Suns must face harsh reality of rebuilding

I am officially a torn Phoenix Suns fan.

After Monday night’s 125–107 thumping of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Suns currently sit in the eighth spot of the Western Conference. Thanks to a hold of a tiebreaker with the Houston Rockets, Phoenix would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

But I keep wondering: Is that really a good thing?

I am a strong believer in winning championships or bust. What’s the point of drowning in mediocrity?

This Suns team, as currently constituted, is not going to win an NBA title. I don’t think anyone would argue that they could. So what’s the point of finishing every year between seventh and 10th place in the Western Conference standings?

Either be really good or be really bad in hopes of someday becoming really good.

This isn’t to somehow lessen what this undermanned Suns team has done in 2012. It has been astounding how a squad full of castaways and stars past their prime has put together a playoff-caliber campaign.

Take Phoenix’s most recent win for example. The last time the Suns played Portland, they lost 109–71. On Monday, they beat the same squad by 18 points.

For those who aren’t math majors, that’s a 56-point turnaround. Not bad for a team that was supposed to finish near the bottom of the league.

But in the long run, an awful season might just be what the franchise needs.

The Suns aren’t going to draft an elite-caliber player if they keep finishing in the playoffs or just outside them.  There just isn’t that many impact players that come out of college every year. Maybe, in a good year, three or four all-stars emerge out of one particular draft, but even that number is rare.

Phoenix needs to sacrifice one season so it can get back to a contending level. That ultimately means trading Steve Nash and Grant Hill — something I even hate to admit.

Although it would’ve made better sense to tank this lockout-shortened year to get more lottery balls in the draft, the team needs to figure out something soon.

Phoenix isn’t going to sign a top-tier free agent, and it doesn’t have the pieces to orchestrate a trade for one, so the only option is obtaining a franchise changer through the draft.

If that means a couple bad seasons and seeing the face of the team play for another city, so be it.

Nash deserves the opportunity to win the NBA championship, and Suns fans deserve to see their team back in deep playoff series. This current stage just keeps both parties trapped in purgatory, and that’s not fair to anyone.

I’ll enjoy watching the Suns play — and most likely lose to — the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs if they make it, but I’ll know it’s not what’s best for the ultimate health of the franchise.

I just hope somebody in the front office realizes that too.

 

Reach the columnist at tyler.emerick@asu.edu

 

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