This year will be different.
Players will be introducing themselves…to one another.
Following a summer of activity never matched before in franchise history, the Suns will open the 2012-13 season early next week with a completely overhauled roster.
Out are Steve Nash (traded to the Lakers), Grant Hill (signed with the Clippers), and Channing Frye (out for the year with an enlarged heart). In are Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasley.
“I really like what we did this summer, but it’s going to be a challenge,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry told Brad Cesmat Thursday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “But it’s still going to be a challenge and we got a lot of teaching to do but I think we got guys that are pretty smart basketball players.”
Not only will the new group players need time to adapt to one another on the court, most will also have to learn an entirely new offensive and defensive scheme under Gentry and his staff. Even some returning players like Shannon Brown and Markeiff Morris have only a year in the organization.
Gentry says the new-look Suns need to hit the ground running when they open the regular season Halloween Night at U.S. Airways Center against the Golden State Warriors.
“We don’t want to get behind the eight-ball like we did last year,” he explained to Cesmat. “Struggling early…then we played good basketball at the end of the season but you always go back to two or three games when you say, ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda.’ Obviously if we would have [won those] we would have gotten into the playoffs.”
The playoffs have eluded the Suns the last two years and without the services of Nash and Hill, combined with the ultra-tough Western Conference getting one of the eight post-season seeds won’t be easy.
With that being said, Gentry believes Phoenix could surprise with some of the new pieces in place.
“As a coach you know exactly what you’re going to get from Luis,” he said. “I think we’ve got some real wildcards that could end up being a positive thing. Michael Beasley has a ton of talent and he’s still a young player. Wesley Johnson is in the same category.”
Some players are currently participating in involuntary workouts before officially opening camp on Tuesday at UC-San Diego.