Suns News

Gilmartin: Suns Retooling Took It's Toll

Channing Frye scored a career-high 33 points and tied a franchise record with nine three-pointers in the Suns' win over the Wolves on Monday night.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Joe Gilmartin, Suns.com
Posted: April 11, 2011

The trouble with playing out the string is location, location, location! Translation: You’re usually doing it at the end of your rope.

And alas, the Suns are not particularly good at it. But this is actually a plus because the reason they are not is they don’t have much practice at it, a byproduct of making the playoffs year after year after year after year..

I’m not making excuses for some of their lamentable performances of late, up to and including Monday night’s first half against the toothless Wolves. Just noting that, unlike the NBA’s perennial bottom feeders, many of whom start playing out the string on opening day, the Suns over the years have been almost perennial winners.

I wish I could tell you this is just one-shot visit to the land of the have-nots, and the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely a train. But frankly I don’t even see the light. This is a team held together by two aging stars and some scotch tape, and the Suns, like the Lakers, may have to go down even further before they come all the way back up to their accustomed status as a “have”. (For all their titles, people forget it wasn’t that many years ago the Lakers suffered through a sub-40 win season).

The best the Suns can get for this year is 40 wins, a precipitous 14-game fall from last year. And it isn’t as though they were injury-riddled and that all will be well when they get healthy or anything. In fact, they were one of the healthiest teams in the Western Conference.

However, they are also the most retooled team in the West; not only changing horses regularly between streams but in mid-stream. And this almost constant retooling has inevitably taken its toll.

As we look to the future, the questions are obvious, the solutions not so much. Not only do the Suns lack the wherewithal, both financial and talent-wise, to get what they need, but they also have to face the fact that Steve Nash and Grant Hill are not going to be around forever. Indeed, in some ways this could have been considered a bonus year. And Nash, beset by injuries, definitely wasn’t his brilliant self the last month of the season. He was still pretty good most nights, but with this group the pretty good of Nash isn’t good enough.

I’m not suggesting Phoenix is facing Mission Impossible, but definitely Mission Difficult. The Suns will rise again, but probably not right away.

In Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat, and Jared Dudley they have three nice young pieces to build a long term future around. And if Nash stays, worn down or not, he’s still not chopped liver. Likewise Hill.