Like Television, Season Finale Has Cliffhangers

Head Coach Lindsey Hunter of the Phoenix Suns looks on as his team plays the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 12, 2013.
(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Posted: April 16, 2013

In television, season finales are notorious for having cliffhangers. Single moments that leave viewers with questions about what will happen next when the show returns after a summer hiatus. Sometimes the futures of main characters hang in the balance and the future of the show and its storylines are a complete mysteries.

This 2012-13 Suns final chapter is no different. As the team heads into the season finale, there are plenty of questions left to answer and cliffhangers that will leave fans wondering well into the summer. Questions and cliffhangers like; Who will play the lead next season (the coach)? Which cast members (players) will return? Which new members will join the roster and will we see similar storylines again?

One of those questions is the future of interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter. Will Wednesday be the final game of his tenure at the helm of the Suns, or will he get the vote of confidence and a contract without the “interim” label attached?

He doesn’t seem overly concerned about that quandary. He seems more fixated on his team performing well for the fans and the front office in their final appearance of the season.

“I’ll just go out and do what I’ve been doing,” Hunter said after practice Tuesday. “I don’t worry one way or another about my future. I’ll be fine. I just want guys to continue to do what we’re talking about, getting better. That means playing it out to the last game. We don’t want to back out.”

While Hunter is focused on the final game, he also feels confident that his work since taking over the coaching reins is enough to show what he can do leading a locker room.

“I think instilling a mentality is the hardest part of coaching and culture changing is a difficult thing,” he said when asked what he feels he’s accomplished. “We’ve done a great job of instilling those things and constantly trying to build that type of culture in a short period of time. It didn’t translate into as many wins as we’d ultimately have liked, but we got a lot of development out of the young guys.”

One of those young guys who developed, swingman Wesley Johnson, is also one of the players whose future in Phoenix is still up in the air. Despite not seeing many minutes early in the year, the Syracuse product and former No. 4 overall pick started to live up to his potential in the desert in the second half of the season. His emergence, and impending free agency, leaves the Suns’ front office with the question of whether or not to re-sign him.

Johnson feels his performance since the NBA All-Star break, averaging 12 points and 3.6 rebounds in almost 28 minutes a game, speaks for itself and his future.

“My play as of late has been more consistent,” he said. “I’m just trying to play within myself and do what the team has asked me to do. Whatever happens in July happens. I’m just going to control what I can control.”

If the choice were solely up to Johnson, with the economics of the game set aside, he could see Phoenix as a long-term home for he and his family.

“I love being here,” he said with his trademark soft-but-bright smile. “Especially being in the uniform and being with the guys. It has been a great experience to be out here. Hopefully I’ll still be here.”

Not all of the focus will just be on the season finale in Denver either. There is another cliffhanger that will play out in two cities hundreds of miles away, but we won’t have to wait until next season to find out the results. The fate of whether or not the Suns will have a second lottery pick in the upcoming draft will be decided Wednesday. If the Rockets defeat the Lakers and the Jazz triumph over the Grizzlies, the Suns will have another top 14 player to add to their roster this summer.

Where the Suns will land in the lottery and who they will take in June’s NBA Draft are just a couple more questions that will be left to be answered another day.

When the final seconds of the 2012-13 season tick off the clock, the season finale will leave fans with an anxious, but exciting sense of anticipation. And, if next season isn’t filled with repeats from this year, that anticipation will be replaced with satisfaction.