OK Suns fans, be prepared to call me an idiot, because I'm going to dare to criticize your precious team again.
I love the Suns. Love the way they play. Love Steve Nash. Love D'Antoni.
But the team's two biggest weaknesses over the last several years have been a complete absence of a bench, coupled with a lack of internal toughness. By trading for Kurt Thomas two years ago, they helped the inside problem (only to be thwarted by the Stoudemire injury, and then by the Stoudemire/Diaw suspensions). Now they've turned around and traded Thomas away, making the problems worse than ever.
With five core players signed to big, long term contracts (Marion, Stoudemire, Nash, Diaw and Barbosa), the Suns have been on the cusp of the luxury tax for a couple years. Owner Robert Sarver has been loathe to pay it, and as a result the team has parlayed 4 years worth of first round picks (including a couple of lottery picks) into... Alando Tucker, picked 29th this season. In return the Suns have received pretty much nothing... some cash, that's all.
But it doesn't seem to be enough to fail to address the depth issue via one of the main available tools. The Suns are now actively thinning their paper thin bench in the name of tax avoidance.
Seven Eight players accounted for about 97% of the Suns available minutes last season, an astounding figure. Since the end of the season, they have given away two of those seven eight: James Jones and now Kurt Thomas. And when I say 'given away', that's actually a little too kind. In fact, they've had to sweeten the pot with first rounders in order to get these fire sale transactions done: one to Portland to rid themselves of Jones, and two to Seattle to shed Thomas.
Meanwhile, they are expecting Grant Hill - 35 on opening day, brittle as dry kindling, missed 65% of the games for the last 7 years Grant Hill - to pick up the slack. That's one way to go, I guess.
I feel sorry for Steve Kerr. It's fairly clear that he's been ordered to get rid of contracts - and basically, if they don't win a title NOW, it's just one step closer to starting over from scratch. Only they'll be starting over from scratch without their first round picks from 2008 and 2010. Steve Nash is 33, Hill is almost 35, Raja Bell is almost 31 and Shawn Marion is 29. And waiting in the wings to take over for those guys is... 37 year old Eric Piatkowski.
So I ask you? What are they thinking?