Phoenix Suns, like Herman Melville predicted
Phoenix Suns, like Herman Melville predicted
The strange case of “Bartleby the scrivener” can be summed up in just one sentence: “I would rather not to”. Every time the narrator of this short story, written by Herman Melville from 1853, asks Bartleby to do something, he enigmatically answers: “I would rather not to.” The narrator grows an obsession around this illogic behavior and so he tries to understand what’s wrong with Bartleby, however, the lack of success leaves him even more frustrated.
I can’t stop noticing the similarities between the Melville short story and the Phoenix Suns. This midst Gongfu Tea Cup enigmatic and illogic behaviors will leave any fan frustrated. It doesn’t matter what kind of fan you are, it stopped making sense.
Last night, Suns owner Robert Sarver said after the 97-77 lost against the Lakers that “millennial culture” explains the team’s awful season. I wouldn’t go that far because let me share a secret with you: the other 29 teams are full of players who belong to the so-called “millennial culture” as well.
I get his idea and we all know he’s mainly directing his words towards Markieff Morris, who had a setback in the offseason when the Suns sent away his brother. He never seemed able to recover from it. He’s a big man, he should’ve been able to overcome that kind of thing, instead of acting childish by throwing towels at his head coach’s face during a game.
If we are blaming the “millennial culture”, you’ll have to forgive me Mr. Robert Sarver, we are thinking narrow minded. Let’s go way back, when this new Phoenix Suns project started and we’ll see where the “Bartleby the scrivener” similarities really are.
This all started back in 20013-14 with the Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe backcourt, Channing Frye as a shooting 5, PJ Tucker at the 3 and Miles Plumlee at the 4. Gerald Green off the bench along with Leandro (he wasn’t championship at the time yet), Ish Smith and a still-learning-what-the-NBA-was-like Alex Len.
So, theoretically, this was year zero for these Suns. A young core of players with a new head coach in Jeff Hornacek, playing in the always tough Western Conference. However, Hornacek had a terrific 10-3 start and by December he was winning the Coach of the Month award. Things were clicking and looking good, the team was surprisingly winning and Goran Dragic was having a blossoming year. They finished the season with 48 wins and Dragic won the Most Improved Player award after averaging 20.3 points.
Owner Robert Sarver altogether with Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough, immediately changed plans as this was not a building team anymore, this was a ready to win team, they thought. As the offseason started and after losing Channing Frye to the Orlando Magic, the Suns signed point guard Isaiah Thomas to a four year contract worth 27M.
In my opinion, Frye was the offensive cornerstone who allowed Dragic and Bledsoe getting to rim so “easily” during the 2013-14 season. The space that Frye creates in the middle by leaving the paint to shoot threes is unparalleled, so it was kind of surprising to let him leave and therefore sign another ball-hog point guard in Isaiah Thomas.
As the 2014-15 season started it was clear that this 3 guard team rotation was not working and Dragic, who had collected a few MVP votes the previous season was slowly losing influence on his team. By February he was demanding a trade due to lingering frustrations with the front office and the Suns direction. The Suns traded him, alongside his brother Zoran, to the Miami Heat in exchange for Danny Granger.
And here it’s where the whole “I would rather not to” enigmatic behavior went ballistic. Right after the Dragic trade, the Suns panicked and they went even further with it. They sent Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Brandon Knight (yeah, they didn’t learn the lesson about the too-many-good-guards-who-will-demand-playing-time-and-eventually-mess-up-your-roster thing). And just when you think they’d be done, the Suns sent Isaiah Thomas to Boston for Marcus Thornton and the Cavs 2016 (exactly, this year) 1st round pick.
“I would rather not to” but… I’ll do it anyway, said the Phoenix Suns. I guess this is how Generation X and Y handles their business.
They finished the 2014-15 season with 39 wins. 9 less wins than the previous season. But hey, they had a few bumps in the road, especially during February, but they were still standing, hoping the 2015 offseason would bring some vets or a big franchise player.
The biggest name in the offseason obviously was LaMarcus Aldrige, who hates playing at center and so the Suns went on with the “I rather not to” but I’ll do it anyway” and signed center Tyson Chandler to a four year deal worth 52M so LaMarcus could look at their roster and realize “the 5 is taken, I’ll clearly play at the 4 here in Phoenix”. Then, in order to make room, the Suns traded Markieff’s brother Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for their 2020 second round pick.
LaMarcus eventually opted to sign with the Spurs and Phoenix activated the plan B by signing short term deals with Sonny Weems, Ronnie Price and Mirza Teletovic.
As you can see, it’s been a whirlwinding two years for the Phoenix Suns and instead of letting the first year team soon-to-be-well-oiled-machine work, they decided to remove and add Jenga pieces like crazy.
Chandler could not lure Aldridge, Isaiah Thomas was sold incredibly low and Markieff was never the same after seeing his twin brother depart.
This season, Hornacek has been trying everything. Len and Chandler have flip-flopped starter and backup roles. Brandon Knight came off the bench for a few games. Lately the 18 year old rookie Devin Booker has been playing an increasing amount of minutes (because of the Bledose injury), but the Suns are not clicking.
They’re 12-25 right now and it looks like they’ll be at the bottom of the West if the Lakers keep playing like they are lately.
There should’ve been someone back in 2014 warning them: “Why would you do that? I would rather not to.”