The Phoenix Suns wanted to make the playoffs.
“We wanted it for ourselves, we wanted it for the community, we wanted it for our fans, we wanted it for ownership,” president of basketball operations Lon Babby told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “Because our goal is to be elite, and by that I mean compete for championships.
“And if you don’t make the tournament you can’t compete for the championship, and so any year you don’t get into that spot there’s a measure of disappointment.”
But that doesn’t mean the season, as a whole, was a disappointment. In fact, the 2013-14 Suns were anything but, surpassing all reasonable preseason expectations and coming within a game of a playoff spot in the ultra competitive Western Conference.
It was a season that restored the Suns as an entertaining team and a must-watch product, which is something that had been lost over the previous few seasons.
But the trick now will be to move forward. As fun as it was to have this team, it is now done. Some players will go and new ones will replace them, all with the goal of getting the Suns from 48-win team that just missed the playoffs to one that not only makes it into the postseason, but can produce a deep run.
“I think the sum was greater than the parts this year and that was wonderful,” Babby said. “But when expectations change and circumstances change you may not be able to count on that again. We have to get better individually and as a group.”
As Babby went on to point out, the Suns are in great position to do exactly that.
“We’ve got a lot of great assets, I don’t think anybody is in better position than we are in terms of draft choices and cap room,” he said. “And now our job is to convert that into wins.”
But that’s for the future. For now, the Suns did enough this season to restore some faith in a franchise that had appeared to lose that after a few down seasons, including last season’s 25-win campaign.
“I think the progress that we made is palpable and tangible, not the least of which is rebuilding trust in the Suns organization externally, throughout the NBA,” he said. “But much, much more importantly to me, within the Phoenix community. And even more important than that, within the walls of this building where we all come to work every day.
“I think we have been able to make so much progress that people believe in us again, believe in our front office, believe in our coaches, believe in our players. We all believe in each other, and that’s the progress that I knew we had to accomplish this year and we’ve done that.”