ESPN’s Shelburne: Suns ‘got in the ballgame’ with Aldridge pursuit

Jul 6, 2015, 2:47 PM | Updated: Jul 7, 2015, 9:31 am
LISTEN: Ramona Shelburne, ESPN NBA Insider

Free agency’s biggest star has seemingly come and gone for the Phoenix Suns, who despite a valiant effort lost out on the race to sign All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne told Bickey & Marotta of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that Phoenix should have better odds to land a big name in the 2016 free agency class that includes former NBA MVP Kevin Durant.

“I think the Suns did a good job at getting in the ballgame,” Shelburne said. “The Suns and the Celtics are on the same playbook of accumulating a lot of young assets but they never really tank to the Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Minnesota levels.

“It’s hard to build that way, but at some point there’s a cycle, if you’re going to build like Boston and Phoenix are where you accumulate the young players and assets, then you fold them over into one big move or make a gradual step forward.”

Shelburne said Phoenix made the gradual step forward with the signing of former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.

“That says, ‘We’ve got a veteran center now and we’re going to try to win this year,’ as opposed to being on the build,” she said. “You still have enough of the young assets so that this year if somebody pops open as being available as a big name you’re right there to go after him.”

Shelburne, who agreed with the Chandler deal, said she was at times confused by Phoenix and didn’t think they were building a “team.”

“They always just look for the best talent available, regardless of position, but it’s come back to bite them a couple of times,” she said. “They just keep drafting and signing the same player. You don’t want to have five point guards…you need the best team and not just the most talent.”

Despite the Suns’ efforts to acquire a star in free agency, it’s difficult to win that way in the modern NBA.

“It’s not good when the only way to turn around your franchise is to tank and get a star through the draft,” Shelburne said. “This is what the system has created now. You have to go through three or four years of rebuilding with two, three, four lottery picks and hopefully one or two of them pan out. I don’t think this is a good system.

“(The Portland Trail Blazers) lose one star like (LaMarcus Aldridge) and your franchise is set back three or four years.”

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ESPN’s Shelburne: Suns ‘got in the ballgame’ with Aldridge pursuit