HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — This is the time of year for positive spin around the NBA. No matter what moves your team made in July, it’s going to have a positive outlook on the near or distant future.
The Phoenix Suns are one of those teams that’s looking long-term … for the most part. Franchise icon Steve Nash is gone, along with Grant Hill. The Suns have added some mid-level free agents and trade acquisitions, but it will be tough for them to compete in an improved Western Conference.
Suns general manager Lance Blanks sees the Suns as a team in transition, but he’s not not up for going the Orlando Magic route by completely bottoming out for the next two or three years, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports…
The roster has changed, but the commitment to a wide-open, entertaining playing style remains — and the front office has done it all with an aim toward returning the team to a sustainable elite status.
“The first goal was to be able to put a team out there that would handle the next era of the organization — the rigors and challenges,” Blanks said. “A transition like that is not always seamless. We wanted to make sure we had people to weather the ups and downs of entering the next era and also find guys whose career paths and trajectories fit the future of the organization. Just about every guy is a fresh-start guy.”
“We’re still in an extended honeymoon,” Blanks said. “I’m cautiously optimistic about the season. I don’t think this is a team you want do much predicting with in terms of numbers. What I can see in the future for this team this year is a team that is fun to watch and plays hard every night. It is a group of guys who will play together because of the type of guys they are.”
Defensively, Blanks projects the potential of a good team based on that word again — commitment. Dragic is a bigger point guard with athleticism and tenacity. Beasley has been derided for being disengaged defensively, but Blanks said he is “very capable” of handling NBA small forwards if he becomes disciplined.
Counting on a bunch of “fresh-start guys” is a little sketchy. So is the idea looking to Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley for defense. But the Suns will certainly have the ability to hang with teams offensively. A lineup of Dragic, Jared Dudley, Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat has everything you need — low-post game, pick-and-roll play, and perimeter shooting — to put points on the board.
This “transition” phase should last two seasons, until the Suns have a ton of cap space and flexibility in 2014. For now, the Suns will at least be fun to watch. Just how good they’ll be is up for debate.
Also up for debate is whether or not Blanks is choosing the right path by restocking the roster with decent players. The Suns won’t nearly be the worst team in the league this season, and that may be a bad thing.