It wasn’t so long ago that the Phoenix Suns were one of the NBA’s feel-good stories. Jeff Hornacek took a weirdly constructed lineup, featuring a two- and then three-headed point guard monster, and turned the Suns into one of the more exciting young teams in the league. But the roster’s been rejiggered a few times since then, and now Hornacek’s a lame-duck coach presiding over a 12-25 team that does things like lose to the Sixers.
The Suns looked ragged while losing 97-77 to the Lakers last night, and Hornacek looked like a man who is running out of ideas. At one point, he put centers Alex Len and Tyson Chandler on the floor at the same time, despite the fact that the duo hadn’t played a single minute together all season. After the game, he summed up the situation rather succinctly:
You can’t blame Hornacek for being glum given what’s gone on recently. Last week, the team fired two of Hornacek’s hand-picked assistant coaches in what amounted to a warning shot at the head coach. With Hornacek’s staff ripped out from under him and the team sputtering like it is, it’s hard to see him as anything other than a dead man walking at this point.
Maybe Hornacek has lost the team and needs to go, but the Suns’ problems go well beyond coaching. GM Ryan McDonough’s tinkering with the roster has only worked to turn an upwardly mobile team into an uninspiring one while also pissing off forward Markieff Morris, whose twin brother Marcus was traded from the team this past offseason. Morris’s dissatisfaction probably won’t be helped by owner Robert Sarver calling him out by name and implying that he’s just a spoiled millennial (via Arizona Republic):
“I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver said. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can’t seem to recover from it.
“I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it’s like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year that have taken their toll on us, and we haven’t been resilient. Therefore, it’s up to our entire organization to step up their game.”
Morris responded to those comments after the loss to the Lakers, unfortunately not offering thoughts on the narcissistic and destructive baby boomer culture of which Sarver is a part:
So, yeah, things are not going very well in Phoenix. The worst thing about this collapse is that the Suns had a chance to be a sharp retort to the NBA’s more cynical styles of team building. This is a team that was supposed to be tanking when it won 48 games during the 2013-14 season and suddenly became a franchise looking to make the playoffs. It was cool to see the Suns skip right over the typical death march to the top of the lottery, but they’ve done nothing but stumble since trying to bridge the gap between sort-of-good team and playoff contender. The Suns seem to have missed their shot, and now they’re just another franchise without any answers.