Back in the day, the Phoenix Suns were a premier destination for free agents.
Players like Danny Ainge, A.C. Green, Danny Manning and Wayman Tisdale took less money than they could have received from other teams in order to join the Suns, which allowed the team to consistently be among the NBA’s best.
However, it has been a while since the Suns landed a highly-coveted free agent, with perhaps Steve Nash — whom they offered more money to in order to pry him away from the Dallas Mavericks — being their most notable big-time acquisition.
According to NBA analyst Charles Barkley, the team’s success in the open market isn’t likely to change soon.
“There are no players coming to Phoenix,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “They can forget that because they’re not a contender and they’re not close to being a contender.”
No doubt, the team’s run in the mid-’90s, in which it was one of the NBA’s elite franchises, helped attract free agents.
Ainge joined the team in 1992 after it had already acquired Barkley via a trade and Green signed on in 1993 after the Suns went to the NBA Finals. Manning and Tisdale were added in 1994 following a 56-win campaign.
Nowadays, the Suns are a 39-win club that has missed the playoffs in each of the last five seasons. And while living in the Valley may offer some appeal — especially compared to some other cities — it alone is not enough to woo the league’s top talent.
So the idea of the Suns landing a player like Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Memphis’ Marc Gasol, while nice, is probably not particularly realistic.
“First of all, there are so many more teams that have got so much money,” Barkley added. “When that new TV deal kicks in everybody is going to be flush with money.
“The Suns, they’ve still got two point guards, so it’s not an attractive situation right now, to be honest with you.”