Phoenix Suns Now Look To Future

The Hydra (Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas) combined for 60 points in the loss Monday to Memphis. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Hydra (Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas) combined for 60 points in the loss Monday to Memphis. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Look, it is not mathematically impossible for the Phoenix Suns to make the Western Conference playoffs, but it would take both a miracle of spirited play by the Suns and a total collapse by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Suns currently sit three and a half games behind the Thunder, with just nine contests remaining.

Things are actually worse than that, however, as the Phoenix schedule is horrific. Eight of the nine games are against teams above .500, and seven come against current playoff teams. The only team that might look easy on the schedule is the resurgent Utah Jazz.

More from Phoenix Suns

So to be honest, the Suns are not making the playoffs. Despite a litany of injuries by the Oklahoma City Thunder, including missing the reigning NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, for most of the season, Phoenix has taken a major step back this year. In 2013-14, the Suns finished 48-34, a record that would probably get them into the postseason in 2015.

However, for the Suns to get to that number, they would have to win all nine remaining games, and then find a time machine to go backwards through the space-time continuum and reverse a previous defeat from early this year. That is not happening, so its time to take a look at the Suns’ long-term plan and assess the viability of such a plan.

When Goran Dragic derailed the Phoenix season by demanding a trade, Phoenix turned lemons into expired Crystal Light artificial lemonade mix by executing a controversial trade, dealing away Dragic, the Los Angeles Lakers’ lottery pick in 2015, backup center Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis, and backup point guard Isaiah Thomas while receiving combo-guard Brandon Knight, Marcus Thornton, two unprotected Miami Heat first-rounders and a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was a complicated, head-scratching move. Dealing Dragic for two unprotected picks is not terrible, but adding promising rookie Tyler Ennis, back-up Miles Plumlee, and a lottery pick just to Brandon Knight, a restricted free-agent at the end of the year, is borderline indefensible.

The Suns’ thinking is that Knight is young and talented, and he, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, and Markieff Morris can grow together as a team. Eventually the talent of the roster would bloom into a contending team, and in the meantime, given the competition in the Western Conference, there was basically no hope even with Dragic.

I cannot argue against the plan of acquiring young talent and waiting out the other teams in the West, but then why give up that lottery pick that could end up the sixth pick this year, or the fourth pick next year? That is quite a bit to give up to acquire a restricted free agent.  Even one as talented as Knight.

However, the Suns also believe that Knight’s free agency could be boon, as it will hit the season before the salary cap is set to jump dramatically. This means Knight will become a bargain just a year later. Still, giving away that pick and missing the playoffs at the same time is inexcusable.

Live Feed

The Phoenix Suns should enquire about "FIBA Kobe"
The Phoenix Suns should enquire about "FIBA Kobe" /

Valley of the Suns

  • Suns' Kevin Durant getting well-earned praise before 2023-24 seasonValley of the Suns
  • Should the Phoenix Suns trade Bradley Beal for James Harden?Valley of the Suns
  • The 3 most overpaid players on the Phoenix Suns' rosterValley of the Suns
  • What Frank Vogel can learn from the Suns' previous coaching staffValley of the Suns
  • 3 areas where the Phoenix Suns should be drastically improved in 2023-24Valley of the Suns
  • Not just that, but the Suns plan assumes a core of Morris, Bledsoe, Knight, and Len is good enough to compete in the West. Do we know that? Morris has shown promise but is inconsistent and undersized. Len is a good rim protector but he gets bullied by bigger centers and he has been injury prone.

    Bledsoe is a fine player, but the Suns offense has cratered since the trade. And then there is Knight. A combo guard without a real position, but the thought in the NBA that a duo of combo guards can combine into a decent playmaking force has been shown to be true. If Knight can space the floor and act as a secondary playmaker, then he certainly can help this team.

    It is not a bad core, but their ceiling does not feel like “championship contender”. It feels much more like perennial first round fodder in the playoffs. Which does not exactly move this team much higher up the NBA pecking order. Of course, that could all change with a lucky draft pick or big time free agent signing.

    Free agents, though, look at the Suns and see an organization with an allegedly cheap owner in Robert Sarver, who was thought to be one of the driving forces behind prolonging the last NBA lockout. Combined with Dragic’s public comments about the front office, and you can see why free agents may be crossing Phoenix off their wish list.

    Regardless, the Suns plan is suspect, but it may have been worth the gamble if not for giving up that juicy Lakers lottery pick, and time will only tell whether Knight and Bledsoe can lead this team back to relevance.

    Next: 50 Greatest NBA Players Of The 1970s

    More from Hoops Habit