Former Suns’ superstar Steve Nash and head coach Mike D’Antoni will return to Phoenix on Wednesday night when the underachieving Los Angeles Lakers come to the Valley.
This will be Nash’s first visit back to Phoenix since he was dealt to LA in a sign-and-trade deal this offseason. The Suns have seen a great deal of turnover since the former face of their franchise departed for a division rival, including the firing of head coach Alvin Gentry.
While the Suns’ troubles may not come as a shock, the Lakers’ tumultuous season certainly does.
Interim head coach Lindsey Hunter said while he is surprised by how the Lakers have performed this year, he can see how managing supreme egos can be troublesome.
“It’s a lot of dominance on the floor so who’s going to decide how you play, that’s hard and I think right now they are starting to find that happy medium with those guys,” Hunter said.
Despite the Lakers’ underwhelming 19-25 start, Hunter is not taking this matchup lightly.
“They have potentially three Hall of Famers right now on that team, so I think they’ll be good,” Hunter stated. “I know the problems they pose to us. So we just got to deal with them the way that we plan to and hopefully that’ll give us a chance to kind of compete with them.”
Suns’ point guard Goran Dragic, who was a student under Nash for two-and-a-half years early in his career, also didn’t expect the Lakers to struggle the way they have thus far.
“I am surprised a little bit especially before the season with them bringing in Dwight Howard and [Nash] and all those guys and everybody was talking about them and how powerful they were going to be and I was expecting them to have a better start then they have,” Dragic said.
But while the Lakers are trying to find cohesiveness among their stockpile of stars, the Suns are trying to win without one.
“You have to find chemistry. It doesn’t matter if you have superstars or not. It’s tough but still we have to battle and try to find a solution,” Dragic stated.
Hunter knows his players have a tall task ahead but he expects they will come ready to battle.
“Anytime [Bryant]’s on the floor that’s a problem, [Howard]’s a problem but hey that’s why you play the game. It’s fun to get to challenge guys like that. I think our guys will say the same,” Hunter said.