The Utah Jazz are 31-26 and hold the eighth seed in the West. The Denver Nuggets are 33-25 and in the seventh spot. The Phoenix Suns at 27-27 are tenth in the standings with Memphis (31-27) standing between the Suns and their goal of making the playoffs. The massive trade the Jazz made by moving point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey and the Denver trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks have opened the door for the Suns. Rudy Gay's shoulder injury doesn't hurt either.
You never really know how these things are going to play out and both the Nuggets and Jazz received talented players in return, but it's hard to imagine either team rebounding quickly from such massive moves. As Alvin Gentry said yesterday when talking about the 'Melo deal, "He's a great player and we like to see great players move East."
That applies even more so to Deron Williams with the Jazz likely to feel the loss of Williams more than the Nuggets miss Carmelo's scoring.
But while the door might be opened, the onus is on the Suns to walk through it. The message from the players yesterday was that they have to focus on themselves and the games in front of them. That applies even more today. The Suns won't face the Jazz again this year (after sweeping the season series 3-0) and only face the Nuggets one more time.
It all comes down to Phoenix beating teams like Atlanta tonight and then going on the road for six games and coming home with four wins. That's what the Suns need to focus on while the rest of us ponder what the Jazz and Nuggets might or might do from here on in.
Opportunity only matters if you take advantage and given the inconsistency the Suns have shown doesn't make anything a given.
One interesting question that came up is the possibility that the Suns could make a deal with the Jazz who now have a front line that includes the injured Mehmet Okur, Al Jefferson, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. What they don't have is depth at the shooting guard and small forward position. The Suns have plenty to spare.
The problem is none of the Suns wings would be all that attractive unless Phoenix was willing to take back Okur's contract (he's owed $10.8m next season).
Favors is still young and unproven and the Jazz will certainly feel like they can still compete this season which prevents them from moving Milsap. Kirilenko has an expiring $17.8 million contract which makes him hard to move. The Suns could offer Vince Carter's similarly signed contract but why would the Jazz help the Suns by doing that?
I don't see anything happening.