It would be so great to see the Phoenix Suns land LeBron James.
They’d be getting one of the best players to ever play the game and instantly become title contenders, and possibly the favorite depending on who else would come on board with him.
It would be the greatest coup in the franchise’s history, adding a ten-time All-Star, four time MVP, two-time champion and surefire Hall of Famer while still in his prime.
Chances are it’s not going to happen.
While the Suns are often mentioned when it comes to James’ free agency, they are done so in a “that would be interesting and it’s possible” kind of way. You don’t see any of the in-the-know folks predicting James will leave South Beach for the desert.
But until James chooses a team that isn’t the Phoenix Suns, the possibility will remain that he will, in fact, choose the Phoenix Suns, and thus will continue to be part of the conversation.
And whether he comes to the Valley or not, that is a big deal.
Just one year ago the Suns appeared to be nothing short of a train wreck. Sure, they had hired Jeff Hornacek and Ryan McDonough and hopes were high that they would eventually build something, but no one expected it to happen anytime soon.
The team was expected to lose a lot of games, which would then bring them a high pick in one of the most loaded drafts in recent memory. The Suns would have to land their star via the draft, because no top free agent in his right mind would want to play for them.
Then they traded for budding star Eric Bledsoe. Then they turned Luis Scola into useable parts in Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green. Goran Dragic developed into an All-Star (minus the actual nod itself), and the Suns won 48 games.
They’ve since added three more players via first-round draft picks and have plenty of cap space to bring in anyone they’d like, assuming they want to play in Phoenix.
And therein lies the rub with regards to the pursuit of James.
Most reports have James either staying in Miami or leaving for Cleveland, which makes sense on a lot of levels. In the Heat he has a team that has been to four straight NBA Finals and is in great position to keep adding to that total. In the Cavs he has a chance to further his legacy, as returning to the team he bailed on just four years ago and leading them to a championship would surely win over a good many people who still for some reason doubt his motivation and desire.
Both teams have an emotional edge over the Suns, who for all intents and purposes probably offer as good a chance to win as either, if not a significantly better one altogether. But a player like James is good enough to turn any team into a contender, and it’s not like the Heat and Cavs are bereft of talent.
James will win wherever he goes, and he knows that. And if winning won’t determine with whom he signs on the dotted line, the Suns have little chance of inking him to a contract. It’s not their fault, as they’ve done everything they can to put themselves in position to land The King.
Even if they don’t, none of this will be for naught.
Having their name mentioned as a legitimate option for the best player on the planet goes a long way toward rebuilding a reputation. And let’s be honest, the Suns were in desperate need of a makeover in that department.
While the entire process may not yet be complete, it is well underway. The national perception of the Suns is significantly better now; now they can get a meeting with the agent for the best player in the game. Soon, maybe, they’ll even get a chance to woo the player himself.
Maybe they’ll get LeBron James. They probably won’t.
But there’s something to be said for being part of the conversation rather than laughed out of it. Credibility is something the franchise desperately needed, and James hearing them out brings it.
Not long ago James listened to a pitch from the woebegone L.A. Clippers, and while he didn’t sign there, it helped convince Chris Paul that L.A.’s “other team” was a viable option for his services. The struggling Knicks failed to land James, but did enough to make Carmelo Anthony want to play there. The 12-win Nets also whiffed on LeBron, but months later they traded for (and kept) Deron Williams.
While James did not sign with them, his listening to them provided each with something that cannot really be measured, but is undoubtedly there and impactful.
So no matter what happens with James, the Phoenix Suns will not come away from their pursuit of the megastar empty-handed.