The saying when someone refuses to acknowledge the truth, at least the one I’ve heard, is that denial’s not just a river in Egypt.
As it turns out, the denial river goes straight through the U.S. Airways Center, where the Phoenix Suns do business.
In a recent column by the Arizona Republic’s Scott Bordow, Suns VP of Basketball Operations Lon Babby was said to have talked about the risk in completely tearing down a roster and going through a rebuilding process.
Babby and other team officials have examined the history of teams that, like the Suns, stalled at the conference-finals level and then had to decide whether to keep their core players together or tear up the roster. What they discovered: Teams that embarked on a massive rebuilding project took an average of 10 years to get back to the conference finals.
Saying you end up being at the mercy of ping pong balls, Babby basically explained why the Suns have no interest in blowing up a Western Conference Finals team for the slim hope of being able to take the next step with a different group of players. However, there’s a problem.
The team you see today is not a Western Conference Finals team that just can’t get over the hump, as Babby seems to insinuate. No, it’s a lottery team that barely resembles the one that took the eventual champion Lakers to six games, with only five players from that team still wearing purple and orange.
In all honesty, whether or not Babby and the Suns want to believe it, the rebuilding process has already begun. So why does the team continue to lie to itself and the fans?
If is out of fear, the team is only delaying the inevitable. At some point Steve Nash and Grant Hill will not be around – that much is a given – and odds are that time is coming sooner rather than later. For some reason I have this picture of Babby, Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver , whenever someone brings up life without their veteran leaders, going “lalalala I can’t hear you” while plugging their ears with their fingers. Real mature, I know, but listening to them so much as discuss the idea of moving on seems like an exercise in futility. Now that a team they used to battle with won a championship, the chances of the Suns truly tearing things down probably got even slimmer.
Having watched a Dallas Mavericks team that essentially stayed the course hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy Sunday night it would be easy to see what Babby and the Suns are thinking. You don’t have to blow it up to get better because making small tweaks to the roster can get the job done. The Dallas team that lost to Miami in 2006 went through changes, but the core of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and…oh, that’s it.
The following seasons were spent with playoff choke jobs and disappointment, but that time was not wasted, as the team made numerous changes, choosing to keep Dirk and JET as the core while looking for the right pieces to surround them with. It made sense, as 27-year-old Nowitzki and 28-year-old Terry were still in their primes when they lost that first NBA Finals, and were players who for sure had a half dozen good years left in them. That offered the necessary time to make small changes, time the Suns just don’t have with their supposed ‘core.’
The final problem with comparing the Mavs to the Suns is that Dallas boasts arguably the two most important things to winning a title, neither of which the Suns have: a superstar and an owner with an intense desire to win. Until the latter is fixed the chance to acquire the former will be delayed at best, lost at worst.
There’s no denying that.