Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns' Future No Longer So Bright

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns is congratualted by his teammate Steve Nash #13 and Grant Hill #33 during the basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter at the Staples Center on February 18, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Terry SharpeContributor IApril 1, 2009

2004-2005: The Phoenix Suns started their rise to the NBA elite when they traded for Steve Nash and revolutionized the pace of the NBA and finished with the leagues best record at 62-20.

Nash is NBA's MVP. They easily scored their way to the Western Conference Finals, where they fell to the Spurs 4-1.

Excuse: Joe Johnson injured at the beginning of the Spurs series. Amare needs to mature his game.


2005-2006: Suns trade away Joe Johnson but end up getting sleeper Boris Diaw and defensive specialist Raja Bell. Amare injures knee and is out for the season.

Suns still keep breakneck pace with Nash, Bell, Shawn Marion, Diaw, and Leandro Barbosa. Nash is MVP. They run and gun past the Lakers in the first round, rout the Clippers in the second, but then fall to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

Excuse: No Amare and no Raja Bell for most of playoffs.

 

2006-2007: Everyone predicts the Suns will win the NBA title. They don't disappoint in the regular season finishing second in the West with a 61-21 record.

Once again, they blow past the Lakers in the first round and set themselves up to play against the Spurs in the second. With the series tied at 2-2, Robert Horry hip-checks Steve Nash into the scoring table. Amare and Diaw is suspended for one game each. Undermanned and under-spirited, the Suns go on to lose game five and six.

Excuse: Steve Nash head-butted by Tony Parker and misses pivotal fourth quarter in game two, which they go on to lose. Amare and Diaw miss game five.

 

2007-2008: The Suns realize their championship opportunities are waning and make a midseason trade for Shaquille O'Neal, sending Shawn Marion to Miami. The Suns' pace slows down, but they still manage to finish sixth in the west. The Suns meet up with the Spurs in the first round and fall 4-1.

Excuse: Shaq is adjusting to team. Team is adjusting to Shaq.

 

2008-2009: The Suns fire Mike D'Antonio and hire new coach Terry Porter with hopes of more focus on defense. After a mediocre first half of the season, Porter is replaced with assistant coach Alvin Gentry, in hope to focus more on offense. Suns fight toward the end of the season to make the playoffs but fail to overcome the Mavericks for the eighth seed.

Excuse: None.

 

The Phoenix Suns are out of excuses and their reign on the top of the west is over. They have a bad combination of being a less than mediocre team and having old players. The Phoenix Suns' roster shows one player who has shown he will have a bright future in the league. That's Leandro Barbosa.

Goran Dragic, Louis Amundson, Robin Lopez, Alando Tucker, Jared Dudley round out the younger players on the Suns. None of them have shown they can play with the elite of the NBA—granted, most of them haven't really had a chance.

My point is that Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jason Richardson's productive playing years are close to the end. The Suns don't have any promising players to take over after these players leave.  It will be at least three years before the Suns even come close to the NBA elite.

Steve Kerr needs a replacement, and whoever takes his place should take a long look at the next couple drafts to build his new team.

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