Suns Face Offseason Questions After Season of Success

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: May 30, 2010

Although the Suns answered almost all questions with their play on the court this season, questions about their collective future loom in the not-so-distant horizon.

A day after being eliminated from the Western Conference Finals by the Lakers, the Suns players and coaching staff underwent the customary cleaning out of their lockers and their annual exit interviews on Sunday. Despite their loss to the defending champions, the Suns were in high spirits as they reflected on their accomplishments and gaze toward a bright future.

“We like our whole team and we’d like our whole team back,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “The chemistry on this team worked well. This is the best experience that I’ve had as a head coach in this league.”

With the emergence of young talents such as Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Robin Lopez and Louis Amundson, the Suns appear to have created a solid foundation for their future. Combined with a players’ coach and two-time MVP Steve Nash under contract for two more years, the Suns appear to have rebuilt their team on the fly.

The question now is whether this tight nucleus that finished just two games shy of advancing to the NBA Finals will remain intact. That question begins at the top with management.

Steve Kerr, who signed a three-year contract to be the Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM in 2007, will begin negotiations with Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver about his future with the franchise. The Suns GM said that he wanted to table the discussions of his contract with Sarver until the season had concluded.

“My contract is up and that’s something I’ll sit down and talk about with Robert,” Kerr said. “This year was great; a little bit more fun than last year. We’ve got a great group of people here and I love working with Alvin and we got a good thing going.”

Kerr has one person’s vote of confidence.

“I’m not going anywhere without my GM,” Gentry said. “He’s done a great job and obviously he’s taken a lot of hits. He’s been the same guy and he’s always been a brilliant basketball mind.”

Once the future of the front office is determined, attention will turn to the team’s roster. All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire has a player option on his contract, which would allow him the ability to opt out of the final year of his deal and explore the waters of free agency.

“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” Stoudemire said. “We just finished up last night. I’m pretty sure that the decision process is something that’s going to start Monday.”

However, the Suns’ leading scorer and rebounder throughout the regular season recognizes that the Suns were just a few plays away from advancing to the Finals. The five-time All-Star said that being that close to the Finals plays a role in making his decision.

“It’s not about getting paid at all,” he said. “It’s really about winning a championship.”

Many of league’s premier players could become available this summer and with so much uncertainty regarding the upcoming collective bargaining agreement in 2011, there could be a lot of activity in the free-agent market this coming offseason. Stoudemire has even voiced his intention of discussing his future with Cleveland’s LeBron James and Miami’s Dwyane Wade.

“It’s a big free agency this summer for all of us and we all want to make sound decisions for the organizations, for (ourselves) and for (our) families,” Stoudemire said.

Although they may not command the national media attention of name like Stoudemire, Channing Frye and Grant Hill also have the ability to opt out of their contracts. Hill, the Suns co-captain has maintained all along that he plans on retiring in Phoenix.

Frye, who grew up in Phoenix and attended the University of Arizona, also believes that he’s carved out a home in the Valley.

“I definitely look forward to being back here,” Frye said. “It’s just a tough situation and there are so many things to think about on my end and their end. I’ve just got to step back and appreciate the year that we’ve had and when that (time) comes, we’ll talk about it. But Steve (Kerr) is a great guy and we have a great open line of communication. I might even go over to his house for dinner one night.”

The last player whose future is uncertain is high-energy forward Louis Amundson. The fan favorite has played out his existing contract and is a free agent.

He also hopes to be back in a Suns uniform. As for Kerr, he’s remaining silent on questions regarding the team’s personnel.

“I’m not going to talk (with the media) about any player, contract, free-agency stuff with any of our guys,” Kerr said. “I don’t think that it’s right. The season just ended yesterday and you need to just sit back and let everybody unwind a bit.”

So while the main question of whether everyone wants the team to remain intact was answered, a larger one still exists.

Will everyone be able to make that happen?

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