The Phoenix Suns are terrible, shocking apparently two people on this entire planet: Suns owner Robert Sarver and Suns personnel boss Lon Babby. Phoenix is 13-28, the worst team in the Western Conference. The Suns have been competing with the Hornets and Kings for that dishonor, just as most analysts predicted.
Because the Suns roster is terrible. Which is through no fault of Alvin Gentry.
Somehow, the front office considered Phoenix a playoff contender. Because it's delusional. That said, firing the coach of a last-place team is expected and justifiable: if you're going to tank, you might as well kick the tires on a new coach as well, and Phoenix has a couple of good candidates. Elston Turner has deserved a shot for a long, long while, and Lindsey Hunter was long considered a player with a future on the sidelines. So replacing Gentry with one of those assistants (Igor Kokoskov is in the mix too) is reasonable.
But refusing to take blame for putting together one of the most depressing "playoff contenders" in memory? Naw. That snail doesn't scoot.
From Paul Coro's impromptu "state of the Suns amid regime change" piece in the Arizona Republic:
Babby said it was too early for self-evaluation but that there have been a mix of positive moves and mistakes by the front office.
The Suns brought in nine new players in the 2012 offseason. Let's see how they are doing.
* Goran Dragic: playing up to his 4-year, $30 million contract. Success! (Of course, Dragic is tight with Gentry and chose to sign with Phoenix specifically because of him, and there's no telling how he'll perform under a new coach. Whoops.)
* Luis Scola: playing pretty well after being plucked off the amnesty waiver with a 3-year, $13 million bid. Success! Also, 32 years old.
* Michael Beasley: 3-year, $18 million contract. Shooting .376 from the floor. Complete disaster.
* Jermaine O'Neal: old man on a minimum deal. And playing like it.
* Wesley Johnson: the Suns got a pick to take Wes, so yeah, he's played like a player you'd need to give up a pick to get rid of. Woof. Sadly, draft picks do not help team performance until the picks are actually, you know, drafted.
* P.J. Tucker: minimum contract player performing like a minimum contract player.
* Diante Garrett: ...
* Luke Zeller: ...
* Kendall Marshall: Man, Austin Rivers gets a lot of jokes for being a pretty terrible rookie lottery pick. Austin Rivers look like freaking Damian Lillard compared to Kendall Marshall. Or would, if Kendall Marshall could ever get on the floor.
Those nine players were added to Phoenix's stirring core of Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye (unfortunately injured all year), Shannon Brown, Marcin Gortat and Sebastian Telfair. Babby and Lance Blanks took over the front office in July 2010, and have had three offseasons and two trade deadlines to put together a team, and this is the roster they have built. (They threw a max contract at Eric Gordon, but throwing contracts at valued restricted free agents often gets you absolutely flippin' nothing. So no bonus points there.)
"Mix of positive moves and mistakes"? Um, keep believing that, y'all. I suppose it is a mix of positive moves and mistakes, just like a martini is a mix of vegetables and alcohol. Babby didn't say anything about proportion, after all. Too early for self-evaluation? It wasn't too early to evaluate Alvin Gentry, but it's too early to evaluate a record of largely bad front office moves? This is par for the course in the NBA, but it still needs to be noted and ridiculed.
Don't let Friday's news confuse you. The Suns are not bad because of Alvin Gentry. They are bad because of the front office of Lon Babby and Lance Blanks. It'd be nice if Babby would take just the slightest bit of ownership of that.