The Phoenix Suns are heading down an unknown road in search of the championship

could you believe Phoenix Sun Are you one of a small group of teams in the past decade that went back two straight training camps with the same pecking order after coming short in a deep playoff run?

This is a long sentence. let me break it

  1. Deep Playoff Run That Came Down – Win at least one Games in conference finals but not championships
  2. Two training camps later – these are two full off-seasons where the average NBA team changes 40% of their roster
  3. same coach
  4. same top two players
  5. Look at the last 10 years (in the context of the NBA for sustainability in an affordable environment)

I also lowered the bar looking for any semblance of continuity in the league compared to the Sun. When the Phoenix Suns start training camp next week, they will not only have their top two players and coaches from 2021 nba finalsready to be Same top eight players and coaches, Nobody does this. nobody.

We always preached continuity, and General Manager James Jones carries on that mantra like Gandalf having a staff or Galadriel carrying his brother’s knife.

All of the starting lineup, plus Cameron Payne, Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson, is set to return, but even if there’s a trade or two in the coming days, you can be sure that at least eight of those, including the top four Six will wear a sun uniform on Monday on the occasion of Annual Media Day.

This level of consistency is unusual – but you know what’s even less common? The thought of making a change after a deep playoff race gets the better of you.

Evidence shows, in fact, that immediately after a deep playoff race either trying to take the next step to replace their coach or one of their top players tries but almost always fails.

Let’s take a closer look.

Not included

I carefully observed the finalists of the conference over the past ten years.

we are not involved Utah Jazoo, for example, because they never reached the conference finals with that group. I’m not even involved Portland Trail Blazers because, while they did Make A WCF, they got swept up. By that logic, I must also exclude the 2015 Hawks, which many have compared to the current Sons, except that those Hawks also swept in their conference finals (2015).

no more Golden State Warriors, because they never came up short. The Warriors won the 2015 title in their first leg before the second round, and with six finals and four championships in eight years, everything has been gravy for them. Bleach.

2019 Raptors are not included. He won outright in a year he had Kavi, and never came close again after his bolt.

And, finally, the Spurs are out of it. He won the whole thing with Pop and Tim Duncan in 1999 and had unusual patience for the next 17 years while he won four more titles. Sure he changed the parts around the two of them a few times, but he never made his biggest roster decision in reaction to a playoff loss. For retirement only.

that leaves us…

Teams that replaced the top player(s) and/or coach within 2 training camps of the CF/Final

  1. Dallas Mavericks – WCF lost immediately to Warriors in 2022 lost Jalen Brunson in free agency
  2. Atlanta Hawks – In 2021 the ECF lost 4–2 to the Bucks, making it back one season, losing to the Heat 4–1 in the first round, Added Dijonte Murray for Draft Picks during the second offseason
  3. Milwaukee Bucks – ECF in 2019, Jury Holiday Added For draft picks, won the final in 2021, lost in the second round in 2022 Celtics
  4. Boston Celtics – ECF in 2017, lost to Cavs, Traded Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving, drafted Jason Tatumand recreated the ECF…
  5. Boston Celtics, released – lost to ECF, Cavs and Heat in 2018 and 2020 with same top-2+ coach, changed coachReached the finals in 2022, lost to Warriors
  6. Houston Rockets – 2018 WCF, lost 4-3 to Warriors, lasted another year together, returned in second round in 2019, Then traded Chris Paul for Russell WestbrookBigtime is lost
  7. Cleveland Cavaliers — 2015 nba finalsdefeated by warriors, Changed Coach (Blat to Lew) Mid-season, the 2016 Won Championship on Warriors…
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers, released: 2017 NBA Finals, lost to Warriors Traded Kyrie Irving for Isaiah ThomasLost 2018 final to Warriors, LeBron to LA. lost to
  9. Houston Rockets – 2015 WCF, lost 4-1 to Warriors, lasted a year together (second round loss) sacking the coach and replacing other players around harden
  10. Indiana Pacers – 2013 and 2014 ECF, lost Paul George to injury, missed playoffs, then broke the team Before George recovered.
  11. Oklahoma City Thunder – 2012 NBA Finals, traded james hardenLost in second round the following year, made 2014 WCF, lost 4-2 to Spurs, then Durant was injured/missed the playoffs for a year, Coach changed from Brooks to DonovanMade WCF again in 2016, lost 4-3 to Warriors, then Durant spoke in free agency

let’s face it. A lot of these teams have one major thing in common—seven out of 11 on this list, in fact—that they’ve lost to the Warriors in a conference final or final since 2015, and in the wake of that defeat, there’s a reason to reconsider. Decided hierarchy. None of the seven felt they could defeat the Warriors without a major change.

