It’s not fun to be excluded.
That especially goes for the NBA playoffs and when it’s only by a single game.
The Phoenix Suns finished their 2013-14 campaign with a 48-34 record, improving vastly from last year’s 25-win season.
So should fans feel dissatisfied in a team that quickly turned it around, but failed to execute a late season push for a final playoff seed?
ESPN NBA Insider Jon Barry says it is surely “disappointing,” but it was a year that marked incredible strides for the team.
“I can’t even explain how unbelievable of a job that they did this year,” Barry told Doug and Wolf of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Jeff Hornacek is my coach of the year. They were predicted no better than 29th out of 30 teams by everybody you talked to before the season. They had an incredible year. The three games they had down the stretch, had they won two of them they were in, in San Antonio they were up 21, they were up double-digits in Dallas and in the Memphis game the crowd had great energy and they gave it everything they had.”
In Hornacek’s first year coaching, the team found help from first-year Suns like Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and Eric Bledsoe, whom all had career-best years.
“They have nothing to be ashamed of that they aren’t in the playoffs,” Barry said. “It was an incredible season and it’s a very, very important offseason.”
Channing Frye is slated to make $6.8 million next year with the Suns if he decides not to test free agency. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent — meaning the Suns can match any other team’s offer — and P.J. Tucker’s contract will also expire, making him a free agent.
The team also holds three first-round draft picks.
Needless to say, the Suns have a busy offseason ahead of them.
“What are you going to do with this group? You have to be careful,” Barry said. “There’s something to be said about chemistry. It’s not about ‘hey, we just go add one star player and he’s going to fit right in’. These guys played in a role this year and they have a lot of flexibility, draft picks and money to spend. I think [Ryan] McDonough is in a great job and hopefully he does it wisely and they become a team that is somebody to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.”