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Arizona Sports’ top headlines of 2017: The year of the NBA trade rumor

Thank the Phoenix Suns for making 2017 all about the trade rumor.

Or maybe don’t thank them.

While the Suns ultimately traded starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, the franchise kept its name in the headlines throughout the 2017 calendar year. Often times, all the talk didn’t lead to massive changes.

But people were interested. To put a bow on 2017, we looked at what our readers read most. Then, we skimmed off stories that weren’t breaking news — sorry jersey unveilings, a shredded referee and obsessive Blaine Gabbert interest from our readers. We also didn’t include stories that were redundant.

With the number of readers on each story guiding us, here are the top headlines of the year 2017 in Arizona sports.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks clinch first postseason spot since 2011

The D-backs’ playoff push aided by J.D. Martinez’s historic season was among the most-followed stories of the year. Still, when it became officially official on Sept. 24, readers needed to see it on their computer screens to believe it.

19. Arizona Cardinals release LB Daryl Washington

The Cardinals’ 2010 second-round pick who hadn’t played in the NFL since 2013 because of suspensions was cleared by the league to return, but after meeting with the linebacker, they ultimately decided to part ways.

18. Celtics forward Jae Crowder takes shot at Suns, Devin Booker fires back

Then 20 years old, Devin Booker turned the Boston crowd in his favor March 24 by dropping 70 points on the Celtics. It was wild. And when the NBA’s Instagram account posted a picture of the Suns celebrating the guard’s historic game, Boston forward Jae Crowder wrote: “NEVER SEEN SO MANY GUYS HAPPY AFTER AN ‘L.'” In a fine example of the power of the NBA’s social media footprint, Booker responded: “you can’t guard me.” Suns fans loved it.

17. Suns’ Bledsoe, No. 4 pick included in Cavs’ trade talks for George

It begins. The Suns popped up as a team involved in many significant talks as stars like Paul George and Kyrie Irving hit the trade block. After Irving requested a trade, he was not only a logical target of the Suns. Phoenix was also a potential third party to potential blockbusters as Paul George and Jimmy Butler emerged as other players looking for new homes.

16. Report: Herm Edwards expected to be named Arizona State football coach

So that was odd. Rumored to be chasing an NFL coach, Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director Ray Anderson instead tabbed the ESPN analyst that was last on the sideline in 2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs. When the deal was made official, ASU touted a new leadership model structured like an NFL team to help Edwards’ football program.

15. Todd Graham fired as Arizona State football coach

Despite a rebound 7-5 season and win over rival Arizona to cap it off, ASU fired Graham after his sixth season on the job.

14. Knicks asked for Booker, No. 4 pick in exchange for Porzingis

Under then-president Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks were open to trading star big man Kristaps Porzingis. One option: Taking back Phoenix’s Booker. Of course, the Suns wanted Porzingis … but to pair him with Booker. Jackson was later relieved of his duties.

13. Shane Doan retires after 21-year career with Coyotes

The Captain called it a career after 21 NHL Seasons, but not after an unfortunate breakup with the only franchise he’s ever known.

12. Cardinals’ Carson Palmer out at least eight weeks with broken arm

It wasn’t a pretty trip to London. The Cardinals saw their starting quarterback leave with a broken arm in a 33-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and it put Palmer’s future in question heading into the offseason.

11. David Johnson suffers MCL sprain in Cardinals season finale 

It’s easy to forget Johnson had this knee injury last season on the first day of 2017 before the wrist injury in Week 1 of this season that had him miss the rest of the season.

10. Final Four attendance at University of Phoenix Stadium tops 77K

Glendale hosted Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon and North Carolina in the Final Four. The Tar Heels beat the Zags 71-65 in the national championship game, but the 77,612 in attendance for the semifinal games fell just short of the record.

9. Cardinals trade up to select S Budda Baker in second round of NFL Draft

In what turned into one of the bright spots for Arizona this season, the trade up to draft Baker out of Washington ended up paying dividends for a banged up secondary.

8. Eric Bledsoe sent home, does not expect to play for Suns again

After sending a tweet that read “I Dont wanna be here” Bledsoe said he was referring to a hair salon. His general manager thought it was about his spot on the Suns. Ryan McDonough sent Bledsoe home, then weeks later traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for a protected draft pick and center Greg Monroe.

7. Rapoport: Cardinals offered Campbell more than $10 million per season

The longest-tenured Cardinal left the nest as a free agent this offseason. Despite what was apparently a reasonable offer from Arizona, Calais Campbell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and put together arguably his best season yet.

6. Earl Watson fired as Suns head coach three games into 2017-18

Two 40-point losses and three games into the year, Phoenix cut ties with coach Earl Watson and replaced him with interim Jay Triano.

5. QB Bryce Perkins to transfer from ASU to Arizona Western

Sun Devil Nation didn’t know whether Manny Wilkins or Blake Barnett would win the starting quarterback battle, but they reacted with interest when Bryce Perkins left. He since committed to play at Virginia.

4. Reports: Arizona Cardinals looking into signing QB Blaine Gabbert

Eventually signed as the third-string quarterback, Gabbert watched from the sidelines as Arizona put together a shaky start to the year. Behind an injury-battered offensive line, Gabbert was thrust into a starting role midway through the year and stayed there for five games before backup Drew Stanton reclaimed his starting spot in Week 16.

3. Brandon Knight not playing for rest of season, refused to play for Suns against Kings

In what was an odd side story of the Suns shutting down Bledsoe in the backend of 2016-17, the team asked Brandon Knight to play after he’d sat since the All-Star break. But he’d begun going through offseason workout regiments to stay in shape, and the team ruled him out with back issues when he said he was unable to play. McDonough later said it was blown out of proportion, but Knight didn’t suit up again in 2016-17 before tearing his ACL in the offseason.

2. Report: Free agents Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap will meet with Suns

Narrator: They didn’t.

1. Suns, Kings have had trade discussions about DeMarcus Cousins

This didn’t go down, either, but the prospects of Phoenix landing one of the best big men in the NBA took over until Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on All-Star weekend. Cousins and New Orleans are still feeling one another out, but his impending free agency this upcoming offseason could put him right back into the market for a new team soon, along with potentially more rumors of interest from the Suns.

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