In many ways the Phoenix Suns are reaching a crossroad.
After bottoming out two years ago new general manager Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek have the Suns playing a far better, more successful brand of basketball. The problem was as Phoenix has improved, so too have many other teams in the Western Conference and life on Planet Orange is eerily similar to a year ago: on the fringe of either barely making or missing the playoffs.
From a distance the original architect of the Suns is watching.
So far he likes what he sees.
“They’re making progress,” Team USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “With what they have in the way of a nucleus…free-agency gives them the opportunity, potentially, to take the next step.”
That next step is never an easy one with 32 teams and only a handful of mega, difference-making superstars. What has also proven difficult at times this season is juggling the three-guard mix of Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe.
Dragic, a free-agent this summer, told Phoenix through his representatives he has no plans of returning to the Suns next season. Seven or eight teams have expressed interest in the popular guard who seems to have lost faith in the direction of the franchise after coming off a career year which included averaging 20 points and just under six assists last season.
Colangelo mentioned a “redundancy on the roster” and future cap flexibility as two reasons why the Suns could be active before Tuesday’s deadline. Thomas and Bledsoe have also been rumored in trade speculation.
Hornacek’s team (29-25) currently sits in the eighth and final playoff slot but lost seven of 10 entering the All-Star Break.
They return to action Friday in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.