I can’t see the light, but I believe it’s there…and no, I don’t think it’s an oncoming train.
The Phoenix Suns traded Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown and Kendall Marshall for an under-achieving injured center and a draft pick. It doesn’t sound like a good deal. I love it.
Draft. Draft. Draft.
There were two incidents that caused me to lose faith in the Suns.
Steve Kerr got this team within a bad box-out of Ron Artest of a home Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals to close out the Lakers and advance to the NBA Finals. Robert Sarver not only didn’t re-sign Kerr to a contract extension, but then compounded the mistake by thinking he was qualified to be an NBA GM.
As much as fans like to blame Lon Babby and Lance Blanks for global warming, the economy and the Obamacare website, it was Sarver that brought in 47 small forwards to replace Amar’e Stoudemire. It was Sarver that declared the organization was going to be built on free agency. It was Sarver who hinted they were spending too much money flying around the world for NBA Draft scouting. He wanted to spend the money on scouting free agents.
If you’re a long-time listener to the show, you’ll remember I lost my mind on the Aaron Brooks/Goran Dragic trade. Although I wasn’t a fan of Brooks, I recognized at the time that Dragic was struggling. It was fair to wonder if he would ever be a consistent contributor. What blew my mind was the ignorance of including a first-round pick.
Lance Blanks was so bad at talent evaluation that he agreed with the Rockets that a 1st round pick needed to be included to even out the deal. I can get over one bad trade but the idea that draft picks are so invaluable that they can be traded for Aaron Brooks, used to select Markieff Morris over Kawhi Leonard and Kendall Marshall over any other player is so asinine that I know an organization will never see the light of day on that path.
Those days are gone. I’d like to say they’re long gone, but they’re not. They’re recent enough that the pain will be felt for years. The best way to explain how painful: I think it will be 2016 before you see the number 40 in the win column (notice I said “I think,” because I’m not even sure about that). Obviously, I’m not doing much of a sales job for a future to support but two things keep happening that has re-earned my faith in the Suns.
Ryan McDonough loves the draft. Ryan McDonough is good at the draft. Ryan McDonough keeps accumulating more assets for the draft. Ryan McDonough will make mistakes in the draft. It’s just reality. The difference is the work will be there. The prep time will be exhaustive. With four first-round picks, he could miss on two of them and still change 40 percent of his starting lineup, and there’s no way you’ll get me to believe he’ll miss on two of them.
Robert Sarver is letting basketball people be basketball people. As bad as Lance Blanks was as a GM, Sarver was involved but not meddling. When he was “too” involved, he was right (see Goran Dragic). For a guy who couldn’t wait to throw money at Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick, there has only been one bad contract in the last 3 years and the Beasley deal is completely on Babby and Blanks. Sarver has a long way to go to rectify the pain endured by Suns fans due to some of his past decisions but he deserves credit for improving.
For those of you that are hard core Suns fans, I can’t imagine how depressing it is to read a blog from some idiot who says, “You gotta believe! The Ring is the thing in ’17!”
The power vacuum after the firing of Kerr, the hiring of Lance Blanks and the decision by Babby and Blanks to delay the re-build caused that much damage.
The off-the-court pain is over. It will be seen on-the-court for years to come. This will not be easy, yet I believe there is light. I think we’ll come out of this with an owner who listens and doesn’t meddle, a team president who sets us up for the future by blocking the Childress deals of the past, and a general manager who embraces the draft with the expected ability to excel in draft execution.
There’s no shame if you admit you don’t have the patience to be a fan during this time. If you can suck it up, it will be that much sweeter, though. Rock bottom was the hiring of Lindsay Hunter and kicking Dan Majerle to the curb. Every step taken since the firing of Lance Blanks has been back up the mountain. The avalanche is over.