If you asked any of the Suns players whether or not this season was a success or failure, they would tell you its a failure because they failed to make the playoffs. But any any person should look at what this team and organization accomplished this season and give them a standing ovation.
I remember picking up an ESPN the Magazine last October for their college basketball preview and in it, Chad Forde did a mock draft centered around all of the great talent that would be in college this season. He had the Sun drafting second overall in this upcoming draft finishing the season winning less than 20 wins.
Who would blame him for doing so? The Suns had more new faces on the team than you could count on two hands. Most of which consisted of guys that failed to have any significant playing time in their career. That even included their marquee acquisition of the offseason in Eric Bledsoe. Furthermore, they were operating under a completely new regime from head coach through the front office taking over for a crew that had basically run this organization into the ground with no sign of promise in the near future.
Now you look back at that mock draft from last October and smile when you think of all the Suns accomplished on the floor this season.
As the team closes it’s doors on this season, the time for smiling and patting themselves on that back is over. Now is the time where you build on what you have accomplished and there are some huge story lines for this upcoming offseason that will be very intriguing to see unfold.
1. Eric Bledsoe. He is now a restricted free agent. Ryan McDonough has publicly stated that he fully plans to match any offer sheet made to Bledsoe to keep him in a Suns uniform. He showed, despite only playing 43 games this season, that he is the type of player that the team can and should build around with him and Dragic in the backcourt. It is an exciting style of play which showed tremendous success.
2. Channing Frye. The Phoenix native has a player option for a little over $6 million this offseason and I am sure there will be teams out there they may present some intriguing offers to pull him out of Phoenix. He made it sound on Thursday that he doesn’t have much intention to leave Phoenix but for a player that is now over the age of 30, landing what could be your last 3+ year deal might be something he may not be able to pass up. I for one think Frye was the best story in the NBA this season for what he accomplished after missing all of 2012-13 with an enlarged heart. He is the type of player that the Suns would love to keep for what he means to the community off the court and for what he does on the court in the ability to spread the floor.
3. 2014 NBA Draft. The Suns have three first round picks this year. Their own which will most likely be 14, the Wizards which will be around 17 and the Pacers pick which will be 27th or later. As luck would have it, it could have been four first round picks if the Wolves had a better record than the Suns. Their pick to the Suns was top 13 protected and they finished in the 13th spot. If the Suns magically get selected in the top three of the lottery, that could move the Wolves to the 14th spot and in turn, would give the Suns that fourth pick. But definitely don’t get your hopes up. With the core that the Suns developed and most likely will want to maintain as well as the possibility of free agent acquisitions with their $20 million in cap space, there wont be room for three guaranteed contracts as a result of first round picks. I can definitely see them packaging a couple of those picks to either move up or acquire a big names as a result. It gives them great flexibility and that is a beautiful thing.
All things point toward June 26th for the NBA Draft as the centerpiece of what expects to be a very eventful offseason.