Overachieved in 2012
Even Though The Purple Gang Came Up Short In Their Playoff Run, The Strike Shortened Season Provided Ample Entertainment
Steve Nash. Image by Keith Alison and used under the terms of a Creative Commons license.
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
April 26, 2012 — OK, so the Phoenix Suns aren’t going to make the playoffs again this season.
But at least they were in contention on the next-to-last game of the season — some franchises relish that sort of performance — see the Timberwolves, Clippers and Kings.
Here in Phoenix, though, fans and pundits alike expect more.
Many have already bemoaned that the Phoenix Suns have now missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 23 years. But on the flip side of that is the same factoid: Phoenix Suns have historically been so successful that they have not had a team miss the playoffs in consecutive season for 23 years.
It just had to happen sometime.
Anyone who has been a fan of the team knows that downturns are inevitable. The 2002-2003 team that made the playoffs unlike the 2001-2002 team was not very good — aside from a rookie named Amare Stoudemire — and they were upended in the first round. This season’s team is a lot better that the 2001-2002 team.
So, far from the hype and the misleading statistics is the fact that this team was a lot like last year’s team — missing star power besides playmaker Steve Nash. Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Sebastian Telfair, Robin Lopez, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress are all good players, but they are not great players. Hill was one of the best in the league more than 10 years ago, and is still a great player at times today, but age is catching up to him.
Michael Redd might be able to get close to the player he was in Milwaukee based on how he played this season, but it is a wonder why Alvin Gentry limited him to 20 minutes a game. Perhaps the Suns training staff and others knew something they never let on — like that he still had some work to do to play 40 minutes a night.
Or, maybe Gentry just felt that Dudley was a better bet at the two-guard.
But the case of Redd leads one to think about the 2013 roster. Only Gortat, Warrick, Childress, Telfair, Dudley, Morris and Frye are under contract. Lopez and Aaron Brooks (remember him?) are restricted. Nash, Brown, Hill, Ronnie Price and Redd are unrestricted. Since Redd is only 33, a two or three-year deal might seem logical because he won’t have to deal with any “over-36” issues. Nash, on the other hand, will be limited by how much the Suns can pay for him because of his age — another reason why Grant Hill has been working on one-year deals for the past several seasons.
Regardless, the roster will likely be vastly different during the 2012-2013 season. And, as past history has shown, the Phoenix Suns have been the type of franchise to bounce back from losing seasons with a few good runs at a championship.
But the 800-pound gorilla in the room with that argument is that all of those other teams were built by a guy named Colangelo — Jerry or Bryan. Lon Babby, Lance Blanks and owner Robert Sarver have never won executive of the year awards.
The biggest trades in their tenure — Richardson for Gortat and Dragic for Brooks — have not been widely viewed as a success. The Turkoglu and Warrick deals are on Sarver.
If they can’t duplicate the success of past management teams during rebuilding, Suns fans might soon be looking back at even the 2012 season as “good times.”
That definitely would not be “dyno-mite!”
Bob Goodwood lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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