This offseason was always going to be a very important one for the Phoenix Suns. They had crucial decisions to make about Steve Nash, Grant Hill and even Robin Lopez. Hill and Nash had been the faces of the franchise and, although they were very effective at their age, they were aging. On top of that, the team wasn't going anywhere. The Suns had not made the playoffs and were not looking like they would or even could improve much.
Team President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and general manager Lance Blanks had a plan. Several times this offseason, they have stated what they wanted to do with the team -- get younger and get more athletic.
So they let Steve Nash go, trading him to the Lakers for four draft picks. They let Grant Hill go. They picked up Goran Dragic, a younger and more athletic point guard. They signed Michael Beasley, a young and very athletic scorer. After striking out with Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo, two very young and athletic shooting guards, they re-signed Shannon Brown, who was arguably their most athletic player.
Now, the collection of players that the Suns now have are quite the motley crew. Goran Dragic was drafted to be Steve Nash's replacement, but disappointed in his time here before he was traded. He shined as the starter when Kyle Lowrie went down, but he has half a season of starting under his belt. Beasley and Johnson (if the rumors are true) are former top-five draft pick that are immensely talented, but have disappointed so far in the NBA.
Shannon Brown is very athletic and shows flashes of being a good player, but then also has been known to be a bit of a knucklehead on the court with his decision making.
But again, all of them are very talented.
The Suns also set out as one of the teams with the most cap space to go out and spend money, but not be stupid about it, spending their cap space for the sake of spending it. They have done that, too.
They offered Eric Gordon a max contract, but that fell through. They refused to pay O.J. Mayo what he was originally asking and decided to go with Brown, who will cost them only $7 million over two years. Beasley's contract is very reasonable. Dragic was what it had to be.
Now trading Warrick and Lopez, who was going to get upwards of $7 million a year somewhere, they have created more salary flexibility for this season and the future. They are still in line for being able to offer a max contract next offseason to one of the top free agents then.
So while it is unknown how good or bad the team will be this season, they have done what they wanted -- they are younger, they are more athletic, they are building through the draft (as they now have 10 picks and maybe 11 over the next three years) and they still have the salary flexibility to go get a top free agent.
You might not agree with the characters they have gotten, but you have to admit that the Suns made a plan and followed it. Whether it turns out to be the right plan, that has yet to be seen, but the Suns are now definitely younger and more athletic.
You can get more Suns coverage at Bright Side of the Sun.