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This season, the Suns have struggled both offensively and defensively. They rank 18th in the league in points per game and field-goal percentage, 23rd in offensive rating and 27th in three-point percentage. Defensively, the team ranks 29th in field-goal percentage and three-point percentage allowed.
Those might be pretty awful numbers, but Phoenix is still a team built around offense, and that must remain true during the rebuilding process.
Right now, the Suns have almost no untouchable players. Luis Scola cannot be traded due to amnesty rules, and Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris are a few young players that the Suns will definitely be reluctant to move. But after those four guys, anyone else could be shopped at the deadline.
With that being said, the players most likely to be traded or leave in free agency are coincidentally the only above-average defenders on the roster. Those players are Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, P.J. Tucker, Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal.
Both Gortat and Dudley will likely be shopped at the deadline, and the other three are all expiring contracts. So, the Suns would really have to just start from scratch if they wanted to build a defensive-minded team, whereas they already have a few decent offensive pieces in place to continue the philosophy of Mike D'Antoni and Gentry.
Now, I'm not saying the Suns should pay as little attention to defense as they have been. The Suns do need a coach with a better defensive philosophy than Gentry, and they should also look to get rid of any defensive liabilities such as Shannon Brown or Michael Beasley. But at the same time, Phoenix should stick to an up-tempo style of play.
As they rebuild, it's clear that the Suns will need to find both good offensive and defensive players. They should continue to run the offense at a fast pace, but they also shouldn't try to replicate the Run-and-Gun offense that they had several years ago with Nash, Stoudemire and Marion. This team needs to take a more balanced approach, involving a relatively fast offense with some defensive strategy thrown in. After all, defensive pressure is what ultimately leads to easy fast-break opportunities in the first place.
The Suns can still shift their philosophy to fit a new roster without completely ditching their old identity. It might be important to put more focus on defense, but this roster is built around offense and it always has been. A defensive-minded coach just wouldn't fit.
Terry Porter was the last Phoenix coach who tried to get a good offensive team to play like a defensive one. He didn't even last half a season. The Suns simply cannot have a defense-oriented coach along with a bunch of quick sharpshooters. Compare this scenario to food. You might love pizza, and you might also love ice cream, but would you really want to mix them together?