The Phoenix Suns are not what they once were.
At least, they are not, at this point in time, a championship contender with a loaded roster that is built to win.
No, as ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Monday, they are are a rebuilding team with some nice pieces but no star.
“The hardest thing to find in the NBA is the star to build around, the right star,” he said.
The Suns won just 25 games this past season, a mark that is the second lowest in the franchise’s history. They’ve missed the playoffs three years in a row after reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2010, and having parted with both head coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Lance Blanks in the last five months, it would seem like the team’s direction is a bit up in the air.
“Most in the media were shocked with the firing of Alvin Gentry,” Van Gundy said. “I thought, most people thought he did an absolutely fantastic job there.”
Gentry had guided the Suns to a 13-28 record before being dismissed.
“I think, going forward, you can change whatever perception is out there by getting it right from a roster-management perspective,” Van Gundy added. “It all comes down to that.
“You have to have an owner, a president, a GM, a coach and the best player — when you get that best player — who are totally in alignment with the vision and the values that the organization is going to stand for.”
Van Gundy noted that does not mean everyone has to agree on everything, but the important thing is no one starts pointing fingers whenever the franchise hits a bump in the road.
Whether that’s exactly what’s happening in Phoenix is unknown, but Van Gundy noted that the Suns head coaching job, as one of 30 in the league, is not necessarily a bad one, even with the recent struggles.
“It wasn’t very long ago, Phoenix was this model franchise,” he said. “They had legitimate championship-level talent.”
But that was a while ago, as the Suns are no longer that team.
“One thing you learn quickly in the NBA,” he said. “The way to get good is not to be in a constant state of change. Continuity and commitment is most imperative if you want to win big for a long period of time.”