The Phoenix Suns had the opportunity to play in a playoff-like environment in Utah on Tuesday night but as a result, it will be the only playoff environment that the Suns will be in for the rest of the season.
A seven game winning streak over the Utah Jazz could not have been snapped at a worse time for the Suns as they fell to Utah in what was being seen as a “play-in” game for the playoffs, 100-88 from Salt Lake City.
The Suns, despite being seven games under .500 at one point this season managed to rally, mostly since the All-Star break and go 18-8 to put them right in the thick of the playoff race. But when it mattered most, the Suns dropped five of their last eight games including the loss to Utah, keeping them at home for the post season for the second consecutive year.
People can now look toward the off-season and what a crucial off-season it will be.
Obviously the question of Steve Nash. Will the game at home against San Antonio be the final time Nash sports the purple and orange? Nash has been quoted on multiple outlets that he has earned the right to explore other options through free agency. And that is what he should do.
In the mean time, the Suns need to address so many needs just to show that this team is serious about winning in the final two or three years of Nash’s career.
Despite the disappointing play against Utah, Marcin Gortat has been a model of consistency this season. But he is not the type of player that will get you 20 and 12 a night and not the type of player that should be your leading scorer. He is a second-best option for scoring at most.
That first scoring option needs to play at the wing position. We have seen Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown explode for big games on that wing. Imagine if there was a prolific scorer in that role? That person would be looking at 20 a night which is exactly what the team needs.
There are names out there. In a perfect world for Suns fans, it would be in the form of Eric Gordon’s $5.1 million qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. Yes pretty steep, but they leap could be worth it. When healthy, Gordon is a top five shooting guard in the league.
O.J. Mayo and Nic Batum would be easier gets but I don’t see them as that prolific scorer that the Suns need on a consistent basis.
There are so many angles that the Suns can take in order to turn this train in the right direction. A scoring wing is just one of them.
This is a make or break off-season for the organization. They need to have that urgency. If the Suns lose Nash and do not do anything to at least pool a team with talent, they could be looking some very dark years to make up for it.
Just ask Chicago Bulls fans what that was like post-Jordan and pre-Rose.
For more on the Suns, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.