It’s not like the Phoenix Suns had aspirations of competing for the Pacific Division title before the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard. What, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley had Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash worried there was all of a sudden a new threat to their division dominance?
Get real. Even the most irrational Suns fans knew their favorite team had no chance to compete with L.A. before Thursday night’s blockbuster trade, let alone now. The Suns should throw a parade if they finish within 10 points in any of their meetings with the Lakers this coming season.
Yes, the rich get richer. And no, it’s not always fair. But the rich also find ways to pad their account instead of crying, pouting and then settling for mediocrity when things don’t go their way.
It’s not as if the path to greatness has always been easy for the purple and gold. Since winning their first of three straight championships in 2000, the Lakers have had had star players:
1. Hate each other (Kobe and Shaq)
2. Demand to be traded (Kobe and Shaq)
3. Demean teammates by essentially calling them inferior (Kobe)
4. Mentally check out of playoff games (Pau and Bynum)
5. Shoot stupid three-pointers, get benched and defy their coach by saying they’ll do it again (Bynum)
They’ve also had coach/player soap operas (Phil Jackson-Kobe and Shaq), coach/owner’s daughter soap operas (Phil-Jeanie Buss) and team/commissioner/de facto Hornets owner drama (botched Gasol/Odom trade to Hornets/Rockets for Chris Paul thanks to David Stern).
That’s just to name a few.
Despite all of the above (and then some), the Lakers have won four NBA Championships, seven Western Conference titles and the division eight times – since 2000.
What’s your point, Foster? My point is the Lakers find ways to make things work. They resolve problems, know when to fish or cut bait with star players, and effectively deal with massive egos that come with the seemingly unlimited talent.
The Suns have to figure out a way to do the same. Howard, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala are all unrestricted free agents next summer. James Harden is restricted. The Suns should target one, maybe two of those players. Yes, some of those guys are potential headaches, but greatness always comes with a price. It also comes with great reward.
Just ask Mitch Kupchak.