All 11 teams won at least one conference final game, but did not have the patience to put together their cores for two more training camps. In the Bucks and Hawks cases, he added it to his core to double it, but it’s still blinking. This is still a deviation from what the four teams did in the next run.

Eleven teams. All 11 found great success, but decided they would never make it further without some major changes at the top, either as a coach or one of the top two stars.

How did he do it?

  • 2 out of 21 to be determined: Mavericks and Hawks – they hope to return to that promised land this season, but neither is the top-4-seeded favorite in their conference, let alone the title favorite)
  • 6 out of 11 went bad: The changes didn’t move him any further, and he eventually changed it again
  • 3 out of 11 got better: The 2021 Bucks added Jew Holiday and broke all the way up by winning the NBA Championship. The 2016 Cavaliers (Leu) and 2022 Celtics (Udoka) replaced their veteran coach with an unused rookie coach and advanced to the playoffs – the Cavs to A Championship, the Celtics to the NBA Finals.

How could this apply to the Sun?

This tells me that replacing one or more Chris Paul, Devin Booker or Monty Williams in 2023 has almost no chance of winning the championship in 2023. Those two cases (Cavs, Celtics) who turned their coach into a rookie who had never worked before? I just don’t see the Sun getting better by taking out Monty Williams. I just don’t.

It also tells me how hard it is to be better than the top players or the coach by changing something less. Of all the teams that qualified for the list, only the Bucks were able to go deep into the playoffs, adding Jew Holiday to the core of the Bucks, Middleton, Giannis and Mike Buddenholzer. But even there, they added a non-All-Star supporting player who slots in just below Giannis and Middleton, but who is no better than Michal Bridges or Deandre Ayton.

In an ideal world, the Sons would use draft capital like the Hawks and Bucks to add just one more player to their top four without losing any of them, an upgrade over Jay Crowder or even Cameron Johnson. did.

Unfortunately, the more realistic world if the Suns falls short again, with six teams on this list taking one of their already top-40 players (Eighton?) for best with a new pecking order.

I know there’s a lot of concern here about Chris Paul because he’s 37 years old now, but that guy is still a top-20 player in the league this next season (top-25 worst), and it’s appropriate to downgrade No and hope the end result will be better. Plus, his contract is such that it’s a lot easier to move next summer than he is now (worst case: only $15 million guaranteed, can be waived and five for only a $3 million cap hit each year). year can be extended).

CF or teams staying the same with the top two players + coaches for 2+ years after losing the final

  1. Phoenix Sun – 2021 NBA Finals, lost 4-2 to Bucks, returned in the second round in 2022, still going
  2. Los Angeles Clippers – 2021 Western Conference Finals, lost to Kawhi Leonard by injury, 4-2 to Suns, missed 2022 playoffs with injuries, still going
  3. Miami Heat – 2020 NBA Finals, lost 4-2 lakersWas injured in 2021, made it to the 2022 Conf final, lost 4-3 to the Celtics, still going
  4. Denver Nuggets – 2020 Western Conference Finals, lost 4-2 to Lakers, suffered injuries in 2021 and 2022, still going

four teams. That’s all I can get. You can say ‘ah that’s because they’re the most recent loser’, but no it’s not.

None of the 11 teams in the East Division made it to their second place. training camp Together after a deep playoff loss without making a significant change. This is an extreme lack of patience.

Yet this year four contenders are showing more patience than anyone. Why? I do not know. They are all paying out the nose to keep their teams intact. The Clippers are set to pay the highest salary ($192 million + luxury tax) in the league, while the Suns (7th), Nuggets (9th) and Heat (12th) all in the top 12, The only teams to spend more money than the Suns next year are the Clippers, Warriors, Nets, Bucks, Celtics and Lakers. There is all but one contender, and sixth has LeBron and won the championship two seasons ago.

It’s one thing for a rebuilding team to pat, considering they have fewer players on market-rate contracts. It’s totally different to continue investing big money in a group that has already reached its peak.

Still, the shears, nuggets, heat and sun believe their top is still to come.

These four teams are contenders, but all four are relying on health to get them there. They put their teams together because they believe they can win championships with good health throughout the season, including the playoffs. It is possible that more than two of these teams may not get their full wish. Maybe not more than one.

The Nuggets (Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr.) and Clippers (Kavi Leonard, Paul George) have seen entire seasons marred by injuries, but now start training camp next week with (probably) full clearance for the first time in a year.

The Sun and Heat have been the healthiest of these teams, but both have seen their most experienced star suffer repeated injuries at the worst of times. Chris Paul (Sons) and Jimmy Butler (Heats) are still All-Star/All-NBA players, but both have been compromised in recent playoff runs.

Whichever of these teams falls short again will likely switch gears and join a cadre of people who started rolling the dice with great moves as they struggle to reach the Promised Land for that corps. Couldn’t wait any longer.

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