Last Friday’s trade of Marcin Gortat might have been an unofficial announcement that the Phoenix Suns are in full rebuild mode and setting their sights more on the future than on the season before them.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek agreed Wednesday on Arizona Sports 620’s The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta that wins will be hard to come by for his team in 2013-14, but that he thinks fans can tell the Suns have a long-term plan in place.
“I think the best thing is to have fans who are excited by the outlook,” he said. “Whether you win or lose, fans are great when they just come out and support you. And the reason they support you is when you’re playing hard (and) you’re playing together.”
Hornacek continued to emphasize that the effort his players will put into the games will give fans a good reason to come out and watch them at US Airways Center.
“Sometimes you may not win the games, but most people that come to these games, they want to see a team that’s just going out there and putting it all out between the lines,” the first-year head coach said. “And hopefully our guys will do that and get the backing of the fans. And as we progress through this rebuilding, the fans do it with us.”
When asked about what he likes about his squad compared to last year’s roster, Hornacek touted his team’s athleticism and the types of offensive sets in which the players can excel.
“I think we’re more athletic than the team was last year. We have a couple point guards (Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe) who can really push the ball,” the coach said. “(They’re) very good in pick and rolls. We have bigs who can roll to the basket hard.
“To us, we think it’s a big advantage going against a lot of these teams, because (Dragic and Bledsoe) are both very good in pick and rolls. And if we can get them out in the open court and set those quick screens on them, we should have 4-on-3 opportunities quite a bit.”
Despite having one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, Hornacek emphasized that the Suns aren’t just going to roll over and die this season to get a better draft pick, and that he and his assistant coaches are used to having success in the league.
“It’d be very difficult for us to ever say, ‘We don’t want to win.’ We’re all out there battling, trying to do our best — to prepare our best,” he said. “You know, Jerry Sloan [who coached Hornacek while he played for Utah Jazz] always used to tell us if you can, after the game, come in that locker room, look in the mirror and say, ‘I laid it all out there,’ and you lost, then so be it. So that’s the attitude we have to have. Hopefully, if we play as hard as we can and play together, then we’re going to win a fair share of games.”
The Suns coach also said general manager Ryan McDonough’s plan for the team goes deeper than simply making it to the playoffs year after year.
“Talking to Ryan, he goes, ‘I want to win a championship,'” Hornacek said. “And we may have to take a little step backwards to get there, but with the accumulation of draft picks, possible trade scenarios…we have a lot of positives that we can use. And as soon as we get this thing going in the right direction, big time free agents (will) want to come to Phoenix. And I think they’ll help speed up the process of getting back to where we should be.”