Gambo: Time for the Suns to shake things up
Another game, another loss for the Phoenix Suns.
A season that started with so much promise after an improbable 14-3 start is crashing down upon us and you get the feeling the Suns have fallen and the can’t get up.
Just how a team could get off to such a great start and then forget how to win is mind-boggling but it is what it is.
There are now easy explanations. The Phoenix Suns are 12-18 since their remarkable start. They have blown double-digit leads eight times this month, including losing to Utah after being up by 17 late in the third quarter Monday.
They just dropped a game to a very mediocre Charlotte team at home last night. The team is reeling, their confidence is shot and their All-Star center is about to get traded.
For all intent and purposes this season is over. The Phoenix Suns will not make the playoffs this year. They are not good enough to overcome the teams ahead of them, nor are they good enough to be better than all three teams they are battling with for the 8th and final playoff spot – Houston, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
They play Dallas on Thursday and then begin a four-game road trip and I have to believe when they come back from the trip, in which they will face Houston, New Orleans, Denver and Sacramento, they will be on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
The Suns will be a lottery team without a pick in the first-round this season. And while this may all seem like doom and gloom — it’s really not. There are three weeks left before the February 18th trade deadline and it’s time for this organization to go back to the drawing board and come up with Plan B. And it’s not like Plan B isn’t already in progress.
For all those fans who are clamoring for the Suns to rebuild, I have news for you — they are. Have you noticed the emphasis being placed on developing Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and even Earl Clark.
Right before your eyes without you even realizing it the Suns have started the rebuilding process — and it’s about time.
Lopez is 21 years old and he is the starting center for the Suns. He has started the last six games and has played so well that the Suns finally have a bright future at a position that has always been a weakness for them.
Dragic is 23 years old and has played 20 or more minutes in six of the last nine games. He had a career-high 32 against Utah on Monday night when he was clearly the best player on the court for the Suns. That game came just two days after he had 20 points and four steals against Golden State.
Dudley is 24 years old and is averaging 24 minutes per game and started in place of the injured Grant Hill Tuesday night.
Clark is 22 years old and was the Suns’ first-round pick this year. He has worked so hard in practice that he has been rewarded with playing time this month where he is averaging 11 minutes a game.
So without having to say it the Suns are clearly making the transition to a younger team and allowing their players to develop.
Now, it’s time for owner Robert Sarver to give his brass the OK and let General Manager Steve Kerr and Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Dave Griffin get their hands dirty with some creative trading.
Right now everyone should be on the trade block except Lopez, Dragic, Clark, Lou Amundson and Dudley.
Amare Stoudemire must go. He is not a great player and never has been. He is a good NBA player and the Suns need to do everything they can to find a trade that makes sense.
Now I understand guys that score 20 a game and average eight rebounds don’t grow on trees. And the Suns have to make sure they don’t make a bad deal. But there has to be some team in the league willing to give up some quality talent and a draft pick for Stoudemire’s services. And in the right environment where he is more of a focal point of the offense, Stoudemire may even flourish.
If the Suns cannot make a good trade they will be better served letting him walk at seasons end and clearing up cap space for the future. Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill and Channing Frye can all go to the highest bidder. And what to do with Steve Nash. The Suns All-Star point guard still plays the game at a high level and he has clearly made a major impact in the development of Dragic. He is the one player the fans identify with and it seems like he wants to stay here. But the Suns owe it to themselves to see what he could fetch on the open market. They need to go to Nash and see if he wants to go to a contender to finish out his career. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it doesn’t hurt to listen.
Reality has struck in Phoenix and it was inevitable. We all knew it was coming, some of us just didn’t want to believe it.
The great start was fools gold, the Suns were never that good. What they are is an average NBA team and those type of teams are not worth investing in. It’s time for a shakeup — a major shakeup.
Kerr and Griffin have proven to have a keen eye for talent as witnessed by the recent draft picks, trades and free agent signings. It’s time to allow them to shape the team for the future because the present isn’t going anywhere. I like some of the pieces the Suns have, the young kids can play. It’s time to turn the team over to them, surround them with other young talent and allow the team to grow.
It may take three or four years to get back to being a contender, but sometimes you have to take a few step backwards before you can go forward. That time is now for the Phoenix Suns.