Most prognostications had the Phoenix Suns being one of the NBA’s worst teams again this season, and there is little doubt the trade that sent center Marcin Gortat, among others, to the Washington Wizards has made them even worse.
Indeed, it would appear the Suns are in full “tank mode,” doing whatever they can to be really bad in hopes of landing a really good player in a very loaded 2014 NBA Draft.
But according to general manager Ryan McDonough, the plan is not to pile up losses this season.
“We want this team to try to win,” McDonough told Burns and Gambo Friday. “One of the things that Coach (Jeff Hornacek) and I don’t want to do is sit guys and rest guys or any of that.
“We’re not going to do that; that’s not what the Phoenix Suns are all about.”
McDonough said this year “will be about building and playing the young guys,” which is something that excites him. While the trades he’s made may have robbed the team of some of its veteran talent, it has also produced an opportunity for players to get some playing time they may not have otherwise been able to.
“I feel like there’s no substitute for playing against NBA competition in high-level games,” he said. “And guys, who if we kept our roster the way it was, you know, Archie (Goodwin) and Miles (Plumlee) and Alex (Len) and those guys might not have gotten a chance to play.”
The first-year general manager noted the team’s draft picks — which could be as many as four in 2014 — are important to the rebuilding process, but made sure to point out that developing the current group of young players already on the team is equally important.
Of course, that will mean the team will suffer through some growing pains and take its fair share of lumps. Though the team may struggle to win, McDonough said everyone should look at this as a chance to prove themselves as NBA players.
“We feel like the young players we have — with Bledsoe and the two draft picks — and Miles and a few of the other guys, we’re starting to form hopefully the nucleus of the next really good team,” he said. “And we hope to supplement that with as many as four first-round picks in the draft next year.”
But rest assured, the picks are very important. McDonough is on board with the premise that the way to build a champion is to find superstars, and the best way to find superstars is to draft them. That’s where those picks come into play.
That’s not to say the Suns, should they have four picks in next year’s draft, will add four rookies to the roster. McDonough said part of the benefit to having picks is the flexibility they give you, adding that if a trade presents itself they’d explore that option, too.
But that’s what it’s all about, options.
“I feel like we’re better positioned than any team in the league with our draft pick situation, with our cap space, with the fact that we’re in a great market here in Phoenix where guys want to play,” he said. “I certainly can see, and I hope you guys and our fans can see, that we’re positioned to kind of spring out of this fairly quickly.”