Photo is Courtesy of Clutch Points
Phoenix has been anything but a secure location for NBA players over the last couple seasons. Two things are certain in Phoenix: it’s hot, and you won’t be a Sun for long. Anyone that went to play for the Suns over that time frame was in and out of the valley fairly quickly -- the Phoenix Suns had more turnover than a bakery.
But wait! you say: the Suns have been terrible. Isn’t it smart to move bad players out the door, and give opportunities to potentially better ones? Sure. We’re not just talking about the 10-day contracts at the end of the bench, though. The Suns have been drafting in the lottery every year since 2011 -- sometimes more than once! Of those nine lottery picks, two remain on the roster: Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. So if you’re not a franchise cornerstone or last year’s #1 overall pick, you’re out the door. That includes three top-5 picks too. It’s malpractice.
Take a close look at the 2017-18 roster. How many players do you see that were on that team at one point? How many remain?
If you answered ‘22 Players’ to the first question, congratulations, you’re Robert Sarver; only the man begrudgingly writing all those paychecks would know that dispiriting number. As for how many remain? The only man still standing is Devin Booker, face of the franchise.
Take a look back to the season just completed, which ended for the Suns three mere months ago. There were 24 players on the roster at one point or another throughout the season; only six players remain. Thirty-nine different players donned purple and orange over the last two seasons and only six will still be around when the coming season begins if the current roster remains -- no sure thing.
Moreover, this trend isn’t restricted to the locker room, as coaches and even the general manager weren’t safe from getting the boot. Ryan McDonough presided over just a single winning season in six tries, so no one shed too many tears over his departure. Nor did they for Earl Watson, who in my estimation totally deserved to get canned. He was one of the worst head coaches in franchise history.
Jay Triano, though? He was a good assistant that appeared to have formed a bond with the players, but he wasn’t retained at the end of the 2017-18 season. Igor Kokoskov, a well-respected coach from Europe who had won a title overseas, had lots of experience as a coach, and ties to the organization...was only given one season with an incomplete roster before he was fired. The Suns have had ten head coaches since San Antonio hired Gregg Popovich -- which one is the model franchise?
Is it a surprise that the league has not thought very highly of what’s been going on in Phoenix?
Perhaps some stability is on the horizon, though. Certainly there’s room to critique how Phoenix went about all of their moves in this year’s draft and free agency, but there appears to be reason for optimism. James Jones is a rising front office star, transitioning quickly from the court, upstairs, and settling in as the GM, and Monty Williams was one of the most desirable available names in the coaching search, and he wanted the Suns as badly as they wanted him. The team is actually well rounded: there are NBA caliber players at every position.
In the loaded Western Conference, sadly, it might not amount to much. But this team should at least be competitive on a nightly basis now. Fans should have fun watching, and every now and then, they just might get something to cheer about. That alone is a welcome change in the desert.