lucky: Who are the Suns now, after trading all their point guards

Who are the Suns now, after trading all their point guards

Nov 11 2017 at 01:51

Devin Booker was napping when an earthquake struck the Suns. At 1:44 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Oct. 22, Eric Bledsoe sent his now-infamous tweet about wanting out of either Phoenix, or a hair salon -- or, hell, maybe both. Sixty-eight minutes later, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news: The Suns had fired Earl Watson, their head coach. Booker was still sleeping. "I woke up," he says, "to everything. It was crazy." Men'sAdidasHoustonRockets#1TrevorArizaAuthenticRedRoadNBAJerseyMeanwhile, Ryan McDonough's phone was buzzing constantly, as tends to happen when you are the general manager of a team embroiled in multiple and intertwined controversies. One notification alarmed him: a voicemail from Jeff Schwartz, the New York-based power agent who represents Tyson Chandler. "Given the way our season had started," McDonough says, "it wouldn't have been shocking if Tyson wanted to be moved." Schwartz delivered the opposite message, the two recall: "Tyson is fine." He likes Phoenix, Schwartz told McDonough, and enjoys mentoring the young Suns. "It was a breath of fresh Donald Penn Authentic Jersey air," McDonough says. Eight days later, at halftime in Washington with the Suns down by 12, Jay Triano, Phoenix's interim head coach, was striding down a hallway toward the locker room to address the team when he heard Chandler screaming. "That is what a playoff team looks like!" Chandler yelled at his teammates, according to Booker, Triano, and others. "We are getting punked!" He then picked up a marker, and diagrammed Phoenix's first-half defensive screw-ups on a whiteboard. "Yeah, there were some words said that night," says Chandler. "Wherever I'm at, no matter the situation, I do my job." The Suns rallied to win, and they are 4-5 with a blessedly normal-ish (bad)  point differential since those humiliating first three games. That counts as stability for a team that has been Donald Penn Authentic Jersey grasping wildly for it since Amar'e Stoudemire's knee issues and the Steve Nash trade brought the official denouement of the Seven Seconds or Less era. Triano spoke to Nash on the phone recently about what to do with his struggling young players -- almost a college team competing in the NBA. Nash directed the talk away from basketball. He sums up his advice this way via email: "There is no true development without competitiveness Donald Penn Authentic Jersey and resilience. Without those, it's just window dressing." That is what Triano will focus on in teaching Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson, and the rest: play hard, run back on defense, grasp the ground-level fundamentals of NBA help defense -- or come out of the game. "It can't be just skills," Triano says, reconstructing his conversation with Nash. Some coaches, including Terry Stotts, Triano's boss for four years in Portland, sometimes use cards outlining their playing rotation. Triano hasn't gotten that far, and he's not sure he will all season. One rule governs: compete or sit. By stripping down to the basics, the Suns hope to round out Booker's game, and unearth whatever potential exists within Chriss, Bender, and Jackson -- three top-eight picks who, along with another high pick in this draft, will largely determine whether the Suns emerge from chaos with the foundation of a winning team. The next phase of the franchise is at stake. "That's the future of our team," McDonough says. "We hope they are the core of our team for 10 years."


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