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

AP photo

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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