After last night's loss, the Phoenix Suns once again have their plans derailed by the defending champs. The Suns have been eliminated by the Spurs in four of the last six seasons. This loss comes with a grain of salt, however.
Steve Nash, now 34 has a small window of how much longer his body will hold up. The whole "he gets better with age" logic will only last for so long. The Suns need to find a way to win a championship with their core of guys very soon or it may never happen.
Shaquille O'Neal looks to be right in the "washed up" stage of his career. At 36, he hasn't played over 60 regular season games since his first year in Miami. His free throw shooting is even more of an Achilles heel because he's not a dominant force in the paint anymore. There were numerous instances throughout not only this series, but the entire season, when Shaq would be fouled on a shot from the paint but not convert. He used to convert every "and one" possibility he was given.
I didn't understand the trade when it was made and after the 4-1 loss to San Antonio, it's clearer than ever it was the wrong move.
Steve Kerr won't have to worry about keeping Mike D'Antoni around after the news this morning. According to an article from the Sports Illustrated webstie, D'Antoni is not returning to the Suns bench next season. He didn't feel that upper management was behind him. You can read about it here.
So the Suns now have three starters in Nash, Hill, and O'Neal in their mid-late 30's and no head coach. Hill and Shaq will be big question marks for how much they can play and I have a feeling Steve Nash is going to have a slight drop-off next season.
They still have three young guns in Amare, Barbosa, and Diaw to work around. They need to sign a free agent, make a sensible trade or even look to the NBA draft to give them a shot of adrenaline.
In the past four NBA seasons they have a combined record of 232-96 (.710). In this span they won their division three times and reached the conference finals twice.
It's definitely a successful four year stretch, but Suns fans have been waiting for a championship since "the greatest game ever played" back in 1976. They deserve a championship banner in Phoenix. Many great players have suited up for them over the years with nothing to show for it in the form of titles.
So my question to you Suns fans is this: What do you want to see upper management do this off-season to give you a shot next year at the title?